THE DYESSERTATION: 'Orange Is the New Black' season 2, episode 5 recap

'Low Self Esteem City'

(L-R) Danielle Brooks, Vicky Jeudy, Uzo Aduba, Adrienne C. Moore, and Samira Wiley in a scene from Netflix
(L-R) Danielle Brooks, Vicky Jeudy, Uzo Aduba, Adrienne C. Moore, and Samira Wiley in a scene from Netflix
Taystee, Janae, Suzanne, Black Cindy and Poussey look on in a scene from the second season's fifth episode of "Orange Is the New Black." 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: 3.5 out of 5

This episode is all about bringing up the division of race that we’ve seen limitedly in the past.

As the showers are flooded with sewage in Gloria’s “Spanish Harlem,” she uses her kitchen status to shower before the black inmates in “The Ghetto.” This move breaks the unspoken social contract and sets into motion a racial war — stealing shoes to keep Gloria and company from getting to work on time to spoiling food with ridiculous amounts of salt for Vee’s group.

Still, it’s nothing too harmful or violent, rather closer to humor. While showering in the Ghetto, Maritza discovers the water pressure is better and says, “It’s like they’re getting special privileges, and we’re the black people.”

It does get a bit physical, though. Janae trips Daya to retaliate against the salty food, landing the pregnant inmate on the hard ground. Bennett, acting not like a guard but like someone who is in love, slams Janae down to enforce a punishment. Does anyone in Litchfield not know about Daya and Bennett now? It’s pretty obvious. And though Daya’s story with Bennett is one of the least interesting ones of the inmates, I really hope that didn’t hurt the development of the child.

Gloria confronts Vee in the bathroom after this. So I braced myself for the inevitable smackdown ... of crying? Vee whines and complains to Gloria, who just like all of us, is not only surprised but slightly repulsed. They strike a deal so that Vee gets two of her women in custodial and Gloria gets to take her two workers into the kitchen.

Vee’s brilliant tears dry up as soon as Gloria leaves. Red tries to tell Gloria she’s being played, but it’s hard to hear from such a high of being in power. You’d think Gloria would want to listen to Red, considering Red’s history with Vee.

This episode also reveals Gloria before she landed in Litchfield. She ran a convenience store, one where she accepts food stamps for items like alcohol and gets money from the government for items she never sold. In the back, a Santería chapel manages to piss off a man who says the religion isn’t working.

While we already knew Gloria’s a mother, we find out she’s in an abusive relationship with a man named Arturo. She’s urged to leave him, but Arturo’s good to her children until he isn’t. Gloria decides to flee with her children, but gets arrested for the food stamp fraud, turned in by the grumpy Santeria customer. It’s another story of a woman resulting to criminal activity just to get out of a bad place.

Thankfully, Arturo doesn’t get away and faces his demise from the doors he had said he needed to fix and the Santería he joked about so much. It’s not as satisfying to watch Arturo burn, since Gloria gets locked up, but it’s something.

The show also attempts to humanize Caputo and Healy by bringing them out of Litchfield. Healy ends up seeing Caputo’s band Sideboob — of course, he plays bass in a band named Sideboob — at a local bar and the two end up sharing a few drinks while ranting about women. Healy’s still a misogynistic jerk who literally hates talking to women about their issues and seriously hates women, but it’s nice to hear that Caputo genuinely wants the Litchfield inmates to be able to be safe and clean.

Outside of the brewing racial war, Piper finds out through a guessing game that her grandmother is dying. Cal and Piper are all high-fives until it clicks. Nicky and Big Boo create a competition to see who can have the most sex. Primarily a background character, Chang is roped in to officiate — “I don’t smell fingers, I just write numbers.”

Nicky, played by Natasha Lyonne, tries to sweet talk guard Fischer, played by Lauren Lapkus, during the "bang off" contest of the second season's fifth episode for "Orange Is the New Black." PHOTO PROVIDED BY JESSICA MIGLIO

And Red, off in the greenhouse, is full of perfect lines, including “All problems are boring until they’re your own.”

Still, the episode doesn’t manage to go forward with many of the plotlines. It has some pretty good side stories and comedic lines, but the episode ends up feeling a little empty.


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