Orange Is The New Black: Orange Black or Bleak: S1 E10 “Bora Bora Bora” (Netflix)

Orange, Black, or Bleak: S1 E10 "Bora Bora Bora" 

As a formerly incarcerated person, I have decided to do a deep-dive into OITNB to help explain things that folks watching the show without a felony background might not catch or have the context to understand.

I decided to call my Better Call Saul recap "The Cocobolo Times" (in reference to Jimmy's beloved desk). Here is the first edition of "The Cocobolo Times." If you don't watch Better Call Saul you should, it is one of the best-written and acted shows on television.

If you have not watched Orange Is The New Black before *Spoiler Alert*

5 Things About Season 1 Episode 10 "Bora Bora Bora"


Bora Bora Bora is about:

* Tricia Miller (Madeline Brewer) returning from detox and a good deal of her backstory (as much as we will ever get...sadly). Basically, as the result of a sexually abusive step-father, she left home and lived on the streets. Eventually, she turned to prostitution and theft, she ended up in prison after a bizarre shoplifting incident.

* The deepening of the relationship between Alex (Laura Prepon) and Piper (Taylor Schilling).

* The complication of the relationship between CO Bennett (Matt McGory) and Daya Diaz (Dascha Polanco) after Bennett finds out that Daya is preggers. 

* Miss Claudette (Michelle Hurst) getting her first visit in ten years.

* A visit from high school kids in a scared straight program.

* Alex and Piper's revenge on Doggett (Taryn Manning) after they get other inmates to help convince her that she has healing powers granted by God.

Oh, and Bora Bora Bora refers to Moreno's mistaken belief that there are three Bora's instead of two.

5. "Privilege" Defined

We here a lot about the concept of privilege, people get furious and overwrought as if they can't understand how anyone could call them privileged. Not me, I grew up poor, then my Dad started doing well and I spent most of my life living a relatively privileged life. I always knew that if everything went wrong my parents could probably back me up.

In fact, if they could have gotten me out of my crime they probably would have.  

It's just the way it was. I don't get mad about it, I acknowledge it. 

But in case you were wondering what privilege "is" remember everything Piper had before she was arrested and then listen to her talk about telling a homeless person (with their dog out begging for dog food):

"If you can't afford dog food, you shouldn't have a dog."

Now, that's privilege. 

4. "Now It's Just About Getting Through The Day Without Crying"

Piper ends up getting roped into talking to a particular trouble making a wheelchair-bound kid that none of the other "Scared Straight" inmates were able to crack. 

Piper ends up telling her that she spends most of her days in prison just trying to get through without crying.

I guess I would say that is only partially accurate. I think everyone spends all of every day either distracted, zombied out, or crying on the inside. 

The one thing you can't do is let people see you crying on the outside.

At the same time, a part of you is constantly aware of the fences and the walls and the razor wire.

A part of you is constantly aware that you are always in danger, even when, often especially when you feel the most comfortable. 

A part of you feels the weight of the time, feels yourself dying while living an empty life in a hopeless place. It is a bit like time moving extremely slowly while in your head you see a cartoon clock with the arms going at a dizzying pace non-stop.

It is like just trying to get through the day without anyone else seeing you crying (and letting your guard down for even one second).

3. "Now I Have a Passion For Justice"

You might remember that I have called out Alex several times for not correctly standing up for herself when someone is punking her (usually Doggett).

If you wanted to know what standing up for yourself looks like, at the beginning of Bora Bora Bora, Poussey (Samira Wiley) and Cindy (Adrienne C. Moore) act like they are bracing Alex for her shoes and Piper gets right in their face and tells them in no uncertain terms to "back off."

That is how you stand up for yourself. You say, basically, that you don't care what happens but absolutely are not backing down.

But, on the show, it is more than just her standing up for herself, Piper is starting to take her problems out on other people. She has already taken responsibility for her part in what she was arrested for, but now she is also starting to take her pain and use it in the service of a bit of meanness.

This also happens for real inside. You have no place to put all of the emotions you are trying so hard to swallow and it leaves people frustrated, angry, and mean.

Or, as Piper puts it:

"Now, I have a passion for justice."

Later in the episode, Piper uses the kid in the wheelchair as a vehicle for getting revenge on Doggett. Not because she needs to and not because it would help the kid. She did it simply because she wants her revenge on Doggett and she wants Doggett to know it was her.

When you are surrounded with and drowning in people being treated as sub-human you often start to lose a grip on your own humanity.

Also, scared straight is BS for the same reason prison is BS. Prison doesn't scare you straight prison makes you crazy. Screaming at people doesn't create calm. Being cruel doesn't create peace.

The opposite of anger isn't anger.

2. "50 Shades Of Crazy Eyes"

Piper isn't the only person being casually cruel. At one point at the beginning of the episode, Alex makes a reference to "50 shades of Crazy Eyes." 

I generally that character Suzanne (Uzo Aduba).

Suzanne has real problems but they are not her fault. If you pay close attention, she is a pretty brilliant girl who has real mental problems with distinguishing reality from fantasy.

She is a microcosm of a larger problem. We, as a society, hold people with mental illnesses responsible for crimes and often brutally punish them for their crimes.

I can't tell you how many times it has seemed obvious to me that someone is totally insane but they technically "knew right from wrong."

In Arkansas, right now, a study shows that five out of the eight people awaiting execution are mentally impaired.

And that is just the people being executed. As the Treatment and Advocacy Center reported in 2014, more people are "treated" in America's jails and prisons than in our hospitals. 

I guess what I am saying is that the problem is not with Suzanne, it is with us (Alex and Piper representing us and the rest of the sane).

I have mentioned it before, but nothing in my life has ever made me more embarrassed than seeing the treatment of the Mentally Ill in prison and jail. Suzanne represents that shame viscerally to me now.

1. "Some Blowjob Layaway Plan"

How much of a horrible person is George "Pornstache" Mendez (Pablo Schrieber)?

He treats addicts like they are sub-human, keeps them hooked on drugs for his own profit, and when they are truly addicted has them pay him with sexual favors.

But, what he did to Tricia was even worse. 

He was feeding her drugs and making her pay first with blowjobs and later in money. When he was out of drugs he let her go to detox and get more years added to her sentence. When she came back, clean and wanting to stay straight, he told her that she was still in debt for all the drugs she thought she was paying for with the blowjobs. 

Then, when after he hands her a bunch of product and insists that she sell the entire batch he gets angry when he finds out she decided to use and locks her in a closet where she eventually od's and dies.

Yup, that's Mendez.

But it really isn't much of a surprise, no matter what someone is before they become a prisoner or a CO, once they start getting used to treating people like objects it gets hard to stop.

Not all CO's are corrupt, but just like with addiction (or other maladaptive behaviors), the decline for CO's starts when you start thinking that it is okay to treat inmates differently than you would treat "people." 

It starts out calling them "convicts" or other derogatory terms and can move all the way to a CO dealing drugs. People seem to think it is okay to benefit themselves committing some of the same crimes as the people that they are using and humiliating on a daily basis. I assume that they think it doesn't count as committing crime because inmates aren't people.

Whatever the reason, there are drugs and many other things in prisons and jails and they don't all come in from inmate visits.

And obviously, not all corrupt CO"s deal drugs or try to benefit themselves. Some go out of their way to be involved in beating up prisoners when things go wrong. Some set inmates up for violence or excess tickets and punishments (like Healy). 

At the same time, there are decent and well-meaning CO's in prisons too. 

A prison is a complicated place.

Unlocking The Gates


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). 

Today's Comment Question is:

"If you could parole just one Litchfield inmate, who would you parole and why?"

Leave a comment, let people know.  Or, if you have questions, I respond to 100% of my comments! 

Today's book is "Orange is the New Black" by Piper Kerman