In the title sequence to OITNB, Regina Spektor’s refrain, “You’ve got time” is an accurate assessment for those who find themselves incarcerated. “Fake It Till You Make It Some More” features inmates with nothing but time delving into the ambitions, obsessions, and preoccupations that consume them.
Whether it’s deterring a thieving animal hybrid, chasing the promise of fulfilling work, or quenching a thirst for human connection, the inmates at Litchfield grapple with how to spend their days — while the new administration have a few ideas of their own.
Ideas Are More Important Than Real Things
“Paranoid racist” Alex remains dutifully obsessive about her possible assassination at the hands of one of Kubra’s lackeys. No amount of ribbing or fantasies about living out lesbian stereotypes by Piper is able to dissuade Alex of this obsession.
Gloria fleeces Norma of her Santeria paraphernalia, saying to her that it’s “not your culture.” But that doesn’t stop Soso from approaching Norma because of her rumored mystical powers. The ever-silent Norma gives Soso a sounding board for her feelings of isolation. Soso wonders aloud, “Why don’t I have people in my life that really care about me?”
Daya may be wondering the same thing as she visits with Ceasar. Bennett is “long gone” with his apartment emptied save for some old clothes and a mug shaped like a grenade. Daya claims the more important bomb is the one she’s carrying in her uterus. With limited options, she’s forced to offer Ms. Powell (Pornstache’s mom) her “do-over baby.” Powell sees through Daya’s posturing that she doesn’t give a shit about what happens to the child, and promises to visit again.
“It’s always five o’clock in prison.” Poussey Washington
Poussey’s predilection for hooch is starting to become a worrisome habit. With her work detail at the library with no books (save for a bed bug infested Koran), she’s got nothing better to do than sleep and drink all day. Going for a taste at 8am, Poussey finds her fermenting stash raided. What she doesn’t know is that it’s concerned friend Taystee who got rid of all her booze. She starts up a new batch with the help of Rice and Taylor who spot a listless “rasquirrel” in a nearby tree that may or may not be intoxicated. The “squacoon” becomes the focus of all of her energy, as Poussey sprinkles the surrounding area with pepper and urine to mark her territory.
What Is Nothing?
Speaking of pee, Caputo runs into “Call Me Danny” Pearson in the bathroom and is unable to do his business, while he, well… can’t seem to do his business. With golf-loving warden sacked, or rather his position has been “absorbed”, Caputo asks for a sit down meeting with the new admin and his employees. Danny happily agrees—with the immediate caveat about how schedules are busy and that it might take a while.
Guards Ford, O’Neill and Bell may bemoan the fact their hours are being cut in half, but these aren’t the only economical worries for the prison; Caputo’s concerned about how the dynamics between the inmates will be offset by a new job detail that pays a whole dollar an hour (almost ten times the going rate) MCC is about to introduce. Again, Danny tells Caputo not to worry about it and that they have a “system”. About to pee his pants, Caputo retreats to the lavatory to take a tinkle without getting more information.
Sick of working in the kitchen and wearing the apron “ironically”, Flaca sees the new work detail as an opportunity to realize her full potential. We are shown a flashback to her past as emo goddess Marisol, an industrious young woman looking to make her own money.
“More often than not, people believe what you tell them.” Marisol’s Mom
The ambitious Marisol guffaws at the prospect of ending up working as a seamstress like her mother who sews designer labels onto homemade clothing. However, she does take a page from her mom’s playbook and just like the knock-off dresses, Marisol makes fake acid strips she sells at her school. All goes according to plan, until she sells to a young boy Jason who jumps off the roof of their school under the impression he was on psychedelics.
She might have been able to craft an existential proposition for dissatisfied customers “Nothing happened… What is nothing?” but Marisol wasn’t prepared for the legal implications that selling fake narcotics to a suicidal boy (now in critical condition) would have her charged with reckless endangerment.
Working For The Man
Red was first introduced to us in season one as an inimitable, fierce, unrelenting force who demanded the respect of not only her peers, but also the staff at Litchfield. Now we see her examining herself in the mirror asking bunkmate Piper about her physical appearance “Is my look off-putting?” Piper reacts with honesty Red respects, suggesting she could calm down her “hardness.” Made over, Red takes her softened look straight to Healy, with a lightened lip, she giggles and flirts with the man. She reaches up to his undone shirt fastening a button and claiming, “Now you’re perfect.”
Perfect my ass.
Not only does Healy practice acute insensitivity by comparing his paperwork to being a “prisoner” and his childhood memory of being terrified and homesick at Woodstock to the ache the inmates must feel being away from their families, Healy also purposely refuses to help fellow counselor Berdie Rogers because she’s “perky.” Said perkiness is more likely an ugly bigoted reaction ripe with jealousy at the fact Berdie is actually doing her mother-fucking job.
Alone in his office, Healy stares at Red with those baby blues. Feeling useless in retirement, Red states she “yearns” for “stimulation” and that she has a “hunger.” Healy practically licks his lips, understanding her intentions as a sexual hunger for his juicy business. But it’s not him she’s referring to — her desire is to be back in the kitchen where she feels useful and fulfilled.
“Jesus Red, I thought you were different.” Like Piper and Pennsatucky before her, Red has ultimately disappointed Healy for not focusing all of their attention on him. He pouts, feeling used at the prospect Red would ask him for this favour.
But can we say that her only motivation was to shake Healy down? I can’t help but think behind her motivations there are some legitimate feelings Red harbors for him (for whatever reason).
Put To The Test
“Everybody’s got fucking opinions.” Tasha “Taystee” Jefferson
What is the new lucrative position that promises a buck an hour? Is it growing GMO wheat? Fighting fires? Call centre? Trash pick up? Party planning? Assembling nuclear warheads? Whatever the position might be, the promise of a more financially rewarding job creates a schism between the inmates.
The applicants for the new position are corralled into the cafeteria to write an aptitude test. The open-ended questions spur existential crises for many of the inmates unsure of the correct answers to true or false questions such as: “People are inherently good.”
“Oh lordy this is hawd.” Lorna Morello
When the test results come out there’s some celebration, if not obnoxious boasting (ahem, Cindy). Even though Flaca was unable to finish the test, she was still selected. She declares herself better then those who work in the kitchen and ignores her crestfallen BFF Ramos.
Suzanne berates herself for flunking out and wonders if she should have flipped all her answers, “The opposite of me is better” she sighs. In a mothering tone, Taystee comforts her, “The opposite of you is boring. You’re obviously too creative for that job.” It’s a truly lovely moment.
While the inmates thoroughly examine the reasons why they were (or were not) selected, Danny reveals his “system” — the test was just something he found on the internet and forty quizzes were randomly selected from the pile. Danny explains the highly manipulative move, “They’re not mad at us for not giving them the job. They’re mad at themselves for not having what it takes.”
Uncritical of the insidious mechanics involved, Caputo is exasperated Danny wouldn’t at least look at the files for any of these inmates to see if there could be some potential dangers. The disconnected-buffoon Danny has a “doh!” moment, and congratulates Caputo for catching this.
The selected parties wait anxiously at the entrance to their new work area, as Danny welcomes them smugly urging them to take the job as seriously as they did in selecting them.
He unveils a room equipped with sewing machines, “Welcome to Whispers”, a sweatshop if I ever saw one. Flaca’s expression communicates it all: she may not be better than everyone else, she’s right back where she started, there isn’t anything about this job that makes her special.
Cindy picks up a pattern sitting next to one of their new work stations and asks, “We makin’ panties?!”
They’re makin’ panties.
Out In The Yard
There’s something about Cindy’s reluctance to running, “Titties flapping everywhere” that’s so relatable and hilarious I think we might be soul mates. Seriously, she’s killing it in terms of the best lines of the season.
Taylor’s exclamation, “I just want to get my buzz on” in German gives a small taste of her back-story to come.
Poor Soso, she’s trying so hard to be friends with SOMEONE, and it’s a really hilarious moment when she tries to connect with the meth heads by asking, “So, Walmart right?”