Orange Is the New Black, Season 2, Episode 7: “Comic Sans”
Written by Sara Hess
Directed by Andrew McCarthy
Released Friday, June 6 on Netflix Instant
This is a show with a future. Season 3 has already been ordered, and one has to imagine there will be even more after that. As such, a lot of the structural problems mentioned previously might not be as serious as they have seemed—instead it could have just been a case of, like Vee puts it, the grasshopper and the ant. The ant knows a future is coming, while the grasshopper is a “loser” living only for today. In that sense, Orange Is the New Black is doing a good job, which is finally paying off for us. While it was a slog to just hear about upcoming contraband businesses (we have three of them going on right now if you count Bennett’s leg—three!), it’s satisfying to finally see them in action all together. Like prison hooch, this stuff was slow to ferment, but it is ever-so-drinkable now that it’s here.
Especially if we’re talking about Vee’s plan. The cigarettes revealed in the beginning felt banal at first, but its impact is sharply explored. People who don’t even smoke want the cigarettes, because it works so much like money for those who are addicted. Additionally, Vee is right; it commands respect. The thing everybody wants to pull off, the black girls were able to do. The scheme is hardly grand, but it is effective, not to mention also provides a nice hierarchy of labor, as there are the sellers, and then there is maintenance.
Black Cindy being a rebel and in the end falling in line on that maintenance side is a nicely pertinent story for this episode to tell, as well. After all, we get why Taystee and Suzanne follow Vee, and we get why Poussey doesn’t (well, until now), but it’s smart to flesh out some of the other black girls motives in this endeavor, too, instead of treating them like the extras who fall in line just because.
Not to mention, Black Cindy’s back story is downright hilarious, and is the most I have laughed in this season thus far. A TSA agent rampantly abusive of their power is an insanely perfect joke for an inmate who has to now get on the ground for doing nothing wrong, and the delight in Adrienne C. Moore’s performance is as electric as a gum wrapper and a battery. For a character who started off as kind of a Taystee-D-Lite replacement for when Taystee was released, Moore has officially now busted out in her own right, with absurd lines to help her along the way (“Hey, so what’d you end up doing with all them light bulbs?”). The dramatic scene of her wanting to take her daughter back from her mother was also played with the proper bull-headed ferocity of someone pretending to be an adult before they’re ready, and the writing thankfully steered clear of playing the maudlin card of her daughter finding out the truth.
There were other good parts to this episode, too, but some of those other scenes slipped more into the “welcome, I think…?” category, rather than completely understandable. For instance, take Daya. She seemed to exist in two different worlds here. On the one hand shyly drawing cute cartoons for Piper’s newsletter, on the other suddenly shouting out revelations to Bennett that we never even saw pass through her mind before: he should’ve worn a condom; he has all the rights, and she has none. It is exhilarating stuff to see her get so angry and push him, just not very grounded in her character. The word “rape” was thrown around in reference to their sex before and in this episode, but never by Daya herself. Is this a change that will stick, or just another mood swing?
And biggest entry in the WTF category falls Fig and her husband being—of all things—the good guys! Where in the world did that come from? It’s a crazy twist, and fun to think about, but can it even be remotely plausible? Fig was completely corrupt in her actions last season when she looked the other way about the drugs coming into the prison, paying off Bennett to keep his mouth shut. Can they really be playing the same game Poussey will now be playing with Vee, of keeping their enemies close? With Cavanaugh’s tragic “compassionate release” at the end of the episode, and Fig’s voicing of a broken system, it’s certainly something to hope for. As we know, as much as we might not see them, the world is definitely full of ants.