Jojo Whilden/Netflix
Andrea Reiher
June 10, 2017 AT 05:30 PM EDT

Orange Is the New Black

type
TV Show
genre
Drama, Comedy
run date
07/11/13
runtime
58 minutes
performer
Taylor Schilling, Natasha Lyonne, Kate Mulgrew, Laura Prepon
broadcaster
Netflix
seasons
5
episodes
65
Current Status
In Season
tvpgr
TV-MA

We gave it an A-

On the one hand, it’s always nice when a show zigs when you think it’s going to zag. On the other hand, “Tied to the Traintracks” derails in a far sadder way than expected, which makes for some stellar drama, but is also that much harder to watch.

The flashback has returned, this time featuring Daya and her mother, Aleida. It dovetails beautifully with the end of the episode, but before we get to that heartbreaking scene, let’s talk about what leads up to it.

On the outside, Judy King and Aleida are guests on Meredith Vieira’s show, “The Review” (ha!), where King opens her big mouth and reveals a guard was shot during the riot. Way to go, Judy.

She also doesn’t know which inmate shot him, because of course she doesn’t, but Judy describes the inmate and Aleida immediately knows it’s Daya — and she is not happy with her daughter.

Meanwhile, Taystee is actually having some solid negotiations with Natalie Figueroa, whom the governor called in to act as a representative. It’s pretty awesome when Taystee drops some knowledge on Fig about knowing there’s money at MCC to make the prison better, but when news of the guard being shot gets out, that’s just about all she wrote for the negotiations at this point.

Taystee’s right about this one — they only mentioned “no casualties” in their demands — but Fig is also right in that this has become a much bigger problem for the government and MCC now that a guard has been seriously injured.

Note: Do you think they’ll ever find out it was actually Maureen who did that to Humphrey and not the gunshot? Hmm.

Either way, the inmates are now faced with the moral quandary of handing Daya over to retain their amnesty or standing firm with her. Most of them lean toward “hand her over,” which is both understandable but also not even a little bit fair. Everyone was egging her on when Humphrey was shot, plus many other inmates have done questionable things since the riot started, so throwing Daya under the bus is just wrong.

It’s a shame that this isn’t explored a little more, with more arguments made about why everyone is culpable — because everyone is, they’re all in this together. However, Daya instead wraps up the problem by deciding to turn herself in to the authorities.

Before she does, she calls up Delia Mendez-Powell and Pornstashe (hey, Mary Steenburgen and Pablo Schreiber!) and tells them to take Armaria and give her a chance at life. She urges Mrs. Powell to let the little fall sometimes and not ride her so hard for screwing up, because she will screw up, but she also just wants her baby to have someone who cares about her to help her have a better life. It’s some great work by Dascha Polanco.

Let’s take a minute here and appreciate the stellar emotional beats this season is hitting. Danielle Brooks, Selenis Leyva, Alan Aisenberg, Kimiko Glenn, Uzo Aduba, Jessica Pimentel, Polanco — it’s really incredible. Even when an episode by itself isn’t that strong, the actors are getting some meaty material and absolutely crushing it. Big props all around.

Anyway, once Daya feels certain that her daughter will be taken care of, she turns herself in to Figueroa. This is awful — she’s headed to max for sure — but it makes sense storytelling-wise that the writers chose Daya for this party.

It always felt a little off that Daya would be the one to pick up the gun and subsequently shoot a guard, perhaps because her jumping in with a “bad crowd” after her mom got early release was never fleshed out enough to make that choice seem organic. But it definitely stems from the same place as having Poussey be the inmate to die — there is hardly anyone else where these storylines would have been as tragic.

So now Daya’s life is essentially over and her baby is going to be raised by Mrs. Powell, who is fine but not her mother, and Pornstache, who is decidedly not fine. It’s sad all the way around, which means it does make for some excellent TV drama.

Meanwhile…

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