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‘Orange Is the New Black’ Season 2 Episode 1 Recap: “Thirsty Bird”

orange is the new black

Last time we saw her, Piper was beating the shit out of Christian fundamentalist and all-around psychopath Tiffany “Pennsatucky” Doggett. While Pennsatucky’s fate is still left up in the air, we immediately find out what happened to Piper: she’s in solitary confinement. The experience has definitely messed with her head since she’s now using food to create “art” on the walls. She calls her work “Thirsty Bird.”

Flashback

A younger Piper is shown as somebody who was safety-conscious and very diligent about following the rules, listening to her parents, and generally doing the “right” thing. She refuses to leap off the bus, a tradition at her school, because she doesn’t want to get in trouble or get hurt even though it’s going at 5 miles per hour. She even has anxiety over going to see a R-rated movie, Dazed and Confused.

That all changes when, one day, she sees her dad kissing another woman and then getting into a car with her. When she tells her mom about what she saw, her mom goes into denial-mode and instead grounds Piper for going to see a R-rated movie. Piper tries to make sense of the situation with her grandmother, who tells her that sometimes you have to lie to people in order to spare their feelings.

Present

The prison guard lets Piper know that she’s going on a little trip. Piper is distraught because no one will tell her what’s going on. Instead, she’s put on a bus and then an airplane headed for Chicago. In the airplane, she meets other inmates. She tearfully confides in one of them, Lolly (Lori Petty), about what she did to Pennsatucky. Piper is horrified at her actions and fears she might be a killer.

In Chicago, Piper makes a bad first impression with her cellmates when she steps on their pet cockroach. Angry, her cell mates explain that they’ve trained the cockroaches to travel around the prison delivering cigarettes and whatever paraphernalia they can fit on their tiny cockroach bodies. They demand that Piper find a replacement cockroach with the exact right measurements so they can continue their money-making operation.

Her cell mates include a woman named Mazall (Rebecca Drysdale) who is obsessed with finding out everyone’s horoscopes. She badgers Piper about her time of birth so she can determine whether or not Piper would make a good sexual partner. Piper feigns ignorance until one night when she wakes up to find Mazall lying on top of her and licking her face.

In the prison yard, Piper makes some “friends.” Unfortunately, her new “friends” take an immediate disliking to Lolly and a fight ensues in the prison yard. Piper watches horrified as Lolly, who reaches out to Piper for help, gets brutally beat up.

As everyone is being led back inside, Piper notices Alex from across the yard being led to a different unit.

In order to deliver a note to Alex, Piper agrees to give her panties to a male inmate she met on the plane. She’s relieved to find out he’s a “only” a hitman, not a rapist.

When the two women reunite, Piper is relieved to find out that Pensatucky is alive. Alex also explains that the reason both of them are in Chicago is because they’ve been called to testify against Alex’s ex-drug boss, Kubra. Piper is glad that her stay in Chicago is only temporary, but not so glad when Alex pleads with her to lie about knowing Kubra. Piper isn’t comfortable with lying under oath but Alex thinks Kubra will want revenge and this is the only way they can protect themselves.

Piper meets with Larry’s dad, who’s agreed to be her lawyer. Piper is conflicted about what to do, even though Larry’s dad insists that Piper has to tell the truth. She recalls her childhood, which was full of her family telling lies to one another.

Back in her cell, Piper manages to sneak in a new cockroach but her cell mates aren’t impressed after they do the measurements. Piper is pissed.

Later on, when she gets on the stand, Piper tells the prosecutor that she doesn’t recall ever meeting Kubra. When pressed, Piper explains that Alex was the love of her life and she only ever paid attention to her. Larry’s dad is disappointed, knowing that the reason Piper lied was to protect Alex.

In a flashback, we see Piper and Alex hanging out with Kubra and Piper calling her dad on his birthday, only to lie about where she is and what she’s doing.

Back in the present, Piper is waiting in the holding cell when Alex comes out wearing her regular, civilian clothes. Turns out Alex didn’t even take her own advice. She ended up telling the truth, so now she’s getting released and leaving Piper in the dust. Piper is furious and screams at her as Alex is being led away. “What the fuck did you do, Alex?!”

Piper looks down and sees a cockroach with a cigarette on its back crawl into her cell.

Rating: A-

Verdict

An episode that only features Piper and Alex would have been annoying if I had to wait a whole week for the next one. But since this is Netflix and they dump all their episodes on the Internet in one go, I don’t have to worry about that!

With Alex being released from prison, I’m guessing this is Laura Prepon’s exit from the show. For now, anyway. I’m sure we’ll see Alex again but her character was never one of my favorites to begin with, so I can’t say I’ll miss her. Piper, however, has definitely grown on me, as long as she’s not sharing scenes with Larry or Alex.

The flashbacks were a little pointless but, all in all, I’d say this was a solid beginning to season 2.

Memorable Quotes

Piper: Gun?
Inmate:
My girl know him from the outside. He kill people for money.
Piper:
He’s a hitman?
Inmate: Mm-hmm.
Piper: Oh, I thought he was a rapist. I’m so relieved.