Saturday 14 February 2015

Orange is the New Black - It’s like coming home after a long trip.

Orange is the New Black: 2x06 You Also Have a Pizza.

OITNB’s Valentine’s Day episode fits in well with one of the major points of last season. Piper Chapman’s greatest fear is that she is more herself in prison than outside; or that she never truly knew herself before; or that it is turning her into something else – which one of the three is impossible to tell. Equally, the episode tackles love, and how loving and being loved is changed and influenced within the prison walls. Litchfield limits, in all the ways that prisons do, we’ve already seen several examples of how it infringes on privacy, exposes, humiliates. It also contains and therefore magnifies things: without the option of running away, feelings have to be confronted, sometimes violently, sometimes passionately. 
Some of the previous things that fall somewhere within this pattern: Alex and Piper being thrown together in that way, incapable of escaping each other (in this episode, we see that Alex has been writing letters from the outside which Piper has discarded, since she is newly focused on getting her life with Larry back on track, more because she needs something to come home to than because she cares so deeply about him). Lorna risking everything because she isn’t being treated for her delusions, she is trapped in a situation that allows her to indulge in her idea of Christopher and her (how the resources that Litchfield has are mismanaged and end up in the wrong pockets, further limiting the options that the prisoners have and making their environment even more unbearably, is a theme of this season). Daya and Bennett’s relationship is always about questions of power and authenticity: Bennett is in a position of absolute power over Daya, so can anything between them ever be genuine and true (Daya insists that they pretend to be normal in this episode, and Bennett gladly joins in, and the episode skewers their relationship further since Bennett is now being blackmailed into running errands for Daya’s family). 
You Also Have a Pizza is Poussey’s episode, and one of the best this season, but it also gives other characters the opportunity to shine. The episode isn’t just about the primary idea of romantic love, as expressed by Valentine’s Day – if anything, Daya and Bennett meet that standard the most – but about how love motivates characters, the need to be loved, being loved, being in love with the wrong person. It’s not just romantic love. Healy (who is attempting to save his doomed relationship by learning another language, and still always says the wrong things) is eager to regain the confidence, trust and love of the inmates, which he has lost (he also happens to not see an issue with wanting that and being an outspoken misogynist working in a women’s prison), Pennsatucky, who lost her social circle (hilariously uprooted by Leanne for wanting to be better than everyone else but still of them), finds an unlikely companion in him on the other side of the line. They are both ostracised, Healy amongst the guards and Pennsatucky amongst the inmates. Vee and Taystee have a complicated relationship that dates back to another situation where the choices were limited, and Taystee’s loyalty to Vee is rooted in that history, in spite of the broken trust and the fact that it puts her friendship with Poussey in danger.  
Poussey: It’s just chillin’, you know. Kickin’ it with somebody, talking, making mad stupid jokes, and like not even wanting to go to sleep cause, then you might be without them for a minute. And you don’t want that.
Poussey’s friendship with Taystee is what’s at stake here, and it pits her – the romantic idealist, stuck in an environment that doesn’t favour that alignment – against Vee, who uses people to her own advantage and knows well that Poussey is what is still holding Taystee back from completely trusting her again. Taystee does not want to leave the library for custodial, because Poussey works in in the library. Poussey can read people, so she knows exactly how Vee uses and then discards them, that she will not hesitate to betray Taystee again because that’s what her whole business model is based on. At the same time, the fact that Poussey isn’t just Taystee’s friend, that she loves her, profoundly, is also what gets in the way of her being able to intervene effectively. Because Vee knows, because Vee can read people’s weaknesses, she starts to use Poussey’s feelings for Taystee against her, by sowing doubt about the veracity of their friendship, by hinting that Taystee cannot trust someone who ultimately wants more of that relationship than Taystee is willing to give (even though the point is that, in the Valentine’s Day episode, Poussey’s love for Taystee is selfless and unconditional, and she doesn’t retreat because Taystee doesn’t feel the same way, but because she feels like Taystee has betrayed their friendship). 
Vee: Taystee will never love you. She will never love you. Not the way you want.
Poussey: I don’t want her like that. I’m just looking out for her. That’s all.
It’s interesting to compare that relationship with what happened to Poussey before, in Germany. She grew up moving from country to country with her father, a soldier, but was ready to finally settle down, learning to speak German well enough for wordplays, falling in love with a girl, but not unlike Litchfield, it’s an environment that is governed by things that Poussey does not control. When the girl’s father finds out about their relationship, he uses his power – the fact that he is a superior officer – to get Poussey’s father transferred back to the US. The only thing that is left to her is a dramatic attempt, a grand gesture, that is interrupted by her father (who saves her life, probably, and seems unconditionally supportive of his daughter). 
If it is like coming home, then Poussey has now lost hers: Taystee, under Vee’s influence, almost toys with her, or doesn’t realize the amount of pain she causes, so that retreating becomes a question of self-preservation. Healy seems more home in prison than he does with the wife who refuses to speak a language that he understands, Bennett and Daya can attempt to play house, but ultimately, they will forever be haunted by their circumstances (and also Pornstache), and Larry, the moon, cannot make a home for himself but tries to move into someone else’s. 

Random notes: 

Suzanne: This year I’m loving someone who deserves me. Me.

If only, Suzanne. If only. 

I do not care about Piper and Larry but there is some merit in their conversation about whether Piper can truly commit, if “future Piper” can commit – because Piper can only hope, she doesn’t know, she still doesn’t know who she is, so how could she make promises about the future? Which is the exciting and terrifying thing about love. A sentence later, Larry asks Piper to steal a story for him, because he still is the fucking moon and has no light of his own (and Piper turns it around later, deciding she will steal that story back for herself, because if anything, the story of how Litchfield misappropriates fund IS a story that the inmates should tell). 

Pennsatucky: Are you calling me Hillary Clinton? 
Leanne: When the pantsuit fits…

“It’s a metaphor, you potato with eyes.”

Suzanne: It's like you become more you. Which normally is like... But now it's okay... because the person, like, whoever, they chose to take all that on. All that weird stuff. Whatever's wrong or bad or hiding in you. Suddenly it's alright. You don't feel like such a freak anymore.

The episode isn’t just about love, while everyone else is busy preparing for Valentine’s Day, two characters connect with the outside: Red through the sewers under the greenhouse, Vee through her newly established power seat in custodial. They’re both eager to grow their businesses and their power. 

Es gibt ein Sprichwort über die Liebe. 
Es gibt viele Sprichwörter über die Liebe. 
Ich denke an das eine Sprichwort das sagt, Liebe besteht nicht darin einander anzustarren, sondern in die gleiche Richtung zu blicken. 
Das gefällt mir nicht. Ich starre dich viel zu gerne an. 


Anonymous said...

Saint-Exupéry, Antoine de (1900-1944), französischer Schriftsteller und Pilot: „Liebe besteht nicht darin, einander anzustarren, sondern in die gleiche Richtung zu blicken.“

Anonymous said...

"Was nützt die Liebe in Gedanken?"