8.7

Orange is the New Black Review: “Empathy is a Boner Killer”/“Finger in the Dyke”

(Episode 3.03/3.04)

TV Reviews Orange Is The New Black
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<i>Orange is the New Black</i> Review: &#8220;Empathy is a Boner Killer&#8221;/&#8220;Finger in the Dyke&#8221;

Even though it competed as a comedy for its first two seasons, it’s not like Orange is the New Black has ever been a complete laugh riot. But these first four episodes of the third season have been a bit devastating.

“Empathy is a Boner Killer” takes us back once again into Nicky’s past. She’ll do anything to get drugs, including stealing a cab and crashing it because she doesn’t know how to drive. She takes money from her mom claiming she needs it to bail her friends out of jail, but leaves them there and uses the money to buy more drugs. She is eventually arrested for breaking and entering into an apartment building which is how she gets 10 years in Litchfield.

Old habits die hard. At Litchfield Nicky is busy getting Luschek to sell the heroin, which she actually stole and hid from Boo. Nicky looks out for Nicky. Luscheck sells the drugs to great success. But just as they’re both rejoicing in their newfound wealth, Caputo (who has been tipped off by Leanne and Angie) raids Luschek’s desk. Luschek’s not worried because he knows he’s already sold all the drugs. Only problem? Nicky left some behind for herself. Luschek, without any hesitation, rats Nicky out to Caputo, who immediately moves her out of Litchfield and into the nearby maximum security prison. I would have thought there would be more paper and legal work involved in transferring someone, but Nicky is gone almost instantly. The look on Morello and Red’s faces as Nicky is carted off was a punch to the gut. “I thought I could save her,” Red says later to Healy.

But could anyone save Nicky? She has an “unquenchable thirst to self—destruct.” I’m really worried that Nicky was completely missing in “Finger in the Dyke.” Is Natasha Lyonne off the show? It doesn’t bode well that her name was missing from the opening credits in the fourth episode.

And someone else is missing from Litchfield. Bennett—who took off after that fateful trip to Cesar. “He’s gone and he’s not coming back,” Caputo tells a devastated Daya. His absence makes a bit more sense since Matt McGorry is a series regular on How to Get Away with Murder and probably couldn’t be on both shows at the same time.

In “Finger in the Dyke,” Boo gets the genius idea to fleece the same fundamentalist church that’s been giving money to Pennsatucky. All she has to do is convince them that she’s a reformed lesbian who has seen the light. But Boo can’t do it and explodes when the preacher tells her they’ll need to cover up her “BUTCH” tattoo. Flashbacks show Boo’s childhood, during which her mother desperately wanted her daughter Carrie to dress and act “like a girl.” Boo has been fighting her whole life to be allowed to be herself. It’s made her angry and always ready for a fight (and, by the way, here’s another example of everything being the mother’s fault). When Boo goes to visit her dying mother in the hospital, her dad tells her he doesn’t know if her mother can take her appearance. Can you imagine? Your mother would rather not see you before she dies, than see you the way you are.

“No one gets the privilege of being who they are all the time,” Boo’s father tells her. Boo walks away and later tells Pennsatucky that she wished she had said goodbye to her mother, but she was dumb.

Crazy Eyes is still having a very difficult time accepting the fact that Vee is dead, going so far as to tell Taystee that she’s seen her. “Vee is fine. She’s coming back for me,” she tells everyone. Taystee keeps screaming at her that Vee is dead until she breaks down in tears. They both loved Vee in their own way, no matter how horrific she was.

In other dysfunctional family news, Piper acts like a spoiled brat when her entire family comes to visit her on her birthday. Her father refuses to talk to her, which prompts Piper to announce that she has a girlfriend and reenact an orgasm for her mom. Piper and Alex remain the least interesting characters on the show. I also don’t really get the current state of their relationship. Piper coyly asking, “Will you be my girlfriend” doesn’t quite line up with their history of hurting each other.

Caputo calls Fig (so glad we got to see her again) asking for her help in staving off the closing of Litchfield. She offers none, but later tips him off to MCC, a company that was looking to manage Litchfield. Caputo gives MCC a disastrous tour. One of the guards talks about how great it is that all the inmates are on the same menstrual cycle and Maritza tells a tale of bad pork and diarrhea. But MCC decides to still take on Litchfield, particularly because they’re interested in the nearby maximum security facility. Caputo is thrilled. But it can’t be that easy. Will everyone still lose their jobs? Will MCC bring in their own people to manage the prison? Will they combine the minimum and maximum prisons and bring Nicky back into our lives? Let’s get back to binging and find out.
Other thoughts on “Empathy is a Boner Killer” and “Finger in the Dyke:”

• I’m only watching the episodes as I review them so I have no idea if Nicky returns to Litchfield, and it is stressing me out.
• I already loved Nicky but her using the Friday Night Lights “Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose” as a rallying cry to get more drugs is kind of the best.
• In the “I never saw that coming” department is the possible romance brewing between Healy and Red.
• Lots of poor green screen work—particularly when Caputo said goodbye to the MCC gang.
• I loved the funeral for the books and how they went to “the ultimate book return.”
• Did anyone else study chlamydia del arte in school?


Amy Amatangelo is a Boston-based freelance writer, a member of the Television Critics Association and a regular contributor to Paste. She wasn’t allowed to watch much TV as a child and now her parents have to live with this as her career. You can follow her on Twitter or her blog.

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