As the season revs up for the finale, the next three episodes throw big secrets into the light. From infidelity to prison contraband, no hidden truth is safe. Is the prison ready for the fallout?
Episode 8: Appropriately Sized Pots (AKA The Guards Get Tough)
Facing pressure from Fig on rule enforcement and stopping contraband, Caputo installs a shot quota for the guards. Controlling contraband won’t be easy, though, considering an all-out war is raging between Vee and Red for inmates’ allegiance.
Vee is running cigarettes through the custodial team and making bank on the outside by charging stamps while Red reestablishes control over goods through her garden tunnel. As the guards become increasingly aware of the contraband moving through the prison (everything from lipstick to candy), Caputo suspects Red’s involvement. Angry and feeling betrayed, he attempts to find her source in the garden shed and destroys the place in the process. Fortunately, Red has already hidden her goods in the kitchen with the help of the Latinas and Caputo finds nothing. He apologizes to her for his actions and basically assures her complete autonomy in the garden.
Caputo fires Fischer at Fig’s request because she does not have enough backbone for the job. Fischer is initially heartbroken but Nicky helps her see the event as an opportunity for change.
Piper receives furlough and the rest of the prison is furious, assuming she has received special privileges because she is white. Unable to take the pressure, Piper asks Healy to rescind her furlough, but he refuses. When asked why he wants to help her, he reveals how deeply frustrated he is by the limitations on his job and how very rare it is for him to be able to help the women of the prison in meaningful ways. Piper accepts her furlough and decides to make the best of it no matter how people talk.
Red restores her old prison family and the elderly women join together. Boo, however, realizes how Red is running contraband through the shed and sells the information to Vee in the hopes of finding a crew that appreciates her more. Back at their bunk, Red asks Piper to check on her family’s market in Queens while she’s free and the two bond for the first time after the events of last season. As the episode closes, we learn Vee is also running heavy drugs through the prison and Taystee gives Nicky a bag of heroin as a free gift.
I was especially pleased with this episode’s handling of the guards and the position of administration. No longer just “bad guys,” the guards are becoming more relatable and understandably ineffectual. and their stories help make the prison a more engaging community.
Episode 9: 40 OZ of Furlough (AKA Nicky’s Choice, Piper’s Future)
Piper gets furlough but it’s not in time; days before she gets out her grandmother dies in the hospital. Piper leaves the prison, enjoying her freedom but saddened by the fact that she will never be able to apologize to her grandmother for disappointing her. She attempts to get over the loss by celebrating her freedom, but she has to attend her grandmother’s wake and funeral instead. She and Larry almost have a sexual encounter but Larry’s guilt over sleeping with Polly gets in the way and he reveals his infidelity although she requests not to know who it was.
Finally realizing that she and Larry are over, Piper is faced with the fact that her life when she gets out is not going to be the life she left behind. Fittingly, when she checks on Red’s family market, she finds it is out of business.
Back at the prison, Nicky struggles with the desire to keep the heroin but eventually surrenders it to Red. The older women expresses her pride at Nicky’s small victory over her addiction. Red finds out Boo leaked her tunnel to Vee and kicks her out of the group. Boo attempts to join Vee’s game but Vee says she has no place for betrayers and Boo is left alone. To replace Fischer, Fig hires back Mendez who immediately begins terrorizing the inmates. Bennet tries to prove that he can handle the extra work without Mendez’s help because Mendez’s presence threatens Daya’s safety and the baby’s, but he cracks under the pressure.
Finally, Bennet breaks his own moral code and tells Caputo that Daya became pregnant after Mendez raped her (which she, Red, and Mendoza had framed him for) and the episode ends with Caputo preparing to fire and incarcerate Mendez.
What were your thoughts on these pivotal episodes? Let us know in the comments section below!
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Photos: Al Goldstein/Netflix