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ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK Recap Season 3, Episodes 2 – 4: Nothing in Between

Listen up, inmates: this is a recap of Orange is the New Black‘s third season — in particular the episodes “Bed Bugs and Beyond,” “Empathy is a Boner Killer,” and “Finger in the Dyke” — if you haven’t seen them, turn away now! Because lemme tell ya, this one here is chockablock with spoilers so don’t say we didn’t warn ya, mmkay?

So we knew heading into season three — after that premiere episode — that things were bound to change around Litchfield this go around. But in only 3 episodes it’s been a proverbial rollercoaster. With Piper coming clean, Bennett breaking bad, Taystee and Crazy Eyes coping with reality, Nicky being sent to max, and Boo and Pennsatucky bonding, we’re seeing a heck of a lot more shake-ups than even we anticipated at the onset. And that doesn’t even include the managerial changes the prison’s about to see. Man oh man, Orange is the New Black: what’s gotten into you? We like it!

So what’s happening at Litchfield? Plenty. After the reveal that things were going well with Caputo in charge, a case of the bed bugs brought about the reality: namely, the state’s plan to shut Litchfield down in two months. So long, mattresses, stability, and sense of community these women have become used to — they are a thing of the past courtesy of the state of Connecticut. COLD. And while it meant that Caputo would likely get a transfer elsewhere (hey, he was doing a good job), the rest of the staff were SOL. A fact that didn’t sit well with our new warden, forcing him to take extreme measures.

And by that we mean attempt to blackmail Fig and her very-much-a-gay-man husband to help figure out an alternative. That’s the thing about Caputo: he may be a total slimeball dickbag, but he actually really cares. It’s the confusing reality of, y’know, human duality. And in another shocking twist, Fig did ol’ Beer Can a solid, hooking him up with a management company, MCC, who has their sites on acquiring a new prison for privatization (read: money).

This was the uphilliest of battles, though, as MCC was less than keen on the idea of a female prison. They’re so much more expensive than male prisons because it’s costly to deal with the miracles of human evolution that are uteruses and shit. While giving the management team a tour — complete with guest star and one of my all-time favorite comedic storytellers Mike Birbiglia — one of the old white dudes chirped, “Do you find it’s more difficult because of their health requirements?” (because of course he did), to which CO O’Neil offered, “They’re all synced up” so outside of one week a month that’s a bit scary (because ahhhhhhhhhhh emoooootiooooons!), things are by-and-large manageable. Crazy to think, right?

But still, theirs was a mission nearly impossible because, as you know, “The great thing about men is that they don’t have uteruses.” And as we all know, a lack of one is an incredibly huge asset — minus that pesky “humanity’s existence hinges on working uteruses” thing. But I mean, hey: minor details, amirite?!

Elsewhere, major departures took hold. After the bed bugs showed up, every mattress and book was burned (minus the Qur’an), leaving poor Taystee and P out of jobs and the entire prison without a reliable system of education, entertainment, and enlightenment. Sigh. Let us all have a moment/pour one out for this darkest of days.

And then there was Nicky. God dammit Nicky Nichols, I’m so upset that you’re in maximum security now. (Though I sure did love that “clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose” Friday Night Lights nod.) More than Luscheck or Nicky’s habit of packratting, I sorta blame Big Boo for this one, harping on the heroin’s existence and pressuring Nicky to sell it (while doing none of the work to get out of there). Trusting Luscheck wasn’t a great idea, either, but homegirl was in a corner and itchily desperate. It felt downright irresponsible and selfish of Big Boo to put Nicky in such a position, although we know this one ultimately falls on her for keeping that wee baggy of heroin around in the first place. Damn it, Nicky!

The flashbacks to her life before prison paint a fairly common picture of drug addiction: unhappy and dissatisfied but rich, Nicky was enabled her whole entire life and therefore grew up to be a fairly selfish and self-serving person. Hell if I haven’t known a Nicky or two (or 5) in my lifetime: and they’re always proof (to me at least) of just how awful having money can be if it’s all you’ve ever known. Particularly when you’ve an addictive persuasion.

On the opposite end of that particular spectrum — and hear us out on this one — was Healy. What a sad sack of a misguided man. He’s addicted to bad decisions and affection, which is exactly why he’s fallen for Red in the wake of his seemingly inevitable divorce from his mail-order bride. Especially now that Red, herself, has decided to divorce her own husband for lying to her about the state of the family business.

Seeing an opportunity to “fix” a woman who might finally love him back in Red’s own pain over that (and the loss of Nicky), Healy spent the last two episodes essentially courting our favorite Russian mafiosa. Visiting her at the garden, buying her rose seeds: the man’s got it bad for a strong personality with an accent, what can we say? But will these two find actual, true love in such a hopeless place?

Not if our model for penitentiary romance is any indicator: that’s right, folks, Bennett and Daya are on the rocks. Although we’re going to be honest — not so sure he’s just up-and-left and isn’t coming back. Color us optimists but there’s something about his nature that just feels way, way too upstanding for all of that. Maybe he’s off trying to find some sort of financial situation that will make it feasible for him support the baby? Or — and I could totally see this being a thing — after seeing how truly abhorrent and hellishly awful Aleida’s boyfriend/caretaker of her children was, he decided to disappear so that Daya would send the baby to Pornstache’s mother for a better life. (Hi Mary Steenburgen I see you there doing your Greenwich’s Best!) Whatever the case, we’re still holding out hope that this was more a creation of scheduling inconvenience (Matt McGorry who plays Bennett is on How to Get Away with Murder on ABC, after all) and not some great and terrible betrayal.

Though we’re also prepared for it to be exactly that. Not that Daya looks all that alright with the development (no surprise there). The poor girl took his absence-without-a-word bit pretty hard, bumming a smoke off of Gloria even though she’s super pregnant. Why, it was only the day before he disappeared that Bennett had proposed to Daya with an adorably charming, made-it-himself gum wrapper engagement ring. And during his flashbacks we definitely got a sense of his character when he spoke to the Iranian soldiers way nicer than most of his other wartime colleagues. Still: the foreshadowing of his general calling him a deserter certainly could point us the other way, too. BUT BUT BUT like, how could a guy who does this be bad, y’know?

Someone who is definitely as bad as she’s proven to be thus far? Piper (of course)! While she did finally tell Alex the truth about her confounding return to jail, it did not go over as well as Piper would have hoped …for about 10 seconds. It wasn’t long until these dysfunctional lovebirds were hate-sexing each other into another dimension of toxicity. (Seriously why does anyone root for these two? They’re AWFUL.) Though it may have seemed sweet that Piper finally opened up about how she feels about Alex during theater class, ultimately it was another gambit. This girl only does something when it benefits her: sorta like the whole bit where she told her parents Alex was her girlfriend.

Because while I agree with the sentiment that Piper is exactly where she needs to be right now, she still needs to learn a LOT more about herself before she’s ready to actually understand her own actions and their implications. Ever since confessing their love for one another, Alex and Piper have — interestingly enough! — not had sex. Theirs is a relationship built on chaos and volatility, not actual feelings and emotions. It’s an escape for each of them, not some sort of deeper connection.

It’s exactly what Piper said to Alex at one point before her confession: Delusion can be very comforting to people.

Which is what we saw in spades in the Big Boo flashbacks to her upbringing and general anger: her family loved delusion, relished it, required it. Swimming upstream was not allowed and the status quo brought them comfort — something Big Boo refused to do growing up. Though it caused her some anger and trouble — and some serious mommy issues — ultimately it’s what’s kept her going all this time and resulted in her doing the right thing when it came to scamming the crazy Evangelicals. Let Pennsatucky keep up that racket, Boo. You just do you (but also maybe be less thieve-y about it).

Elsewhere in the episode (because HOO MAN is it a challenge to condense three episodes of this show into a single recap), Flaca and Maritza continued to be the best; Berdie Rogers proved herself our favorite, most subversive female character on the show yet (seriously, did anyone else LOSE IT when Healy tried to mimic her with his “It’s Alex Vause you dumb bitch!” line?); Gloria tried to keep control; Soso has finally accepted reality (BYE MEADOW is the new BYE FELICIA); the meth heads continued their reign of ridiculousness; O’Neil and Wanda Bell definitely gave everyone bed bugs; Norma’s cast quite a spell on the superstitious; Maria has been just-barely coping with not being able to see her daughter until she’s out (probably); oh yeah and Taystee and Crazy Eyes have bonded themselves for better or for worse — probably definitely for worse.

Now stay away from disinfectant douches, ladies. Until next time.

Overheard in Lock-Up

  • “So what, I’ve got imitation crabs?”
  • “Tits, pits, and lady bits.”
  • “Uh, when did our bathroom become gentrified?”
  • “We’re about to deliver some serious freedom through their skulls.”
  • “See? I can say cliches, too, haha!”
  • “All we are to each other is scars.”
  • “The ultimate book return.”
  • “God was the original fag.”
  • “Can you fix it yourself?” “If I concentrate extra-hard with my lady brain!”
  • “Are you waiting for the oceans to rise and reclaim their bounty?”

What did you think of Litchfield’s new turn? Let’s hear it in the comments.

Alicia is the Associate Editor of The Nerdist. She would probably be friends with Taystee were she in jail. Find her on Twitter @alicialutes.

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