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Orange  is the New Black: Orange Black or Bleak: S1 E13 “Can't Fix Crazy” (Netflix)

Orange is the New Black: Orange Black or Bleak: S1 E13 “Can't Fix Crazy” (Netflix)

Orange, Black, or Bleak S1 E12: “Can't Fix Crazy”

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

If you have not watched OITNB before *Spoiler Alert*

5 Things About Season 1 Episode 12 "Can't Fix Crazy"

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Hard to believe this brings Season 1 to a close, crazy journey so far, hope that you have enjoyed it too. OITNB S1 E13 "Can't Fix Crazy" is about:

* The Christmas Pageant - Surprise, Norma can't talk, but she can sing. Also, Caputo (Nick Sandow) tries to make a play for Officer Fischer (Lauren Lapkus) only to be humiliated when he finds out she has a boyfriend.

* Piper's attempts to set things up so that she can get married to Larry (Jason Biggs), this involves circumventing Officer Healy (Michael Harney) by going over his head to Fig (Alysia Reiner). 

*  Larry meeting Alex (Laura Prepon), who convinces him that Piper (Taylor Schilling) came after her sexually (not the other way around..which is kind of true and also kind of false). 

* Red's attempts to take back the kitchen backfires when she mistakenly sets the oven to explode but burns one of her girls.

* The continuing and increasingly violent confrontations between Piper and Tiffany Doggett (Taryn Manning).

Oh, and "Can't Fix Crazy" is a reference to Doggett (because she is nuts).

5. "Go F**ck Yourself

First, Officer Sam Healy denies Piper the marriage paperwork and later he turns and walks away as Doggett is trying to kill her (right after Fig called him out for calling Larry). 

I guess this is theoretically possible, but even CO's and counselors have rules and checks on their behavior.  I have complained about this a great deal, but they have cameras everywhere in prison. I get that it is a minimum security Federal camp, but I still think it seems crazy that there is no controlled movement (that you can just walk out of an assembly and go outside at night).

I think Healy is nuts, so it doesn't surprise me that he would do this crazy stuff at all, my point is that he would likely be caught.

4. "Here's A List"

Aside from the absurd relationship between Officer Bennett (Matt McGorry) and Daya Diaz (Dascha Polanco) the storyline that makes the least sense to me is Natalie Figueroa's embezzlement.

How in the world would she steal millions of dollars in Federal funds? How would she skirt all the bureaucratic paperwork requirements and actually get cash to accounts that she could utilize? I am not saying embezzlement is impossible, I am saying that embezzlement on the scale that the show suggests is impossible. 

Even more bizarre, how exactly does she think that leveraging Piper to have her talk to Larry about being more flattering to reporters will fix the problem with the reporter that has already figured out that she was embezzling funds? 

Somehow, by giving a list of "good things" they are doing at Litchfield to Piper is supposed to get a reporter from a paper Larry has never talked to off of her back? Or any other reporter that gets wind of the possible embezzlement? How? 

I really hate writing that warps the realism of the show in order to make a storyline fit. For the most part, this show is very well-written, in my humble opinion, this storyline is a low point.

3. "God Loves Me, He Don't Love You"

First, yes, people do make shanks (or shivs) in prison and they do often look like the one Doggett is brandishing in "Can't Fix Crazy." There are as many different varieties as there are kinds of metal that you can use to make a shank. 

Many people have shanks in reserve, just in case trouble breaks out. 

There is a delicate balance between providing essential products to prisoners and the dangers in relation to how prisoners might use those products. 

The confrontation in the shower is also somewhat realistic. It is usually the case that someone will post lookouts and attack with a crew.  Very rarely will people come at you with deadly intent one on one. 

In my experience, people will usually attack you all at once, many attackers against one defender (I saw a lot of violence but was never personally involved in any).

Taystee (Danielle Brooks) was also right, Piper would have to handle this herself. As I have explained many times before already, you have to take care of your own troubles in prison.

Doggett's interpretation of the bible is also the way many people seem to read scripture. The idea that is okay to choose certain people who are under God's protection and others that God wants to be smitten started before the Crusades (and still makes little sense to me).

But, it certainly makes sense in the context of "Can't Fix Crazy."

So, I guess I am glad Piper defended herself successfully...I guess? Better than the alternative. 

2. The Kitchen

Seems pretty out of character for Red (Kate Mulgrew) to set up the oven to blow up even if she was feeling desperate. 

Also, and again, this might be one of the peculiarities of a federal low-security camp, but it is hard to believe that someone in any kind of prison could sneak into the kitchen and rig an oven to blow without being discovered.

Of course, several of the places where I was incarcerated the kitchen ran all night long (they had the bakers come in at night).

Anyway, Red has never really struck me as the acting out of desperation type. 

1. The Christmas Pageant

We often did have special concerts and performances (often on Holidays). I even played in several of them. 

We had a band room and you could get a call out to play in a band (I am a drummer). Sometimes we would have bands from the outside world come and play.

Programs like this help prisoners really help prisoners relax and even have a few minutes of fun in an otherwise constantly stress-filled existence.

And, for some people (not me), programs like this expose some real talent. Over the last few days, Cut 50 has been sharing a series of videos telling stories and sharing talent from inside San Quentin prison.

So often, you hear people talk about rehabilitation in prison and about second chances but usually what that really means is some training in the janitorial services or as a food service professional (I personally hate the use of the word "rehabilitation" because it is almost always tied to paternalistic approaches when - in my opinion - people pay their debt in prison and should not have to pay it again after they get out). 

I am not saying that there is anything wrong with being a janitor or working in food service (I have personally had jobs in both fields), but many people in prison have other talents. Many come in with talents already developed while others could use access to training and opportunity. 

However, as part of the tough on crime policies that started in the 70's (and accelerated in the 80's and which continue even today) prison is no longer about providing training and opportunities. Prison often doesn't even provide work at all anymore. Most of the inmates, including me, worked for on average a few hours a day maximum (paid at pennies per hour).

It is my opinion that a prison should operate like a hospital, the administration should start planning for each inmate's successful reintegration and restoration back into society from day one. 

Bringing inmates back to society with little hopes of getting a meaningful job and carrying huge debt (from fines and fees like court costs, restitution, monitoring fees, supervision fees etc.) is a recipe for manufacturing recidivism. Economic insecurity is one of the main engines of recidivism

Anyway, I really enjoyed the Christmas Pageant, because I personally saw a great deal of genius in prison and I think it was cool to see that on Orange is the New Black too.  I guess that is as good a note to end season one on as any. 

Coming next, Season 2. My plan is to keep going until S5 starts up (at which point I will write S5 recaps and pick back up on the older recaps when the new season ends).

Unlocking The Gates

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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:

"What was your favorite storyline in Season 1?" 

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

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

Orange is the New Black: OPS Season One Binge-Watching Guide (Netflix)

Orange is the New Black: OPS Season One Binge-Watching Guide (Netflix)

Orange  is the New Black: Orange Black or Bleak: S1 E12 “Fool Me Once” (Netflix)

Orange is the New Black: Orange Black or Bleak: S1 E12 “Fool Me Once” (Netflix)