Love is in the air at the Litch, giving the show the perfect opportunity to have all the characters offer their thoughts on the matter. It’s Valentine’s day and Piper, new editor-in-chief of the Litch’s new newsletter (which was pulled right out of Piper’s ass, so to speak, because she was asking too many questions about the facilities), is interviewing all the inmates on the matter of love. The answers are illuminating, from Sophia’s “Horrible pain – that you want again,” to Poussey essentially describing her relationship with Taystee: “Kicking it with someone, talking, making mad stupid jokes and not wanting to go to sleep” to Norma’s perfect wordless description of love as a place of pure peace and comfort. And while Flaca and Maritza’s 5-guy massage with pizza was probably the funniest definition of love, Aleida took the cake for the most vehemently descriptive take: “24/7, deep-dick, can’t-walk-right fucking.”
And in her first flashback, Poussey is revealed to be someone who loves perhaps a little too hard. We’re more interested than ever in her backstory now (the hallmark of a really good flashback). We’re not surprised that she speaks German, but we are a bit surprised that her father seems to have been totally accepting of her gayness. She obviously didn’t grow up without pain in her life (because she carries herself like someone who has), so we’re wondering what exactly landed in her prison, coming as she did from what looks like an accepting, middle class existence.
But like the interviews that are sprinkled throughout the episode defining love, this flashback also helps to explain the intensity of Poussey’s relationship with Taystee. Like we said, she loves hard and she doesn’t seem to love smart - although you could probably say that about 90% of the inmates at the Litch. She’s bound to get hurt by her one-sided relationship with Taystee; especially with Vee so eager to exploit any weakness in her sight. When Poussey confronts Vee over her manipulations of the other girls, calling her a “vampire,” Vee zeroes right in on Poussey’s major weakness: her heart. “Taystee. Will. Never. Love. You.”
All of the ladies are feeling the weight of, as Nikki called it, “This. Stupid. Fucking. Holiday.” Flaca and Maritza bemoan the fact that they’re never going to be as hot again as they are right now, with no one around them to appreciate it. What followed was a kind of cute momentary exploration of girl-on-girl that collapsed into giggles and then sadness. Piper doesn’t feel she has a home anymore after blowing up at Larry and calling him “the moon.” While she had a point and Larry is a big loser dork (“At least people can walk on the moon. People get to close the sun, they burn up.” THAT IS AN AWFUL BURN, LARRY) that’s not how you talk to someone with whom you’re trying to reconcile. She’s no better at interpersonal stuff than anyone else in that prison. Meanwhile, the ever-tragic Healy leaves a creepy voicemail to his nasty wife. “I’m a good man, Katya. You’ll see that. I’m going to make you really proud.” Sounded like something a mass murderer says before heading out to fame and glory.
But the most disturbing form of love finally got the light shown on it that it deserves. We were never among the fans of the show who thought Daya and Bennett had anything that could be considered sweet and romantic. They both clearly convinced themselves that they did, but it was high time for the show to point out that, at its heart, this relationship is irrevocably fucked up. There’s nothing to change the fact that the power balance between these two is seriously off. Granted, they “solved” the problem with makeup sex and avoided doing too much examining of the situation, but you can tell something’s changed in Daya.
But if there’s anyone who’s happy at the Litch right now it’s Red, who knows that love has to be earned if not bought outright in a place like this – and that power only comes if you have people who support you and look to you for help. ” We’re going to need each other soon, All of us,” she pleads to Norma, Gina and Nikkie. “We’re stronger together.” We’re not quite sure how her son managed to find the end of the drain pipe that leads into the shed, but you’ve gotta admire Red for turning a situation around. “Well look who’s back,” says Yoga Jones. But with Vee locking up the cigarette black market and Red locking up the contraband red market, there’s bound to be a turf war – as if there weren’t enough reasons already to worry about this place exploding.
But there are occasional moments of grace in this pile of shit, such as the highly unlikely duo of Suzanne and Lorna, bonding over their shared mental illness. “I know something about loving people who aren’t smart enough to love you back,” says Suzanne, in that heartbreaking way of hers. “I’ll let you in on a little secret I’ve learned: they don’t deserve it.” Lorna admits she still believes in love and asks Suzanne if she thinks that’s sad. “Oh, no,” replies Suzanne. “I think that’s brave.” In a place like prison, believing in love is practically an act of rebellion. Also: Suzanne looks like she gives great hugs. When she’s not smelling your hair, that is.
Note: We’re terrible, no-good lazy TV bloggers with a case of summer-itis that keeps preventing us from doing the multiple-episode reviews we promised. We’re going to switch to multiple reviews per week instead, and pick this up again on Monday or Tuesday, with the next episode, and then, say, Thursday, with the episode after that.
[Photo Credit: K.C.Bailey for Netflix]
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