Piscatella's backstory is revealed too late

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

While all this is going on, Caputo and Fig are working out their sexual tension at the negotiation table, and it’s both hilarious and gross. (Let’s be adults, shall we?) But when they keep the conversation focused, Caputo and Taystee have some excellent points to make, like how MCC is running a substandard prison to line its shareholders’ pockets. Taystee also points out that if the inmates were fed a decent diet that includes fruits and vegetables, healthcare costs would go down by roughly 30 percent annually, which then would cover the cost of a GED program. Now that’s something that actually piques Figueroa’s interest.

Unfortunately, as she points out, Fig is there on behalf of the governor, not MCC — and most likely, there is only so much power the state has over a private prison company. It’ll be interesting to see if/how the inmates manage to get something done for themselves, because the only good place to hit MCC is in their public image department. A public scandal that people can be outraged about is the only course of action, and they certainly aren’t going to get there if Humphrey really is dead.

See, it turns out Humphrey may have died in the medical bay. Suzanne finds him when she takes Maureen there for help (Maureen is in bad shape — girl needs some antibiotics for her infections, stat). But Suzanne is just barely hanging on as it is, so finding Humps seemingly dead is enough to push her over the edge. Her cry, “Where are all the grown-ups?!” is just so sad. The inmates need help. It’s not that they aren’t adults (though some of them definitely do not act like it), but you can only do so much with dwindling supplies and no help, plus we’re not exactly talking about the most emotionally intelligent and stable members of society. So yeah, the need for authority figures and management (good ones, not loose cannons) is growing more important by the hour.

Overall, this episode had some excellent moments, but on the whole, it wasn’t that strong. The Piscatella flashback should have happened way before he became such a villainous caricature. By this point, it’s too hard to care.

Odds & Ends

  • While Figueroa may be seeing the light in the negotiating room, Linda from MCC is having her own come-to-Jesus moment with Pennsatucky. She has already seen just how bad things can be, but Penn really drives it home by talking about how the horrible conditions are making everyone “way worse than how they were when they started.” There may be hope after all, gang.
  • Angie and Leanne have another one of their “madcap adventures” that make me want to throw them both in the effing lake. No amount of sex scenes with Stratman are going to redeem this story line. Also, let the nurse out of the port-o-potty, you lunatics.
  • Pidge: “You like Tina Fey over here.”
    Ouija: “Nah man, she only do that one dumba– Alaska lady with the f—ed-up a– kids. I got more range than that. I’m like Kate McKinnon.”
    Pidge: “Kate Dominican!”
    Ouija: “Yo, you better than that.”
  • Gina: “I mean, it’s good to be prepared for anything, but this is like Hitler-level preparation. No offense.”
    Frieda: “None taken. The man was prepared.”
  • “We shared a love of botany, me and Bone. And some other things. But that’s none of anyone’s business.” Frieda is the freakin’ best.

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.
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  • 6
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  • 07/11/13
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