Saturday, July 27, 2019

REVIEW: 'Orange Is the New Black' - Blanca Feels Hopeless in a New Detention Center in 'And Brown Is the New Orange'

Netflix's Orange Is the New Black - Episode 7.03 "And Brown Is the New Orange"

A new warden ushers in big changes. Blanca reunites with an old friend. Suzanne tries to mend Taystee and Black Cindy's relationship.

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.

"And Brown Is the New Orange" was written by Vera Santamaria and directed by Constantine Makris

Blanca feels completely hopeless in ICE detention. The flashbacks here detail the journey she has already gone on through this system. It's more than her just being moved to the latest business venture overseen by PolyCon. She was actually sent to the southern border and experienced the abuses happening all throughout the country for no apparent reason. It's infuriating while remaining extremely topical and relevant. Blanca is fighting to keep hope alive. She has an outside lifeline in Diablo. She has a green card that would hopefully clear up any problems regarding her immigration status. And yet, her pleading as one of the leaders of the riot invalidates her claim and leaves her vulnerable for deportation. Diablo is willing to fight by her side and protect her no matter what. But ICE monitors the visitors who come into the facility. It's absolutely tragic to see him also get caught up in the system because his residency has expired. He is waiting for a new card but the agents don't care. There is no compassion. All of this explains why Blanca acts the way that she does when Maritza shows up at Litchfield once more. She sees herself as a legal citizen who could get all of this sorted out if she could just make a phone call or mail a letter. And yet, the system is so broken that it makes it impossible for anyone to get out of this facility. That's dehumanizing in a way that's absolutely despicable. Linda touts the amount of money PolyCon is making per detainee per day. She is willing to bring in max inmates to run the kitchen. It's all just a for-profit industry for her and her counterparts in the business world. But to Blanca, Maritza and the rest of the detainees, it's absolutely life-changing. Blanca would be sent back to a country she hasn't seen in 15 years while Maritza may be forced out of the only country she has ever known. But they are seen as deserving of deportation simply because they wear the red jumpsuits that indicate them as dangerous felons. Sure, the guards see all of the detainees as criminals. It's easy for them to disconnect and see this crowd of women as illegal. And yet, the audience can never fall into that same trap. It's important for us to remain hopeful. But again, that comes at a significant cost. Ward is making her presence known as the new warden. There may be an adjustment period but she eventually finds the right groove that demands authority and respect. She stands by the decisions she has to make. She makes them in the hopes of creating a better environment at max. But that's not going to suddenly fix everything that is broken in the system. The damage from solitary confinement has already been done. Something within Red was lost in there. And now, she presents as a woman whose mind is slipping away from her. She no longer knows which of her girls are still nearby and that Lorna was pregnant. Gloria may articulate that they just need to get some portion of their old lives back. But even that is a careful negotiation where it seems impossible that anything can go back to the way that it was before. Piper holds onto the same ambition. She is caught having lied about her job. As such, she is desperate. She is fortunate in that she has a lifeline through her father who is willing to give her a menial job now. Most parolees don't have that luxury afforded to them. But it still highlights how Piper is fighting to regain something that she used to have. Everything has changed though. As Pennsatucky points out, the good memories aren't as happy as they used to be while the bad ones are somehow even worse. That's a stark mission statement that could be driving a whole lot of the storytelling in this final season.