Alex has received her fair share of flashbacks before, most notably in “F***sgiving,” but with her renewed presence on the show—and her paranoia about her life outside Litchfield this season—so “Fear, and Other Smells” offers a reminder of just what’s at stake from Alex’s other life.
That look begins on perhaps one of the lowest notes in Alex’s life: her mother’s funeral. She’s almost as sad about the funeral itself as the state of it. Only three other people showed up, the pastor’s eulogy might as well have been printed off the internet, and Piper did not show up. Saddened, angered, and lost, Alex’s old business associate, Fahri, appears to cheer her up with a pinch of drugs and a job offer. Initially she’s reluctant, but she ends up going away with him to Paris, where the two engage in more drugs, dancing, and other cathartic releases for the grieving daughter.
But the happy times go awry when Fahri and Alex decide not to pick up someone key to their job from the airport, that woman is arrested and the two sober up thanks to the shot of fear running through their bodies. They hole up in their hotel room, afraid of even the room service attendant. But it might be for good reason. The attendant hands their third associate a slip of paper that I can assume said something along the lines of “Killing Fahri would probably be a good idea.” So he puts a few bullets in Fahri and takes Alex back to meet Kubra.
He’s willing to spare her, even help her, and assures her he is a rational man who killed Fahri after a period of screwups on his part, not simply after one failure. But that show of power has been enough to instill a sense of danger into her daily life, knowing that Kubra could decide her fate at any time.
That paranoia has seeped into her life at Litchfield, and the current object of it is Lolly. Alex seems to find her wherever she goes in Litchfield, and, granted, while the prison is a small place, she’s been too prevalent in her life for Alex to feel comfortable. When Piper confronts Lolly about it, the new Litchfieldian plays it off as just a reaction to Alex’s overreaction to her.
In the end, it’s no overreaction, though. As Alex packs it in for the night, Lolly watches from her cube, taking notes of an “AV’s” schedule throughout the day. Alex may want to keep peering over her shoulder for the next few weeks.
And where’s Piper throughout all of Alex’s worry? Well, aside from trying to dissuade her girlfriend at every turn, she’s continuing to build up her business, Stinky Prisoner Panties LLC. (Not the actual name, but really, every brilliant idea needs a good name to market properly). With the food having gone barely edible in the kitchen, flavor packs are the hot commodity at the commissary. So Piper buys the entire stock, offering to give them to any women willing to wear and then give her the extra Whispers underwear she’s sewed.
“I need your vag sweat,” she says with utmost sincerity to a group of inmates, giving a rousing speech that, were it about American freedom rather than underwear, would fit right into any Aaron Sorkin drama. But this is Litchfield, and dirty underwear for profit is the hot topic. So the women agree, largely out of desperation for food with a flavor that won’t make them barf.
If all goes well with her new workers (and the young security guard she’s flirting with to use as a panty mule), Piper will be rolling in enough money to buy out the entire commissary. If she’s that rich, Caputo may be knocking at her cube very soon. Danny hasn’t come through on any requests for things like new books, higher education training, and in fact he’s upset that the cost of kosher meals has suddenly skyrocketed. But Caputo’s pleas for help get through to Danny, who decides to bring them back to the most uncomfortable corporate board meeting in recent TV memory.
NEXT: Litchfield finds its E.L. James and Daya wrestles with the truth. [pagebreak]
Danny tries to ask for some assistance at Litchfield, with the MCC CEO in attendance no less, but he’s met with silence, surprise, and an anti-semitic joke that causes one board member to be fired. Danny’s told he’s in charge of Litchfield (Caputo won’t be happy to hear that), and it’s his job to get things in order there for the short-term bottom line, not worry about things like helping the inmates and improving their lives. That would be crazy.
While the library’s shelves remain empty, the inmates have found one outlet for their literary needs—Suzanne’s erotica. And now we have a name for the adventures of Rodcocker, the Time Hump Chronicles (looking forward to a fan-fiction version of this masterwork appearing online in the coming days). Suzanne can’t churn out pages fast enough, and while most of her fans are enamored, it’s brought out some dark thoughts for one.
Poussey continues to hurt, feeling lonely without someone to love, and the Chronicles are a constant, if bizarre, reminder of her isolation. It leads to a powerful scene of her and Taystee in the stairwell, Poussey drunk on alcohol and pain. Taystee continues to drive home the point that Poussey needs to go to AA, find some semblance of support if Taystee truly isn’t enough for her.
And Poussey takes her words to heart, finding herself help for her internal struggle. Even if it’s not what Taystee would have imagined, Poussey has joined Norma’s prayer group, which may lift some of the weight off her shoulders.
Daya has also been struggling, wanting to do right by her baby but wrestling with what exactly “right” is. Her choice is essentially made for her, however, when Pornstache’s mother comes to visit again. She lets slip that Aleida has asked her for money in return for the baby (she feared having to give any more), and when Daya learns, she immediately makes up her mind. Daya can’t lie for money, and so she tells her the truth, that the baby isn’t actually Pornstache’s. Hurt, but appreciative of Daya’s honesty, Delia leaves for what I would assume is her final visit to Litchfield.
So Daya’s mind may be made up in regard to whether the baby will live with Delia, but with no Delia and no Bennett, her choices of where to house the baby dwindle by the day. But there are only so many days left before she’ll have to make that choice.
- Just about everyone’s sick of the food, but Boo perhaps encapsulates the horrid state of it most succinctly. “If you took a shit, then your shit took a shit and became mayor of Detroit, it wouldn’t even come close to the shitiness of that food.”
- The most unlikely relationship to sprout out of the episode is of Pennsatucky and the new guard, Coates, who happens to work at the donut shop at which O’Neill and Bell discovered their hours were being cut (unless I’m mistaken and the OITNB universe is full of only prisons and donut shops). He and Pennsatucky stop off to pick up his paycheck, bond over a couple of donuts and then go on a little adventure to feed the ducks at a local pond… until Coates starts feeding Pennsatucky donuts. Like a duck. Yeah, things got strange.
- Red can’t deal with the terrible food, it’s eating away at her, so she attempts to quit. Healy won’t let her, not after he stuck his neck out for her. So all she can do is throw her apron at him in an act of defiance. Healy has more to deal with, as Rogers comes in and questions his dealings with Soso. The inmate came to him feeling depressed and alone, and all he did was give her a slip for medication, telling her depression’s all in her head. Rogers is upset with this handling, and in his fit of anger, decides to hand Soso over to her rather than deal with Rogers’ doubts. It may not be of Red/Vee proportions, but I’d expect a showdown to bubble over between the two in the coming episodes.
- Sophia and Gloria’s agreement quickly turns south when Sophia starts to believe Gloria’s son has been badly influencing her own. Sophia’s son snuck a girl home, and she blames Benny, while Crystal blames Sophia’s advice on Mother’s Day. Sophia eventually apologizes, telling Gloria she still wanted to be there to see her son become a man. But whether this is the end of their feud remains to be seen.