Amidst the chaos and confusion of this world it’s no wonder some of us look for something to provide guidance. From religious zeal to playful fantasy, “Tongue Tied” reveals how some either devote or submit themselves to a higher calling.
The Laying Of Hands
“Are you a good witch or a bad witch?” Frieda
In the finale of season one at the Christmas pageant she surprises all when she beautifully sings, “I Saw The Light”, but she hasn’t uttered a single syllable since.
Her golden silence has come to be something to be revered as she delivers morning blessings and performs hexes. To many at Litchfield she is the light—a glimmering ray of hope for many who find themselves in darkness.
And like any other religious figure, Tongue Tied gives us Norma’s origin story.
Coincidentally enough, she’s no stranger to cultish communities. Sometime in the 1960’s the doe-eyed twenty-something Norma walks into a, “Transformation Workshop for Body, Mind, and Spirit.” Hippy leader guru Mac greets her and the reason for her perpetual silence is revealed as she tries to form words but is prohibited by a debilitating stutter. The guru welcomes her by blessing her third eye with the touch of his thumb.
The Good Book
“Read the stupid fucking manual.” Joe Caputo
In addition to encyclopedia-sized manuals, the new mega corporation’s training for a crop of freshly hired guards includes an informational video about sexual harassment. Caputo’s own forty-hour hands-on training regime is interrupted by the cost-cutting Danny who is sure the voluminous literature provided by MCC combined with “on the job” (i.e. inexperienced guards working with criminals) training is more than adequate.
Instructional manuals aren’t the only literature being circulated around Litchfield. Suzanne is dejected when Berdie calls the story she writes for drama class “pornographic.” Suzanne prefers “erotically inclined” and defends her highly imaginative script claiming it’s about love, “It’s two people connecting… with four other people… and aliens.”
Taystee tells her not to give up on her writing citing examples like Stephen King and J.K. Rowling, but when Taystee finally reads the “purple love muscle” filled saga, she doesn’t dig it either. Looking for some kind of escape, Poussey reads it and despite it being “weird as fuck” she enjoys the “squish mitten” laden stories.
However, not everyone feels like reading: in order to keep eating the deliciousness that is kosher meals, Cindy decides to do some research in order to make her culinary inclined Judaism appear authentic. Instead of reading the “Jewish Bible” she goes for the “experience” and consults Woody Allen films.
Everything Is A Thing
From nose sucking, Furries, Bronies, to romantic feelings towards one’s home appliances, conversation at the panty mill turns to kinkster inclinations. The subject of dirty underwear—and one’s desire to sniff them—arises. Piper’s no stranger to the penchant for soiled panties, recalling the time she was in Chicago where she traded her ripe britches to an alleged hit man.
Speaking of her time in Chicago, Lolly’s been transferred to Litchfield, something that sparks Alex’s paranoid spidey sense. To be fair to Alex, Lolly is a peculiar individual.
At first she doesn’t recognize Piper, and when she finally does she’s all like, “Oh, you’re the murderer!” (Piper thought she’d killed Pennsatucky when they met) but when she tells her Penn is fine she says, “Oh you should have killed her” in a suspiciously causal tone. Anyway, Piper apologizes about not coming to Lolly’s aid when she was getting the shit kicked out of her in the yard in Chicago, Lolly says it’s no big deal.
“Looking to you to guide them, when you can’t even guide yourself.” Galina “Red” Reznikof
Norma happily returns to her old position as loyal friend/manicurist/masseuse to the Russian firecracker. When Gina and the Crying Lady approach Norma asking if she would come to the chapel to hold a service, Red scoffs at the idea Norma is some kind of “magical mute” and shoos them away. Norma is “Closed For Business”, but when Red expresses her despair at not being able to really take care of the kitchen, Norma gives her a magical squeeze, which Red thinks is bullshit.
Norma “Moon” has a history as the blind follower. In a marriage ceremony to the guru we see her joyfully offer her body and soul to the bearded leader—along with several other brides. She overhears one of the witnesses, “This is getting weird. I should have never signed over the pink slip to my Volvo.”
Fast forward years later, and Norma’s the only one left. The guru looks like shit and is fleeing charges associated to his “tithing.”
The Price of Happiness
Piper’s cooked up a plan to “repurpose” unused fabric from Whispers in order to sully them and sell to panty sniffer enthusiasts. Piper’s brother Cal a, “generalist” of sorts knows the 411 on the potential consumer and agrees to build a website where they can sell the merchandise. Alex giddily agrees to use her skills as a former recruiter to find a panty mule, and it looks like they stand to make more than $25 a pair.
Does money guarantee happiness? When considering the fate of her unborn child, Daya certainly wants to know.
Morello starts a game of MASH—a game designed to tell one’s future. Daya says she always ended up in the shack (S), and that Piper probably lived in a mansion (M) in real life. True to her arrogant-zero-fucking-perspective-self, Piper tries to defend her five-bathroom childhood home as a “good sized house” not a mansion, and that she had a “housekeeper” not a maid.
Morello (who will be living in an apartment (A) in Maui with thirteen kids) hits the nail on the head when she asks, “Do you hear yourself sometimes, like when you speak?”
Daya asks Piper if her affluent childhood was a significant factor in her overall happiness. Piper’s unable to answer the question, simply stating that despite the difference in their backgrounds—they both ended up in prison.Daya’s mother doesn’t see it that way. She has firsthand experience with poverty and pushes her to give her baby to the wealthy Powell.
Gloria has a limited amount of time to be a mother to her son Benny, helping him with his fraction homework. Burset’s ex-wife gave Benny a ride, but when his own son Michael presents a foul-mouthed bad attitude Burset blames Gloria’s son.
Gloria is called back into the kitchen after Ramos cuts off her finger (or just the tip which would be like 1/10?) She wearily apologizes to her son who responds with an apathetic, “Whatever.”
“I’m having a hard day.” Maritza Ramos
Exhausted and frustrated Gloria quits her position of running the kitchen. Caputo gives it back to Red and Norma gives her a knowing look, Red stares quizzically back at her. Did she do this?
“Gerber baby” guard is paired with no-nonsense bald Donaldson, and promptly freaks the fuck out when two inmates yell a little over a game of UNO and pepper sprays them, Donaldson, and himself. (Witnessing this, Alex deduces that the twenty-one year Amaretto sour drinking guard is the perfect person to smuggle out the stinky merchandise).
Caputo is understandably pissed at this display of incompetence. Danny admits that this is his fault and gives Caputo six meager hours to train the new guards. Caputo asks him what exactly his job is here, and Danny reveals his title of, “Director of Human Activities.”
“That sounds like God.” says Caputo.
Drawing a diagram on the white board, Danny protests they are on the same level, with the power flowing from Danny to Caputo. “So you’re the warden?” asks Joe, but Danny says he can’t be a warden, because that position no longer exists.
Red takes Norma’s loyalty for granted berating her for taking moving too slowly in the kitchen. Norma casts an evil eye at her once-idol. We see in a flashback this isn’t the first time she’s been pushed too far.
The washed up guru Mac stands on a cliff reflecting on his wasted life. Once a mighty figure, he resents Norma for staying with him. Comparing her to a “slave” and claiming the only reason she doesn’t speak is because she has nothing to say. Norma’s had enough and pushes the false prophet to his death before cursing him.
“S-S-Son of a b-bitch.” Norma Romano
Just moments after Red receives the curse from Norma, Caputo arrives in the kitchen bearing the news that all meals are now pre-packaged and ready to steam. “You didn’t think I would give you you’re old job back if you actually had any power did you?” Caputo’s not always the fool, and isn’t one to forget that last time Red ran the kitchen she was responsible for importing contraband.
Norma glares at Red knowingly relaying the message: Norma giveth and Norma taketh away.
Leaving her apron behind, Norma heads to the chapel to meet with her followers. She blesses them, even busting out guru Mac’s touching of the third eye move.
Out In The Yard
I think there’s a parallel to be made between Chang’s storyline in the previous episode and Norma. Both were mistreated at the hands of a man who found them abhorrent (Chang was rejected because she wasn’t beautiful, and Norma finally dismissed because she was now old and poor).
During the sexual harassment training, Caputo tries to bring up the topic of inmate relations. We know he brings this up because a guard knocked one of the inmates up, but the suggestion doesn’t go anywhere, as the conversation is derailed when Danny ostensibly tells Caputo he can’t jerk off in his office anymore.
Piper’s tact in asking inmates to wear the panties leaves something to be desired (she thoroughly creeps out Daya) but Stella is more than happy to wear a pair—and a flirtation begins with the knee-weakening wink from the Aussie.
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