"Canal Street Special " Orange Is the New Black S6 E8 "Gordons"

“Gordon’s” Orange, Black or Bleak? Season 6 Episode 8 (Netlfix)

Orange Black or Bleak 6.2.jpg

Yup, this is recap number 73.

I hope you have been listening to my podcast Decarceration Nation, last week I had a discussion with Guy Hamilton-Smith about a truly terrifying area of law known as “Civil Commitment.” So,  how terrifying is Civil Commitment law, there is one man in Illinois who has been civilly committed for over three decades but has NEVER been convicted of a crime.

Hope you check it out. We are on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Stitcher and Tune-In. You can also find every episode at DecarcerationNation.com.

If you have not watched OITNB before *Spoiler Alert*

5 Things About Season 6 Episode 8 “Gordons”



Sometimes I have to drag myself kicking and screaming to the computer, today is one of those days (I think I am having one of those burned out weeks - i have what feels like five jobs at the same time right now and I think I am getting a little overwhelmed). Anyway, as usual, some elements of this episode were bizarre (to say the least), but on the whole, it was a fairly enjoyable episode.

5. “We Ask the Questions Around Here”

Most of the time, when officers do searches they suspect one person of wrongdoing so they just search one person’s personal space  (called their “area of control”). However, every so often they either decide to put on a show or realize that if someone knows a search is coming (and they usually do) they will just pass contraband on to a partner in the unit before the search happens. When this happens they will search the entire block (as happens during this episode).

Generally, when a block gets tossed, they will go through everything you own (your bunk, your locker, your footlocker) and throw everything out on the floor of your cell (sometimes even throwing the actual mattress on the floor too). They often break things, often on purpose, during this process.

True Story, a guy in my boarding house got arrested again while I was still on parole. Despite not being the person who broke the law again, parole agents came through our whole house and and tossed everyone who was still on paper’s  rooms (just like we were still in prison...on paper means still on parole or probation).

Everyone always acts like it is not upsetting (and you get good at acting like nothing can upset you), but when you have very little it sucks to have CO”s or parole officers treat your few remaining earthly belongings with such disrespect.

4. “Janky Pyramid Scheme”

Aleida’s post-release story demonstrates what so many returning citizens experience, if nobody will hire you because you are formerly incarcerated, it is pretty hard to survive in the legitimate economy.

If you want people to come back reformed, you have to provide them with hope and with a path to success. If people don’t have a pathway to legitimate employment, housing, and a chance to reintegrate into their communities...what exactly does anyone expect is going to happen?

This is why I insist so vociferously that DOC’s should start planning for inmates successful release and reentry from the first day they arrive in prison. This is why I insist that prisons should train inmates for careers upon return and create on-ramps to those careers when they leave prison.

Society is so invested in the surplus “punishment fantasy” that they often work against their own self-interest in making sure people return with incentives to become good citizens. In fact, society has become so invested in the fantasies  of tough on crime prison porn that they prevent most prisoners from EVER being accepted as fully functioning citizens again.

If we really care about reducing recidivism, we have to start caring much more about how people return from prison.

3. “I Found a New Pot of Gold”

It seems very clear to me that Vause isn’t just working with Badison to keep Piper safe. It seems very clear to me that Vause is working with Badison because she misses having influence and power...she wants to be part of Carol’s gang.

Yup, I am saying it, she still loves Piper, but she wants to be a gangster again. This is not her first rodeo and everything Piper said was 100% true. Once you start agreeing to participate and accepting gifts you are essentially signing your name on the dotted line and joining up.

I think this is an interesting counterpoint to Aleida’s story because part of this, I suspect, is because Vause is having a really hard time seeing a path to a viable future outside of being a drug Queenpin. She seems to be going through the motions of trying to explore a legitimate future but her heart seems to really be in helping to plan illegal activities.

Not sure where this will go, but I think in Season 7 it will make Vause a much more interesting character.

2. “Chernobyl”

For a Max prison, the rules sure are pretty lax at Litchfield.

  • Daya can just change her work assignment to whatever she wants anytime she wants.

  • People can just come and go during Lushek’s class whenever they want.

  • The Barber shop can just be shut down anytime so that Carol and her gang can take it over (the barber shop at most prisons is a 9 to 5 gig with people coming and going on call-outs all day).

  • Roaming gangs of C and D block girls can just surround and attack people almost at will outside of the blocks.

  • Nicky and Blanca can just takeover the law library and go to town (then get surrounded by a roaming gang of thugs)

NONE of this would even happen at a low-security level prison. People are on controlled movement. You can’t go anywhere outside of your cell block without being called out. People don’t just randomly walk the halls in prisons.

This is another classic example of breaking all the rules whenever they need to write their way around plot problems. They do this WAY TOO OFTEN on this show.

I am not saying that they can’t color outside the lines, I am saying that you can’t make the central conceit of the season that they are in a Max facility and then ignore the rules of a Max facility whenever it serves your purpose.

Can people still commit violent acts in a Max prison, they just do it in their block, in their cells, or on the yard...but, people don’t just wander wherever they want in ANY prison.

I still find it impossible that Frieda would have flipped on anyone, much less Red. Frieda has a LONG sentence, she is old school (don’t rat), and she demonstrated her loyalty and ingenuity over and over again throughout multiple seasons.

The core of this season’s plot  is based on several totally ridiculous premises:

  • Any prison would be organized in this way (C Block, D Block, Florida)

  • Frieda betrayed Carol

  • Frieda betrayed Red

  • Red was at risk from a lawsuit that would NEVER EVER happen (Piscatella was on shared live video abusing Red and even a bad lawyer would have dragged MCC and the BOP through the mud in court and in the press (exactly what they would never want to happen).

  • Barb would be a boss (more on this next week)

I have generally enjoyed Season 6 more than Season 5 (which was even more absurd)...But the writer’s really need to stop rewriting their own rules every week to serve immediate needs. The plot holes are getting wider than the show’s logic can sustain. Taylor was not wrong to question the writers after this season was over and Jenji was not wrong to call last season “fan fiction.”

I love the characters, but the internal logic of this  ship is listing badly

1. “We are locked in cages, they are the animals”

What Taystee says to the reporter during this interview was kind of idiotic (given the CO’s were literally in the room with her and the reporter). She is not that stupid or unaware of her surroundings. You don’t survive in prison being unaware of your surroundings.

Maybe that isn’t fair, I guess Taystee might say those things in the interview, but it is unlikely she would be surprised, at all, by the implications of having said it. Taystee is NOT naive.

In addition, what she says is kind of bullsh*t too...Prison corrupts almost everyone from inmates to officers. Prison turns everyone into animals at times (not just CO’s). It is certainly right that absolute power corrupts absolutely, and that is why people like Hellman LOVE their jobs...but, prison is enforced violence and to survive you have to know how to survive in a universe of enforced violence. Being in prison is a constant process of trying to decide if you want to give in to the madness or try - at great risk to yourself - to remain above it all.

At the same time, while there are some “good” correctional officers, there are clearly teams. Even the best CO’s are still firmly on the side of the other correctional officers and, except for snitches, all the inmates are united against the officers.

Unlocking The Gates



New recaps will come out once a week (usually on Sunday mornings).

I am a member of a Criminal Justice Reform organization called Nation Outside (The Voice of the Formerly Incarcerated) but I am not speaking for Nation Outside in any official capacity.

If you are interested in criminal justice reform or are formerly incarcerated yourself, please consider joining the fight (if you are a Michigan resident - you can sign up by clicking on the hyperlink above).

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