“The Thirteenth” Orange Is the New Black: Orange Black or Bleak: S7 E10 (Netflix)

Orange, Black, or Bleak S7 E10: “The Thirteenth”

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 of 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.

We just got back from New York City, there will be a series of special podcast episodes coming from the Smart On Crime Conference starting next week.

If you have not watched OITNB before *Spoiler Alert*

5. “Red, you Wanted To Prep The Potatoes For Tomorrow…Remember?”

Poor Red.

Not only does one of the best and strongest characters in the history of the show get relegated to a bit player over the last two seasons, but now she also has early-onset dementia and will, according to the prison doctor:

“eventually...need assistance with all the elements of daily life“


I mean I guess it happens in real life too, but there is just nothing good about Red going out like a mouse instead of with a ferocious roar. 

It also makes sense that Red’s time in SHU accelerated her dementia, there is literally no doubt solitary is torture.


4. “You humiliated me, you tortured me”

Maria needed to be woken up until she was forced to face CO Dixon she has never really come to grips with what she did during the riot. What she did to Dixon, McCullough and several of the other officers was awful.

It is great that through the restorative justice process she has finally been forced to realize her complicity in everything she did.

Of course at the same time, CO Dixon straight-up tasered Morello when she was clearly in a dissociative state and sends her into a near coma...but I guess that is okay because she was hiding a chicken. 

Lorna might weigh like one-third of what Dixon weighs and he has backup and absolute worst-case she might have a shiv. 

At the same time, I suppose that could be why Dixon has such an itchy trigger finger in the first place, but come on, he is afraid of Lorna?

The writers used restorative justice to help Maria realize why what she had done was wrong, to later help Caputo realize that what he has done was wrong, and for Dixon to get some healing. 

It is also meaningful that Caputo tells Ward about his complicity in what happened with Susan Fischer. Caputo needs to have a reckoning, but there is a lot he was responsible for that he still has yet to reckon with.

Only one small issue, restorative justice is usually not done one on one without a moderator. Caputo would likely not be doing the exercise without someone simulating the moderator.

Also, Luschek really is the absolute worst, no amount of restorative justice could address all of the bad things he has done (“if I don’t bring it in some other asshole will”).

3. “New Cluck City”

So, the season started out with Suzanne finally discovering that there is no logical or justifiable reason for her to be incarcerated and now she is putting chickens in SHU for disciplinary reasons?

It sort of makes sense that Suzanne would respond to a problem with violence in her chicken prison in the same way that prisons respond but at the same time, there is nobody who should know better (from experience) what is wrong with our prison system and should desire to replicate them the least.

I can only imagine that what the writers were trying to convey is that we all struggle to come up with effective answers to the problem of violence, and it is no surprise Suzanne’s efforts to fix chickens through segregation and discipline fail.

2. “Fear Takes Over My Whole Body’

A few ongoing nags:

  1. I am so tired of seeing Vause and others freely use cellphones at all hours around the unit. These would be treated like GOLD and hoarded carefully.

  2. There is no way Vause and McCullough could just keep disappearing for long periods of time when McCullough is on duty. It is also highly unlikely they would be able to just hang out in the closet (no pun intended). This was true back when Porn Stache was doing it too (but that was at the camp not in Max).

  3. The shower scene was just baffling to me (for some of the same reasons)

Anyway, I find it astounding, even with the background flashback about Vause’s Dad leaving, that Vause would be so misleading to McCullough. I have a really hard time believing she is being genuine and she knows how vulnerable and broken McCullough seems here. 

I have not normally thought of Vause as cruel, but this seems really cruel to me. Yes, I get that McCullough was using her position to extort Vause, but since then they have learned a lot about each other and McCullough could not have been more vulnerable when she asks Vause if what is happening between them is “real.”

Anyway, not Alex’s best moment on the show (especially since we know Piper and Alex ALWAYS end up back together).

1. “The GED Is Not Worth Sh*t”

Aleida’s ethics sure are interesting. She seems to only have one ethical line, making sure her kids are (more or less) taken care of. 

I do think she would likely not have walked in on that GED prep and put on that show because it would have been seen as disrespectful to Taystee. Honestly, kind of surprised Taystee just let her performance go. 

Aleida and Daya have become two of the most unlikable characters on the entire show. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out. Aleida is more likable than Daya at this point but it is a tight race.

Okay, just a few episodes left. Also, just a little over a week until my recaps of the final season of Mr. Robot start back up.

Unlocking The Gates



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

Lots of things have been happening 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.

Leave comments, let us know what you thought! We will answer any questions you have (that are civil).