Monday, July 29, 2019

REVIEW: 'Orange Is the New Black' - Taystee, Red and Pennsatucky Receive Lifelines That Could Help Them in 'Me as Well'

Netflix's Orange Is the New Black - Episode 7.07 "Me as Well"

Piper plays the field. Caputo tries to get ahead of a scandal. Daya sends Taystee on a mission. Nicky finds romance.

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.

"Me as Well" was written by Tami Sagher and directed by Ludovic Littee

This show has long conditioned the audience to be wary of any kind of hope. It may provide a massive breath of release. But it's not going to last. Piper's story this season may not be necessary in every episode. But it does show the extent of the damage that was caused from her being in prison. It removed a significant part of her identity. She grew so much during her time there. And yet, she feels adrift in her life with no one who really understands what she is currently going through. That is a failing of the system. Ward is trying to make a difference now by providing the programs that could easily provide the inmates with the tools they need to lead productive and full lives after being released. It's so tragic that it has taken this long for Pennsatucky to be diagnosed with dyslexia. It's not a shocking revelation whatsoever. Plenty of administrators have experienced her struggling with reading and writing before. But it takes the GED teacher providing that glee and hope that allows her to feel confident that all of this could lead to something more productive. She's not disillusioned about her current situation. She still has years left on her sentence. She understands that tests never work out for her. That has long been a part of who she is. She just always believed that she was dumb like her father. Now that she has a solid explanation, it could open up a world of possibilities for her. That's an area of this world where hope comes in and seems like it could actually make a huge difference. But again, that was an apparent issue that just took someone with compassion to help improve it. Meanwhile, Red and Taystee are dealing with the trickiest issues at the moment with it being unclear if anyone can actually help them. The kitchen staff understands that something happened to Red in solitary. She was broken in a way that has done lasting damage to her mind. She is making mistakes in the kitchen. She is no longer the protective mother they have always loved. Now, she is the one who needs their love and protection. But is this simply dementia? Or is something more going on? More time in the kitchen and around her friends hasn't made much of a difference. Nicky wanted to believe that she was getting better. She chose to be distracted with her new friend. And yet, she can't ignore it any longer. Red needs help. And yet, the only treatment she may receive could be chicken therapy. Now, chickens have long had importance in this narrative. It was a rare and special sighting way back in the first season that rallied the inmates together. It could help bring Red back to the woman she used to be. But the presence of chickens does absolutely nothing for Taystee. Instead, she is solely focused on her mission to die. She sees that as the only thing of value left in her life. It's the only thing driving her forward. She doesn't have the energy to keep fighting because the system will forever be against her. She doesn't look at Suzanne's novel as new evidence that can help overturn her case. Ward is excited by that potential. She confronts Taystee about it and sees just how cynical and depressed her former friend has become. That may not be enough. Again, hope can be very dangerous in this environment. It can lure people into believing that things are better than what they actually are. There are so many despicable people abusing the women trapped in this situation. It's just forever a part of who they are now. The show is at least calling Caputo and Healy out for their past behavior. But that too may not be enough. It may not offset all of the previous attempts to make them seem more fully rounded as characters who are allies to the women who need protection the most. Ward may present as a more powerful and meaningful support system. She brings about a lot of change to the prison. But again, that may not be enough to make much of a difference for the inmate population at large.