Orange is the New Black: “We Can Be Heroes”/“Don’t Make Me Come Back There”

(Episode 3.11/3.12)

TV Reviews Orange Is the New Black
Orange is the New Black: “We Can Be Heroes”/“Don’t Make Me Come Back There”

Daya finally had her baby!

I repeat: Daya finally had her baby. The longest gestational period in television history is officially over. For a moment there, I was worried that the show would actually have Daya’s labor span more than one episode. As it was, she labored at Litchfield for far too long. In flashbacks we see Aleida desperately wanting her daughter’s unconditional love and jealous of her daughter’s happy camp memories. Aleida wants to be a good mother but has no idea how to be one. The young Daya wants to make her mother happy. The present-day Daya has swallowed her mother’s “bullshit for the last fucking time.”

So what does Aleida do? She calls Delia (Pornstache’s mom) and tells her that the baby died during childbirth. I didn’t believe for one second that was true, did you? I have to think that Delia would at least call to confirm that the baby she was planning to adopt had died? Will Daya really let Cesar raise her baby? Won’t Daya wonder why Delia never shows up? This doesn’t seem like a sustainable plan on Aleida’s part. Elizabeth Rodriguez is turning in such a fantastic and nuanced performance. She’s brought such depth to Aleida, a character who could have easily been a one-note terror.

In a heartbreaking scene, Boo figures out that Tiffany has been raped, even though Tiffany doesn’t realize it herself. Boo comes up with a revenge plan that involves drugging Coates and raping him with a broom. “You got a big angry bull dyke on your side now,” she tells Tiffany. But when it comes time to abuse Coates, Tiffany can’t do it. She’s not angry, she tells Boo, she’s just sad. The Boo and Tiffany friendship is one of the best surprises of the season.

One of the great things OITNB does is delve below the surface of all these characters. In the first season, Tiffany was an angry, crazed religious zealot with horrific teeth. Now we understand what made her that way, how desperate she is to be loved, and how little support and guidance she has received throughout her life.

SoSo, a character I found beyond annoying last season, has truly struggled to make friends and to fit in as all her idealism has been stripped away. By the end of “Don’t Make Me Come Back There,” she’s swallowed pills and Poussey has found her unconscious on the floor. Again, the series took a character who was basically comic relief last season and made her fully realized individual.

We also learn that Caputo is a nice guy who always tries to do the right thing, but ends up getting screwed. He wants to be the hero. In high school, he volunteers to wrestle a special needs student only to have his shoulder dislocated and his wrestling career ruined. As an adult, he stays with his cheating girlfriend even when she’s pregnant with another man’s child. She eventually leaves him and tells him he can’t be upset when his niceness backfires. Now he’s joining the other guards to form a union, probably putting his own career at risk.

The guards aren’t the only ones using a collective bargaining strategy. Flaca organizes the women to demand money, as opposed to just ramen noodle flavor packets from Piper. Red helps Piper devise a plan to get money to the women. “What you’re talking about now is a crime network,” Alex tells her before breaking up with her. I didn’t think it was possible for Piper to become even more repugnant but here we are. Piper fires Flaca and clearly enjoys the moment of having the power even as she leaves Flaca in tears. I’m not sure I completely buy into this story line. Would Piper really risk getting caught for another crime, one that’s much more serious? One that could land her in a prison that’s not nearly as nice as Litchfield? Is she so self-centered that this hasn’t even occurred to her?

The prison turns on Sophia and she’s beaten up by three other inmates and the untrained female guard can’t even help protect her. Sophia threatens to take her story to the press (“She Male. Prison Fail.”) which gets her thrown into solitary confinement for her own “protection.”

The show’s skewering of corporate America and their eye on the bottom line is broad. But I liked seeing the impact MCC’s haphazard, cost saving decisions have on individuals. So far, Tiffany has been raped, Piper has started an illegal panty business, Angie has gotten out of prison, Sophia has been beaten up. All this because MCC wants to save a few dollars.

Other thoughts and quotes from “We Can Be Heroes” and “Don’t Make Me Come Back There”

• How excited were you to get to see Rosa again?
• Stella is getting out of prison. Didn’t she just get there?
• Taystee was always the most level-headed one so it makes sense that she’s the de-facto mom.
• “You’ve got to stop using slavery every time you want to justify some foolishness.”
• “I can’t wait for this baby to be born so she can stop being pregnant.” You and me both Maritza. You and me both.
• I kind of love that Suzanne’s story has spawned fan fiction.

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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