Piper asks Sam Healy to begin a prison newsletter, and all because of Larry’s request for her to dig up dirt on the prison’s budget. Chapman also has difficulty picturing a future without Larry — the one she always pictured she would come home to after her sentence. It is Valentine’s Day at Litchfield and we get a peek inside of the inmates’ heads regarding what they believe love is. Meanwhile, Alex Vause is sending Piper love letters in jail, all of which are thrown away (thus far). Plot details are discussed, as well as contraband, smuggling, and budgetary concerns of prisons in the United States.
What Is Love? (Baby, Don’t Hurt Me)
When asked what love is, here is what the inmates of Litchfield said:
Aleida Diaz: “It’s like when someone makes your stomach feel all tight, but all floaty at teh same time, you know? And your cheeks hurt from smiling. And you smile so much that people think something’s wrong with you. . . Also, fucking. Twenty-four-seven, deep-dick, can’t-walk-right fucking.”
Sister Ingalls: “Love is light. Acceptance. Fire.”
Sophia Burset: “Pain. Horrible pain. That you want again and again.”
Lorna Morello: “Well, you know me. I got so much to say about love.”
Poussey Washington: “It’s just chillin’, you know. Kicking it with somebody, talking, making stupid jokes. And, like, not even wanting to go to sleep ’cause then you might be without ’em for a minute. And you don’t want that.”
Leanne Taylor: “I had this thing with my boss at Long John Silver’s. And then I found out his wife was wicked hot. So that was nice.”
Poussey [to her girlfriend]: “Love is not about staring at each other, but staring off in the same direction.”
Norma Romano: (From her hand motions, I got this) “Caressing each other to sleep. I don’t know.”
CO John Bennett: “Why? Why are you asking me that?”
Flaca: “It’s like getting into a bath, but the water is like warm chocolate pudding. And The Smiths are playing “There Is a Light That Never Goes Out.” Oh, there’s warm lighting all over and there’s like five dudes massaging you.”
Maritza: “And you have a pizza.”
Flaca: “She’s right. And you also have a pizza.”
Taslitz: “That’s a retarded fucking question.”
Crazy Eyes: “It’s like you become more you. Which normally is like . . . [Twitch. Gag. Noises.] 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 all right. You don’t feel like such a freak anymore.”
Piper: “It’s like coming home after a long trip. That’s what love is like. It’s like coming home.”
Piper has two reasons for asking the inmates this question: 1) It is a cover for her prison newsletter. She starts with this innocent question to appease Sam Healy, who has to approve of it, but then she digs into the real questions about what the inmates have seen as far as improvements to the prison. 2) She genuinely wonders what her fellow inmates believe love is, and compares their definition to what she and Larry have, as if it could answer some of the questions that have been on the back burner.
Before we move forward, I think this segment is a great opportunity to dig into the psyche of each of the characters interviewed. Taking into consideration what we know about (some of) the characters, their responses offer a bit more insight into who they are.
Aleida Diaz is a romantic at heart, but we can tell that physical intimacy and companionship are at the top of her list as far as a satisfying relationship goes. Happiness for Aleida is achieved through sex.
Sister Ingalls’ definition of love airs on the way “good Catholics” would describe the love of God — for God, and the love He has for His people. Although . . . “fire” seems to not only refer to the burning heart of Christ, but also the passion she feels when watching a Russell Crowe film.
We know that loving her wife and child has brought a lot of pain for Sophia Burset, as we saw last season. She loves her family so much that she decided to try to keep her wife and child in her life even during her transition and even after the fraud. It is her love for her family — her family’s love for her — that has brought them a lot of pain and confusion. We know that Sophia and Crystal’s son has been hesitant to visit Sophia in jail, which has taken its toll on her. It is also because she loves Crystal that she gave her the blessing to date their new pastor while she is in jail. Even so, she still believes in love.
Lorna having “so much to say about love” speaks to how her idea of love is a Hollywood-ish notion. She dreams up and plans weddings that she will never have, and the idealistic magazine clippings on her bedroom wall convey that what she desires will always be out of her reach, for she will never be rich or famous or be married to Christopher. We do “know” her now, given her little escape from the hospital to his home for a casual B&E. According to Morello, love is one big stalk-and-hunt game.
Poussey is a soulful person, as evidenced by her definition of love and how she quoted about love to her then-girlfriend in Germany. She is dedicated and loves deeply, even though we know that her past has shaped her into a person that can just “shut down” whenever she needs to in order to protect herself. Knowing that she does love Taystee more than just a friend, we can see this kind of relationship between the two.
Leanne Taylor has no real idea of what love is, hence why she references a fling she had with her boss. She was once a follower of Pennsatucky, which explains why she would just give up on the fling after discovering her boss was married. She seems accustomed to going with the flow and acting according to someone else’s wishes and desires, so perhaps her idea of love is simply the act of the affair or intimacy.
We can’t exactly understand what Norma means by her hand motions. Nobody actually understands her other than Red and Gloria anyway, so perhaps there is nothing to uncover here. She’s comic relief.
Bennett’s defensive reaction is reflective of his attitude about his relationship with Daya. He has to be on-guard for fear of someone sabotaging him.
Flaca and Maritza, like Aleida, have a very sensual and romantic sense of love. Their idea of love also involves food, which is ironic considering they work in the cafeteria. The glamour of the Hollywood-like idea of love in Flaca’s description is very like her when we take into account her make up and sense of style, as shown in the Mock Job Fair episode (202).
Taslitz is old and jaded by prison, and so the question of love is just another bullshit question she could care less about.
Crazy Eyes’ idea of love seems to initially be directed at Piper and her love for her, but then takes a turn for how Vee “loves” and “accepts” her, or so it seems. It is very real to Suzanne, and thus that is how she describes her relationship with Vee.
Very literally, we know Piper’s idea of love from her conversation with Larry in wanting to come home to continue their relationship and to get married. For Piper, love is getting out of prison.
Smuggling and Blackmail
Despite the fact that it is sometimes unbelievable how Red and Vee get their contraband into Litchfield, according to this article, items like pills, illegal substances, cell phones, thumb drives, etc. get smuggled into prison all of the time, often by Correctional Officers, prison staff, and friends and family members. The article lists a number of individuals who are awaiting trail/sentencing for smuggling contraband into prisons for large bribes.
Clarke asserts that “So long as prison and jail employees are relatively poorly paid, they have a financial incentive to accept bribes to smuggle contraband. However, we can note that even the well-paid prison employees are often corrupt as they seek to supplement their income through illegal means.” Sound familiar?
Prisons have implemented searches on prison staff; however, they are largely ineffective due to staff members protecting their co-workers if anything is found. We know that Bennett nearly sh*t bricks when the guy searching each staff member joked about checking his false leg for contraband, so the threat is still there and very real. The article reports of cunning criminals tricking prison guards into smuggling things into the prisons for them, whereas we know Bennett is being blackmailed into smuggling things in in exchange for total secrecy about Daya’s pregnancy. Bennett has no option other than to cooperate and pray that his job will be protected and that he will not go to jail.
If you recall, George “Pornstache” Mendez was smuggling pills into the prison in exchange for sexual favors as well as monetary gain. Clarke asserts that contraband will be an issue for prisons so long as correctional officers and prison staff go underpaid and under-appreciated.
We know that not all smuggling is harmful in Litchfield; Red smuggles in note pads, ointments, panty hose, and eye shadow to regain popularity with “her people” after her fall from her kitchen glory days, whereas Vee smuggles tobacco in for her own monetary gain. We haven’t seen illegal or prescription drugs (as far as beyond prison walls go) since last season, but they will be turning up soon enough. Flaca wants an iPod shuffle, Maritza wants a YooHoo and flouride rinse, and our “crazy” Hispanic friend talking to “the Devil” wants another camera phone to sext Diablo. For the purposes of this show, contraband is used to gain power and respect in the prison; however, on the Outside, contraband smuggling is a huge business that goes on behind bars.
Litchfield’s Wiring (and Plumbing)
With Piper poking around again, we are made aware of Litchfield’s state of disrepair. Electrical boxes are marked as being installed over twenty years ago; money is being spent for “projects” and being moved around to unknown locations; and it is obvious that their surveillance and safety precautions are not up to par, given the fact that Jimmy left the prison and ended up in the bar where Joe Caputo was performing without anyone noticing or any alarms going off. Minimum Security is right! Although there are some precautions the officers are now taking, for example, Susan Fischer spot checking the phone calls that are recorded onto a computer; however, it is not enough. We know from 205 that not all of the security cameras work in Litchfield, despite the fact that Caputo and the other officers will swear to the death that they do. One of the inmates reports that the last time any plumbing was done was about eight or nine years ago. Whoopsies! (Unfortunately, this is real. Click here for more information.)
Jimmy’s escape is particularly alarming considering the fact that she has Alzheimer’s and requires much more intensive care and a close eye on her to keep her safe. She could have easily been killed, or at least harmed, which is alluded to by the dirt smeared on her face by the time she shows up at the bar God only knows how far away from the prison. Although Caputo and Healy discussed in episode 205 the fact that they are not caring for the women properly, perhaps Piper’s newsletter project will enact some change in Litchfield. Although Caputo seems to whole-heartedly want this, even the inmates know that Healy is not on their side. Healy, unfortunately (or fortunately) overhears Brook Soso tell a new inmate that she “just get[s] the sense that none of the girls really like him.”
Fortunate for the inmates, Healy takes this to heart and cooperates with Piper and her newsletter. Healy says: “The girls used to like me,” and it is evident now that he wants them to like him again. Sounds like a childish man has been put in power (what else is new?).
Misogyny and Homophobia
As usual, we get a malignant dose of misogyny, and from nobody but Sam Healy himself. He expresses his discontent with Susan Fischer’s absence from work to John Bennett: “Fischer’s out today. Apparently having her woman time.” His diction expresses his disgust and disapproval, but there is a hint of fear in the power of a bleeding woman (which is actually a Native American attitude — women are more powerful because they can bleed randomly and show no sign of weakness). Healy’s homophobia is still in full swing as he tells two inmates to “leave room for Jesus,” threatening to shut down the Valentine’s Day party if he gets uncomfortable at any point in time.
It is the ignorance of the administration and staff that lead to such poor care. John Bennett muses: “I’m in a women’s prison, but I don’t understand women at all.” Healy, despite the fact that we know he’s the least women-literate man alive, claims he has the answer: “You make ’em think you’re meeting them half way when really what you’re doing is you’re meeting them about ten to fifteen percent of the way. Women are really bad at math. Don’t forget that.”
Let’s not forget the Hillary Clinton jab about her being a Dictator (for being powerful, mind you).
This is precisely the problem. Healy claims to feel uncomfortable discussing “women’s issues with a woman,” meaning Figueroa. Although she should be understanding, we know how she truly is, and Sam Healy isn’t helping the women’s situation. If Bennett is to take Healy’s advice, he will perpetuate all that Caputo claims to want to do — all that Susan Fischer has done for the women in listening to them and regarding the women as human beings.
Litchfield: A Comedy
Susan Fischer’s Valentine’s Day treat.
Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren’s conversation with her self-deprecating broom.
Joe Caputo [after inviting Susan Fischer to see him play]: “I’ll get you off — [Stammers] — I’ll get you off the schedule.”
Nicky Nichols’ jaw rub after “bagging a four pointer.”
Red giving Nicky Skittles as a peace offering. (I guess she really does like tasting the rainbow.)
Pennsatucky: “Are you calling me Hillary Clinton?”
Leanne Taylor: “If the pantsuit fits.”
Angie Rice: “We don’t play tennis.”
Pennsatucky: “It’s a metaphor, you potato with eyes.”
Lorna Morello eating macaroni and cheese off of the serving spoon.
Joel Luschek [about Caputo’s outfit]: “You look like the Gay Edge.”
Clarke, Matt. “Contraband Smuggling a Problem at Prisons and Jails Nationwide.” Prison Legal News. Prison Legal News, 15 Jan. 2013. Web. 6 July 2014.