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'Orange of the New Black' recap: 'Bed Bugs and Beyond'

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Jojo Whilden/Netflix

Orange Is the New Black

type:
TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
tvpgr:
TV-MA
seasons:
4
run date:
07/11/13
performer:
Taylor Schilling, Natasha Lyonne, Kate Mulgrew, Laura Prepon
broadcaster:
Netflix
genre:
Drama, Comedy

Look, life isn’t great for the inmates of Litchfield—they have about as little control over their lives as someone could. Sure, it’s possible to become a Vee or a Red, but their lives on the inside remain at the mercy of those running the prison, and on the outside by whoever is willing to keep their memory alive.

Because of those domineering forces, control becomes an ever more important aspect of their lives. No matter how big or small, control over anything can give their lives meaning. Episode 2 is an exercise in how fickle control is—it can be grasped as easily as it can be snatched away.

There’s a prison-wide loss of control when an infestation of bed bugs hits Litchfield, forcing all of the women into paper jumpsuits, or underwear when they run out of the wafer thin outfits, while their clothes are cleaned (and recleaned).

A more individual loss of control also begins to show itself from the episode’s start. Red thought her life on the outside was in a good place, but as she learned in the last episode, something went awry with her shop. And as she confronts Piper, she learns the truth—the “thriving” market Piper detailed was in fact shut down. Piper tries to explain herself, she only wanted to make Red happy, but the delayed revelation has only infuriated her more.

But it’s not just the inmates who are losing control of their relationships. Bennett may assume all is well with his and Daya’s baby, but when he discovers Pornstache’s mother (played by Mary Steenburgen) is visiting Aleida after the latter stole the letters Pornstache’s mom sent Daya and wrote back).

The talk goes well for Aleida, who essentially blackmails the fake soon-to-be grandmother with the possibility of taking care of Daya’s daughter. The two agree that, in exchange for money every month for both Aleida and Daya, she can take care of the child and hopefully do a better job of raising it than she did bringing up someone who could be named Pornstache.

Bennett is furious, but when Aleida explains the situation to him and Daya, the actual mother is not so against the idea. It’ll at least give the baby a proper home, because, as Bennett soon finds out, living with Aleida’s lover Cesar isn’t an ideal situation.

Bennett in fact is the episode’s flashback subject, reflecting on his time in the service. He may be the prettiest soldier his new sargeant has ever seen, but he’s also there to put in as much work is necessary… even if work means lip-syncing while shirtless along to the Gwen Stefani classic “Hollaback Girl” for a viral video.

For Bennett’s camp, war involves little actual warring. Instead his platoon trains local soldiers (who are less than enthused about the lip-syncing), watches as drones take out enemy camps, and seeing little real action. 

His base turns from safe space to chaotic war zone when the local guards throw a grenade into one of their tents. The lone local guard who tries to help is gunned down for shouting “bomb.” The flashback ends with Bennett cowering, waiting for the explosion while another soldier hops on top of the grenade to shield his brothers.

And while Bennett may have not lost a part of himself in the service, he did go on to lose his leg, and he isn’t about to lose his unborn child. He wants to prove to Daya he’s in this for long haul, and so he proposes to her (with a ring fashioned out of gum wrappers). She says yes, and Bennett quickly gets a Diaz family education, visiting Cesar and the large number of children he’s caring for from Daya’s family.

To be blunt, as Bennett seems to see it, those kids would be better off without the gun-toting father figure who’s live-in “side thing” is taking care of children she has little relation to. He seems to care about protecting them, or he wouldn’t be doing so, but his regard for their well-being is shown in dangerous ways, and Bennett is wary about following in those steps. But where exactly Bennett is going to go remains a mystery, as he leaves the crib he was gifted by Cesar on the side of the road and speeds off in a fit of anger.

NEXT: Litchfield’s days may be numbered.[pagebreak]

Frustration is pervasive among those back at Litchfield, who are now without comfortable clothes (burned), mattresses (also burned), and books (almost saved but most definitely burned). And there’s little chance of those supplies being replenished because… oh, didn’t Caputo hear? Well… Litchfield is closing.

Yes, the inmates are set to be shipped out by the 20th (presumably of May but no month is given) and the prison closed by the 30th. Caputo may still be transferred since he’s looked at favorably, but the remaining staff are likely to lose their jobs.The revelation shatters Caputo’s state of mind, leaving him hollow as the book burning he was so ardently against commences.

He tells no one, instead letting the inmates and employees go on with their lives. So Luschek decides to help Nicky sell the heroin, and Piper confronts her habit of lying and reveals to Alex that she was the one who ratted her out to her parole officer. The former situation falls apart when Nicky goes to recover the heroin, and finds it gone.

The latter sees a much more explosive resolution. Piper lays the truth out on the table, just as Alex suggested she should have done with Red, but her plan backfires. Alex calls her a manipulative c–t, wanting to maintain the power in her relationships at any cost.

And it’s true. Piper’s fear of losing control, losing the safety net of her life, has been a defining characteristic since her first day in Litchfield. At times, it has worked, but more often than not her scheming, intentional or subconscious, comes back to bite her, as it does with Alex.

Until the two start having angry sex in the library, of course. She acted as she did to have Alex back in her life, and she has her back, physically if not emotionally.

Piper and Alex hooking up at the end of the episode is just another shift in their power dynamic. Alex is taking control after Piper took it away from her. She’s still in jail, she’s still lost her life on the outside, and she may be in more danger now than ever, but at least she can control something. And being able to control their decisions about anything is what just about everyone, from Caputo to Red to Nicky to Bennett, so desperately wants.

Extras

  • Vee may be a distant memory for most, but Suzanne continues to be upset by her disappearance. She hasn’t accepted the truth of what happened and when she does, well, I wouldn’t expect it to be an easy pill to swallow.
  • Nicky has rarely looked as amusingly scared in her life as she did when she thought Luschek was dragging her to Caputo’s office. Good thing the guy’s just as much of a schemer as she is.
  • Red learning the truth about her shop has thrown a huge wrench in her life plan. She has almost nothing to call her own but a lying, deadbeat husband. So she does just about the only thing she can to make a change herself: She asks Healy to take her husband off the visitation list and put her lawyer on.
  • The spread of spirituality continues, with Poussey becoming more involved, but to what end we really don’t know yet.

Correction: An earlier version of this recap indicated Bennett lost his leg in the war, which was in fact not the case as it had previously been revealed he had lost it due to a hot tub. 

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