Gloria takes center stage in “Low Self-Esteem City,” both in and out of the prison. Admittedly, Gloria isn’t a character that I’ve thought too much about; I liked her in Season 1 (as I’ve liked all the inmates in Season 1) but there wasn’t much character development to love. She’s become a clearer character since the beginning of this season, with the motherly relationship she has with Daya (and the light rivalry with Daya’s real mother Aleida). “Low Self-Esteem City” finally tells Gloria’s story.
She’s a mother, as we all knew, and is in an abusive relationship with a man who hits her, begs for her forgiveness, and is allowed back into her life. The final straw is when Arturo hits her son and Gloria is adamant about leaving him. At the same time, she’s been duping the government by trading customers’ food stamps for money. For a bit, I thought this would be a bait-and-switch (much like Morello’s story was) and her actual crime would be murdering her boyfriend in self-defense or something. But I was wrong — just as she has enough money saved up to go, the cops arrest her. (Arturo, it should be noted, doesn’t get away scot-free. He sneaks back into the store to steal Gloria’s money but accidentally locks himself in a room with lit candles and burns to death.)
In the prison, Orange Is the New Black continues to build tension between the prisoners, particularly between the blacks and hispanics. Gloria is now the leader of the Spanish Harlem and when the showers become literally filled with shit, they all go shower in the Ghetto, much to the annoyance of the black inmates. Gloria’s trying to step in the leadership role and Red’s kitchen role with mixed results. She thinks she has won when she confronts Vee in the bathroom but Vee was faking the tears and has been manipulating Gloria from the beginning. Vee’s been playing everyone; she has a master plan that somehow involves giving up the bathrooms in exchange for trading Taystee and Watson into custodial. No one is happy except for Vee and that can’t be good.
Cliff Notes for the non-Gloria happenings
- Big Boo and Nicky are having a good ol’ fashioned “bang-off” and competing to get the most points by sleeping with other inmates. Nicky, however, has her sights on the female prison guard Susan who quickly (obviously) rejects her advances. Nicky is a classic addict; without the drugs, she’s now become addicted to sex.
- Caputo plays in a band called Sideboob and it’s amazing and Healy immediately becomes their biggest fan.
- Cal and Piper’s mother visit her and through an equally funny and sad guessing game, Piper learns that her grandmother is dying. She asks Healy for furlough and he eventually, reluctantly, agrees to put in a request for her. She is granted furlough which is nice but also means she has to see Larry.
- At one point, Red says “Fuck Clive Owen.”
Episode 206 — “You Also Have A Pizza”
It’s Valentine’s Day at Litchfield and all of the inmates are discussing what love is to them but, more importantly, it’s Poussey’s episode! She’s yet another character that I spent all of last season patiently waiting to know more about. I was rewarded with a great and a heart-wrenching hour of television. Poussey’s idea of love is “not even wanting to go to sleep ’cause then you might be without ’em for a minute. And you don’t want that.” And just like that, we all fall in love with Poussey. Her backstory is devastating (and Orange commits its most egregious crime: the use of Plain White T’s “Hey There Delilah” which has been stuck in my head for over a week).
In the flashback, Poussey has finally settled down in Germany after being moved around due to her father’s military work. In Germany, she’s in a sweet relationship with another woman but when her girlfriend’s father catches them having sex, he clearly disapproves and ships the Washingtons back to the states. Poussey first picks a fight with her girlfriend, denying her true feelings, but then later confronts the girlfriend’s father. She’s about to pull out a gun on him (holy shit!) but is stopped by her own father.
In prison, Poussey and Taystee continue to have a strained relationship especially now that Vee removed Taystee from the library and placed her into custodial duty. Poussey confronts Vee about making sure Taystee doesn’t get in any trouble and Vee coldly, harshly replies that Taystee will never love Poussey the way that she wants her to. Later, Poussey learns of Vee’s plan through Taystee — she has snuck in tobacco and will sell cigarettes — and is getting increasingly worried about Vee and Taystee’s relationship.
Cliff Notes for the non-Poussey happenings:
- Bennett’s being blackmailed by most of the girls in Spanish Harlem who are requesting contraband brought in through his false leg — or “Sleepy Hollow,” as Aleida crassly nicknames it.
- Larry and Piper are still doing the annoying dance about their relationship with no real resolve. He tells her about the reporter’s idea for an article and asks her to help investigate and expose the place. Larry then kisses Polly, Piper’s best friend. I’m so done with Larry.
- Red’s now has a working way to sneak in contraband and begins to do just that, handing out candy and tea like a Russian Santa.
- Caputo still has a crush on Susan Fischer and invites her to see Sideboob as a casual Valentine’s Day thing but she brings along Luschek and the other guards.
- An older, senile inmate is wandering around trying to find her husband when she wanders completely off prison grounds and into the bar where Sideboob is playing.
- Pennsatucky has a falling out with her old crew and finds solace in Healy, sharing a cookie and giving him a grateful hug.