Orange Is the New Black / Screen

Orange is the New Black: “Empathy is A Boner Killer”

Season three so far has been moving rather speedily ahead, almost uncomfortably so. Previous seasons have had slow burns while this one’s already gone through Daya and Bennett, Alex and Piper’s relationship post-Piper’s betrayal and now through Nicky’s stash of heroin. It certainly didn’t look like it would resolve itself in this manner, which has one member of Litchfield’s community headed down the hill to max.

Nicky’s hidden heroin has been chugging along in the backdrop since the season started and it going missing last week seemed to solidify it as some sort of interprison conflict, but that’s quickly nipped in the bud as Nicky reveals that it was she who stole the heroin to keep Boo from selling it. When Leanne and Angie find it, Nicky enlists Luscheck in getting it back, and they succeed but Lucscke’s clumsy (very clumsy)act in getting back has Caputo doing a search and finding Nicky’s stash of heroin underneath his desk, which he claims is Nicky’s and gets her carted away.  The swiftness with which Nicky’s plans spiral out of control is jarring. Her having the heroin is an obvious bad element that’s been underplayed since the season began, even her approaching Luschek (despite how casual he is with his role as CO) could have been her downfall.

Perhaps it’s made worse because Nicky’s addiction still managed to ruin her life in some way, even if she wasn’t using. She’s enchanted by the heroin even as she has no plans to use it, and though Leanne and Angie having it removes it from Nicky’s orbit, she races to get it back, even if it means just selling it off. And flashing back to Nicky’s pre-prison days, we see how her wealthy mother kept her out of trouble for too long before Nicky was finally sentenced to Litchfield. All her attempts at helping only served to push the problem further into the backdrop without ever being addressed. She threw money at it that didn’t help anything except allow Nicky to escape taking responsibility, until she’s put in prison.

And even here she’s flailing. She tucks some heroin away in Luschek’s desk, later discovered during a sudden search, and when it’s revealed to be hers she’s taken off to max. The people around Nicky who could have helped her were kept in the dark, and Nicky didn’t want to help herself. She commits so fully to her own destruction that there’s no saving her. Even when she knows she’s only getting worse, she can’t stop herself. And no one else can help her either. The people who can help her are kept in the dark. Lorna and Red are both in shock and despair when they see her being taken away.

How long Nicky will in fact be gone is up in the air. With Litchfield’s potential closing, perhaps something could happen that would allow Nicky to return? Like the prison being bought up by the company Figuroa introduces to Caputo, that could keep the prison’s doors open and allow everyone to keep their jobs.  The guards have always been kitschy and fun supporting elements, like Healy and Berdie’s rivalry this episode which plays out via her very successful drama club session, and now that their jobs are being threatened, they’re all becoming a bit bigger in their roles. They dangle their dwindling prospects in front of Caputo in the hopes of having him admit that the prison will be closing, and drag their feet when it comes to acting against Luschek and Nicky’s plans. Litchfield isn’t going to be winning any awards for its excellence, but if the guards are caring even less than usual, what’s that going to mean for the prison population?

With everything else moving so quickly, Litchfield’s attempts at staying open may be the only long running storyline we have, since Alex and Piper are quickly back on after a drama class session has Piper telling Alex that she missed her. Maybe there are plans for the rest of the season, hence the rush to have Alex embracing Piper fully again. Though their improv is well-done and well-acted by both, I mainly wonder why the show’s hurried to have the problems between the two so quickly buried when it’s created such a strong sense of tension between them. I am glad we won’t have to see them having anymore hate sex, because that was just awkward for everybody. Go back to having regular, emotionally-balanced sex please.

Stray Observations

  • Daya’s wondering where Bennett’s run off to, since he’s gone off the grid since his proposal.
  • I don’t like what’s going on with Red and Healy. I don’t like Healy, so putting anyone with him for extended periods of time is stressful. Red having to counsel him, and going through this whole stupid thing with his wife, is just awful, and I don’t see why Red is defending him at all except to get something out of him.
  • I also appreciate Berdie being so much better than Healy at just about everything. More Berdie, less Healy.
  • “You’re saying our mouths evolved to give blowjobs?” Don’t you love conversations like these?
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