“The Hidey Hole” Orange Is the New Black: Orange Black or Bleak: S7 E9 (Netflix)

Orange, Black, or Bleak S7 E9: “The Hidey Hole”

OITNB Final Season Hero 1.jpg

Several years ago, I decided to do a deep-dive into the Netflix show Orange Is The New Black to help explain things that folks watching the show who don’t have a background including incarceration might not catch. Seven seasons later, I am still rolling.

I am not a woman, which is a huge weakness in the coverage. I do consult with friends who did time in women’s facilities and try to ensure accuracy.

I did time in a state and not a federal facility, another huge weakness.  I try to consult with friends who did time in federal facilities and try to ensure accuracy.

If you haven’t been listening to the Decarceration Nation Podcast my last guest was Somil Trivedi, a Senior Staff Attorney at the ACLU, and we discussed the recently concluded Supreme Court Term.

I am taking the podcast on the road next week, we were invited to be one of the official podcasts at the Smart On Crime conference in NYC. For those that don’t know, I am originally from NYC and have not been back in like 20 years.

If you have not watched OITNB before *Spoiler Alert*

5. “You Are A Shitty Pool Player”

Poor Lorna.

So we finally get the backstory on her psychotic break and why she is the way she is.

Short-form...Lorna was at a bar, talked to a couple who had just gotten engaged and who told her their entire romantic engagement story. Lorna and her date broke up because she wanted him to be more romantic but he just wanted sex...a few seconds later she threw a bottle at the windshield of what she thought was her former boyfriend’s passing car causing the car to swerve and violently crash. When she walked over to see what had happened she sees that the now deceased passengers were the couple she had met in the bar.

This event caused her to have a psychotic break, and it is why she lives almost entirely in fantasy because the alternative is having to face the horror that she was responsible for. In addition, it also explains why whenever she has to face something painful the dissociation repeats itself.

She comes out of the psychotic break and finds herself at the Pelican Hotel, the place where the couple she met at the bar got engaged to each other. She had left the bar and walked all the way to this seaside resort all while totally functionally unconscious.

Okay, flashback to the present...Vinnie forces Lorna to confront the loss of Stewart and instead of accepting it she continues to dissociate. Vinnie tells her if she doesn’t accept the truth they will have to get a divorce so Lorna dissociates and somehow escapes to the yard alone causing a lockdown.

Side note: I am not always sure how things work in Federal prisons but usually the way officers know people are “attempting to escape” (are missing) is that you have counts throughout the day (it has been a while but they have shown count time on the show before). You have multiple counts throughout the day where you have to stand at your bunk until count clears. Anyway, they probably would have figured it out during count.

4. “What About Your Promise To Own All The Parts Of Yourself”

Maybe for the first time in the history of the show, I agree with Piper Chapman.

I live by the same rule, only I learned it in recovery where there is a saying:

“You are only as sick as your secrets”

It may not be for everyone, but I live my life that way now and my life has been better and better ever since I started living intentionally and with total honesty.

Keeping secrets and living lies eats you away inside until all that is left are the miserable parts of you. I also deeply believe that shame is a trigger for almost every bad thing people do. I am not at all saying that you should just live without shame, shame can be productive, but living trapped in shame is crippling and life-negating.

Once I learned to correctly process secrets and shame, everything about my life’s trajectory changed.

3. “Put Some Of That Energy Into Your Job Hunt”

I have sat for employment interviews where the person I talked with looked at me like I was an insect or literally a pile of human excrement. When you look at someone who is formerly incarcerated and has a job, you know they are an incredibly strong person because in order to get that job they had to crawl through a pile of rejection and shame so tall that if we were standing on each other's shoulders we would still never be able to see over it.

So, while I know it is a fictional show, I almost cheered out loud in my room when Cindy got hired at the seniors home (not least because formerly incarcerated folks are generally excluded from health care jobs).

The celebration was short-lived since Taystee’s letter showed up just after Cindy got hired and Cindy, being Cindy, bailed on her daughter and family. 

Oh well, at least I got to celebrate for a few minutes.

I do want to celebrate a few Cindy quotes (because I don’t know how much more time we will get with her).

“You can't change people but what you can change is your attitude,”

“Funny is like duct tape, it fixes everything”

2. “Kind of Redundant Don’t You Think”

Okay, I want to take a second to talk about cell phones.

Yes, they can be both a blessing and a curse and people in prison can use them to do evil or good. 

But here is the thing, all of that same stuff can happen with calls to the outside on regular phones. All of the same stuff can happen in letters and emails.

Yes, correctional officers can read or listen to the calls but people inside have sophisticated codes that allow them to communicate everything they need to say or find out all of the information they need without literally saying anything incriminating.

In addition, maybe the biggest problem with prison (and there are many problems) is that prisons are 100% opaque. Thousands of horrible things happen every single day and nobody knows about them because prisons are a black box. 

I believe the old saying that “sunlight is the best disinfectant.”

I agree with my friend historian Heather Ann Thompson, that we should just allow people in prison regulated cell phones just like they have tablets and other forms of limited technology. We have jails that have tablets that allow for-pay video visitation now. How in the world are cell phones not the same thing? 

We just need to stop making up fake limits in order to maintain the secrecy that keeps prisons torture chambers. 

Why are these things ONLY okay when profit is involved? Why is the only thing that greases the wheels dollar bills? Why don’t we make prisons more transparent and monitor the phones < just like we do now>.  Who knows, maybe correctional officers in Alabama, for instance, won’t be able to torture incarcerated people as easily? 

Dare to dream.

1. “Female Genital Mutilation”

Poor Nicky.

Red is losing her memory rapidly, Lorna is even farther gone, and now her new girlfriend is dealing with substantial trauma.

You really have to hope some good endings come soon for some of these ladies.

Okay, sorry I am a bit late this week. Got caught up in work.

Unlocking The Gates



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

Lots has happened since last season, I am now a policy analyst at Safe and Just Michigan, a consultant with #cut50, and still the host of a podcast. I am still 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.

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