Human Rights and Prison Politics in 210: “Little Mustachioed Shit”

Several relationships are on the line — Piper and Larry’s, Piper and Polly’s, Alex and Sylvie’s (in the flashback), Piper and Alex’s, Poussey and Taystee’s, Daya and Pornstache’s (perceived), Red and her sons’, and Daya and Bennett’s. Figueroa and Joe Caputo launch an investigation and begin the paperwork that will eventually get Mendez fired and land him in jail for “impregnating” Daya Diaz. After furlough, Piper returns to lie to Red about her store doing well. Brook Soso’s hunger strike is finally starting to gain support. Vee’s power and influence are pervasive and intimidating, meanwhile Poussey falls into a depression and takes up drinking hooch in order to cope with losing both her job assignment and Taystee’s friendship. Counselor Healy attempts to deal with his rage by projecting it onto Pennsatucky and starting an inmate support group.

 

Processing In

After experiencing “a whole lifetime in 48 hours,” Piper is rather chipper upon processing back into Litchfield. She does not bear good news, however. Rather than telling Red that her shop is closed down, Piper imagines what her shop was like back in the day and describes the bustling business to her. Perhaps she doesn’t wish to come between Red and her sons, who obviously have lied to their mother to keep her sane while in prison. If Red knew there was no shop waiting for her upon getting out of Litchfield, Red would become depressed and have nothing to live for. The boys are lying out of love.

Similarly, Larry lies (by omission) to Piper about sleeping with Polly knowing that it would absolutely destroy her — and likely her friendship with Polly, which was already jeopardized by the soap company they wanted to start and their prior disagreements. Through a flashback, we learn that Alex also lied to Piper about having a girlfriend, which did not pan out well (for Sylvie, that is).

Sylvie

 

Human Rights

The Prison Rape Elimination Act was passed to “provide for the analysis of the incidence and effects of prison rape in Federal, State, and local institutions and to provide information, resources, recommendations and funding to protect individuals from prison rape” (qtd. in “Prison Rape Elimination Act”). It is because Natalie Figueroa and Joe Caputo are under the impression that Daya is carrying a “little mustachioed shit” around that Mendez is fired and ultimately arrested, causing a press frenzy. Because it’s illegal to touch the inmates during a strip search, we can just imagine how big of a flub it is to engage in such behavior. We know that Mendez has been sexually inappropriate with the women for a long time now — from tricking Tricia into a blow for some blow, ultimately leading to her suicide, to spanking Red as she exits the cafeteria — but his firing and arrest is a blow to the gut. It is unfair and it’s not right — but Daya and Bennett are safe. For now. Why does it feel so wrong for Mendez to take the fall even after all he’s done? Caputo asserts that “it’s guys like you that give the whole profession a bad name.” Perhaps it is because we see how genuinely smitten he is for Daya when he searches her bunk and how he treats her . . . and how we know she and her family lured him into this mess in the first place. It is worse when you consider the fact that Daya admitted to Figueroa that Mendez was encouraged. Daya “and Mendez’s” child is the “spawn of the system.” Her lies effectively destroyed Mendez’s life. Our empathy for Mendez is a symbol of our understanding of the conditions of the prison system. Not even someone like Mendez deserves to endure prison.

It is ironic to hear the woman on the PA system advise the women to “be aware of overeating” given the fact that Brook Soso is still trying to stage a hunger strike. This is ironic not only because of Brook’s seemingly futile efforts, but because the prison food is not even enjoyable. Boo explains that she eats, and over eats, because it is “comforting.” No matter how many times Soso quotes Gandhi, her movement gains little support until the end of the episode when Yoga Jones expresses how she admires her and her courage.

The prison obviously is in shambles, and the conditions are atrocious, yet none of the prisoners want to try to change anything. Aside from last season’s Women’s Advisory Council, the inmates have done little themselves to try to enact change. Perhaps, like Healy, they have given up on the dream of enacting change and being the hero. Perhaps they fear a shot, or worse — being put in the SHU — for attempting a demonstration of any sort. Because Litchfield is nowhere near as bad as Guantanamo, as Sister Ingalls points out, the women settle for the conditions hardly fit for animals. Yoga Jones expresses: “I’m sick and tired of the guards using solitary like it’s some kind of toddler timeout . . . it’s inhumane.” She tells Brook that she is a “true activist” for her efforts, which Sister Ingalls hears.

“Prisoner Propaganda” is taking place in other forms, however. Natalie Figueroa finally discovered Piper’s project, the Big House Bugle, and reprimands Caputo for supporting the project. Speaking of newspapers — the reporter comes to visit Piper during visiting hours, which Figueroa finds out about. She also discovers that he was visiting Piper, who she knows is also in charge of the Big House Bugle. Whoops.

Speaking of propaganda: as they are hauling Mendez out of Litchfield in cuffs, Figueroa proclaims to the press: “These vulnerable women are under our care and we do everything in our power to protect them.”

Do you, though, Natalie?

 

The Prison Race

“System work you, you gotta find a way to work the system.”
– Vee

It has become clear that even Red’s greatest efforts to climb back up to the top of the prison hierarchy have failed; Vee and her girls cut the entire line in the cafeteria and are given special treatment: Crazy Eyes gets an extra waffle and Miss Rosa is forced to move so they can all sit together at breakfast. Like “ballers” (as Watson calls them), the black women are not to be messed with, as is evidenced by Black Cindy wiping out commissary of all the good candy and snacks. Vee knows that “when you got something people want,” you rule the market, or prison as far as this show is concerned.

Because of their success thus far, Poussey observes that Vee has her posse “brainwashed.” Her concerns are written off as “jealousy” by Taystee. However their cushioned lifestyle does not last long — a sudden bunk raid causes Janae Watson’s carelessness to send her to the SHU for the second time. Now that the guards know that tobacco is getting into the prison, just as all of the contraband confiscated is, the operation is becoming more difficult to maintain, hence why Vee goes searching for the outlet that Big Boo tipped her off to. In addition, Vee’s “spot” has been compromised, and so she pressures Poussey to make the library their main source of commerce, for it easiest location to traffic the stuff from. Vee’s supplier has also been compromised, and thus she tries to reason with Red, offering to “share” the sewer. Red asserts:

“You don’t know how to share. Just to take and to bully.”

The pressure from Vee, when combined with the loss of Taystee’s friendship, and the guilt weighing on her conscience from knowing that Vee is bringing harder drugs into the prison, drives Poussey to turn to hooch to subdue her problems and help her live with herself. Of course this drives her to confront Vee, and thus her bulldog, Crazy Eyes, attacks her, leaving her sobbing on the dirty, shit-soaked bathroom floor. We know trouble is a-brewing.

Politics

“You are a very rude woman.”
– Miss Rosa

Although Figueroa felt confident in her decision to bring Mendez back to fill in for Susan Fischer after his suspension, she discovers that she is screwed when Caputo informs her that Daya is pregnant. Figueroa plans to get paperwork rolled out so that they can file reports, fire him, and send him to jail all in one shot, but under one condition: Caputo wants to be the one to fire him.

Figueroa puts on a sincere face for the camera as she recites her bullshit lines about protecting the women, but we know she is up to something else. We’ve suspected it since the moment we saw her pull up to Litchfield in her new Mercedes. The reporter in contact with Piper suspects that all of the companies that were hired were subsidiaries of FitzCORE, the company that is paying for Jason Figueroa’s political campaign. The reporter calls Figueroa a “criminal” and asks for Piper to get him invoices; however, Piper says: “Yeah, well, so am I.” It is clear that there is no legal or easy way for Piper to expose Figueroa’s embezzlement scandal without risking more jail time.

 

Mail-Order Brides

Although therapists are supposed to be non-judgmental, we can hear it in the woman’s voice who is treating Healy that she does not understand the process or reasoning  behind mail-order brides. We know Sam Healy is a horrible person, or at least a very damaged person influenced by society’s expectations and beliefs, and he proves it when he alludes to the fact that his love life had been shitty, thus leading him to order himself a bride — one he didn’t have to court or win over (or really show any humanity towards) — one that he could own by sending off a certain amount of money. This is just as bad as Lars in Lars and the Real Girl.

We know that Healy has major issues with women and the power struggle between the sexes and genders, but his attempt to start a support group for the inmates is rather touching, considering how jaded he has become. But this may have to do with the fact that he’s trying to prove his therapist wrong. Regardless, with a man like Healy somewhat in charge of a women’s prison, things can only go sour. We saw how Pennsatucky and Piper’s fight went down.

 

Litchfield: A Comedy

  • Piper: “And he fucked someone else.”
  • Red: “He told you this?”
  • Piper: ” . . . But you know what the weirdest thing was? I wasn’t even mad. At all. It kind of made sense. Tit for tat. Or, well, tit for tit, as the case may be.”

 

  • Lorna Morello [to Brook Soso]: “You’re wasting your breath. Your’e not gonna convince this crowd not to eat.”
  • Big Boo: “She’s right. I mean, this oatmeal tastes like a bowl of chunky boogers, but fuck if it isn’t comforting to keep shoveling it in.”

 

  • Brook Soso: “Sister, I thought, of all people, you would support me.”
  • Sister Ingalls: “Oh, honey, it’s not Guantanamo.”

 

Boo shoveling booger oatmeal into Soso’s mouth forcibly.

 

Nicky’s impression of Alex Vause.

 

Joe Caputo: “That poor girl is carrying around a sadistic little mustachioed shit inside her.”

 

Work Cited

“Prison Rape Elimination Act.” National PREA Resource Center. National PREA Resource Center, n.d. Web. 8 July 2014. <http://www.prearesourcecenter.org/about/prison-rape-elimination-act-prea>.

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