Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Netflix Catch-Up: Orange is the New Black

Orange is the New Black: Season 7, Episode 8 “Baker’s Dozen” (B+)

This show has such a large ensemble that it’s easy to forget how prominent certain characters used to be. Red was a central presence in early seasons and Kate Mulgrew earned an Emmy nomination for season one. She was also a major player in the riot season as Piscatella came for her, and since then, she’s faded a bit into the background. It was incredible to see the difference in her energy level and vivaciousness with the flashback in this episode to a moment in her history where she was much more in charge of her own fate, but still helpless to protect someone who she saw as innocent. Finding him dead in a bag in the freezer was reminiscent of a similarly chilling moment from the third season of “Boardwalk Empire,” and obviously that development haunted her enough to fill her with regret even to the present day. Now she’s going to hold it against Nicky that she made sure her letter got where it needed to but betrayed her trust in the process, and she won’t be open to any review of her mental capacity that is evidently necessary. It’s good to see Suzanne in a great place with the chickens she’s now supervising – a project that Alvarez also seems to enjoy – and that Taystee is finding purpose in tutoring an occasionally cooperative Pennsatucky. Hopper and Daya are navigating difficult situations with Aleida returning to prison, and Gloria has to be very careful not to get herself into trouble as a result of her newfound savior role. Ending this episode with Alex going all in with McCullough while Piper held back with Zelda, played by Alicia Witt from “Justified,” was intriguing, since, while there are obviously more serious matters at play right now, this show has always been about what prison does to people and affects their relationships.

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