Thursday, 30 June 2016

Orange Is The New Black, S4 - Episode Seven: 'It Sounded Nicer In My Head'

AKA the fall of Piper Chapman. 

Okay, so Piper's not really around that much this episode, but boy do her scenes count. Before we get to that ending, lets get through the other stuff.

On the bright side, we do get Nicky back, and an awkward scene where Piper has to introduce her to her skinhead flunkies.

Taystee, Cindy, Susan and Alison are still trying to get a picture of Judy King. This happens to coincide with the release of a video of a extremely racist puppet show that King made decades ago. Already on edge, King becomes terrified when Cindy, Susan and Alison keep turning up. 

Oh, and on the Caputo side of things: Linda's a corporate gargoyle -- HOLY SHIT. Didn't see that one coming. 

Now back to the meat.

This whole episode -- excluding Lolly's storyline -- was about racism, the power it creates and removes. The racial tensions Piper and the new guards have started have been stoking up for a while now, and it was about time they blew up. And that doesn't include Judy King's puppets.

It's not hard to see Piper's dilemma as the same one the GOP finds itself in now. After decades of tacitly prompting race to get votes, their chickens have come home to roost.

The finale to this episode was sad and cathartic at the same time. On the one hand, Piper realised that she was all alone and acknowledged what she had done to her brow-beaten bunkmate, Hapakuka (Jolene Purdy, who I just discovered was Cherita Chen in Donnie Darko). And then she gets jumped by the Dominicans and gets branded with a Swastika.

On the other hand, it felt like Piper had just hit rock bottom. Hopefully the branding is the final straw that forces her out of this mindset of being the 'boss'.

Best zinger: "I can't help you but I'm rooting for you" -- Piper 

Flashback: Lolly Whitehill (Lori Petty) is another character who has been in the background, and used for a little colour and humour. 

Now, with Lolly get more involved in storylines, we are finally getting some backstory.

Starting as a journalist for a free weekly newsletter, Lolly's voices mean she is soon living on the streets and selling home made coffee. Frankly she seems more functional on the outside -- she likes to help people, and wards off her voices with the noise from a stick covered in jangly metal. Sadly, that implement gets her in trouble with the law. Boom. Prison. 

In the present, Lolly has built a time machine in the laundry to act as her refuge -- this leads to another good moment for Healey (can't believe I'm writing this), and a genuine breakthrough for both of them. Lolly might have found an anchor to reality, while Healey is beginning to expose a little of the pain that makes him such a prick.

In an episode filled with people at their worst (even Nicky -- by the end of the episode, she's found a new drug source), it is rare moment of shared empathy.

Final thoughts: After half a season of mounting tension, this episode marks the breaking point. And what a payoff!

For previous episodes

Episode 1 

Episode 2

Episode 3

Episode 4

Episode 5

Episode 6

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