8.6

Orange is the New Black Review: "Tit Punch" (Episode 1.02)

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<i>Orange is the New Black</i> Review: "Tit Punch" (Episode 1.02)

Love means never having to say “Sorry I watched Mad Men without you.”

Piper has a lot of problems in “Tit Punch”—primarily that Red, who is in charge of the kitchen, is starving her.

But even in her delirious hunger, Piper has her priorities straight: Her fiancé Larry is not to watch the acclaimed AMC drama without her. I liked this moment because it really capitalized on how jarringly different Piper’s life is now. And I liked that by the end of the episode, Larry is watching Mad Men. I mean there’s only so much sacrifice one fiancé should have to endure, right?

The series juxtaposes Piper’s current state of hunger with a flashback to when she and Larry went on a lemon cleanse. The analogy was a little heavy-handed, but it was effective. Piper, a well-off white woman, voluntarily chose to starve herself via some trendy Hollywood cleanse and now she knows what it’s like to actually starve. And Piper is stubborn. When Alex offers her some food, she throws it away despite her obvious hunger. I’m anxiously awaiting Piper and Alex’s eventual confrontation.

Piper uses her lotion and soap making skills to create a chili-pepper rub that will help Red’s aching back. That does the trick, and Piper once again has access to food. But she also unintentionally picks up a love interest along the way. The episode ends with Crazy Eyes, who is one of the few people who have been truly nice to Piper, snuggling up to her at movie night.

“Tit Punch” also set up the format of the series. In addition to the Piper flashbacks, viewers saw a very different Red. She’s an insecure baker’s wife who wants to impress the wives and girlfriends of the Russian mob. But they don’t like Red. They find her stories tiresome, her sense of humor even worse and her fashion downright horrible. When she sees them walking without her, her feelings are hurt. She punches one of the women and pops her breast implant (hence the episode title). Red is now in deep trouble and deep debt with the Russian mob. We can assume this is what ultimately lands her in prison.

But prison has clearly empowered Red. She is no longer the timid woman we see in flashbacks. She now runs the kitchen and pretty much runs the prison, and no one wants to cross her. No one. She’s said Piper won’t eat and that means Piper won’t eat. She cuts off Piper’s access to all food—including even the vending machines in the visiting rooms. Red may be in prison as a result of being in the wrong place at the wrong time and making one impulsive punch. But, she learned from the experience and clearly entered prison vowing never to be in a position of weakness again.

This Lost-like structure works for the show because clearly everyone in prison has a story. I can’t wait to find out more.

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