Sunday, July 28, 2019

REVIEW: 'Orange Is the New Black' - Cindy and Maria Face Moral Reckonings Over Their Pasts in 'Trapped in an Elevator'

Netflix's Orange Is the New Black - Episode 7.06 "Trapped in an Elevator"

Taystee takes advantage of her new position. Fig teaches Tamika how to pivot. Black Cindy and Maria make amends to people they've hurt.

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.

"Trapped in an Elevator" was written by Heather Jeng Bladt and directed by Nick Sandow

So many characters are facing a moral reckoning as the series comes to its conclusion. It's unlikely that many of them will experience significant changes to their lives. Many of them are likely to stay in prison. Their dates of release haven't suddenly changed and made a future outside possible once more. But the stasis of their environment doesn't keep them from addressing the sins of their pasts while trying to move forward in the most productive ways. In fact, it's fascinating to see this season take such a close and intimate look at the inmates instead of trying to tell some sweeping story about the prison industrial complex they are all trapped within. Sure, there are absolutely stories that provide stronger context regarding the decisions made at the top and how they will potentially impact the lives of the people at max and in ICE detention. However, the focus is primarily on the inmates who are looking within to truly do the work that prison was always intended to inspire. There is always the sensibility that prison is a place for reform and rehabilitation. Some people may be beyond saving. They are serving life sentences without any hope of making it out of their current circumstances. But it's still worth the effort to reach out in the hopes of making a difference in at least one person's life. Caputo has come into max inspired to make a difference by leading a restorative justice class. He wants people to focus less on how to make things right and worry about how to make their futures better. Most of the inmates in the class don't understand his assignments. But he puts the personal effort in to show to several of them that the need for redemption and forgiveness could greatly make their lives better. Cindy is quickly approaching her release date. And yet, she struggles with reaching out to her family to see if she can count on them for stability. She lied about Taystee at her trial in order to protect her family. And now, that's what she has to solely focus on. There may be nothing she can do to reckon her relationship with Taystee. The damage may be completely done. It's over now. But there is still hope with her mother and daughter. She can return to their lives as a person who has learned from her mistakes and is willing to follow all of the rules to live a productive life with them. Sure, there is the bombshell looming on the horizon about Monica learning the truth of her lineage. Cindy accepts that her mother is a better mother to her daughter than she ever could have been. She acknowledges that and doesn't wish to intrude upon it. That's such a powerful moment. So is Cindy saying goodbye to Suzanne. Those are the little details that show just how strong and pivotal these relationships in prison can be. Cindy may never see any of these people again. She wants to keep the connection with Suzanne. That may be impossible though. So instead, she has to cherish every moment even though Taystee is determined to seek revenge in a very personal way. Taystee may be unsure of her action in the immediate aftermath. But the letter has already been sent and she'll have to live with those consequences. The same is also true of Maria. Now, the show does contort itself a little bit to ensure that she has the same amount of emotional and moral closure as Cindy does here. Both characters are expected to continue appearing this season. This doesn't feel like the end for either of them. It could be. That's the reality of the storytelling at this moment in time. The series may still be setting up some bombs that could explode a few personal lives. But it's all about acceptance and awareness that the damage was done. People have the capacity to change. Cindy and Maria hope that's true even though it's tough to stick with the program. And now, Caputo will have to reckon with his own past creepiness - especially if the show genuinely wants the audience to buy into him as a savior for the women around him both at home and in the prison.