The prison has once again turned on itself, raising moral questions as the situation looks more dire.

By Andrea Reiher
June 10, 2017 at 05:30 PM EDT
Jojo Whilden/Netflix
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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…

…something wicked this way comes into Litchfield.

After Red and Flores started egging Piscatella on via Humphrey’s phone, I thought for sure he’d find a way to storm the prison, SWAT would have to get involved, and we would lose some people in the ensuing violence.

Thankfully, that’s not the way it goes down. But perhaps in an even scarier turn, Piscatella has his manhood questioned by SWAT (again), especially when they find out he hasn’t been texting Humphrey (because of Judy King’s blabbermouth). But instead of standing down, he doubles down on his psychosis, misogyny and raging Napoleon complex (as Red said in season 4, usually men like Piscatella are short), finds some SWAT gear to put on and sneaks into the prison via a bolted doorway he cuts open.

This will not end well. And it’s probably too much to hope that in whatever horror lies ahead, Piscatella gets taken out in the process. His demise is most likely being saved for the end of the season, which is both appropriate but also too bad.

Let’s all just hope that at this point, someone manages to get the drop on him and he has to be a prisoner with his fellow guards. It’s unlikely, but one can dream.

Outside of the standoff-related happenings, the most aggravating (but also spot-on) storyline is the white nationalists turning on Pennsatucky. Like I said in the episode 7 recap, Angie and Leanne are the worst. Why anyone listens to a word they say is beyond comprehension. But after a brief respite of being pseudo-humans, the Nazis are hungry for blood and Penn is the target.

They dehumanize her for a bit, toying with her like a gang of cats that corners a bunny, before ultimately throwing her in the poo. What’s really disappointing is Big Boo’s reaction when Penn comes to her for help. Is Linda really that exciting that you’d turn your back on your best friend, Big Boo? For shame.

Also, Big Boo is going to be in for a rude awakening regarding her new lover when all of this is over, but that’s neither here nor there at this point.

It all just feeds into how much the prison is starting to unravel. The riot is losing focus, save for Taystee and her girls, and supplies are running dangerously low, so people are not only turning on one another, but pretty soon they’re going to be tired of the riot and want it over. Perhaps the entrance of Piscatella will rile enough people up to keep the riot train chugging along — we are only at episode 8, after all, so the show is going to have to find a way to extend this storyline for a few more episodes before starting in on Act III.

The only question is how bad is it going to get before it gets better?

Odds & Ends

  • Fun fact: Young Daya is played by Dascha Polanco’s real-life daughter, Dasany Kristal Gonzalez. Excellent casting there, she looks just like her.
  • When Abdullah and Black Cindy want to participate in Taystee’s negotiations, they leave Pidge, Ouija and Zirconia in charge of the guards in Suzanne’s faux prison. The inmates get pretty aggressive talking about making Josh (or Luschek) have sex with them, so let’s hope that doesn’t come to fruition. Sexual assault is never OK, even against these a-hole guards. Also, Abdullah and Cindy really should have known better than to leave people in charge of Suzanne who don’t really care about her. Because now poor Suzanne is zip-tied to a bunk and she is understandably freaking out. Way to go, guys.
  • Can we just take a second and talk about Luschek’s fear boners? Is that really a thing that happens to some dudes? Or is that just another facet to the weirdest guard on the cell block?
  • “Figueroa? Man, that White Walker gonna eat us alive! And she won’t gain a pound either.” — Black Cindy
  • It’ll be interesting to see what happens if Gloria gets a hold of MCC CEO Jack Pearson. It’s sad about her son, but something tells me she won’t find much sympathy at MCC… so what might she agree to do for them in order to get to see Bennie?
  • Thanks for checking in with Caputo, though, Gloria. At least we know he’s not dead.

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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  • 07/11/13
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