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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Orange Is The New Black Review: It Was The Change

Orange Is The New Black (Netflix), Episode 12 of Season 2
"It Was The Change"
Written By: Sara Hess
Directed By: Phil Abraham
Flashback Of: Vee


Brief Description: A storm is coming to Litchfield! Not only do we get a literal storm, but the war between Vee and Red is finally here. I've been complaining for a few episodes about how the war between Vee vs. Red was not nearly at the level it should be. We finally got the episode I've been waiting for and that we all should have gotten a few episodes back. Even without the last two scenes between Vee and Red, this episode was still an "A". We spent a fair amount of time focusing on some minor characters, mainly Ruiz, but for the most part, this episode was filled with the characters and story lines this entire season had been building towards. Even in scenes without Vee or Red in them, the threat of a fight breaking out lingered over everything.

Last year, we saw two flashback episodes with Red. The very first one introduces us to this outsider who just wanted be to part of the Russian crew ("The Penguin is retarded!") and the second episode showed us just how smart she is- giving the Russian mob many connections- including Litchfield itself. We saw just how powerful she was last season when she ran the kitchen. But we never saw her get physical. Even when she was starving out Piper, she never wanted it to get physical. Red uses her outside sources and connections for power, but she created an unnecessary ceiling for herself. "It Was The Change" comments several times how Red uses her brain and never any brawn. Even when she confronted Big Boo in the previous episode, Boo's punishment was to be cut off from her connections. No physical harm done. Even when she knows Vee will blame her for the attack caused by the AARP minion, Red wants to call an immediate truce.

Vee on the other hand, is very much into violence to get her way when she needs to. Luckily for her, she's able to manipulate minions to do her physical bidding for her. Whether it's Suzanne or some of New York's Finest, Vee will make sure you're properly punished. At the beginning of this episode, Vee excommunicates (for lack of a better word) Taystee from the crew because of the actions of Poussey. She doesn't bring physical harm to Taystee, because that would cause unnecessary pressure on her business**. Instead, she punishes Taystee in a much worse (and practical) way.

The flashbacks didn't provide depth to Vee in the same way that a flashback like Morello's or Watson's did, but it was a nice parallel between what was going on now and what happened when she was running her crew outside the walls of prison. The flashbacks were extremely predictable which in turn made the present day battle between her and Red very predictable, but it was extremely necessary considering how plot heavy Orange Is The New Black has become. The minute Vee starts to seduce her Benedict Arnold you knew she was going to (to borrow a phrase from my wife) "Black Widow" him, which you knew she was then going to do to Red. Especially when the truce came with 15 minuted left in the episode to go. In an act of desperation, Red tries to strangle Vee with Saran Wrap, and then via her own hands. But Red doesn't have it in her to kill Vee, and Vee takes full advantage of it. Again, Red stupidly believes Vee about the truce, which is why she doesn't see Vee's sock full of quarters (or whatever) coming. Unlike Piper staying in Litchfield, I actually have no idea if Red lives or dies. It would be very uncharacteristic if Red does die, but it wouldn't surprise me either.

I guess I'll have to wait at least one more night to see if Red dies and what happens in the hour and a half long season finale. In the words of a New York football player (albeit it a Jet and not a Giant) CAN'T WAIT!

** It's briefly mentioned in the original Freakonomics, but dealt with in much larger detail in Gang Leader For A Day, University of Chicago economist Sudhir Venkatesh actually "infiltrates" a powerful Chicago gang for research, and discovered that gangs actually hate physical violence and turf disputes. Not only does it cause unnecessary attention to their business, but even if they win the turf war, the total overall costs make it a negative for their business.


* Piper spends most of this episode coping with the fact that she's been transferred. This causes her to sneak into Figueroa's office to try and to obtain proof of her embezzlement. Piper had a nice little moment with Ruiz about the transfer as well. We've barely spent any time with Ruiz, and we briefly see her talking to her baby and her boyfriend. That's how this show should have been treating many of its supporting characters this season.

* I stupidly didn't realize that Figueroa was fixing the broken Black bathroom to embezzle more money because of her husband's opponent's recent influx of cash until this episode. That scene where we first found out about Fig's husband's opponent hinted that her husband's aide had a crush on Fig's husband, but we find out tonight that it's reciprocated. I understand how pro-gay Orange is, but like with Halt and Catch Fire and House of Cards in 2014, adding male characters as gay for shock value does more disservice to the gay community than it does to help it. If OITNB wants to use male gay characters correctly, see Modern Family, or even its own show with how they portray lesbians.

* Speaking of homosexuality, the scenes between Healy and Pennsatucky and then Big Boo and Pennsatucky about homosexuality were so hilarious because of how ignorant it all was. Healy truly believing in it versus Boo fucking with Pennsatucky were both equally funny.

* I understood this show submitting Danielle Brooks (Taystee) as a Supporting Actress as opposed to a Guest Actress at the 2014 Emmy's, but doing the same to Samira Wiley (Poussey) was mind boggling. Remember, the 2014 Emmy's are for Season 1 of OITNB, not this current season. But the Netflix dramedy is clearly playing the long game, as Wiley has been a true Supporting Actress in Season 2. This episode was a great showcase for both Taystee and Poussey, especially the scene where they air their grievances in the library.

* Going back to Figueroa, either Piper's papers or the lack of diesel in the back up generators, or both, means Fig is going to end this season as a prisoner in Litchfield.

* I can't stress enough how happy I am that there were no Larry and/or Polly scenes this "week"

* Speaking of story lines I normally can't stand, I actually liked the Daya and Bennett stuff this week. The baby actually spurred an honest moment between these two characters as opposed two people in a couple being boring.

* Last story line nobody likes: Soso. Luckily we barely see her and the prisoners actually follow her for once singing Lisa Loeb's "Stay". Kudos for all these girls being able to know every single word, but as far as pop culture references go in this show, this one I actually believed seeing as "Stay" came out 15 years prior to all these women being sent to prison. It makes MUCH more sense they'd know this song as opposed to having us believe these prisoners know what Rihann's hair style looks like or conveniently be reading The Fault In Our Stars.

* Leanne and he friend getting "high" on nutmeg was pretty dumb. Luckily, the time spent on them was extremely minimal.

Click here for my thoughts on Episode 1 - "Thirsty Bird"
Click here for my thoughts on Episode 2 - "Looks Blue, Tastes Red"
Click here for my thoughts on Episode 3 - "Hugs Can Be Deceiving"
Click here for my thoughts on Episode 4 - "A Whole Other Hole"
Click here for my thoughts on Episode 5 - "Low Self Esteem City"
Click here for my thoughts on Episode 6 - "You Also Have A Pizza"
Click here for my thoughts on Episode 7 - "Comic Sans"
Click here for my thoughts on Episode 8 - "Appropriately Sized Pots"
Click here for my thoughts on Episode 9 - "40oz of Furlough"
Click here for my thoughts on Episode 10- "Little Mustachioed Shit"
Click here for my thoughts on Episode 11 - "Take A Break From Your Values"


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