Orange is the New Black Review: “40 OZ of Furlough”

(Episode 2.09)

TV Reviews Orange Is The New Black
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<i>Orange is the New Black</i> Review: &#8220;40 OZ of Furlough&#8221;

Orange is the New Black may be labeled a comedy when it comes to award nominations, but the show has had many tragic, heartbreaking moments. For me, the most gut-wrenching one so far came when Taystee offered Nicky heroin, telling her the first one was free. Let’s pause for a moment while I let my tears dry.

To see the once-bubbly Taystee being pulled even further into Vee’s vicious web was awful. But even worse was that she would so easily prey on Nicky who declared in her AA meeting, “heroin is the love of my life.” If Orange is the New Blackreally was a comedy maybe Nicky wouldn’t succumb to temptation, but something tells me things are about to get really difficult for her.

And I almost can’t talk about the escalating fight between Taystee and Poussey. It is beyond upsetting to see these former best friends letting Vee tear them apart so easily. Taystee blindly trusts the only mother figure she ever really had and there’s seemingly nothing Poussey can do about it.

With only three episodes to go, many plot points that have been percolating all season long are beginning to come to fruition. Bennett tries to assert his authority and prove he can be just as foreboding as Mendez by tossing all the cells after finding a cigarettes stub. Mendez intervenes, warning him, “You’re going to get yourself fired pal.” To Caputo’s utter delight, a frustrated and jealous Bennett tells Caputo that Diaz is pregnant and Mendez must be the father. What will become of Diaz and her baby now that the secret is out (sort of)?

This episode’s flashback took us not to life before prison but an earlier prison life when Red and Vee were first incarcerated. Experienced prisoner Vee convinces Red to start smuggling things through the kitchen and a naïve Red thinks Vee is her friend. That is, until Vee has her lackeys beat Red up so she can share in the smuggling profits. What happened in their relationship between that moment and when they hugged each other “hello” this season?

In the present day, Red is stronger and no longer naïve. She reassembles her “family” with a dinner in the greenhouse. More importantly, she apologizes, which finally brings them all back together. Unfortunately at the dinner, Boo realizes that Red is smuggling in items via the greenhouse and promptly reports this information to Vee, in return for 10% of the cigarette sales. If only Red had made an emotional toast to Boo perhaps this all could have been avoided.

There was so much going on at Litchfield it was particularly difficult to care about Piper’s awkward homecoming, made possible by furlough. In a failed attempt at a bathroom quickie, Larry confesses that he cheated on Piper with someone she knows (but stops short of saying it’s Polly) and the two decide to officially end their relationship. It really is the only option that makes sense, and I hope it sticks.

Piper’s brother chooses the funeral as the moment to announce his engagement and promptly gets married, which I guess is supposed to be awkward funny? The best moment came when Piper confronted her father about not coming to visit her in prison. “I’m sorry honey I just can’t see you like that.” Her father still sees her as the person she was, not the woman she currently is. “I’m sure your anxious to return to your old self,” a family friend says to her at the funeral/wedding reception. “I’m not actually,” Piper responds.

But as Vee and Red have taught us, old habits do indeed die hard. How much has Piper really changed? What will she do when she sees Alex again? I can’t wait to find out.

Other thoughts on “40 OZ of Furlough:”

•Just when you thought Soso couldn’t be more annoying, she stages a hunger strike.

•Very sad about Red’s store being out of business.

•I kind of loved the Golden Girls shaking down Gloria’s girls. “I cut off my husband’s dick with a butcher knife and it wasn’t even sharp.”

•“What could I possibly be trying to smuggle out of prison?” Excellent point Piper. Excellent point.

What did you think of “40 OZ of Furlough?” Talk about it below.

Amy Amatangelo is a Boston-based freelance writer, a member of the Television Critics Association and a regular contributor to Paste. You can follow her on Twitter or her blog.