Monday 16 March 2015

Orange is the New Black - There is no through this. I’m gonna die.

Orange is the New Black: 2x08 Appropriately Sized Pots.

Rosa: I always pictured myself going out in a blaze of glory. Hails of gunfire, screeching tires. But this kind of death, this slow, invisible disappearing into nothing, it’s terrifying.
One of the recurring themes of Orange is the New Black is dignity – the inmates attempts to lead dignified lives in sometimes unbearable environments, without the freedom that privacy affords, in the absence of many things that we take for granted in our daily lives. Appropriately Sized Pots is about death – the death of loved ones, outside, and being denied the ability to part with them, to say final goodbyes, the death inside prison, denied treatment that might save, but even more so, the sad inevitable death after the life outside was filled with exhilarating adventure, and on the side lines, the fall-out of Piper realizing what kind of damage this institution causes even when it pretends to be kind, when its expression of kindness is leaving a woman suffering from severe dementia to her own devices. 
It’s also about the kind of stories that people tell about their lives, between the flashbacks and their current existence. Rosa was a bank robber – loving what she did, looking back at it with an ache and a longing, especially now that all that is left to her is suffering her cancer treatment which is no longer capable of even stalling her illness. Everyone else is useless: Healy is useless, with the words and phrases that he gives her (and even useless in his rage against his uselessness, when he chooses to give Piper’s furlough an extra nudge, which only showcases all the times when he did not bother to do the same for the other inmates, and makes Piper a target for everyone, even more so than her privilege already did in the first place). The only thing useful, now, is the boy who asks for her story and is ready to be her accomplice in one last coup, even if she fears that he will suffer the same sake that all her previous partners did (dying, after a parting kiss). She breaks the spell, in the end, and it is a dignity of sorts, granted, to see him survive and get a final glimpse of the rush that she always experienced (even if it just a small booty from a more or less riskless endeavour). 
Piper: Yes, I am white. We have established that. And I got furlough too. I guess white privilege wins again, and as a speaker for the entire white race, I would like to say I am sorry you guys got the raw deal. But I love my fuckin grandmother, and yeah, she might be a whitey too, but she is a fucking person, and she is sick, and she needs me. So shut the fuck up.
Piper is privileged: she is privileged as someone who has someone to go home to, even if she isn’t certain if it’s going to be Larry or her parents. She is privileged in the sense of not falling back to nothing. She is privileged, because there is a reason why Healy singled her out for his good deed, for making up for all the things that he feels bad about (the pointlessness of smalls acts of kindness in a system that is inherently geared against the people inside it). But she is also grieving for her grandmother, and desperate for a goodbye that she is ultimately too late for. She demands, in that scene, to be allowed her own story. 
Healy: Chapman, people die, and you don’t get that moment back, so you go and see her and you tell her how much you love her and you tell her how sorry you are for letting her down, you clear your conscience. This is about saying goodbye, I’m giving you that. Take it.

Random notes: 

In an episode about dignity, one of the most horrifying scenes this season has is Brook’s forced shower – stripped, without defence, against her will. She isn’t even able to make decisions about the most intimate and private aspects of her life anymore. 

Caputo fires Fisher, mostly because she dared not to love him back, but also because she systematically questions a system that creates an atmosphere of mistrust (and his reaction to her criticism hints at things to come – this is how corruption comes into this world, not because people are evil, but because they become complacent and don’t reflect on the responsibility that comes with power).

Nicky: You’re a decent human being. Getting canned from this soul-sucking pit is the best thing that ever happened to you. 

(and in a way, when Nicky calls Fisher “Susan” just before she leaves – “Susan, pack your shit and get the fuck out of here” – she gives her back her dignity as a human being rather than a guard. It’s the best that Nicky can do, and she almost always does her best).

Fig is bringing back Pornstache as a replacement for Fisher, because that is exactly how a system like that would work.

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