Orange Is the New Black, Season 2, Episode 4: “A Whole Other Hole”
Written by Sian Heder
Directed by Phil Abraham
Released Friday, June 6 on Netflix Instant
In prison stories, or more accurately, any stories about trapped people, there is often that one character who is completely deluded about their situation. They’re going to be home before they know it, they say, and spend their time not so much worrying about how to get out of the mess they are in, but what they are going to pick up for dinner when it will inevitably resolve. It’s a fun pathology note to play that shows the fragility of the human mind, adds some humor, and acts as a warning for the hero to keep their eyes open and wits straight.
Lorna is a complex character because in one sense she fulfills that classic delusional role Orange is the New Black needs, but in another sense, she is shown to be very level-headed with a lot of utility and heart. It is nice to see some nuance, since this is a show that trades in such, but at the same time is a little bit hard to parse out. The actress is delightful, the accent is genius (especially considering Yael Stone is an Australian), but is the package believable as a whole? Much like Taystee finding out more about her female anatomy, it leaves me wondering, what else don’t I know?
Still, feelings of instability aside, it’s at least a clever story to reveal Lorna as a stalker, and hangs a lantern on the more subtle theme of duality mentioned previously, where we love these characters on screen, but would definitely want to stay away from most of them in real life. It is wonderful that they went so far as to reveal that she even put an explosive under her target’s girlfriend’s car. This is a very sick woman that we had no idea we were watching, with all of her sweetness, kissing of cross necklaces, and dream boards. Yet, at the same time, we can’t totally write her off once we find out about her, either. She’s one of the most helpful people in the prison (at least to the other white people, red flag), had a clearly unusual home life with an apparently bed-ridden mother, and is a product of a culture that sells women fairy tales, telling them that their prince will come.
This is also, though, why I’m surprised Piper doesn’t have a bigger role in this episode, since I consider Lorna and Piper somewhat twinned storywise, and think they could’ve done more parallelism work for a meaningful episode. After all, while Lorna came into prison with a fake fiancé, Piper came in with a real one, complete with a meet-cute and the romantic comedy love-story-life trappings Lorna yearns for. There was some Larry talk this episode, in a nice scene between Piper and Red, now roommates, but it didn’t fulfill its potential for total resonance. It was more connected to Red’s storyline of selfishness and forgiveness. Similarly, Larry and Polly are on their way to their own romantic comedy story, but it feels more like just something that is happening because we have these actors left over from last season, and not because it is unified with the main story with much depth. Although, I did love how the old lady saw what she wanted to see with the pair—a beautiful, happy married couple—and Larry and Polly gave her exactly that. All that was missing was the old woman wearing Lorna’s red lipstick.
Perhaps that wouldn’t have been necessary, though, if this episode featured tighter scenes and writing, as I am only able to be making a lot of these connections after the fact. None were really apparent at the time, and instead, so many minutes and goodwill were used up with three long scenes all about women’s pee-holes. Now, this is definitely a fun joke that these women have no idea what they’re working with down there, but with Netflix’s lack of time constraints, it simply gets beaten to death. This is also bad because, with the time devoted to it, it comes off like some major plot point or something, and once again is a missed opportunity to treat an element as an underline to Lorna’s story of denial and naiveté.
One scene that was definitely economic and powerful, however, was the moment between Taystee and Poussey (Taystee… Poussey… wow, just got that). Here are two women looking for intimacy, but both have to make compromises when what they really want isn’t available—Poussey with Taystee, Taystee with a man. So, they cuddle. It’s cute, but sad, especially for Poussey who seems to have real feelings. Although, with her good attitude, nothing she won’t be able to get over with time.
It’s telling that increasingly villainous Vee thinks low of their whole situation and intervenes. “Gay-for-the-stay is for punk ass bitches,” she says, conveniently, after Poussey has turned her down for a hooch business. But, is compromising really so terrible? Like Red says, prison isn’t like outside life. You need to do things differently to survive. After all, the delusional ones in the type of movies I mentioned in the top of my review? They are usually among the first to die. This isn’t a slasher-film by any means, but there are dark events, if we remember Miller’s gruesome fate last season. By episode’s end, unchanged Lorna and too-changed Taystee don’t look long for very happy endings themselves.