Somebody to Love - Orange Is The New Black Roundtable #2

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S04e03, "(Don't) Say Anything"
A new job puts Taystee close to Caputo. Lorna has to get 

creative in her marriage. Soso and Poussey deal with 
some awkward truths. (Netflix)

S04e04, "Doctor Psycho"
Nothing stays hidden for long when emotions run 
high, but Red, Healy and Caputo try to keep the peace. 
Piper has a business competitor. (Netflix)


Tova: Can we just jump right into the best parts of the episodes? Yes, let’s do that. First off: Poussey and Soso being lezzy-togezzy in episode 3. Look at those two cuties on the basketball court! And then it goes downhill so fast. I cringed hard at Soso’s conversation with Judy King, and to be honest I didn’t think they could come back from that. I’m glad they did, mostly because Poussey deserves to be happy, but also because I think Soso is more of an idiot than an asshole, if you know what I mean. She’s one of the people who does actually “mean well” when they screw up with racist nonsense, and it seems like she’s willing to learn. What do you guys think? And more generally: What’s your take on the character insights we get into both Poussey and Soso in this episode?

Adrian: At first, I’d agree that Soso is more idiot than asshole, but in her flashback she throws the “sorta sex-offender” listee under the bus just to get petty bragging rights over her ex. She already won the bet, so to me, this showcased Soso’s lack of integrity. Unless she changes her ways, I can easily see her throwing Poussey under the bus, too. Poussey’s theme song could be “Somebody to Love” by Queen, which is very sweet, but her heart oftens leaves her vulnerable. She gets hurt a lot and doesn’t contend with that pain well (her hooch production began as a direct result of that struggle). I just hope it doesn’t come to Soso hurting her, but continuing with my Big Boo appreciation, Boo had a great line when she saw the two girls on the court: "Litchfield's latest lesbos in fun size." They are indeed both very tiny.

Frida: I still find it hard to place Soso, she’s definitely more of an idiot than an asshole as you say, she thinks she’s progressive but she has no idea what she’s doing. The end of her flashback was cringeworthy, so I completely agree with Adrian about her lack of integrity. Even though she’s rather annoying it’s going to be interesting to know more about her past.

As for the love story: they were extremely lovey-dovey and cute, and after that first crack in their communication I think they will stay together for a while. Poussey is just such a true person, so seeing her getting hurt is the worst. I hope it doesn’t come to that, but I feel like she’s almost cursed on the show with unhappy love situations.

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Tova: You’ve both got a much better handle on Soso than I do! I think your descriptions of her are accurate, and it’s interesting that a character with so little integrity has ended up with a character who probably has the most integrity out of anyone on the show. Though I have to add that Soso is definitely not the worst in that department! There’s always Piper, or basically anyone who has ever worked at Litchfield.

Excellent choice for a Poussey theme song (they even mention prison cells!), but I feel like she could share it with both Suzanne and Lorna. At least in earlier seasons, because now Lorna seems to have found someone to love, in a very public manner. I really enjoy the Lorna/Vinny relationship, even if it often makes me uncomfortable, and I think it’s about damn time we see Lorna happy. But she’s going to have her heart broken, isn’t she? We’ve seen a lot of love on the show, but we haven’t seen many happily ever after.

Adrian: If we're going to stick with Queen, I think Suzanne might be more aligned with "Bicycle Race": manic musical energy plus a message of non-conformity. I'm not sure my knowledge of Queen is deep enough to pick a song for Lorna, though. Poussey's need for love feels very pure, while Lorna's boils down to her desire for status: I say this because in S03E13, we see a flashback to Lorna’s childhood Confirmation. When her parents scold her for not eating her eucharist wafer (“that’s the whole point”), little Lorna argues “No, Mommy, the dress is the whole point!”

On another note, witnessing inmates released only to fall back in is important, but we've seen it so much. I'd be interested in seeing Lorna get out of Litchfield, permanently. Post-prison life is a part of the convict experience, stories worth telling. Lorna and Muccio have a great and hilarious chemistry; it could be fun watching their marriage evolve as she tries to readjust to the outside world and get to know his family. In the same way, I'm hoping that Aleida manages to stay out and evolve as a parent/grandparent when raising Daya's daughter.

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Frida: I really enjoy your Queen soundtrack for the characters! I have very little knowledge of Queen though so I can’t weigh in on your picks. Lorna’s storyline is exceptionally great right now. Their sex scene (it counts as that right?) in the visitor room was on such a high level of cringe that I was squinting my eyes at the screen while screaming “nooo” and smiling at the same time. It was such a great scene. I really hope their marriage lasts, and I totally agree with Adrian that it would be interesting to see more of the inmates that get out permanently. I think a lot of people don’t realize that post-prison life is part of the experience, as you say. I loved Aleida and Daya’s goodbye-scene; it was a very touching moment. It was interesting to see Aleida handle that after having the “never give up” conversation with Gloria.

Tova: I disagree about Lorna. I think she has a mental image of a what a home and family should look like—and that image is based on societal norms—but it's not the status she's in pursuit of: it's normalcy. If Suzanne is non-conforming (which I don't think is by choice), then Lorna is on the other end of the spectrum: she wants to be like "everyone else" more than perhaps anyone in Litchfield. That doesn't make her longing any less pure, even if we might think the ideals she's working towards are messed up. I’d love to see Lorna and Vinny's life after prison, but will she get out anytime soon? I have no idea about anyone's prison sentence, except Aleida (whom I assume we will get to see outside of prison this season).

Now on to the other good parts (though good in a different sense of the word): I thought the scenes with Doggett and Coates in episode 4 were spot-on in their depiction of rape culture, and I really appreciate that we get to see the fallout of that plot line. What do you think?

Frida: Yes, I think Lorna definitely is working towards this older ideal family life which is normal to her and “perfect.” But I can see it having something to do with status also; I feel like she’s bragging a lot about her marriage and that she has a better life than everybody else in Litchfield. Maybe it is a mix between wanting the normal life and a kind of pride about that.

I totally agree with you about Doggett’s scenes. It felt realistic in how certain men view rape and all that with Coates completely surprised about Doggett’s feelings. It was hard to watch, and I still get the total creeps from that guy.

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Tova: I think what creeps me out the most is all the times when I’m not creeped out by Coates—when he acts like the kind and insecure guy you want to root for. And that’s just the thing: guys who rape aren’t monsters. Some are, but rape is widespread and normalized enough that almost any type of man could do it. The thought is scary as hell, but it’s important to understand, especially for people blaming women for not getting out of situations before they turn ugly. I don’t suppose a lot of those people watch OITNB, but I appreciate it for bringing up the issue anyway.

There’s actually an article on Vulture that’s all about how this season handles the issue of consent. It goes into very spoilery territory about halfway through though, so be warned! I didn’t read past that point myself.

Adrian: I don’t have anything to add to the Coates situation (the two of you summed it up perfectly). I’m just glad that the writers decided to tackle the subject, and so well. On that same subject, Red raised the point to Healy "There's no such thing as a consensual relationship between a prisoner and a guard," to which I have two reactions. First, the thought of Red being romantically-interested in Healy grosses me out because Healy is so low-key vile. And second, Healy really is a loathsome piece of work.

For instance, take the flashback where he uses a homeless woman to act out a fantasy where he makes peace with his mother (who abandoned him in childhood, when trying to escape the horrors of electroshock therapy). He’s not interested in what the woman wants, he’s using her entirely for his own needs and expects her to be thankful for the privilege. It perfectly mirrors virtually every relationship he has with women: his wife, Red, Soso, Judy King, the list goes on and on.

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Frida: I completely agree about Healy, his flashbacks in episode four made it even clearer what kind of man he is. He is not interested in understanding women at all, he just wants to control them in any way possible. The most unnerving thing for me is that men like Healy are probably super common. I wonder if Judy King will suffer from some kind of consequence after she demanded another counselor. I don’t really recall if we have seen Healy “snap” before, but I feel like he probably can right now.

Tova: Well, he did send Piper to the SHU in season one, basically for not being his good little straight middle class girl. So he does have some history with punishing inmates when he gets angry. 

I think that Red burst Healy's bubble a little with that line, similar to what Dogett did with Coates in the same episode. Healy seems to see himself as a Good Guy, and is frustrated when people don't recognize this fact. You’re also right about his relationship to women: he is deeply misogynistic, and totally unsuited for a job at a women’s prison. I haven’t read any Wonder Woman, but I think “the one who hates women” is an appropriate epithet for Healy...

But somehow I still feel for him. Healy is just such a sad, sad person. No one likes him, and the flashbacks show that he’s had a tough childhood (though who on this show hasn’t?). I empathize strongly with his loneliness and desperate attempt at some kind of closure in the diner scene, even if I agree that his behaviour towards the end is selfish. 

Adrian: I’m feeling a bit stressed regarding Sophia’s story; I’m afraid things are only going to get worse, but seeing Nicky gives me hope that she’s going to help Sophia somehow—even if only to help herself. I didn’t even know Nicky was going to return this season, so that was pleasant surprise.

Tova: No comment on my Healy-sympathy? Well, I think we can all agree we care more about Sophia anyway.

I’m always worried about Sophia. Okay, that was a slight exaggeration, but she’s one of the characters about whom I care the most (which is a credit to both the writers and Cox as an actress, considering how little screen time she’s had). She’s been dealt such a crappy hand: simply being a trans woman in prison is a bad situation, but being put in solitary on top of that? The idea that Nicky would help her didn’t occur to me, but I hope you’re right about that. Sophia’s a resourceful and quite strong woman, but there’s not much she can do in her current situation. Speaking of bad situations: what about Alex, Lolly and the murder drama? Feelings and thoughts on that?

Frida: I feel a little bit sorry about Healy too. As you say, it’s easy to empathize with his reality of total loneliness and sadness (even though he is a horrible person and all that).

The situation that Sophia is in right now is the worst, I have no idea what direction the writers will take it, but I agree that it will probably get even worse before she is back with the other inmates. She will make it through anything but this will be tough on her for sure! The re-introduction of Nicky was kind of meh to me; she’s not really one of my favorite characters, but it will be interesting to see what role she has to play in Sophia’s story. Lastly, on the murder: I just think it’s a great storyline, now with Red involved it’s even more entertaining. Frieda is such a charismatic character. I wonder if we will see any serial killer flashbacks on the show (probably hers, if so?). I’m very excited about how the murder drama will turn out. I am of course rooting for Alex, and that she can survive this craziness.

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Adrian: I didn't want to belabor the Healy issue, because he really irks me. I agree, his flashbacks show us a more human, multi-dimensional Healy; the entire cast of OITNB characters repeat their mistakes to tragic and realistic ends. Yet, Healy has more room and power for self-reflection than any of them, and the fact that he hasn't changed in virtually all his life is infuriating when people are hurt by his selfish, petty actions. Remember, at the end of season 1, he was complicit in Piper's beating during the holiday concert; turning a blind eye to an assault—one that might have even resulted in a death—solidified his character for me. As pitiable as he is, I struggle to maintain much sympathy.

On the murder: now that Lolly has defused herself as a threat, I suspect that plotline could go in hibernation for a few episodes before popping back in, with force. I agree, a Frieda flashback is very appealing, but I'm dreading the closure of the murder arc: I'm afraid that, ultimately, one of the four ladies is going to pay!

Tova: That’s usually how it goes! I just hope it’s not Lolly. Or Alex. Or Red. Hmm…

Favourite quotes

Frida: “I have a cousin who lives in Modesto, that’s like modest with an o”
Adrian: “My daddy used to call me solnyshko, little sun, but I've grown bigger and hotter since then, and he's dead.”
Tova: “Sisyphus.” “I did hear that rumour.”

Adrian Martinez is a graphic designer, comic book letterer, hobbyist writer, and all-around geek living in New York City.

Tova Crossler Ernström is a bisexual Swede, feminist, socialist, INFJ, Hufflepuff, HSP and Taurus. She is fond of personality tests, labels and lists.

Frida Berntson is a Swedish cultural studies and art history student, art blogger and lover of all things geekdom; especially tv, movies and youtube.