Thursday, July 18, 2013

ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK: "Imaginary Enemies" S1E4 (Review)

by Elizabeth Weitz
Paranoia and choices lead off this episode of OITNB and Chapman (Taylor Schilling), whose choice to severe her ties with Crazy Eyes (Uzo Aduba) once and for all, is feeling the consequences of that decision when she is forced to clean up Crazy's pee (that she so nicely left in Chapman and Miss Claudette's cube) with tons of industrial strength maxi-pads.

Of course, we all know how Miss Claudette (Michelle Hurst) feels when someone messes with her little world (poor Chapman).

But don't worry, it's Miss Claudette's turn at the flashback this time (I just love how the inmates get a little more interesting every episode) and it truly helps answer the question of why she is such a clean freak (and it also gives the viewers a little bit more insight into why she is so stubborn and determined not to connect with people, although you have to wonder if Miss Claudette does have a soft spot for Chapman).

It would be easy to dismiss Miss Claudette's demeanour since she came to this country from Haiti as nothing more than an indentured servant in the 60's, and was forced to work off the debt her parents incurred by sending her to the promised land of America, but I don't think that bitterness is her problem at all (and it should be by god) but her past does contribute to her prison stay although we'll talk about that more in depth later.

So lets return to Piper.

Chapman, who is fearful that she is starting to lose her short-term memory as the weight of prison begins to weigh on her more heavily, thinks she can make this experience worth something (and keep herself mentally together) by teaching her fellow inmates to pass the GED but, as prison is filled with disappointment, Chapman is not given the educational work detail she desires but sent, instead, to the Electrical Shop run by Joel Luschek (Matt Peters) an always buzzed prison employee who simply doesn't give a shit. Her job, Chapman learns is to re-wire a lamp (even though she has no idea how to do so) for around $.17 an hour. 

The job is so moronic that most of her fellow electrical workers (including the volatile Watson (Vicky Jeudy), Gansta Tricia (Madeline Brewer- who gets her own little storyline in this episode) and Nicky (Natasha Lyonne) spend the time engaged in as little work as possible (Nicky spends her time using a drill to make a glory hole in the concrete wall for Luscheck...with his blessing).

Now, remember what I said about this episode being about paranoia and choices?

Well, Chapman, who is already on the edge of a complete mental breakdown, accidentally puts into motion a possible scenario that could very well end badly if she cannot remedy it. Which not only affects around a dozen inmates and prison guards, but, more importantly lessens the strength of the thin ice she is already on with Miss Claudette.

As Chapman tries desperately to rectify the situation, she only makes matters worse, thinking that she will, most likely, be murdered in her sleep because of her own stupidity. 

But, as we learn, paranoia is a double-edge sword. It might keep you sharp and ready for an attack, but it will also ruin a perfectly good night's sleep.

Because of how many people are involved with Chapman's royal fuck-up, there are a multitude of stories going on (and luckily they are all handled well).

Miss Claudette has her own issues with choice (while trying to maintain the balance of her cube and Chapman's inability to live by her rules) when it comes to her own incarceration. There is a chance that she may be able to lessen her time inside if she chooses to help out her case, but, for whatever reason, she won't, much to Healy's (Michael Harney) sadness. Why?

In an intense flashback you not only see the reason why she ended up in prison but also a glimpse of the love of her life John Baptiste. (yes, Miss Claudette can love).

Gangsta Tricia is about to lose her own love, Mercy (Katie Iacona) when her beloved's "Date" (release from prison) comes around. For Tricia this is a real test of her love. Can she trust that Mercy will wait for her on the outside or will she take Big Boo's (a hilarious Lea DeLaria) word that Tricia can forget ever seeing Mercy again?

And of course, Mercy should be a little wiser than to start insulting Big Boo right before her "Date", especially when Boo was able to um...postpone another inmate's "Date" by physically assaulting her.

(yes, all these stories are tied into Chapman's problem...I told you there were a lot of them).

So how are these intertwined narratives all going to resolve themselves?


A few smaller stories appeared as well that are seemingly set-ups for future tales:

Alex (Laura Prepon) and Nicky share a moment in the library that shows just how hard it is for Alex to be there in prison with Chapman (and can I saw how much I am falling in love with inmate/prison librarian Taystee (Danielle Brooks)? I mean, she reams someone for standing on Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire to reach something by yelling, "You don't fuck with Harry Potter" how can you not adore her?).

Diaz (Dascha Polanco) and Bennett (Matt McGorry) are getting more flirtatious and have a physical moment when, after an alarm goes off throughout the prison (Chapman's fault), Bennett shows Diaz how to do chew

And Pornstache (Pablo Schrieber), once again, shows just what a dirtbag he really is.

There is a touching scene at the end of the show with Miss Claudette that makes you think she might be reconsidering the wisdom-laced koan she whispered to Chapman in this episode saying that "Hope is a dangerous thing",  considering she receives some news that may, in fact, change her mind about pursuing the case against her after-all.

Once again, it all comes down to choices and it'll be interesting to see what Miss Claudette will do.

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