'Orange Is The New Black' recap: 'We’ll Always Have Baltimore'
Let's all go to CorrectiCon
The overcrowding problems at Litchfield just keep getting worse. As if porta-potties and bunk beds weren’t bad enough, the ladies of Litchfield now have a new issue to face: a shortage of pads and tampons. The medical office is completely out of these “inessentials,” so the prisoners’ only option is to buy a $10 box of tampons at commissary — which is easier said than done, especially when you only make 10 cents an hour — or to get creative.
As Angie puts it: “One time I ran out of tampons, so I used one of those dinosaur just-add-water sponges for kids. It was really fun because it was like, ‘Ooh, I wonder what this will be? Ah, a brontosaurus rex!’” At least Angie knows how to keep things light.
This episode juggles two main storylines: For one, we finally learn Maritza’s backstory, a.k.a. how a ditzy night club waitress landed a job as a con-woman tricking rich, midlife-crisis-suffering men into helping her steal Ferraris. Maritza’s ambitions started small, dating back to when she was working as a waitress in a Miami club. It was there she’d pull off tricks like filling an empty bottle of vodka with water, which she would then proceed to “accidentally” drop on the floor. After bursting into tears and telling the wealthy club patrons her boss was going to take the bottle out of her paycheck, they’d all pitch in a few bucks to help her cover it, netting her a cool $300.
“Be careful,” a fellow waitress tells her. “Karma’s a bitch.”
“Who’s Karma? That new girl?” Maritza replies.
One of Maritza’s easy marks, however, is an ACTUAL con-man, and he’s impressed by her skills. So, he comes to her with a business opportunity. (“Um, I’m not a prostitute,” Maritza tells him. “Not even if the guy’s kind of hot in a mean dad way.”) But he doesn’t want to ensnare her into prostitution: He wants to teach her how to take her scamming skills to the next level.
That means hanging out around luxury car dealerships and tricking wealthy men into thinking she works there, so they can take Ferraris and Lamborghinis out for a test drive — and, once they leave, Maritza can drive away with a brand-new sports car. It seems like an easy enough job, but things quickly go wrong when one of the dealership employees joins her and her mark on their test drive. The customer thinks she’s an employee. The employee thinks she’s a customer’s wife. The result is Maritza doing a nice bit of high-wire conversation balancing, giving just vague enough answers to keep from blowing her cover — at least until she can fake a vomit attack and ditch both guys, taking the car with her.
Maritza may be a bit ditzy, but she’s quick on her feet, and it’s her ability to smooth-talk her way out of just about any situation that benefits her back in the present. While a few of the other prisoners have successfully figured out how to replicate Piper’s panty-selling empire, the only thing they can’t solve is how to get the aforementioned panties out of the prison. It’s Maritza who volunteers to stash them in her truck, and, while she’s out shuttling guards back and forth from the prison to their houses, a third party can sneak by and complete the pickup. Easy peasy — at least until the guards catch him. It looks like trouble, until Maritza invents a story about this being the new gardener who mixed up his dates. Attagirl, Maritza.
Our second main storyline of the episode takes us outside the walls of Litchfield. Specifically, Caputo heads to a prison conference in Baltimore named — I kid you not — CorrectiCon. He leaves Taystee in charge as his assistant, and after she cracks his password (“sideboobrulez”), she spends most of her time doing what the rest of us do on the Internet: Googling our friends, laughing at our boss’s lame cover band, and watching videos of hamsters eating tiny burritos. Taystee continues to be the most relatable character on the entire show.
NEXT: Suzanne, Lorna, and the Case of the Serial Shower Pooper
So, Caputo and Linda from MCC head to CorrectiCon. Road trip! This is the kind of place that gives out free plastic handcuffs and totes all the new gadgets and innovations in the private prison system, from menstrual cups to laser guns. There’s lots of networking to be done and panels to be attended — panels with names like “Shanks for the Memories: A History of Prison Weapons.” It’s both hilarious and horrifying to watch these men and women in business suits rake in the free prison-themed swag, especially while Litchfield is facing a massive shortage of feminine hygiene products.
Linda is completely in her element at CorrectiCon, and her enthusiasm for the privatization of prisons culminates with her own panel, where she basically brags about putting her own interests ahead of the prisoners’. “At the end of the day, it’s a prison, not the Four Seasons,” she tells the chuckling audience. Her panel is cut short, however, by the return of Danny Pearson, the former MCC director of human activities who quit to protest the inhumane treatment of prisoners at Litchfield (specifically Sophia Burset). Danny crashes Linda’s presentation with accusations of cost-cutting and human rights violations.
“I’m finished with a company that refuses to acknowledge what happens when we monetize human beings,” Danny yells. “Do you even see yourselves? Magic lasers and prison ice cream! This whole thing is a disgusting display of how industry dollars are spent.”
Tell ‘em, Danny.
But in addition to being funny (and horrifying), the CorrectiCon scenes do a nice job of underscoring the differences between Linda and Caputo. Even after everything Caputo has been through, he still fashions himself as an idealist, someone who believes that a prison can be used to rehabilitate and improve the lives of prisoners. Linda, on the other hand, is a stone-cold businesswoman, who sees prisoners only in terms of how much they can boost her bottom line. Even though the two are so ideologically different, Caputo can’t help but get caught up in the power and affirmation he gets from the private prison industry, and Linda thinks they’re both on the same page. Which is why they both end up hooking up in a CorrectiCon supply closet. Hey, what happens at CorrectiCon…
Back at Litchfield, it’s pretty much business as usual, with a few exceptions. Lorna and Suzanne are on the trail of a repeat shower pooper, doing their best Sherlock and Watson to try to find the culprit. I’d watch them solving mysteries together in a CBS procedural any day.
Piper is also trying to maintain her hold on power by wiping out her burgeoning panty competition. So, she goes straight to Officer Piscatella to bat her eyelashes at him and to inform him that — gasp! — she thinks some of the Latina prisoners are starting a gang. He’s grateful for the info, but he also informs her that her feminine wiles won’t work on him. “I’ve had a beard since 10th grade,” he tells her. “Two beards, actually: the one on my face and the one I took to junior prom.”
Piper’s info leads Piscatella to start cracking down on some of the Latina prisoners, increasing the number of “random” searches and pat-downs. Piper also decides to take things into her own hands and start an anti-gang organization, hoping to bring down her competition, but she watches helplessly as her little community meeting turns into chants of “White lives matter.” Way to go, Piper. As always, you make things so much better.
Orange Is the New Black
Jenji Kohan’s absorbing ensemble dramedy, based on Piper Kerman’s memoir of the same name, takes viewers inside the walls of Litchfield, a minimum security women’s prison where nothing’s as simple as it seems—especially the inmates.