Monday, July 29, 2019

REVIEW: 'Orange Is the New Black' - Piper Comes to a Realization While Suzanne Celebrates a New Arrival in 'Baker's Dozen'

Netflix's Orange Is the New Black - Episode 7.08 "Baker's Dozen"

Neri takes Piper on a wilderness retreat. Taystee tutors Pennsatucky. Suzanne tends to the chicken coop. Nicky has a difficult conversation with Red.

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.

"Baker's Dozen" was written by Kirsa Rein and directed by Nick Sandow

The series has long gone back-and-forth on Piper and Alex as a romantic couple. They have hurt each other and they have loved each other. Their wedding at the end of the sixth season showed their commitment to one another as Piper was about to be released. It was their pledge to remain strong as a couple until Alex is also on the outside once more. And yet, this season has been strange with how it treats the importance of them as a couple. They have experienced growing pains to this new reality. With Piper, that feels important and necessary. She is adjusting to a new life and is coming to the understanding of just how much prison has actually changed her. She had to be a certain person on the inside. The person who came out wasn't the same as the one who went in. Her life has changed. She now has to accept being a felon as part of her overall identity. She has long treated it as a secret that must be maintained no matter what. But now, it's freeing for her in a way that could ensure she stays out of trouble. Sure, her hunting adventure with Neri isn't all that interesting. But it at least ends at a very pivotal point under the tree with Piper learning and accepting what her life has become. With Alex, it's a complete mystery what the final season is trying to do. She remains very isolated. She is only really interacting with McCullough. She doesn't have conversations with any of the other characters. Instead, it's all flirtations in a supply closet. It's a development that feels incredibly forced. It may show how Piper and Alex will continue to drift apart because they are living two very different realities right now. They may come back together at some point in the future. Right now though, it just feels like the show is giving Alex something to do without being all that engaged with it. That's lame and really sucks a lot of momentum out of this season. A number of other stories are really starting to escalate in fascinating ways though. Aleida is back in prison but she does so with a confidence to her. She doesn't view it as the latest mess up on her part. Instead, she knows that her children are taken care of while she has a place in this environment. She can finally look after Daya once more and help ensure the drug trade doesn't completely destroy her life. All of this was seemingly inevitable because Aleida fell into her same patterns after being released. She was smuggling drugs and sleeping with César. As such, this may be a fitting conclusion for her as well. She embraces it. She wants to protect her kids. There is just very little she can do as an ongoing presence in their lives. That's not a joyous or hopeful ending. But it may be what she deserves. Meanwhile, it's pure excitement to see Suzanne and Lolly embrace the responsibilities that come from the chickens. That's a program that may ultimately cost a lot for Ward. But it's significant for the moment because it shows the importance of how far the entire series has come. A chicken was the symbol of freedom back in the first season. And now, it becomes one of acceptance and appreciation. That is powerful. Taystee is even allowing some more emotions and purpose to fill her life once more. She sent Suzanne's book to her lawyers and has become Pennsatucky's tutor. That's a fascinating character pairing. Sure, there is the lingering threat of the drugs that Taystee now has to end her own life. That means sinister and troubling things are likely on the horizon. But it should be interesting to see if that remains her character trajectory now that she has allowed other things to fill her time in prison. If not, she could be lamenting everything about her past just like Red who is now getting lost in the memories and trauma of everything she has ever done. Nicky wants to help but Red is mostly just lashing out because no one quite understands what she's going through.