Thursday, July 30, 2015

Orange is the New Black 3x07 "Tongue-Tied" (Story Time) [Contributor: Rae Nudson]


"Tongue-Tied"

Norma. Sweet, amazing, beautiful Norma. This is one of my favorite back-stories because it just seemed to fit Norma so perfectly. She was lost when she was younger, and while searching for ways to empower herself, she stumbled into an unfortunate cult where the leader marries just about every one of his woman followers (think Reverend Wayne Gary Wayne from Kimmy Schmidt). Norma struggled with her stutter, and the cult leader made her feel so welcome and accepted. He told her she’d never have to speak to him again because he could feel her spirit, and he liked it. So of course she would feel good about being a part of this, even if he essentially took away her voice.

But Guru Mack had one thing right: If you don’t like yourself, change your story. Norma changes her story when she decides she’s had enough and pushes Mack right off a cliff. After years of abuse, she became someone who fought back and spoke up for herself. She still finds leaders to follow in prison, like Red and Gloria, but she is also beginning to stick up for herself again.

Norma may have given up performing Santeria magic, but she still gives blessings and hexes people, and allows the women to come to her with their problems. So now instead of following, she is someone people turn to. But when Red comes back into the kitchen, and back into Norma’s day-to-day life, Red immediately takes over, as she always does. When Norma walks away from Red and the kitchen crew at the end of the day and takes credit for punishing Red, it was triumphant. She takes that self-confidence, plus what she learned from her cult and from Gloria’s Santeria magic, to lead her own followers, who she meets in the chapel. Norma may seem like a quiet pushover, but she takes charge of her story.

Suzanne is also learning the power of storytelling by literally writing stories. Her erotic fiction is a little, um, nonsensical, but her writing provides both her and Poussey and escape from the loneliness of prison. And it’s funny. It was too good watching Berdie learn that a Pangolin is a mammal with scales, and seeing Suzanne calmly explain that she was actually using it to mean—well, you get it.

Back at the cafeteria, Piper and Morello play MASH. Morello is using it to create the story of her future life — she’ll marry Gustov, and live in an apartment in Maui with 13 children. As Yoga Jones and Big Boo try to keep Morello’s suitors straight (is that the fatty?), they get to the heart of what Morello is doing by seeing all these men. She’s providing them with an empathetic ear, yes, but also the fantasy of having a prison girlfriend — in exchange for some money for her commissary. As Morello says, “Who cares if it’s a fantasy? If they get what they want, and I get to make a buck, everybody wins.”

Facing reality in Litchfield is sometimes too much to bear, so the inmates have to create fantasies to be able to survive. Some of the inmates are even creating the story they are Jewish so they can get better food to eat in the cafeteria. The inmates have to be all about survival — and sometimes that includes imagining about how things could be better.

Daya is struggling with the future she is creating for her baby as she tries to decide to keep the baby or give it up to Pornstache’s mother. She asks Piper if being rich made her a better person because she had access to things like music lessons, and a big home. Love is the most important thing, Piper says, and after all, they both ended up at Litchfield. But money sure does make life easier. Daya imaging a rich life for her child is another fantasy escape for her, but I do hope that kid’s real life turns out better than Daya’s has been.

Piper was on fire this episode — and that might be the only time you’ll ever hear me say that. Piper’s character works the best for me when she leans into how ridiculous she is. Between denying her five-bathroom house was a mansion and telling her brother her plan to sell panties, she was so funny and enjoyable to watch. Her selfishness and obliviousness create a great foil to the other inmates who have much bigger problems than Piper, even if they are all in the same miserable prison.

Other notes:
  • In a surprising turn of events, the inmate of the episode is Piper, for being really funny this episode. 
  • “Do you hear yourself, sometimes? Like when you speak?” – Morello to Piper. 
  • That new CO who sprayed pepper spray into his own eyes is going to be in way more pain when Alex is done with him.
  • “Are you a good witch or a bad witch?”

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