Orange Is the New Black / Screen

Orange is the New Black: “Bed Bugs and Beyond”

Bennett is very boring. I’m sorry to say that about him, but he is. It doesn’t help that he and Daya have been whittled down to a mere remnant of their former charm. Bennett’s blind idealism, even in the face of Daya’s reality, is less adorable and more annoying in its persistence. Aleida contacts Pornstache’s mother (Mary Steenburgen), who wants to adopt Daya’s baby and raise it herself. Though there’s a distinctly soap operatic bent to the idea of Pornsatche’s mother raising Daya and Bennett’s baby, and while Aleida’s visit with her seems more scheming than anything at first, some decent points are made about the  pros of giving up Daya’s baby.

One of these pros, I hate to say, is that we wouldn’t have to deal with this anymore. But the others are pretty calear in that Daya and Bennett’s kid would have attention, money and a home that would be far safer than that provided by Cesar who threatens Daya’s little brother with a gun when he won’t eat soggy French fries. Why it takes so long for this insight to reach Bennett, when Aleida and Daya have been telling him from the start is a huge question mark. I’ve talked before about how OITNB may have backed its way into a corner with making Daya pregnant, but it is frankly the worst thing that could have happened to Daya and Bennett. They have no prospects. If Cesar takes Daya’s kid until she’s out in another three years, then it probably won’t be well cared for. Bennett can’t take it without going to prison. They no longer have any chances, and Daya considering Mama Pornstache’s offer makes more sense to me than lots of things that she and Bennett have done recently. Why all their problems will apparently go away with Bennett’s proposal is another confusing matter since  a gum wedding ring isn’t going to do anything to better their current situation, and Bennett’s tears after visiting Cesar are equally confusing as I’m not sure what he was hoping to accomplish by going there.

Bennett’s flashbacks to his days in the army are equally confounding, since they don’t possess the story that other flashbacks did. Bennett arrives, annoys his superior officer and makes friends with a Muslim soldier who dies warning them about a bomb in the possession of some of the others. Then the assumed gay soldier jumps on a live grenade, while Bennett hides, and that’s…it. It feels like a fragment of something greater that we never achieve. Maybe it’s supposed to tell us that Bennett really is a coward, and that’s why he dumps the crib on the side of the road and drives off. He doesn’t want to try the hard way with Daya once he’s seen the truth of how hard it may be, and if that’s the case then Daya’s probably better off.

Bennett and Daya make the episdoe much heavier than it seems to be when it begins. The bed bug infestation adds instant levity, as the inmates are forced to wander around in their underwear (though it’s not so funny when Caputo is gaping at a half naked Maritza), in paper jumpsuits or in plastic bags. And the ridiculousness of everyone searching for bed bugs, blaming one another for bringing the infestation eventually comes down to Litchfield being on its way to closure.

Followers of my reviews last season will know that Piper lying to Red about her market being open was one of my favorite Piper moments. It spoke to her growing awareness of other people, but as Red sees it now after learning the truth it was just another manipulation of Piper’s to ensure that Red remained on her good side. Considering how the rest of Piper’s season went, and how this season has gone, this reading is a lot easier to digest. Piper may say she thought she was doing the right thing by Red with her lie, and I believe her. But the problem with Piper thinking she’s doing the right thing is that it’s the right thing for her, and not necessarily for others. She doesn’t often consider other people’s feelings or how what she says and does may affect them. That’s why she’s so shocked to see Alex in despair back in Litchfield and why she scurries to try to convince Alex how happy she is there.

Alex’s misery is only growing more profound the longer she stays in Litchfield, still wondering how she managed to end up back there after being so close to freedom. Hers and Piper’s affair is sprinkled with Alex’s teary musings on how she’s ruined her life, how Kubra’s surely going to kill her, and how much she hates being back there. I don’t think the show will go that dark route of having someone try to kill her after last season’s gloominess, but I understand her worries. Prisons aren’t known for their safety, and as desperate as prison is known to make its inmates, and how Kubra is sure to be able to find Alex there, I wouldn’t doubt his ability to kill her if he wanted. So Alex risking a shot, or even solitary, by mouthing off to a guard, Piper talking her out of it and Alex’s resulting tears, makes for a poignant moment. And Alex’s sadness eventually compels Piper to tell her the truth about making the call, but Piper’s response is especially weird. She’s blissed out and thinking it will all be fine. I suppose that makes sense considering how Piper and Alex have brushed other things under the rug in their relationship so Piper thinking this would just be another bump is perfectly valid.

It’s more annoying that the show seems just as content with it. Alex and Piper’s conflicted relationship is fine, if not always the most interesting, but trying to go back to the way things were feels cheap in the face of what’s happened. Piper really screwed Alex over by getting her landed back in there, just like Alex screwed Piper over by having her named in the first place. But while Piper was allowed to be mad at Alex for a decent amount of time for wrecking her former life, Alex is supposed to just get over what Piper did in the name of reestablishing their sex life which just isn’t satisfying when it could be a source of real tension between the two.

Stray Observations

  • Why are all these people trying to sit with the black girls these days?
  • Daya and Bennett aren’t as cute as they used to be, but her helping him up after he proposed was super cute.
  • Poussey’s solving her problems by sleeping with an egg and saying the Lord’s Prayer.
  • Suzanne: “I will potato her at a later time.”
  • Black Cindy: “When did our bathroom become gentrified?”
  • Alex: “I’m literally garbage.”
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