|Taystee, left, Anita, Nicky, Morello, Flaca, Leanne and Sophia compete in the Mock Job Fair in Netflix’s “Orange is the New Black” Season 2. PHOTO PROVIDED BY JESSICA MIGLIO FOR NETFLIX|
This is part of a weekly series of "Orange Is the New Black" recaps and reviews for the second season. Check back each week for two more episodes. To read about the previous episode, click here. To read about the next episode, click here.
Rating: 4 out of 5
Episode two really breaks open the season for me, centering around one of my favorite Litchfield inmates: Taystee, played by Danielle Brooks.
The episode makes a strong case about how the system works, and it hurts. The flashbacks show a young Taystee, determined to not fall into the margins, and how such a smart girl eventually did as she finds her nickname and a home with dealer Vee, played by Lorraine Toussaint.
Present-day Taystee is competing in the Mock Job Fair at Litchfield. After hearing the previous year’s winner was offered a real job, she puts her math and memorization skills forward and pushes hard to win. And a sinking feeling took hold of my gut as I saw the hope in her eyes.
My feelings were unfortunately right.
Despite wearing the same outfit as the winner last year, she loses the dress portion, being told her curves are too much to be successful in the outfit. While her shirt might have been too sheer for a professional interview, the Dress for Success woman was playing into the idiotic mantra of curvy girls need to wear burlap sacks.
Then Taystee succeeds greatly in the interview, impressing the Philip Morris representative not with sexual advances like Flaca but instead, her brain. While Taystee has always been insightful, her calm and intelligent demeanor showcase just how much potential she has.
And winning the competition, she’s happy because she’s finally valued for what she knows she can be.
|Taystee, played by Danielle Brooks, speaks to dealer Vee, played by Lorraine Toussaint, in a flashback. PHOTO PROVIDED BY JESSICA MIGLIO FOR NETFLIX|
But just like her flashback at the Black Adoption Festival, reality slaps Taystee in the face. The moment Taystee chases down Figueroa, administrator of the prison, to ask for when the real job offer would be, I actually reached toward the TV to try to stop her.
Of course, Figueroa treats her like a child. There’s no real reward, “You do your best because it’s what you’re supposed to do.”
This is as if the Mock Job Fair is any good for the women. It’s more of a mockery.
The episode really branches out from Taystee, unlike the premiere with Piper, to talk about the prison system. Does this help at all in rehabilitation and preparing people to leave? It’s obvious; it doesn’t.
The Dress for Success woman forces Leanne to wear a hideous peach suit and then calls her out for it on stage, saying it’s unflattering in terms of color and fit. The woman also criticizes Black Cindy for wearing “a large burlap muumuu,” even though it was her only option. Instead of dressing for success, the woman set them up for failure in her petty contest.
The aptitude test is a joke, too. It tells Janae to be an athlete and Sister Ingalls to be in the fashion industry. Nicky jokes about how ridiculous it is she received “correctional officer” on her test. How is any of this helping them?
I also enjoyed the episode more as it’s a nice mixture of the characters’ stories. We see Red really struggle without her kitchen power and the fact that she may have to be stuck with the older inmates, shunned from her previous prison family. Daya’s constipated and there’s a humorous struggle between Gloria and Aleida, Daya’s mother, to be the one who cures the pregnant inmate’s bathroom troubles. And I really, really wish we hadn’t been told why Big Boo no longer has her dog. “It got weird” was too much for me.
|Guard Fischer, played by Lauren Lapkus, returns Pennsatucky, played by Taryn Manning, to the halls of Litchfield. PHOTO PROVIDED BY JESSICA MIGLIO FOR NETFLIX|
Pennsatucky’s back, to the dismay of probably everyone. I was surprised when Leanne, who seemed to be Pennsatucky’s sheep, talked about how it was peaceful when Pennsatucky was gone. Another inmate agrees, and just maybe, Pennsatucky’s circle will stop listening to her.
Healy continues to be a scumbag, forcing Pennsatucky to not reveal the truth of the fight. He offers an operation to get her shiny new teeth, which Pennsatucky severely needs more so after Piper smashed in her set.
And there’s no time to calm down for the episode’s end. After the Mock Job Fair, Vee enters in her bright orange. Despite how much prison is about forgetting anything on the outside just to survive, the past catches up a lot.
Unlike the premiere, this episode develops more hope that the series will explore narratives of the other inmates. I’m looking forward to hearing about the past of the other characters I love so much and how it shaped them, even though hearing how they landed in Litchfield will most likely frustrate me even more.
“Orange Is the New Black” isn’t a romp, and it’s almost masochistic to love it. The show is realistic, and its critique of the prison system is needed.
Sophia: “I’m just here playing dress up.”
Leanne: “I just want to swim with dolphins.”
Morello: “It’s like when you see a cop in sweat pants in your kitchen after he’s spent the night with your sister. Little splooge on the sweat pants, and you feel weird about it.”
Red: “You’re a good son. Not great, but pretty god.”
Angie: “Like, I didn’t even know you had eyelashes until today.”
Larry: “Dad, why did you bring us to a gay bathhouse?”
Nicky: “Are you at all aware that you just told an inmate in prison that she should become a correctional officer? What the f--k is wrong with you?”
|Ashley Dye is a senior journalism and telecommunications major and writes ‘The Dyessertation’ for the Daily News. Her views do not necessarily reflect those of the newspaper or The Daily. Write to Ashley at email@example.com|