Tuesday, July 30, 2019

REVIEW: 'Orange Is the New Black' - Karla, Shani and Blanca Present Their Cases in Immigration Court in 'God Bless America'

Netflix's Orange Is the New Black - Episode 7.11 "God Bless America"

Maria tries to make peace with Gloria. Karla and Blanca plead their cases. Figueroa stands up to Litvack. Piper attends a posh fundraiser with Zelda.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of Netflix's Orange Is the New Black.

"God Bless America" was written by Carolina Paiz and directed by Diego Velasco

America's immigration system is in desperate need of reform. The inmates from max feel the need to offer compassion and humanity to those currently trapped in the ICE detention facility. Gloria has risked so much in order to provide the detainees with information. She is jeopardizing her own release too. And yet, she feels compelled to do so because she understands the struggle. She may be a citizen from Puerto Rico but she knows just how cruel and dispassionate the world can be to people who look like her. She understands as a parent the desperate need to protect and love one's children no matter what. It's an impulse that may ultimately lead to tragic consequences for herself, Flaca and Maria as well. They are the ones caught in the kitchen with a cell phone. It doesn't matter that phones are all over max. Basically every inmate seemingly has one right now. It provides a connection that is crucial to maintaining relationships throughout the world. And yet, nothing is more devastating and emotional than the phone call Karla makes to her kids after getting the news that she will be deported. She pleads such an effective case about how she needs to stay here in order to protect her children. She wasn't allowed to be at their custody hearing because the ICE agents had no compassion for her situation. And now, protecting and caring for her children isn't an effective argument that sways the judge. So now, she is forced back to a dangerous country while her kids are left to navigate the foster care system. It's absolutely crushing. Karla wishes to extend a sense of hope to her boys. But she knows it will be difficult for her to ever be reunited with them now. She needs them to look out for each other and help each other when they are in pain. It's the bond that they have to rely on now because their last family connection has been taken away from them. The flashbacks here illustrate perfectly how identity is stripped away entirely from these detainees. That has always been a prominent feature of the show's time in prison. But here, the ICE agents refer to the detainees by their case numbers. They don't wish to see them as human beings. Instead, they are just numbers on a spreadsheet that PolyCon can charge for as much money as possible. Linda sees this as the most lucrative business venture that the company is currently managing. It's not causing problems for her like max continually does. And yet, this is a much more sinister environment. One where even Fig has her icy exterior start to thaw. Her adventures with pregnancy this season makes her more compassionate to the woman who wants to get an abortion. She is the one who listens to her story and respects her choice. It's sickening to see the ICE agent condemn Santos' disrespect for life while also presiding over a courtroom full of toddlers who are appearing in front of a judge for their immigration rulings. That's staggering and proves just how broken the entire system can be. It may only produce bleak endings. Santos may receive the pills that allow her to complete her abortion. But she may still be deported as well. That's the fate that befalls Karla and Shani here. They are sent home to countries where they are likely to be killed. With Shani, she is taken away without saying goodbye to Nicky. Instead, all she leaves is a note. One that articulates just how brutal and unfair this world can be. She was victimized by her family for her entire life. And now, that will only continue because of her sexual orientation back home. That's disgusting and shameful. There are so many failings of the system. It's hard to save everyone even when the people in charge have the right intentions. Blanca is again allowed a delay in her case in order to appeal her criminal charges. That may extend her sentence in prison but it will also allow her to stay in this country. That may be the most hopeful ending she can ask for at this moment in time. In fact, everyone is just trying to figure out what's the best that they can hope for in their lives. For Piper and Alex, it may be a future without each other in it. Their relationship could have just been something that allowed them to survive prison. Now, Alex needs McCullough to fulfill that role while Piper can look ahead and build something meaningful with Zelda. That seems very healthy and beneficial. It's still tragic to a certain extent as well. It's clear that some people can't cope with their realities as well as Sophia does here with her life on the outside. Meanwhile, Aleida thinks becoming a drug queenpin is the only one to care for her family while Taystee sees the value of establishing a fund that can help inmates in the days after their release. Both stories may be the best for them as they face a life behind bars. It may still allow some tragic patterns to repeat. But it also gives them all purpose in a system that makes less and less sense with each passing day.