Friday, June 13, 2014

REVIEW: 'Orange Is the New Black' - Piper Starts Her Newsletter & Cindy Learns to Take Responsibility in 'Comic Sans'

Netflix's Orange Is the New Black - Episode 2.07 "Comic Sans"

Piper starts a prison newsletter with the help of Healy and a few other inmates. Vee launches an entrepreneurial enterprise.

Black Cindy has always been a reliable go-to character for comic relief. And yet, "Comic Sans" goes to great lengths to tell us her story as a woman who's basically given up on life. She's funny because prison needs humor. But she's also funny because she doesn't know what else to do in life. She's had the opportunity to be responsible and every time in the past she has chosen not to be. She's chosen not to take life seriously. And that's been a lot of fun. It's so hilarious watching her as an airport security guard making inappropriate comments to the guys she's patting down, driving around in her cart and grabbing water and candy. But she also has a daughter. Her mom is taking care of her because Cindy's more willing to abandon her to hang with her friends than taking her somewhere special on her birthday. It's tragic watching her realize that she can't possibly offer her daughter the same life her mother is already giving.

So, she's not even trying now. Her only goals and ambitions in life are to enjoy the now. She's not worried about what will happen later until it's later. She's more than willing to give out the cigarettes for less than value because of the perks she can get. She doesn't care about what will happen when Vee finds out because she's having fun. And that's the perfect opening for Vee to squeeze in and latch onto. She doesn't tell her anything that isn't true. Cindy really should be striving for something more out of life. But she's doing in it in a way that's most beneficial to her. She's recognizing young talent and making them feel good about themselves while using them for her personal gain. That is her established M.O. It's painful to watch as she keeps doing it to all of our favorite characters. And yet, there is some very real truth to absolutely everything that she's doing. And that's the most scary part of it all.

I also am really enjoying the increased focus on the more mature characters as the leaders of the various prison groups. Vee is sitting comfortably on top of her Black girls. Gloria is exhausted in her new job as head of the kitchen but still very capable dealing with both Vee and Red. Meanwhile, Red's new smuggling line is up and running. Both Red and Vee have their businesses establishing their importance. Red seems to have the more personal connection. She will get anything for the inmates - within reason. Vee, however, is just bringing in drugs - which the various inmates have been craving. Theoretically, both operations could work together. For some reason, I suspect that won't be the case. Everyone is marking their territory. A battle is coming and the stakes are slowly but wonderfully being raised.

But perhaps the most surprising story of this season so far has been the path of the elderly dementia inmate. She started off the season as a joke - something that Red has to look forward to in retirement. But slowly her path has been more and more important - and more and more tragic. She's never had a lucid moment. And yet, she was really important in the last episode - as she was able to wander off the prison facility in search for her date Jack. And now, she's still under that hopelessly romantic spell. She's very gracious to Piper with helping her cut her meat. But she's increasingly needing more and more care. Litchfield simply cannot cater to those needs. This story has such a tragic conclusion with her receiving a compassionate release. Everyone feels sorry for her in the prison. Once outside those walls, they don't have to care about her anymore. They don't care what happens to her because she's no longer their problem. They aren't looking ahead and seeing that no one can care for her and she will end up homeless and wandering the streets. How is that fate any better than prison? It's not and that's devastating.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Comic Sans" was written by Sara Hess and directed by Andrew McCarthy.
  • Piper's newsletter is up and running. Her staff includes Daya, Flaca and Morelo. Additionally, Caputo wants a staff presence as well - and he gets the first featured page. Not counting Healy of course since he's not aware Daya's cartoon is about him.
  • It's still so surprising how differently I'm reading every single Morelo scene since her flashback episode. Seeing her with Piper inquiring about the newsletter is so weird. At least she's admitting that she doesn't want to be solely focused on romance for a little bit.
  • Daya stating that Bennett at least has the power was the first time I've ever actually like them.
  • But Fischer now knows Daya is pregnant because of a phone conversation Aleida had.
  • It was also pretty satisfying watching as Officers O'Neill and Bell got back together.
  • We also got our first real glimpse into the home life of Fig. She's still mostly the administrative bad guy exploiting the prison's finances. But at least she's a tad bit more sympathetic knowing that her husband has been very distant from her.
  • Lastly, Larry and Polly finally just fucked. Okay, I enjoyed the slap more than the kiss.