Orange Is the New Black: Orange Black or Bleak: S5 E13 “Storm-y Weather” (Netflix)

Orange, Black, or Bleak S5 E13: “Storm-y Weather”

As a formerly incarcerated person, I have decided to do a deep-dive into the Netflix show Orange Is The New Black to help explain some of the things that folks watching the show without a felony background might not catch.

This is it, the end of my Season 5 recaps. Hope everyone has enjoyed what has been a really interesting if bizarre, season of Orange Is the New Black! As I mentioned before, I might take a week off and then finish the last two episodes of Season 2 before starting on Season 3 and Season 4.

If you have not watched OITNB before *Spoiler Alert*

5 Things About Season 5 Episode 13 "Storm-y Weather"

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OITNB S5 E13 “Storm-y Weather”” is about:

* Riot troops finally breaching Litchfield to bring an end to the riot. As expected, this is not pretty and especially after discovering the body of Humps thing get very nasty. Alison and Janae are two of the first inmates captured.

* The women in the bunker deciding how they will deal with the breach.Some of them stay in the bunker and others (Yoga Jones, Norma, DeMarco, and Nicky leave although Nicky returns).

* Pidge and Ouija aligning with the Nazis and deciding to fight back.

* Angie and Leanne doing increasingly stupider and less sensical things (like setting the records “on fire” even though records are mostly computerized these days).

* Flaritza coming to grips with the end of their Vlogging careers (at least temporarily).

* Chang trading in the port-a-potties for freedom (because apparently even after breaching the prison nobody thought to cover the entire fence line for escapees).

* Nicky helping Taystee and Cindy bring back Suzanne from here near comatose state.

* Doggett & Donuts sitting in his house, hanging out. No, seriously, they watch television and hang out, as if nothing has happened.

* Piscatella admitting his wrongdoing, seeing the error of his ways, and then promptly meeting his maker. Oddly enough, this made me sad.

* The vast majority of the prison being captured, organized in the yard and then moved out. It turns out, as expected, they will be split up and shipped to different facilities (most likely).

* Caputo and Fig informing the CERT team about the pool area after they are told that ten inmates remain missing after the post-riot count ("count" is what is called when officers verify that every inmate is present). The remaining women in Freida's bunker, preparing to be attacked by the CERT team.

5. “We’re Ten Short”

The DOC reports to the Governor’s aide, Caputo, and Fig that after securing the facility that they have counted multiple times and every time they come up ten inmates short.

Far be it from me to expect a Department of Correction to be able to count, but before they attacked the bunker they were short more than ten inmates.

Except, that makes no sense.

After the facility is declared secure, they are missing the following inmates:

1. Doggett - at Donuts house

2. Chang - God only knows where

3. Blanca - Frieda’s bunker

4. Nicky - Frieda’s bunker

5. Red - Frieda’s bunker

6. Frieda - Frieda’s bunker

7. Piper - Frieda’s bunker

8. Alex - Frieda’s bunker

9. Gloria - Frieda’s bunker

10. Suzanne - Frieda’s bunker

11. Taystee - Frieda’s bunker

12. Cindy - Frieda’s bunker

No matter how you count that, they are 12 inmates short. This is really odd because there would be no way the DOC would not know this. They would have an exhaustive count list.

A smart reader suggested that Linda would have been counted which would reduce the number by one. That would make sense except that Linda cannot be counted (which is another real problem). Linda could not be counted because she doesn't have a lock (also known as a bunk assignment number) or a number. They don't do count by simply counting bodies, they count bodies attached to numbers and locks (which is why they were all aligned in a predetermined order on the yard. 

Don't mean to get overly technical, but this is why Linda would never have been thrown on a bus and why the count would never have been officially wrong. Could they lose people, of course, but they would know that they lost people (records are kept on computer backed up on DOC servers and probably also in the cloud just like all other data).

Has to be a continuity error. My suspicion is that someone on the writing staff counted the women in the bunker but forgot that Chang and Doggett slipped out through the fence.

Also wanted to give a quick shout out to Uzo Aduba for her well-deserved Emmy nomination. I am also happy Laverne Cox got recognized, although it is hard to imagine how it happened given how she was barely used at all this season.

4. RIP Desi Piscatella

No, seriously, in an odd way, I feel empathy towards Desi Piscatella. I am not sure I can explain it entirely yet. But, I feel empathy for him.

Part of it probably has to do with my belief that all human beings are extremely complicated. We have seen Desi be brutally cruel, deeply loving, and even (in his own strange way) silly and vulnerable.

It would be easy to write Desi off as a psychopath and forget that he is also the kid whose parents tried to force the gay out of him. That he is the person who deeply loved an inmate and then lost him. Of course, he is also the man who tortured another man to death and who out of pure meanness scalped red and broke Alex’ arm.

But there is an even bigger reason not to write Desi off.

Desi represents the point of view of the majority of the public.

Desi is a stand-in for all of those people who love to talk about how great it will be when someone “gets what they deserve” once they get to prison (usually meaning prison rape or a stabbing).

Desi is the physical manifestation of all those people who insist that we treat our prisoners too kindly and aren’t tough enough on crime or criminals.

And I deeply care about every person who feels this way, I used to be one of those people myself, and while I vociferously disagree, I don’t throw people away.

This represents one of the great messages of season five, human beings are at their absolute worst when they ignore the humanity of others. This is true when Leanne says that “Guards aren’t people” and it is true when Desi refuses to acknowledge Red’s humanity even when she is trying to show him mercy.

We are at our best when we always treat each other with respect and with dignity and we are worse when we fail to treat each other with respect and dignity.

Anyway, I felt sad for Desi at the end. I am glad he finally got the chance to admit that he was wrong. And I am very glad that Red got to remember who she really was before it was too late.

3. Disciplinary Power

Throughout this final episode of Season 5, many of the members of the CERT team debate what level of force to use on the inmates (despite the fact that virtually NONE of them are, in any ways, resisting re-arrest).

It is important to mention that with one exception these discussions are never about if force should be used but rather about what level of force can be applied without consequence (in order to avoid paperwork or undue criticism).

I think it was Michel Foucault who suggested that in ceding our power to the state we also give the agents of the state the power to decide life and death. Every action an agent of the State takes always contains a possibility of death especially when that possibility is based almost entirely on the discretion and judgment of the agent involved.

No matter how many great things the agent does, each of those interactions also carries with it, at the same time, the risk of death.

The only possible intervening variable is the existence of a witness and a meaningful rule of law.

But what if there is no witness and the rule of law has become meaningless (has become empty and lawless law)?

An agent could shoot you while you were selling loose cigarettes on the side of a street.

An agent could shoot a child when he was playing with a toy gun in a playground.

An agent could shoot you while you were tried to fully comply during a traffic stop (while your young daughter watched).

And an agent could shoot you when you make the mistake of calling 911 because you were afraid a sexual assault was happening.

Once the law becomes lawless, and justice becomes unjust, all that is left is naked disciplinary power.

What Jenji Kohan and her team of writers were showing us in Season 5 is what happens when our rules and laws and morality becomes emptied of meaning. When the power of the words to imbue our laws with a higher purpose are reduced to parody.

What happens when all that is left of our aspirations are frustration and anger.

Lawless law and just injustice (maybe un-justice).

We are living in dangerous times, we can’t survive long when we punch people in the face instead of shooting them simply to avoid the paperwork.

We have to find the angels of our better nature.

We need to start being our best selves again.

2. "Human Tacos"

Not sure why the Nazi’s, Pidge, and Ouija decided to fight back.

I could be confused but I don’t think anyone would have had particularly long sentences prior to the riot given they were at a low-security prison but it is hard to believe any of them will come out of this well after setting up an assault zone expressly for the assault of the prison response team.

Don’t get me wrong, hardly anyone at Litchfield is going to come out of this well. But, there will be a particularly tough time for anyone who assaulted (or shot) an officer.

Trust me when I say, the hardest time in prison is reserved for people who assault officers. It usually includes years of solitary confinement and extra special attention from every correctional officer those inmates will meet throughout the rest of their prison time.

Next season is going to be very tough on many inmates but particularly for the Nazi’s and for Daya.

As an aside, you may be wondering, would they actually line the prisoners out on the lawn like that for hours.

The answer is yes.  

It happened all the time. It happened in the middle of the night during fire drills. Sometimes it happened in the winter in the snow (god forbid you forgot your coat when the alarm went off and woke you up).

They line you up by unit and by bunk number in rows, just like they depicted during the episode, and you stay until they clear count or move you.

1.  Chang

One of the biggest flaws of Season 5 was the official response to the riot.

It didn’t make sense that it took so long for an official response to take place.

It didn’t make sense that the Federal Government ceded jurisdiction to the State or that the FBI and Federal Bureau of Prisons were never involved.

But the biggest impossibility by far?

People escaping through the hole in the fence.

If a million riots happened, responders would never once fail to establish a full perimeter around the entire facility. And if by some miracle there was a gap, the press would find it before prisoners did.

There is just no damn way Doggett and Chang could just saunter out of prison through a hole in the fence.

Anyway, I know that I have mentioned it before but I just could not let it go after they rubbed it in our faces again when Chang left.

And get ready because we will all be leaving for a new prison or prisons in Season 6.

RIP Litchfield

So let’s end this with the same beautiful song they ended the season with. The song is called To Build a Home and it is by The Cinematic Orchestra. Here is a link and I have included the lyrics to the last verse and chorus as well (it really could not be more perfect).

Out in the garden where we planted the seeds

There is a tree as old as me

Branches were sewn by the color of green

Ground had arisen and passed its knees

By the cracks of the skin, I climbed to the top

I climbed the tree to see the world

When the gusts came around to blow me down

I held on as tightly as you held onto me

I held on as tightly as you held onto me

Cause, I built a home

For you

For me

Until it disappeared

From me

From you

And now, it's time to leave and turn to dust

Adios Season 5!

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 Will You Miss Most About Litchfield?"

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