The flashback choices this season have been surprising, but many of them have done incredible work at rounding out characters that have been relatively one note. That’s not necessarily a dig at those characters—Boo, Nicky, and others worked as originally presented, but Orange has the incredible capability to turn the most ancillary characters into stars. Even with an entirely out of left field pick like Chang, “Ching Chong Chang” transforms a character normally used for punchlines and transforms her into this tragically misunderstood character.
“Ching Chong Chang” begins to add color to what has essentially been a blank slate the past two seasons, as we discover Chang at another low point in her life. Her brother is trying to sell her off as a bride to pay off debts, but none of the potential suitors accept her. To them she’s ugly, and as the matchmaker points out, she’s not exactly making up for it with charm.
But she has one trait she puts to good use—she’s invisible. And she uses that invisibility to help her brother during a business deal. He’s selling less than legal goods, but his supplier can’t deliver them because they’re in a locked warehouse. With the help of Chang as a ghost, she’s able to help the supplier get the goods.
At one of the deals, she discovers that her brother’s supplier has been given ping pong balls rather than the actual supply of turtle eggs. When he confronts the other men, they begin beating him up. Chang is not to be messed with, and kicks a surprising amount of ass and saves the supplier. She’s able to turn her one night of success into a prolonged position.
As a thank you, the supplier says he will do anything for her. And what she wants is the man who rejected Chang at the episode’s onset. And here comes the moral dilemma—he tells Chang she can kill him, but she’ll still never be pretty. And she may be right, she can’t be something she’s not, but she still has the supplier and other “business partners” take out the man’s gall bladder.
Driven to being something she wasn’t, Chang eventually landed in prison, where she still found no place to quite fit in. “Ching Chong Chang: shows us with a day in the life of Chang. She continues to be invisible here, slipping food out of the cafeteria to make her own concoctions, sneaking off to the shed (did she ever see Daya and Bennett together!?) to watch soap operas.
Even still, she’s made a life for herself in the cracks of Litchfield, but she still suffers for her… let’s call them personality quirks. Being invisible also means no one minds mocking her while she’s standing right in front of her, as Alex does when Chang brushes her teeth by pouring a box of salt on her brush. (Which, to be fair, is odd. Definitely odd.) But Chang isn’t doing anyone harm, anymore, and clearly has plenty of emotional strife to work through. She writes a version of the scene from when she encountered that man for drama class. Unfortunately, Suzanne is the only one who likes it. (Now that’s a pairing I need to see more often.)
Chang is just trying to live her life, as weird and strange as it may be to everyone else, whether anyone in Litchfield notices or not. But while Chang seems to operate in the shadows, Litchfield’s other dramas continue to take center stage. The new job making lingerie for MCC has its fans (Watson and Cindy) and its critics (Piper), but it does offer one major shift for the show—a new inmate. Stella, played by Ruby Rose, comes into Piper’s life with a mixture of attraction and tension. The two butt heads on philosophy of entitlement for the better looking women of the world but they also commiserate over their damned spot in the prison system. Looks like if Alex and Piper need another reason to second guess their relationship, Stella may very well be willing to be that reason.
NEXT: Red makes another play for the kitchen, and a surprising old face returns.