Family Burdens in 212: “It Was the Change”

Super Storm Wanda forces the women of Litchfield into close quarters; tensions rise between Queen Vee’s clan and Red’s gang of “scarecrows.” Poussey is pushed to her limit and ruins a great deal (if not all) of Vee’s tobacco supply, which causes Vee to excommunicate Taystee from the family. Taystee and Poussey nearly come to blows in the library while moving the books to higher ground, but make up instead. Figueroa’s scheme is officially revealed as embezzelment, and that’s not even the biggest scandal in her life; she finds her husband and his campaign manager making out at the fundraiser that pulled Natalie away from the prison in the first place for Jason’s campaign. And we finally figure out what Big Boo Black’s “Gay Agenda” is.

 

“A Royal Fuck-Up”

Taslitz lands herself in the SHU for attacking the wrong person (well, for killing someone), which tips Vee off to knowing that she is a target, thus putting Red’s entire family in danger. As a preemptive move, Gina Murphy is sent to commissary to declare parley. When the two den mothers meet up, it is clear that this quarrel will not end well for either of them. It is because of Taslitz’s foolish move that Red is in this position in the first place. Vee sees this strike as an act of war. Although Vee claims that she would have shared the tunnel, she comes out and says now that she is taking the tunnel whether Red likes it or not; after testing Vee’s audacity, Red discovers that Vee has the means and intention to harm Yuri, Red’s son, if she does not cooperate with her. The fact that Vee recites his address and describes his house is a testament to the fact that this is already been planned out and even acted upon. Red threatens: “You touch my son, I touch you. Every bruise, every mark the same.”

Not only does Vee have trouble coming from Red’s end, but Poussey continues to make her life increasingly more difficult. Janae Watson tells Poussey: “Something’s gonna fuck you, you know. The system, the man, Vee. Can’t do nothin’ about it. At least Vee gives you back 10%.” Not wanting Vee to succeed, Poussey destroys her tobacco stash by dumping it out onto the warehouse floor and dousing the hash in bleach. Because Taystee agreed earlier to take responsibility for Poussey, for she did not believe that she would reek any more havoc on Vee, Taystee is excommunicated from the family for Poussey’s actions because it “neutralize[s] the risk” Poussey creates (for she only fights Vee to get Taystee back), since she has been attracting attention. The parallel storyline of Vee and RJ serves to show that even her “favorites” and loved ones are not safe from Vee’s vengeance.

After eliminating Poussey, Vee only has Red to concentrate on. Knowing that she is a target, Red sneaks into the kitchen during the storm to ask Gloria’s help in getting a weapon. Whereas Gloria believes Red is paranoid, we know that Vee is seriously dangerous. Gloria comments: “You used to be something. Now you lost your damn mind. She don’t need to fight you ’cause she already won.” After being denied a weapon, Red resorts to using plastic wrap to choke Vee (which was a nice cross-over into my other world, Dissecting Dexter).

After a brutal struggle between the den mothers, Red asserts: “This place is getting to me,” to which Vee “agrees” “We got enough fucking hell in here already.” Although they seem to agree on a truce, we know it is quite the opposite. Slocking Red wasn’t part of the agreement, now is it, Vee?

 

The Burden of Family

Piper’s Big House Bugle scheme has angered Figueroa to the point of her arranging a transfer to Virginia. Piper says that “the worst part of it is . . . telling my family and realizing that they actually sounded kind of relieved, like they weren’t gonna have to spend hours coming to visit me anymore. Like they finally got their weekends back.” As devastating as this is for Piper, who has yet to have her closure with Alex Vause, we can only imagine just how devastated Maria Ruiz is, especially since she has six years left on her sentence. We hear her fears aloud as she explains that in six years, her child will be in the first grade “calling some other puta ‘mommy’.”

Maria

As if Maria’s relationship with her child and boyfriend were not stressed enough already, the distance might be enough to shatter what they have going. Unfortunately, Ruiz is being transferred because “this is Fig fucking [Piper] personally. She’s hated [her] ever since that stupid radio show” in season one. Healy “can’t ask for any more special favors because ti would look inappropriate.” The Annie E. Casey Foundation delineates the effects of family separation caused by transfers in their ReEntry handbook (see source below).

 

Politics

The auditor (or whoever he is) that looks over Figueroa’s budget reports is skeptical about the “overlap” he sees, yet he seems to forget as much when Fig invites him to her husband’s political fundraiser. We now understand that Jason Figueroa is using Natalie for the prison’s money to fuel his campaign, and the extent of this “use” goes as far as their marriage; even their vows are a facade and an arrangement to help assemble his political career. When Figueroa mentions how her conscience is acting up (she has a conscience?!), Jason asserts: “[you] gotta play dirty if you want to win. This is my career we’re talking about.” We discover that not only does Jason undermine her career, but Caputo does as well, accusing her move from secretary to assistant Warden as the result of someone “who kissed ass and gave neck massages.”

What’s interesting about the fundraiser is the fact that one of the New York Giants players is caught explaining one of Michel Foucault’s great philosophical arguments: “So, the irony is that Foucault’s analysis of power structures ends up being an argument against the institutions of social inequality.” This is a nice bone we’re thrown right here regarding civil liberties and human rights. (If you’re interested in reading Foucault’s argument, the citation is at the end of this treatment).

It is because of this fundraiser that Figueroa is unreachable, and she is annoyed by Caputo’s incessant calling (due to her lack of initiative or “shitty excuse for management,” in Caputo’s words): “It’s like having children. I swear, can’t Mama have one night out?”. We hear the CEO of FitzCORE (the company the reporter suspects of working for the prison and also embezzling money into Jason’s campaign) comment on the expensive repair jobs they do on the prison, which we know never get completed. At the moment, the lake water overflowed the toilets and flooded out the bathrooms, the water from which floods a great part of the prison.

Miss Rosa Lorna

Not only do we discover that the prison is in even worse shape than we imagined, we also learn that Yoga Jones has been in an “awesome” facility before here — the one that Piper is scheduled to transfer to, in fact. This prison lacks the upkeep that is required and it is lacking the programs and recreation that other prisons and prisoners enjoy the luxury of. Yoga Jones explains: “As far as being deprived of your personal freedom and civil liberties goes . . . they had a crafts shop and a volley ball team. I had Martha Stewart’s old bunk.” This, of course, is a tribute to a rather frequent conversation topic in Piper Kerman’s memoir Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s PrisonThe prison where Piper Kerman did her time closed itself for fear of Martha Stewart being sent to do her time there, and thus creating an unwanted press frenzy.

 

“The Gay Agenda to Take Over the World”

A short exchange between Pennsatucky and Healy while she’s looking for some snacks during the power outage let’s us see that Healy really has not changed at all in his thinking, despite his effort to start the “Safe Place” counseling group. Healy, after pulling out his copy of The End of Men, explains:

“Pretty soon, men are gonna become irrelevant. Now women are more educated, they’re gonna make more money and pretty much run everything . . . it’s the lesbians that started this whole thing. They’re making babies out of a tube. That’s why they’re walking around all the time like they’re better. Waiting for us to go obsolete. That’s what they’re doing.”

Pennsatucky points out: “No offense, but, uh, men being in charge has never done me any good.” Healy reminds her to “think about [where she gets her cookies from] before you get ideas.” It is clear that Healy still has some sh*t he has to work out in his life. He either needs a new therapist or a better attitude. Or both.

 

Inmate Rights

Luschek, Piper, and Nicky’s venture down into the basement to investigate the fuel pumps brings our attention to the prison’s unsafe working conditions, and yet another loop back to the devaluing of women by Luschek (when he suggests a threesome when the power goes out). Soso sees the super storm as a time to get the women together “like the hunger strike but bigger.” She even gets them to sing along to Alanis Morissette’s “I’m a Bitch” and “Stay (I Miss You).”

 

Litchfield: A Comedy

  • Irma: “She hates wearing glasses. Says they make her nose look big.”
  • Red: “You want to assassinate someone, vision is a basic requirement. It’s like step one, pick a person to kill. Step two, kill that person.” . . .
  • Freida: “Unless . . . we use it to our advantage. She doesn’t knot it was a mistake. We tell her it’s a warning shot. Don’t fuck with Red.”
  • Red: “Or a 79-year-old woman will shank someone you never met.”

 

  • Freida: “Parley? What are we, pirates?”
  • Red: “Well one of us does have an octopus tattoo.”

Octopus Tattoo

 

Black Cindy: “If it comes down to swimming, I’m gonna save myself. I will stand on a bitch’s head.”

 

  • Pennsatucky: “Is it okay if I take a few of these [Oreo’s] for my neighbor, ’cause she’s a lesbian, and I just wanna, like, distract her.”
  • Sam Healy: “Which lesbian is that?”
  • Pennsatucky: “With the fat stomach and the haircut.”
  • Healy: “Black? She’s, like, the worst one.”
  • Pennsatucky: “No, she’s white. You know you can’t say that shit around here. Trust me–“
  • Healy: “No. No, no, no. You’re talking about Boo. ‘Black’ is her last name.”
  • Pennsatucky: “You don’t think I can handle myself? I will say that she’s got some sick, like, tattoos, like her ink. Have you seen it?”
  • Healy: “That’s how they get you. Being cool, doing cool things, and before you know it, you’re part of their agenda.”

[Later, Pennsatucky asks Big Boo about the Gay Agenda to take over the world]

  • Big Boo: “First of all, keep your voice down. This shit is top secret.”
  • Pennsatucky: “Are you gonna let all the men die out?”
  • Boo: “Oh, fuck, no, we need slaves. You know, bookkeeping, janitorial, fetch and carry, that kinda shit.” . . .
  • Pennsatucky: “Let’s say I wanna join, right? . . . Would I have to do anything disgusting against the word of God, you know? . . . If you catch my drift.”
  • Boo: “Yeah, I hear you. And that is a big part of it, I’m not gonna lie. But since you have these religious convictions, we can probably give you an exemption. I mean, we’re not unreasonable.”
  • Pennsatucky: “Really? That’d be great.”
  • Boo: “Of course, your’e still gonna have to go through initiation.”
  • Pennsatucky: “Yeah, I figured.”

 

Vee’s family playing “Fuck, Marry, Kill” with Caputo, Bennett, and O’Neill as options.

 

  • Daya: “There’s too many people in here. It’s making the air feel weird.”
  • Aleida: “It’s mostly farts.”

 

Works Cited

Annie E. Casey Foundation. “Reentry: Helping Former Prisoners Return to Communities.” The Annie E. Casey Foundation. Annie E. Casey Foundation, 10 Jan. 2005. Web. 13 June 2014. <http://www.aecf.org/resources/reentry-helping-former-prisoners-return-to-communities/>.

Foucault, Michel. “The Subject and Power.” Critical Inquiry 8.4 (1982): 777-95. JSTOR.

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