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Thursday, June 12, 2014

Orange Is The New Black Review: Low Self Esteem City

Orange Is The New Black (Netflix), Episode 5 of Season 2
"Low Self Esteem City"
Written By: Nick Jones
Directed By: Andrew McCarthy
Flashback Of: Gloria


Brief Description: The worst episodes so far this season has been the ones with little to no Piper. That's not to say Orange Is The New Black has any bad episodes so far, but the weaker ones (Episode 2's "Looks Blue, Tastes Red" and this episode) barely feature Piper. While Piper doesn't need to be in every scene like she seemingly was in Season 1, she does need some story arcs that we care about in every given week. While Taylor Schilling got a great moment this episode where she finally confronts Healy for leaving her that night she was attacked by Pennsatucky, other than that, she didn't have a whole to do this week. She learned that her grandmother is dying (in a funny game of Hot/Cold with her brother before the realization of the situation sank in) and I imagine her furlough will be granted so the random Larry and Polly scenes will eventually lead to something. But as for a stand alone episode, this story line was just "eh".

The real point of this episode was the war between the Blacks and Hispanics. After the Hispanics showers stop working (Red's fault? Maybe?) they take over the Blacks shower, which of course Vee and her crew are none to happy with. This leads the Blacks to steal the Hispanics shoes which in turn causes the Blacks food to be over-salted to the point of being inedible. This feud is the first time this season where Daya's pregnancy was actually interesting, as Watson's tripping of Daya in the cafeteria almost incites a riot.

Eventually Gloria and Vee fight it out in the showers where Vee pretends to give Gloria the upper hand. She acts like a sniveling P.A.B. (and she makes sure no one is around while playing this card) to make Gloria appear as if she's won. The only Hispanics within the electrical unit get transferred to the kitchen so that the Blacks can take their place. In exchange, the Blacks and Hispanics will switch showers. I'm not 100% what Vee's plan is yet as it will cost at least 80 grand to get the now Black showers fixed and having a crappy, albeit their own, shower doesn't seem like any sort of good get, Vee is certainly wheeling and dealing. Vee is absolutely smarter than Gloria, and Red calls out Gloria for making the deal with Vee. Why Red is so angry is anyone's guess, but I'm sure we'll find out sooner rather than later.

The Hispanics in Litchfield have by far and away been the least developed characters on OITNB, and even when they get an episode that prominently features them, this still holds true. I doubt you'd be able to name (and not just by their face) who any of the Hispanics are outside of Daya and Gloria. This is only the second episode where a Hispanic gets a flashback (the first one being Daya, and to some extent Daya's Mom- who the internet tells me is named Aleida). Gloria's flashbacks are easily the weakest ones we've seen so far (except for one or two of Piper's one too many flashbacks, but that don't count). The show was extremely overt about what got Gloria sent away and we don't think of her in any different type of light. In fact, Gloria is still the same background character that she always was to me. There was nothing very compelling about her life before prison, and the show is capable of creating much better material surrounding a battered woman than what they showed us here.

I'm confident this episode is laying the groundwork for bigger and badder things to come, but for a stand alone episode, it was below the high standards Orange Is The New Black is capable of. I also realize the irony of writing that statement, because this show is intentionally meant to be binge watched.


* Nichols and Big Boo are responsible for the comedy in this episode as their bet on who can get the most points by fucking girls continues, but this time with rules! Nichols and Big Boo's reaction to Chang reading off the obvious rules was pretty funny, but the best part was Piper being offended to being worth only three points.

* "I'm like a sexual Steve Jobs!" I know Fischer is a push over and easy to get along with, but Nichols going after her just to win a bet? Ballsy, ballsy move. Caputo failed, and now Nichols failed. For now.

* I'm sure Natalie's soon-to-be embezzling scandal won't make her State Senator running husband none to happy when it comes out right before the election.

* Healy (as a character to the audience) is at is best when he's interacting with Piper, and that relationship is extremely interesting to watch. I'm glad the show found a way to became Healy relevant again. Although having him be "that guy" around Caputo should be pretty amusing going forward.

*PORNSTACHE UPDATE: Still no Mendez. You're making me angry. You're not going to like me when I'm angry.

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"


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