Orange Is the New Black / Screen

Orange is the New Black cracks down in “Comic Sans”

Comic Sans gets such a bad wrap as a font. Sure it’s goofy looking, but did you know that it’s easier for dyslexics to read? Anyway Daya, Flaca, Lorna and Piper go ahead with the newsletter. It’s an unlikely bunch to group together since they rarely interact. Even Piper and Lorna aren’t exactly regular friends (but what regular friends does Piper have really anyway?) And Daya and Flaca aren’t big on interacting with anyone outside of the Spanish Girl (this is apparently what people call them) circle, but they’re a fun group mainly because they find some common ground in their shared disdain for the prison and particularly Healy. It’s not friendship, but Orange is the New Black has a talented cast who don’t often get to interact with people outside of their characters’ assigned groups so when they do it’s especially fun.

“Comic Sans” isn’t a particularly memorable episode, especially not after “You Can Also Have Pizza” but it’s a solid followup and certainly necessary for the seasonal arcs, particularly of Litchfield’s obvious shortcomings and Vee’s machinations to gain control of the prison.

After Jimmy’s easy escape last episode, Caputo implements some changes, including making Wanda (Bell) trail Jimmy, and when she loses her Jimmy jumps from the chapel stage and breaks her arm. After an episode of her calling Piper “Roberta” and thinking Caputo’s her husband, Jimmy’s “compassionately” released because the prison doesn’t want to spend the money necessary to care for her. it’s unlikely we’ll ever see Jimmy again, now that she’s outside Litchfield’s walls, but her send-off is one of the hardest to watch just because of the promise for her doom. Litchfield’s not a perfect place, especially for those who are in need of special care like Jimmy, but when Jimmy’s taken to the bus station everyone knows she’ll end up on the streets and probably die. And the Litchfield administration is content to let this happen.

Piper’s meeting with that reporter who encourages her to get information for him, information she can’t get without risking her chance for furlough or solitary by breaking into Fig’s office. Part of the episode’s triteness is due to this focus on Piper. While Litchfield being investigated is interesting, not with Piper at the forefront. For all the unfair, and oftentimes illegal, treatment the inmates face Piper doesn’t have it all that bad. She’s young, white and pretty, and without Alex there to remind Healy of her bisexuality, she’s got it pretty good. The shot quota has guards searching for opportunities to treat the inmates unfairly. Fischer gives Sister Ingalls a shot (and Ms. Rosa notes that “it’s the end of days”). Even Bennett hands out the shots when the Spanish Girls keep demanding contraband and sends Maritza to solitary to make his point. And Black Cindy is harassed for not-yet-being-late to count while White Cindy walks on unbothered.

On the outside it was Black Cindy on guard duty as a security officer at the airport where she used her position to harass and steal from passengers. That answers the question to what sent her to Litchfield, but her flashbacks are more concerned with her relationship with her younger sister, who is actually her daughter. Flashback Cindy’s a bit of a mess, gifting her daughter/sister with a stolen iPad and leaving her in the car while she smokes pot with old friends. In Litchfield, things aren’t going much better with Vee and her booming cigarette business. When Black Cindy doesn’t trade for stamps she gets kicked off sales, and when she bucks against Vee’s orders as a result, it leads to a tense conversation between the two.

Though Vee didn’t kill her (like I thought she might be planning on doing) Vee’s still hard to pin down as far as what she’s trying to do with these women. On one hand she’s a good resource and a powerful ally, who does more than just boss them around. She gives them advice and encouragement they need, and it’s her words to Cindy (that she’s given up on herself) that gets Cindy back to work. But Vee’s undeniably manipulative, and she doesn’t have all their best interests at heart. She’s making the most money out of their cigarette enterprise but keeps the women involved by talking up their opportunity to make something of themselves (by selling cigarettes in prison).

It’s what’s keeping Poussey at a distance, until she and Nicky (another unlikely pair) touch base on being friends, and being in love, with straight girls and hating their boyfriends. In this case, the boyfriend is Vee, and Poussey’s hatred of her is going to end up costing her Taystee. So Poussey sucks it up and takes Black Cindy’s place selling the cigarettes. It’s confusing on one hand, where the show first went with Taystee distancing herself from Poussey, then Poussey and Taystee fighting and has now evolved into Poussey clinging to Taystee however she can, even allying with Vee.

Daya and Bennett’s storyline remains a sore spot even as they get semi-interesting as Daya confronts Bennett about putting Maritza in solitary. The show hasn’t addressed the power imbalance in their relationship before, but it seems to be coming too late. They’re already invested. Daya’s pregnant, so it’s not like they can backpeddle on it now. And the pregnancy is lagging itself since neither of them seems to be in a hurry to come up with a solution for Daya eventually giving birth and the questions that are sure to be asked, but a spying Fischer finally hearing something about a pregnant inmate may give them something interesting to do.

Stray Observations

  • Black Cindy: “What is this The Minority Report?”
  • Sophia: I think a nice faux-hawk will give that nice ‘don’t fuck with me vibe?’
    Gloria: I mostly use my face for that.
  • Piper: “Why is the walrus in such a bad mood?”
    Daya: “That’s Mr. Healy.”
    Piper: “This is fantastic.”
  • Taslitz killed a guy with an axe, before the arthritis.
  • Wanda and O’Neill are back on after he  apologizes and agrees to move in with her. They are weirdly cute. And O’Neill’s going to put Sophia’s lessons about the female anatomy to good use.
  • Caputo is another pathetic person, lashing out at Fischer because she’s not into him.
  • However boring Piper can be, she has some nice moments. Like when she helps Jimmy cut her meat at lunch. She’s not always full of herself.
  • Polly slaps Larry for kissing her, but they end up having sex anyway so. Whatever, ignoring it.
  • And who cares about Fig and her closeted husband’s stupid campaign? We already know Fig is corrupt. I don’t need to see more of it. And this is taking valuable time away from Sophia, who’s had little to do all season.

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