OITNB - Finger in the Dyke

Orange Is the New Black 3.4: To Thine Own Self

“Rise and shine. Another crappy day in prison.” – Wanda Bell

Positive PR for the prison system advertizes incarceration as a means of rehabilitation for criminals. Time away from the general population, access to therapy, work and educational programs are all heralded as a means to taking offenders and converting them into productive members of civilized society, or so someone like Joe Caputo would have you think.

“Finger In the Dyke” juxtaposes a tour of the prison meant to relay that all is well at Litchfield, with the day-to-day reality of how many of the inmates are either sinking or swimming during their stay.

A Higher Calling

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OITNB - Finger in the Dyke

Pennsatucky sorts through the mail from her “Evangelicrazy fan club” filled with dogmatic literature, as well as some cash for her commissary. Penn tells Boo the real reason she shot the nurse at the abortion clinic wasn’t for any “holy righteous” reasons these religious fanatics believe, but rather the woman hurt her feelings. She looks shyly up at Boo, “You still like me?” Boo laughs explaining it makes a lot more sense for her to get pissed off at “some bitch” rather than demonizing a perfect stranger. Boo’s intrigued by the prospect of getting money from the “pulsing forehead veins” and cooks up a scheme to masquerade as a reformed Christian.

Scenes from Boo’s past (as Carrie) show that she’s never wanted to wear dresses or act “ladylike”, much to the frustration of her mother. We see the grown Carrie, on the way home with a woman, rage against a young man who calls her and her companion “fucking dykes.” When the woman is alarmed at her anger, Carrie claims, “I wish I had a sob story. Ain’t no dramatic origin story here. Just a big ol’dyke who refuses to apologize.” However, there may be more to her struggles with her identity than she lets on to her possible one-night stand.

After discussing the “lesbian bed death” between her and Alex, Piper visits with her family to celebrate her birthday. Piper’s dad sits silently until provoked by Piper to speak, “Your thirty-two, you’re getting further and further behind in life.” But Piper doesn’t agree. Like the postmodern ice cream movement her brother’s dedicated himself to, Piper has found her niche: prison.

She claims that she’s learning skills like speaking Spanish and fixing things. She announces that she has “a girlfriend” (news that she promptly brings back to Alex and asks to make things official). With Larry out of the picture, and now that she’s dropped the soap… business she had with Polly (sorry for the joke, I had to), Piper has the privilege (if I ever saw one) of not knowing what she’s going to do when she gets out. But whose fault is that? Given her relatively brief sentence one would think she would have a plan. But instead we are given a different conclusion—she actually likes being in prison. A fact she flaunts in the faces of her affluent parents like some kind of petulant child.

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An Ugly Stereotype

OITNB - Finger in the Dyke

 

“This is why men are better then women, they don’t have uteruses” Some Douchey SVP

Caputo meets the “SVPs” from the MMC cooperation looking to buy the prison. We see a nervous Danny Paget (he doesn’t introduce himself with an SVP in front of his name, so we’re not entirely sure what his job is). Danny seems like a nervous idiot flustered about his choice of dress and how it will seem to “the women.”

“The women” prove to be the biggest concern for the big wigs. When they come upon the scene of an uncharacteristically make-up free Morello weeping openly over the loss of Nicky, and Suzanne (in full “Crazy Eyes” mode) explaining to a mop that Vee is alive; they allude to menses, inquiring how the women’s “health requirements” impact day-to-day operations. In an effort to help, CO Donaldson tries to put them at ease by claiming the inmates are “synched up” and despite “…a rough couple days” it’s not an issue. Citing his experience growing up in a house full of women, he’s knows the drill. It’s a rare insight into a guard notorious for his sternness and no nonsense.

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Daya begins to realize Bennett may never come back. Pregnant and alone, she desperately tries to get Caputo’s attention. Angry she’s marring his perfect introduction, he’s harsh with her. Citing that some people—unlike her—are able to leave the prison. When the SVPs express their concerns about having a pregnant inmate, Caputo lies and says she’s just fat.

Ol’Joe might be trying to save the physical building and job security of the employees of the prison, but he’s certainly doing a great job ignoring and maligning the needs of the inmates, while placating the misogynist attitudes of his possible future employers.

You Are Here

 

OITNB - Finger in the Dyke

“Prison is not cool.” – Brook Soso

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While Caputo gives a smoke and mirrors tour of the facility and Piper muses about how this is might be where she’s “meant to be” right now the reality of incarceration isn’t so glossy for other women at Litchfield.

Soso despondently listens to her flowery friend Meadow share stories about concerts and strawberry kush. She tries to relay to her hippy companion what it’s really like to be behind bars, “I feel stupid being here.” Soso’s been slowly drowning in loneliness this season and her hippy-dippy sunshine attitude has all but faded. Meadow tells her she’s a bummer and Soso tells her to never come back.

Gloria attempts to scare her wayward son straight. She’s doesn’t want him to end up like her, and demands he come visit her every week so they can work on his homework so she can mother him properly. But there’s one problem: there’s no one who can drive him. Daya, looking for “something” to help her deal with the pain of her abandonment asks Gloria for a cigarette, “If you were my kid…” Gloria begins, “Ah, who am I kidding, if you were my kid you’d be fucked up too” and gives her a smoke. Could we not say that these two women—just like Soso—feel the helplessness of merely “surviving” while the world continues on the outside without them?

After a close encounter involving Suzanne stripping off her clothes almost interrupting the SVP’s tour, Taystee woefully levels with Suzanne, “Vee is dead. Vee is dead! Vee is dead!” Taystee breaks down into tears. Suzanne finally accepts the truth, and the two embrace.

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The Saviour Complex

OITNB - Finger in the Dyke

Sister Ingalls coaches Boo on bible passages to quote to the homophobic Reverend. She and Penn have reservations about Boo’s ability to keep up the façade of one who has chosen to “walk on the path of decency” given that she’s been a “gravy boat licker” for so long. But Boo’s determined to give her performance, and gets a makeover from Burset. With the turn of the chair we see Big Boo transformed into a feminine looking woman. “You look fucking weird.” says Pennatucky. Boo laments, “I look like my mother.”

A flashback shows Carrie at a hospital to visit her terminally ill mother. It’s a gut-wrenching scene where her father is disappointed she’s shown up dressed as her fearless butch self. He compares her choice of expression to a costume, and that it will harm her mother to see her like that. Carrie explains how hard she’s had to fight for who she really is and claims, “I refuse to be invisible. Not for you, not for mom… not for anybody.”

After practicing a “big hetero hello” Boo is ready to pass as the poster child of the “testament to the power of prison rehabilitation.” She seems to be doing fine until Revered Lawler opens his mouth. We see the word “faggot” and “thieving dyke” hit Boo to her core, and when he says that she’ll need to cover up her “Butch” tattoo for a photo to circulate to the congregation, it’s the last straw. She quotes Corinthians: 69, “Suck my big fat dyke dick!”

Besides the comic moments it produced, this short-lived rouse emphasized an unrelenting and admirable quality about Carrie “Boo” Black; no matter societal pressure, family, or even the promise of riches, there’s no fucking way she’s going to be anything other than who she is. This quality isn’t just something that solidifies Boo’s identity for us—but it’s also something that deeply affects new BFF Pennsatucky. It’s a beautiful moment watching her and (the real) Boo talking over snacks, “I’m glad you’re back. Seeing you like that was scarier than seeing that dolphin penis at SeaWorld.” There’s a tacit agreement their friendship is based on honesty—to each other and themselves.

Caputo downs a glass of brown liquor woo-hooing in his office at the news that the prison will be acquired by MCC. Blinded by the bottom line, Caputo neglects to really listen to what Danny has to say about the mega corporation’s plans, “We toured the Maximum Security Facility before and with the potential for the unused space, it was a no brainer.” Like the “codified national meal schedule” Danny suggests, why doesn’t Caputo asks more questions? He’s so intent on simply keeping the prison up and running he ignores the bigger picture. It seems more like a story he can tell himself that he saved the prison, but what is it that’s actually being salvaged?

Out In The Yard

Besides the bratty-as-fuck Piper, these women’s day-to-day survival in prison life isn’t procured by having a sense of purpose through work or acquiring skills, but rather the strength and support they get (or not) from one another.

Healy gives Red rose seeds, even though he doesn’t need even bother to notice that’s what they are. Is it love that’s blooming between the two? Honestly, gross.

My favourite line from this episode is when Gloria calls Flaca and Ramos “Lucy and Ethel without the charm” after they shamelessly flirt with the SVPs.

I would straight up pay money for a recording of Taystee, Cindy, and Poussey covering Black Eyed Peas songs. Hell, I’d pay for them just to sing days of the week.



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