What does it mean to belong? Is it the clothes you wear? The food you eat? Maybe even the books you read? There are many ways we decide to organize ourselves — to imbue meaning into the groups we form. Perhaps we’re all just looking a place where we feel wanted, accepted…even loved.
“Where My Dreidel At?” examines the importance of having a sense of belonging within a community, and for those on the “inside” at Litchfield — what it means to feel like an outsider.
Losing My Religion
Norma’s silent sisterhood isn’t welcome in the chapel because they aren’t a “real” religion. Heck, they don’t even have a name. But who’s to say they don’t have a fundamental right to be there? Leanne Taylor, in a surprisingly articulate manner, argues the group’s belief in kindness and acceptance in order to address “the roar of pain and loneliness, and tame it” is just as valid as any organized religion. However, the “nothingness” they find clarity in holds no weight for the administration, and their gathering is told to take their “meditation club” elsewhere.
We’ve known Taylor for her religious zeal before. In Season one she was a devout Christian alongside Pennsatucky, who she ultimately left due to Penn’s violent and superior attitude as a, “Hillary Clinton dictator.” In “Where My Dreidel At?” we’re shown that this isn’t the first time Leanne’s left the church, so to speak.
In a flashback, after a Rumspringa filled with peanut butter cups and meth, Leanne leaves the English world behind her. She drops a backpack filled with clothes and drugs just outside a cornfield before returning to her Amish home. Smiling with pearly white pre-meth teeth she beams with pride and happiness during her chosen baptism, “They talk about us like we’re in prison. But this is where I feel free.”
The freedom she finds in being welcomed back into the tight-knit community is short lived when cops show up at her door holding her past-life knapsack filled with incriminating evidence.
“Papa, do you feel me?” Cindy “Black Cindy” Hayes
MCC has rented a Rabbi to do some “corporate inquiry” concerning the seventy-odd inmates now eating the slightly more expensive kosher meals (out of two hundred). Caputo is appalled at the choice, referencing the Bill of Rights. “Oh that old thing… I’m kidding… you know…but also not.” says boss/Big Brother Danny. Technically the corporation sees it as “gray area.” “You’re one big gray area” retorts Caputo.
The Rabbi’s assessment produces a hilarious montage including Rice trying to pronounce Rosh Hashanah (I think), the Crying Lady fumbling the lyrics to Hava Nagila, Taystee expressing how much she hates “damn dirty shrimps”, and Flaca comparing the conga line to the horah.
The majority of screen time is given to Cindy who shows off her “Jewish smarts” using Annie Hall and Yentl as a template for her Judaism. The Rabbi does not “feel her” calling her out on her lack of committed Jewish belief.
Sister Ingalls is the only one granted clemency from the horrific cafeteria slop, “All the Abrahamic religions are pretty much the same before you get to Jesus.” Cindy sees only one option left—convert for real.
The Chosen People
Piper’s assembled a team of “panty girls”, who dutifully fill the trademark fuchsia garments with all their snatches have to offer. Her brother Cal reports the panties sold out on their website overnight, and she stands to make more than the fifty bucks a pop they’re currently charging.
Piper brings this news back to “love muffin” Alex who is too distracted by Lolly’s bizarre behavior. “Nutty as a nut bar. Makes me glad I’ve got both my feet on the ground” agrees Morello, showing a total lack in self-awareness.
Suzanne’s fans take a moment to nitpick her “beautiful mind” inquiring about her writing process for “Time Hump Chronicles.” She reveals CO Donaldson is the inspiration for the famed two-penised Admiral Rodcocker.
“The universality of my work unites all the races.” Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren
Leanne insists Norma’s group needs to create strict rules and structure in order to make them appear more serious. Poussey and Soso agree that maybe institutionalizing themselves as a capital “R” religion will just take away from the time they have with Norma. “We still have to deal with the rest of the world and how they see us” says Leanne, who goes after Soso for her non-committal ways: from her attempt to save the world, eating pussy, and that she couldn’t even commit to being “100% Asian.” “Why don’t you ‘not commit’ somewhere else? No one wants you here anyways.”
We see in her past that Leanne’s no stranger to shunning. After going undercover for the cops (presumably to avoid jail time) and sending several of the Elder’s children to jail, she’s ostracized within her community, causing her family’s business to suffer. Having no other choice, she leaves the place she so loves in order to save her parents from financial ruin.
Maintaining The Fantasy
“Now they be calling yogurt key lime pie or chocolate cheesecake so you think, hmm, cheesecake, when it’s the same gnarly curds it always was.” Tasha “Taystee” Jefferson
Suzanne gets a bout of writer’s block, “It’s like I can see the words, but I can’t make them obey me.” A fan tries to get closer to her by discussing the polymorphously perverse, and that she is “not alone.” Suzanne runs away from her new friend.
Despite trying to make nice, Alex suspects Lolly’s taken a shard of glass from a broken greenhouse window so she can shank her. Snooping though her bunk, Alex finds the notebook Lolly’s been keeping containing her every movement with “Make Your Move” written in the corner.
Piper’s making moves of her own, when she goes to Stella to share the good news that “prison bitches are the ripest.” Stella asks if Piper’s told any of this to Alex, which she hasn’t because “she’s busy”, or rather psychologically unstable; therefore, annoying.
They plot to recruit more girls that are “into it” but what they really want to do is find out if they’re into each other. They are. They kiss. Piper’s conflicted and shit, but that doesn’t stop her from leaning in for another steamy peck.
Parents Sophia Burset and Gloria Mendoza go at it when Sophia storms into the kitchen, claiming she “done for real this time” retracting her peace treaty with Gloria after hearing her son was arrested for the beating of another boy. Gloria’s son Benny was present at the incident and Sophia takes this to mean it was his fault, “I raised a sweet little boy who cried when he found out there was no Easter bunny, and now he’s a thug.”
Gripping a kitchen knife, Gloria warns her to back off. Sophia’s lets her know her son can find a ride up to Litchfield from someone else.
Aleida asks Gloria if she’s going to take shit from that “tranny bitch” and the real reason her boy is fucked up is because she has two mommies and “one’s got a pee-pee.” Gloria corrects her saying they’ve all seen her “perky little cooch” but its obvious that for Aleida, once Sophia becomes the victim of scrutiny her transgender identity is the first thing that becomes othered and targeted.
“Some people aren’t cut out for believing.” Leanne Taylor
After Poussey tells Norma about Soso’s shunning, Leanne goes to apologize. Standing in her bunk, where roomie Chang soaks her feet in a mysterious red liquid, Leanne tries to explain that coming from a religion that people “like to shit on a lot” makes her structure crazy. You’d think Soso would be understanding, but once she figures out Leanne comes from Amish stock, the vision of her wearing a bonnet has her in a fit of giggles. “You’re a weirdo” laughs Chang, and although Soso tries to stop her, Leanne leaves with a biting racist dismissal calling her a “half-breed.”
This isn’t the only apology that doesn’t transpire; when Sophia talks to her son Michael on the phone to find out what happened, she quickly realizes that it was his fault. He beat up the boy for going all “faggy” and Benny ran away when it all started to go down. Like the Easter bunny—Sophia’s innocent little boy doesn’t exist. When she next sees Gloria, Sophia says nothing, and even though she was thinking about it, Gloria doesn’t apologize either.
Pennsatucky tries to explain the concept of boundaries to clueless Charlie Coates. When alone and feeding stale donuts to ducks, an innocent game of fetch turns ugly. Charlie yells at Penn to crawl in the mud to collect a piece, “I said FETCH inmate.” He later pushes her up against a tree and kisses her, but she doesn’t kiss him back. “Right… boundaries” he says. She looks at him wearily. The seemingly idiotic guard is revealing himself to be capable of more than just slightly unprofessional fraternization.
Out In The Yard
Thus far, many of the flashbacks for characters include the reason for their incarceration. Despite learning a lot more about Leanne, her contextualizing scenes actually don’t include anything about her crime. There’s a theory out there that she violated some kind of parole or house arrest by leaving her parents home — but does that account for time where she would have mangled her teeth?
Group favourite Judy King in the hot spot for her legal troubles and salacious gossip about her love life, and it looks like it might be possible the lifestyle queen is headed for prison.
Anyone else getting the Marina Abramovic-esque vibe from Norma’s magic touch?