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ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK Season 3 Premiere Recap: You Mothers

We all knew the carnival would end eventually. And oh, what a clean-up it will surely be. After a rip-roaring second season finale that put us all on high alert, Orange is the New Black returned to Netflix (several hours early, mind you!) on the back of an empty piñata. Whoops! The ripple effects of last season’s superstorm Wanda even pulled Alex Vause back into the mix (quelle suprise)! Anything’s possible now, you guys.

We got back to basics on a biological level: talkin’ ’bout moms. Can’t live with ’em, can’t be born without ’em! Mothers have a profoundly deep effect on anyone who has one (and even those who don’t), and that much was clear in the myriad flashbacks we saw in the season three premiere — “Mother’s Day” — episode. Poussey’s sad and missing her mom, Cindy and Taystee are glad to be without, and Crazy Eyes is in denial that her surrogate has died (R.I.P. V). And, for the first time ever, we got a deeper dive on folks like Pennsatucky, Healy, and Nicky, and broadened our understanding of folks like Sophia, Daya, Gloria, and Maria.

Maternal instinct, responsibility, and influence were a major theme throughout the episode, starting with Pennsatucky’s rose-colored view of her manipulative and gaming-the-system mother. Christened in Mountain Dew that one was: all in the name of her mom getting extra money for her mentally ill/ADHD-having daughter. Because what’s a little bit of extra sugar for a kid, right? There’s no way such deception and over-caffeination would turn out to be harmful! Only WHOOPS KINDA.

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Pennsatucky was largely the star of the episode. Her backstory and grappling with her own abortions in the wake of the kid-friendly carnival on Mother’s Day, was particularly poignant. This is a woman who has struggled to accept her reality, and has made many a concession and/or sad rationalization in the name of staying sane. Now that she’s joined Big Boo and Nicky in supporting The Gay Agenda, though, she’s privy to some seriously sound advice from the former. Adorned in twisted clown make-up (because of course), Big Boo gave it to Pennsatucky straight in regards to the larger societal benefits of abortion. And the best part? Ms. Holier-than-thou actually came around and agreed.

And, really, is there any better imagery than a twisted clown in a popsicle stick graveyard extolling the virtues of abortion to an Evangelical pouring-one-Mountain-Dew-out-for-her-dead-baby-homies?

Elsewhere, Sophia grappled with her new role in her son’s life — not really his mother, but not really his father, either. But Sophia, being the intrepid woman that she is, found her way to relate to her son: shaving. “Who’s gonna know better? Someone who just shaves their face or somebody who shaves everywhere?” Though it grossed her teenaged son out (because of course/teenagers, man), it ultimately was a lesson that needed telling — because if Sophia wants in on her son’s growing up, she’s going to have to find ways to relate to him, as uncomfortable as that uncharted territory might be for awhile. Such is life.

Though we will say this: we’re not so sure how to feel about her advice to her son about girls. That whole “Practice on an insecure girl” and the there’s-no-way-this-would-ever-be-said-by-a-teen-boy response, “You really want to live in a world where men treat women like that?” “Lord help me I do,” song-and-dance was …interesting. It’s not always what you say but how you say it, you know? We’re still unsure how to take that in and process it. But it’s like that CO said, “We believe what we believe.” Intention doesn’t always figure into the equation. But hey, Sophia was assigned male at birth, so perspective is everything.

Like the new POV going on at Litch itself! Now that Fig is gone and Caputo’s running the show, things are …surprisingly better? Which isn’t to say that attitudes have change — surely you jest, Healy’s still around — in regards to the inmates and women in general, but a new life has been turned and a nicer Litchfield is apparently de rigeur now. Heck, even Red’s trying out a new attitude (even closing up the pipeline). Well…for the time being, we’re sure.

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But let’s have a moment for Healy’s mother before we forget. Because HOO BOY DOES THAT EVER EXPLAIN HIS OPINIONS OF WOMEN, DOESN’T IT? Wow. WOW. We’re going to need to see more of that.

We’re super-keen on the new officer, Rogers, too, thanks to her brilliant observation while Caputo and Bennett (who’s not keeping his baby-mama-secret all that, uh, secretive) were dishing about the electrical outage:”They’re not girls, they’re inmates. Or women.” “Or electricians.” We’re going to LIKE this one!

Moving onto the “main” plot (we guess? Because white people/she wrote the book?): Piper continued to be the worst after manipulating/exploiting the system to get Alex back in lock-up. If you’d forgotten, here’s a quickie reminder: feelin’ straight-up selfish after Alex got paroled, Pipes had the nerve to rat on her GF’s plan to skip town, sending her right back to Litchfield. Instead of confessing her sins, though, Piper instead told Alex it wasn’t her fault, but that “It was the system, you got caught in the system.” Oh also it was to allegedly save Alex’s life from the drug kingpin who clearly would’ve had it out for her, but let’s be real about Piper’s actual motivations: to have someone obsessed with her on the inside.

Hopefully soon we’ll meet Pornstache’s Greenwich, CT mother (MARY STEENBURGEN! YASSS!) and watch Aleida try and manipulate the fuck out of her. Poor, poor Daya and her baby. Sigh.

Overheard in Lock-Up

  • “Fiesta like there’s no mah-nana.”
  • “I’m just trying to find some fucking peace.”
  • “Sucks when hot chicks start to cool down.”
  • “You’ll be out like Cedric Diggory!”
  • “I’ve got a soft spot for the pathetics.
  • “You were living in Queens!”
  • “I spank it out, Bennett. … Like decent men have being doing for time in memorial.”
  • “Oh my god this is such a metaphor for their lives.”

What did you think about the episode? Let us hear it in the comments.

GIF Credit: Tumblr

Alicia is the Associate Editor of The Nerdist and would definitely be a terrible inmate. Find her on the Tweet Machine @alicialutes.

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