jojo whilden/netflix
Andrea Reiher
June 12, 2017 at 05:47 PM EDT

Orange Is the New Black

TV Show
Drama, Comedy
run date
58 minutes
Taylor Schilling, Natasha Lyonne, Kate Mulgrew, Laura Prepon
Current Status
In Season
We gave it a B-

It’s been coming all season — ever since Red found Wes Driscoll’s inmate ID badge in Piscatella’s office and saw “WD” tattooed on the big guy’s wrist, we’ve been waiting to find out the story behind the inmate Piscatella killed in max.

It seemed possible that Driscoll was said inmate, and maybe (just maybe) there was a chance that Piscatella got blamed for a death he didn’t cause, leading him to become the man we see before us now. Turns out that’s not it at all — but Piscatella’s backstory comes too little, too late.

The gist is that Piscatella and Driscoll were romantically involved. Some other inmates, Driscoll’s coworkers from the prison kitchen, brutally assaulted him one day in the barbershop, so Piscatella burned one of them to death in a scalding shower. And that’s the whole story (that is revealed at this point).

Are we supposed to care about this? Not only has Piscatella been cruel since day one, but this backstory is being directly juxtaposed with him torturing Red in front of the other inmates he kidnapped. He also slaps Nicky around and breaks Alex’s arm, and it’s not even in the name of rescuing the hostages. He’s just doing it because “inmates will always try to cheat, manipulate, or deceive you,” and Red is apparently the worst of the bunch.

The narrative makes very little sense, honestly, and his backstory doesn’t illuminate or explain anything. Yes, it’s awful that his lover was brutally attacked, but that didn’t give him the right to burn one of the perpetrators to death, especially since there isn’t enough material in the flashback to justify how he went from happy-go-lucky prison guard to raging murderer.

His relationship with Driscoll isn’t developed enough to make us care, we don’t know what ultimately happened to Driscoll, and this is all coming after we’ve watched him treat these women like animals for two seasons. Screw this guy. I don’t care one whit about his backstory at this point, especially not one as poorly executed as this was.

It would have taken a helluva flashback to elicit any sympathy for Piscatella, and this certainly wasn’t it.

The only redeeming part of this entire Piscatella thread is that the booby traps Frieda mentions in Act 1 go off spectacularly in Act 3 when the bunker babes hear Piper’s screams for help and lure Piscatella down to the pool, where Frieda knocks him out with a Devil’s Breath dart to the neck.
(Recap continues on page 2) 

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