Holy Polar Bear: Orange Is the New Black S4 E11 “People Persons” (Netflix)

Orange, Black, or Bleak S4 E11: “People Persons”

Welcome to my super deep dive into the series Orange Is the New Black! If you have not seen all of my recaps, here is a link to the complete guide.

So, I have a podcast now.

If you haven’t heard it yet, it is called “Decarceration Nation” and is available from iTunes, Stitcher, or any of the podcast aggregators. The first three episodes have been posted.

Please, if you get a chance, listen, share,  and help us get traction. 

The listenership has been surprisingly good for the first three episodes, THANKS!

Episode 4 comes out Tuesday and I am recording an interview with Lauren Brooke Eisen of the Brennan Institute later this week (she wrote the book Inside Private Prisons, which obviously has a lot of cross-over with S4 of OITNB).

Only two more episodes left in the entire series after I finish this recap (until S6 starts up).

If you have not watched OITNB before *Spoiler Alert*

Some Things About Season 4 Episode 11 “People Persons”

 Netflix

Netflix

OITNB S4 E11 “People Persons” was about:

 * The story of how Suzanne ended up in prison (I have seen this episode like four times and it kills me every single time). Suzanne’s sister decided to take a weekend trip with her boyfriend and as she is leaving she tells Suzanne to make friends on her own. Suzanne decides to go to the park and start saying hello to people just like she does at her job as a greeter at a Walmart-like store and ends up seeing a kid who she met with his family at work and a lot of sadness ensues.

Short form, the kid comes over to Suzanne’s place to play video games and starts to think Suzanne has kidnapped him. As he tries to escape, he falls off of her fire escape (and, as far as we know, perishes). One has to remember when watching that Suzanne is, in many ways, trapped at the exact same maturity level as the kid and has no malice towards anyone (when she is violent it is universally because she is pushed beyond her coping boundaries).

In addition to this, Suzanne is also induced into fighting Kekudio by CO Humphreys (in one of the hardest to watch scenes I have ever seen on OITNB.

Come to think about it, several of the hardest to watch scenes are in this and the next two episodes).

* The discovery of Aydin’s dismembered body in the garden by the work crew which causes Piscatella to put the whole prison on lockdown (ending Blanca and Piper’s table-standing punishment).

Aydin was Kubra Balik’s enforcer that was sent to Litchfield to kill Alex Vause. Aydin took a job as a Correctional Officer for MCC so that he could get to  Alex.He was killed, in case you forgot, by Lolly Whitehill  (who was saving Vause’s life). *I was just remined that technically she was killed by Alex after Lolly's assault left him almost dead, apologies (and thanks to my friends on Reddit for keeping me on my toes)*

Caputo is called to headquarters (where he meets the MCC PR guru Josh who will become more prominent in S5). Before he leaves he tells the CO’s to act professionally, treat the inmates well and take no retribution, an order Piscatella immediately countermands.

* Piscatella’s attempts to interrogate several prisoners but especially Red. They try to imply that Red turned Lolly in but Red would never do that (It ends up being Healy who turns Lolly in).

Frida getting frustrated that she is not one of the inmates questioned given her extensive history of violent crime. It was also Frida who correctly suggested to Alex that Red would never snitch on her and that that “loyalty has nothing to do with it.”

* Luschek getting put on “Judy King duty” as the result of the lockdown. He ends up doing Molly (which Judy has procured previously) and ends up in a totally unnecessary threesome with King and Yoga Jones.

* Doggett going out of her way to help Nicky get through her withdraw from heroin. Doggett mentions that she really started to want to be a better person after she was assigned to bring all the inmates working construction water. Nicky correctly mentions that Doggett is one of the few people who prison made a better person (I was another of this rare breed).

* Caputo finding out that Linda has never even been inside a prison or jail. Danny confronting his father with the picture of Sophia in the Segregated Housing Unit.  

* A bunch of really disquieting brutality and cruelty from the CO’s. It is all pretty ironic given none of the CO’s or the prison administration ever even noticed that Aydin was missing. You might answer that he could have just quit, but he quit without turning in his KEYS TO THE PRISON, his uniform, or doing any exit paperwork or anything else.

He was killed during an event when 100’s of inmates left the campus to go swimming in a nearby lake, him being missing after that even would have been a HUGE red flag. I get that Litchfield is a total administrative sh*t show but it was not a day where people would not be missed after the fact.

Healy and Lolly

I won’t lie, Healy can be tough to love, but after all this time, and watching the series several times, I have a lot more compassion for him.

He is, without a doubt, one of the most messed up and destructive forces at Litchfield (at least until MCC took over) but there has also been more exposition about the reasons why he is a total disaster than there has been for virtually any other character on the entire show.

Knowing how much he sees his Mom in Lolly, and knowing he almost killed himself so that he didn’t have to turn Lolly in (knowing full well what the psych ward was like), seeing him turn Lolly in was just really tough to watch.

If you hate Healy, I would seriously recommend watching all the previous scenes with Healy as a kid and also recommend watching the scene from earlier in Season 4 where Healy sat with Lolly in the Time Machine (if this doesn’t take you full circle on Healy, nothing will).

So to review, Healy spent most of his childhood totally mystified and terrified by the person he loved the most in his life, his mentally-ill Mother. She didn’t mean to disappoint him, leave him in the lurch, or terrify him but she was struggling with serious mental health issues and he was just a kid.

So, for his entire life, Healy has been trapped in a loop of both trying to study, learn, and understand “women” (aka his mom) at the same time he has never really addressed his anger toward his decades of anger and feelings of abandonment (that bleed out towards women). He has always been literally searching for a way to understand why she abandoned him (she took off when he was young) and to bring her back to him.

The closest he has ever come to finding peace was with Lolly who was probably very close to his Mom (deep down very sweet but like Suzanne also severely mentally ill). Remember that three things happened in this episode that would all cause him immense distress (to the point of becoming unmoored):

1. He helped get the garden approved for Red so she had a place to work after she lost the kitchen. This murder happened in the garden, and he probably knows Red was involved or at least knew what happened. Red is the only woman he has come close to being close with aside from Lolly in his entire life.

2. His wife has not only left him but is now asking him not to contact her. Regardless of what a total mess their relationship was, Healy clearly tried harder with her than he probably ever had tried with anyone before. When he gets the call to come back, he had left his ex-wife a message letting her know what a terrible place he was in emotionally. He was totally hoping that the call was from her.

3. He knows Lolly killed the CO. He loves Lolly and has, in a sense, replaced his Mom with her. He has made Lolly his personal project and she authentically likes him. In a weird way, his relationship with her is the most important relationship he has developed with a female human being ever. He feels that he has to turn her in and send her to psych knowing what a brutal place she will be going to.  

He is basically suffering the second death of his Mother (she may or may not actually be dead but he has never been able to find her).

Now, all of that aside, I feel much worse for Lolly.

Let’s face it, Lolly is really a great person tripped up only by a condition beyond her control. She is caring and thoughtful whenever she can be and she authentically tries to make people’s lives better (see the flashback when she was making people coffee as her business).

She 100% did kill Aydin, but she did it to save Vause’s life and Aydin was literally a drug mob hit man and for that good deed, she is now being shuttled off to psych (a fate often just as bad as SHU or worse).

Everyone hold up a glass to Lolly. I hope we eventually get to see her and Healy in a better place!

Correctional Officers

Sorry to return to a topic I have discussed before, but I think that they do a pretty good job of depicting a few particular things during this episode that I encountered when I was incarcerated:

1. The majority of correctional officers I met did their jobs professionally. At the same time, ZERO percent of them took a stand against the officers who were obviously corrupt or non-professional. There was clearly a well-defined and rarely crossed line between inmates and CO’s and that line was crossed by inmates at times but rarely by CO’s.

Throughout this season of OITNB, and particularly in this episode, they did a good job of showing how this operates in practice.

This episode also did a great job of explaining how this line functions for the vast majority of inmates. When Frida says Red would never turn Vause in, and that it had nothing to do with loyalty she meant that inmates take care of their own problems, they don’t go to CO’s to solve problems and they don’t try to save themselves through “snitching.”

Red is old school, she knows she would never be respected again if she gave someone up to save herself. I am not saying everyone is like this and things are certain;y changing, but most OG’s have some rules they live by.

This is why I am still flabbergasted that Piper is getting the time of day from someone like Red. Piper literally planted evidence in someone’s bunk TWICE and then sicked the CO’s on them. That would label you for the rest of your time, there is no way she would get past that just because some Latina’s branded her.

I am not saying the system is good, I am saying that there is a system that is enforced by codes. One of those codes is that you don’t use CO’s to solve your problems or go to CO’s to save yourself (you can go to CO’s to get put in protective custody...but when you come out, you will likely have all of the same problems even if you are moved to another facility).

2. There absolutely are CO’s who only got into the corrections business to be able to beat up inmates. These are often sadists and bullies and they literally get off on being brutal to inmates in any way they can get away with.

In both prisons and jails, these people were often assigned to what we called “Goon Squads” and they were in charge of breaking up inmate altercations, taking people to the SHU, tossing cells, and many other emergency responses.

Occasionally, these people are placed on blocks and are responsible for watching inmates for 8 hours a day five days a week.

I found this segment of CO’s much scarier and crueler than the inmates. I saw officers literally try to set people up to get beaten up and even seriously hurt.

CO Humphreys would have LOVED being on a goon squad.

Unlocking The Gates

 Netflix

Netflix

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).

Well, I am starting to feel nostalgic. Only two more episodes to recap. Hope you all have a great week.