Morello is showing a new crop of prisoners into Litchfield, giving them basically the same spiel Piper got in the premiere episode. Big Boo zeroes in on one young woman: “Ooooh, they must’ve locked you up for your own good! Hey, don’t be afraid, little girl. Daddy can protect you from the criminal element.” Boo, you are a creep. Morello tells her to “keep it in her pants” and leads her ducklings onward. After they clear the hallway, Piper strides in in slo-mo, clutching her new blankets and looking around to the vaguely menacing music playing in the background. Looks like the girl’s got a reputation these days, and the round of gasps she elicits proves it.
“Oh, shit. She is risen!” Black Cindy says with something like wonder in her voice, before crossing herself. Suzanne freezes in her tracks upon seeing the inmate formally known as “Dandelion,” then quickly, warily moves on her way.
Red is in the bathroom, shaving her legs and feeling old and achy, when she hears a voice singing. She peers around the corner to the showers, and sees Vee, eyes closed, mouth open, water running over her face. She rolls her back to the wall, expression shifting from fear to exasperation. “Oh, shit!”
Cut to the rec room, and a game of…I dunno, let’s call it verbal Pictionary? Black Cindy and Watson against Taystee and Poussey, with Suzanne acting as enthusiastic timekeeper. Taystee and Poussey, unsurprisingly, have a nigh-telepathic connection, and are killing it. Suzanne wants to play in the actual game, but the rest of the crew won’t have it (last time she “straight up lost her mind,” according to Poussey). Besides, she’s just so good at keeping time! Suzanne sadly returns to the clock.
Morello shows the newbies into the room they’ll occupy until they get bed assignments. Piper drops her shit immediately and goes about greeting Miss Rosa and DeMarco, the room’s two permanent residents. This is a homecoming, I guess. Vee is perched on a bed in the corner, looking on without sympathy. DeMarco congratulates Piper on beating up Pennsatucky.
“You beat someone up?” says the girl Boo was hitting on earlier, wonder evident in her voice. Piper replies in the affirmative, sounding older and wearier than we would’ve believed possible this time last season. This new girl turns out to be Brook Soso, early twenties, half Asian, half white, which is exactly enough to earn her Morello’s “tribal” welcome toothbrush. Everyone laughs at her name, which gets old fast. Also she doesn’t shut up. Babbling Brook. Get it. This is highlighted in the dialogue because, as we have discussed before, there is no subtlety in this show. She gets the bunk above Piper, for the moment.
In the laundry room, Pennsatucky is telling Leanne how she feels “free as a bird.” No, not like a bird, like a snake that had to shed its skin, like an anaconda…whatever. She wants Leanne to notice her new teeth real bad, but Leanne isn’t in the mood. She doesn’t do the sycophant thing anymore. Tucky accuses her of being jealous of how she’s “kind of pretty now.”
“Mama said pretty’s for flowers and movie stars, ‘cause neither one’s got a brain,” Leanne fires back. Ok, credit where credit is due, that isn’t a bad line.
“So you’re saying I’m not smart?” Tucky sounds slightly wounded. She really missed these folks.
“I’m saying that you’re acting like you’re better than us, and we don’t like it,” Leanne says.
Dramatic as always, Pennsatucky proclaims herself above folding laundry with her old gang and drops a metaphorical mic, and exits.
In the dorms, Suzanne is chilling on her bed making weird noises, to the annoyance of bunkmate Taystee. She’s telling her exactly how annoyed when Vee makes a semi-dramatic entrance. Vee moves to reconnect with Taystee, but Suzanne interrupts: “There’s so much blood rushing to my head I feel like a TIC! You know how they bite on the head and it’s like chuuuuuur-”
“Don’t interrupt,” Vee snaps. Please God, Suzanne needs a friend. Get her a friend my heart is breaking. Taystee and Vee continue their discussion.
Taystee’s mad because Vee was nowhere to be found when she got out of Litchfield. Vee says she was in hiding. What, she couldn’t leave a note? No, not even a note, every cop above 125th Street was on her tail, it was too risky. Taystee says she’s just chicken shit. Vee’s only comeback is that she “had her reasons” and WOW you are an ineffective mother figure. Taystee, feeling she’s wasting her time, walks away. She doesn’t need Vee.
“Ooooooh…” Suzanne reacts from her upside-down-in-bed position. Vee sees an opportunity. You can see it register in her face, the exact moment she realizes that Suzanne might be a good ally. Great acting, with terrible implications for the moon of my life. #savesuzanne2k14. Suzanne offers comfort in the face of Taystee’s anger, something she’s undoubtedly seen her share of. “Sometimes people don’t want to play with you, and that’s okay.” It comes out that Suzanne works on the maintenance crew, and Vee seems even more interested. She approaches, swirls her finger in a perfect circle in front of Suzanne’s face, then boops her on the nose. Suzanne giggles, and I begin to fear for the worst. A CO tells Vee she’s out of bounds, and she leaves. Suzanne just seems happy someone is using her real name.
Daya is in the library pouring through bound volumes of magazines when she hears Bennett hiss her name from behind a book shelf.
“I didn’t think I’d find you here!”
“What, you don’t think I read?” I’m really starting to get annoyed by their relationship. The show is framing it positively, like something to cheer for, but I have no doubt in the real world this relationship would fizzle in a week. I mean, I guess we can put this down to the search for comfort in a pressure-cooker environment, and accept it for what it is, but if the rest of the season replays the opening notes of this discussion – Daya snaps at Bennett, then blames it on her hormones, Bennett fumbles unsuccessfully for the right thing to say – then I will be complaining a hell of a lot. Also, the more I watch, the more I realize that I really don’t love how Daya is written in general, I just think Dascha Polanco is awesome, and acting her ass off.
Anyway, the upshot of this interaction is that Daya is reading about folic acid in a pregnancy magazine, and she wants vitamins and stuff. She wants to be better than her mom, wants the best for the baby. Also, she’s thinking about telling the admin about her pregnancy, so she can get better care. Bennett is vehemently against this, for obvious reasons. They’re interrupted before the conversation can progress. I’m not optimistic about any of this.
Red is sitting in Sophia’s salon, gazing at her exhausted reflection in the mirror.
“I want to look fierce.” Sophia asks if she wants to look fierce like *sassy snap* or fierce like *actual animal growl*. As you’ve all probably guessed, Red’s aiming for the second option
“Tired of throwing them pity parties for yourself, huh?”
“I don’t do pity.”
“Those roots are saying otherwise.” OitNB, Sophia is so much better than boilerplate sassy queer hairstylist jokes. Give her a real plot. Anyway, long story short, Red’s doing this because she saw Vee.
“So you wanna impress her?”
“More like, intimidate her.”
“I’ve got just the color for that.” Sophia you deserve so much better than this dialogue. Come on.
Cut to Morello on the phone to her sister. Apparently, Christaphah is getting married. To someone other than her. Raise your hand if you didn’t see this coming. I’m expecting tumbleweed, folks. He’s moving to Albany, not that far away from Litchfield, which is obviously a move to rub his happiness in Morello’s face. Even worse, they stole Morello’s date.
“I will fuckin’ strangle that fuckin’ cooze.” Morello says of Christaphah’s new wife, her voice and honestly her entire body shaking with rage. “My poor baby is so confused,” she’ll say of the man himself a little later. “He doesn’t know that she’s a whore. You don’t go Jessica Simpson when you got Rihanna.” Obviously there’s something up here.
Fucking Silverman, in a coffee shop. The journalist who’s been harassing Fig contacted him after the NPR piece last season, and wants to convince Silverman to put him in touch with Piper for his story. He needs someone on the inside to help out his fraud investigation. Silverman tries to glom on to advance his useless journalism career. In his head, this scoop is his, and he’s mad that he hasn’t tried this yet. He’s the one with the former fiancé in jail! He lies about being in regular contact with Healy to get a smidgen of cred. The other dude buys it for the moment.
In the cafeteria, Gloria’s fielding questions about gluten free food, looking a little weary and pissed about her kitchen duties. She doesn’t relish authority and power the way Red did. She sees it as a responsibility, something she’s doing because nobody else can. She’d give her left tit for a piña colada and a smoke.
“So you and me are like snatch sisters now, right?” Nicky is asking Piper. She’s not wrong, but Piper isn’t really into the discussion of her ex’s vagina. Piper feels like everyone is staring at her.
“It’s great to see you evolving, Chapman. And getting past the whole ‘I’m the star of my own movie and everyone else’s too’ complex.” Junkie philosopher/therapist strikes again. She tells Piper that she really hurt Alex, who came running to her “like an injured lamb.” A lamb with sexy glasses and great tits, she concedes.
“Alex Vause was never a lamb. She was the wolf that eats the lamb.” Piper is, of course, the lamb in this metaphor. Way to take responsibility for your selfish emotional manipulation, kid.
“You can’t blame the wolf. Lamb’s delicious, that’s smart eating.” Enraged, Piper slams the table, and earns a reprimand from a CO. Sophia stops by to say she knew that rumor that she left here looking like Omar from The Wire was a lie, thereby confirming Piper’s narcissism. Thanks, Soph. Nicky, being the emotionally mature one as always, moves on and they have a nice bonding moment. Piper tells her she spent a lot of time in Chicago wondering if she’d die, and if it would even matter if she did.
“In the macro sense, no. You’re one Cheerio in the bulk box of life. But, you fuckin’ tickle me, so I think it would matter.” D’awww, Nicky, you’re too kind. Really. You’re too kind to Piper, I’m not sure she deserves it.
On the other side of the room, Vee approaches Cindy.
“I’m told you work in the warehouse.”
“Nah, got a real sweet gig as a Rockette right now,” she replies with her mouth half full.
“Would you be willing to do an errand for me?”
“Mmm? Well ain’t you real polite, using your white folks’ words to get free work.”
Vee’s got something hidden in an electrical outlet in the warehouse, she’d be grateful if Cindy retrieved it for her. Cindy laughs in her face, but Suzanne has been listening from her mop and bucket the entire time. Ah, we see your endgame, Vee. Stop it. I don’t trust you, leave Suzanne alone.
In the new-prisoner bunk, Soso is crying loudly. Piper offers an inch of tough-love comfort, and Soso takes several miles, talking about her time WWOOFing (Willing Workers On Organic Farms), her best friend Meadow, who wants her to be a metaphorical grasshopper (it’s about the synchronicity of life.), then hugging her “new friend.”Christ.
Silverman goes on a date. It doesn’t go great. His parents are weirdly involved with the whole thing because Jewish parents, am I right? We continue not to care.
In the bathroom, Nicky’s having an intimate moment with someone we haven’t met, who’s enjoying themselves immensely. Nicky’s not totally into it.
Warehouse: Suzanne is putting her floor buffer away, and takes the opportunity to bang the cover off Vee’s secret-hiding-stuff outlet. There’s a pack of cigarettes inside.
In the dorms, Daya and Bennett have another covert conversation while he pretends to reprimand her cleanliness. He got her a present: a bag of raw spinach under her pillow. Full of folic acid! He’s missing the point and Daya isn’t amused. Oh, God, same talk as last time, I knew it. She wants prenatal vitamins, he doesn’t want to risk sneaking them in. He distracts her by asking to meet at “their spot.” “I miss touching you.” Real keeper you’ve got here, Daya.
Suzanne tries to bring Vee a toothbrush in the newbie bunk, but drops it and rushes out when she sees Piper. Vee finds her in the hallway outside pacing and slapping her own head, like she always does when she’s nervous. When Vee asks, she tells her that she’s scared of Piper.
“She’s dangerous, but so am I.” That’s not a boast. Suzanne looks scared of herself.
“That white girl?” Vee says incredulously. “Listen. In my day, the Black women ran this place. And I say ‘women’ because that’s what we were. Not a bunch of little girls with bad attitudes. Now, I see you, you understand. I see you. You’re a smart, strong Black woman.”
Suzanne pulls the pack of cigarettes from her waistband and offers them to Vee. Vee takes them, and holds Suzanne’s hand.
“Everybody else around here underestimates you, but not me.” Ok, this is textbook manipulation. She’s creating emotional dependency, and pitting the two of them against a nebulous enemy. At the end of the day, she tells Suzanne, you are a garden rose, and that bitch is a weed. She calls Suzanne her friend and hugs her and Suzanne looks pretty fucking overcome with emotion. She needed this.
Nicky is having another amorous encounter in a bathroom stall, presumably with someone new. Boo stands outside to heckle her performance. Nicky fires right back without missing a beat. The trash-talking here’s pretty graphic, and my mom reads these sometimes, so maybe I’ll hold off on recounting it word for word. Also, hi mom. The girls starts moaning and Boo proclaims a touchdown.
Vee pays a visit to Gloria at her desk in the back of the kitchen. She compliments the food before flashing her pack of smokes and proposing a trade.
Piper and Pennsatucky are meeting with Caputo. No one notices Tucky’s teeth, much to her disappointment. Piper would like to behave like a model inmate, and feels she no longer poses a threat. Caputo wants to make sure that they can all put this behind them. The administration finds them both at fault, but Piper insists that Tucky didn’t hit her.
“While I admire your incessant need to be special, Chapman, she did. Unless you want to explain how else you wound up in the snow with your face bashed in…” This last bit seems to be news to Piper and her addled memory. Caputo misses this, and supposes her ego will be alright with Doggett getting a few punches in. He forces an awkward hug between the two, to assure him of their new friendship, then asks them to close the door on their way out. He starts to take out his giant bottle of lotion and unbuckle his pants, but stops midway. Character development.
Red and Vee see each other in the hallway, and approach each other in a kitschy faux-Western faceoff, complete with imitation Ennio Morricone soundtrack. They meet at the middle for a hug that might be as much as 30% sincere. They exchange a few passive-aggressive snipes about drug laws these days, and the current state of the kitchen.
“Oh, Red, I’m getting too old for this shit. I’ve been back here two days and already I can see the game has changed.”
“Think this time I’m just gonna keep my head down, read my books, do my time like the good Lord intended.” HA. HAHAHAHA. “These old bones need peace and quiet.”
“That sounds nice,” Red responds. “Ambitious, and bullshit, but nice.”
Suzanne asks Piper to talk with her in the hallway.
“I’m real sorry for what I did. Please don’t be mad at me!” she pleads with Piper.
“No, Suzanne, you saved me!” Piper explains how the events of FLASHBACK No. 5, listed below made it look like a fair fight, and allowed her to come back. She’s grateful. She asks if Suzanne wants to do movie night together. Suzanne rebuffs her. She is a garden rose.
In the CO locker room, Bennett is changing after a shower, and we see his amputated leg for the first time. He’s examining his prosthetic. It’s got a hollow space.
Nicky is sitting on her bed, recording an entry in what appears to be a diary of her sexual conquests. “BORING” is written in all caps. She hides the diary before going to the source of the loud sobbing in the background: Morello. She climbs onto her bed and offers a shoulder to cry on. “That whore is stealing my date!” Morello says. No, not her release date, her wedding date. Christaphah. Nicky doesn’t seem fazed by this revelation. She lets Morello be loudly irrational about the whole thing, stroking her comfortingly the whole time. “Fuck Christopher. I bet he sucks dicks.”
Piper comes upon Soso lying in her bunk.
“What are you doing?” She’s setting her “intention” for the day, whatever hippie bullshit that is.
“Well, set your intention in your own bed.”
“You are so much like Meadow it kills me! You know, traditionally, women are more communal than men. That’s why most women are less violent. I read that in a book about matriarchy in Papua New Guinea.” It’s kind of surreal to watch Piper being accosted with the same (kind of) breezy bourgeois myopia she wielded herself when she arrived. And still does to some extent. “Anyway,” Soso continues, “I think maybe if you shared a little more easily you might not have beaten that girl up, you know?” Nice move, there, newbie.
“No, Soso. I don’t know. No one has a fucking clue what you are talking about, ever, and I definitely do not need your advice. Ever. We are not friends, I am not your new safety blanket, and I am definitely not going to be your new Meadow.” Piper says this deliberately, visibly angry. “I am a lone wolf, Brook. And a vicious one.” Sure you are, honey. “Don’t make me rip your throat out with my teeth.” This last bit is at least partially convincing, but Soso doesn’t really seem to comprehend what’s happening after Piper makes a dramatic exit. Her coping mechanisms are on in full force, and there’s no room for something like this.
The Black inmates are playing charades again, Suzanne back on clock duty. Vee’s reading across the room. Cindy’s still a little ticked off about beings asked for a favor earlier, but Taystee and Watson are watching her warily. Watson’s heard rumors that she used to run Litchfield back in the day. When Taystee reveals her name, Poussey recognizes the name. Taystee’s told her all about Vee.
Flaca delivers a chocolate-frosted cake to Vee’s table, and Vee pointedly invites Suzanne over for a piece. Taystee approaches, but doesn’t accept a peace-offering of cake until Vee offers a heartfelt apology for leaving her. She waves the rest of the group over for cake, too. Vee sets about remodeling their charades-game to include Suzanne. She moves over to begin playing with her hair. Maybe it’s time for a new look, Suzanne.
Outside the kitchen, Gloria and Aleida are attempting to smoke Vee’s cigarettes, and choking on the smoke.
“These are stale as fuck! Where’d you get these, 1983?”
RELEVANT FLASHBACKS: Suzanne’s Childhood Edition
- Baby Suzanne is four or five, dressed in a wing-adorned fairy costume and running gleefully down a hospital hallway, pursued by her white adoptive father. They enter a room containing Suzanne’s mother, also white, looking exhausted and holding her newborn baby. “I dressed myself, mama,” Suzanne proclaims proudly. Then “she’s so pretty!” with regards to the baby, “she looks like you and daddy.” They hesitantly grant Suzanne the right to hold her new sister, Grace. “Hello Grace, I’m your best friend and your big sister, Suzanne! Just me and you. You and me. You and I.” When her father takes the baby back, Suzanne launches into the beginning stages of a tantrum, which her parents can’t do much to quell. A nurse (middle-aged, Black) who has been watching this entire time chooses now to step in. She calms Suzanne with a few words of commiseration, then offers to fix her hair. Suzanne’s mother looks on with relief as the nurse begins twisting her daughter’s ‘fro into her now-signature Bantu knots.
- Suzanne and her sister are being dropped off at a birthday slumber party by their mother. The mother who answers the door does not seem pleased that Suzanne will be joining them, and says so once the girls have gone inside. Is this because she’s Black? Mrs. Warren asks accusingly. It’s because this is a sleepover for six year olds, and Suzanne is 10. Mrs. Warren goes off on a rather unfocused rant about equality and self-esteem and how she will not have her child labeled “less than,” and I guess it’s an ok character moment for her, but I’d rather have had the time with Suzanne herself. The other mother lets Suzanne stay, because really, what can you say to that? I really don’t know what the show wanted us to get out of this scene, it just kind of seems like a contrived way to get this rant out of Mrs. Warren.
- At the slumber party, Suzanne is trying to remove her training bra without taking off her shirt. Patience, my sweet child, every boob-owner learns this essential skill at some point. Her sister approaches to ask which sleeping bag she wants, and also can she please not be weird? “I’m just like everyone else.” Cut to a circle of girls. They’re playing that game where everyone takes a turn telling one line of the same story. The pretty little white girls get something going about a pretty little girl who lives with her family, but then they get to Suzanne. At which point a dragon swoops in and burns down the girl’s house and with her inside. “That’s not how it goes,” the birthday girl tells her. “That’s stupid. You’re stupid.” Suzanne thinks dragons are cool. They are cool, friend. Dragons are very cool.
- At Suzanne’s high school graduation, she’s called to the stage to sing. She looks scared stiff. “Come on, sweetie, this is your chance. Go show them how great you are,” her mother says only a touch too aggressively. Suzanne approaches the podium, still terrified. She hears laughter, and assumes she’s the target. “I can’t! I can’t do it, Mom! No! I can’t! I can’t!” She breaks down in tears, hitting herself.
- At the Christmas pageant from last season, Suzanne chokes again. Norma saves the show, and Taystee grabs stops her from hitting herself. Offstage after the show, she’s recovered, and seems pretty elated until she slams into Martiza and Flaca. They don’t share her enthusiasm, and take the opportunity to mock her for the onstage flub, imitating her head-slapping gesture. Angry, Suzanne walks on, and out into the courtyard, where she sees Piper whaling on Pennsatucky. “No, Mommy!” she screams as she runs to Piper and pops her in the nose, leaving blood dripping down her face. “You’re always pushing me to do these things! No more Mommy!” another blow knocks Piper out, and she lands next to Tucky in the snow.
Ok, sorry this one took me so long, friends! Writing about Suzanne is not easy for me because I’m just so goddamn invested. I know I’ve been terrible about schedules so far, but I’m gonna work on that. Starting after 4th of July weekend, I’ll be trying to get two of these babies out a week. Wouldn’t want to stray too far from the zeitgeist, right? As always, I’d be tickled pink to see you guys comment or tweet at me if you want to talk about the show!