“Comic Sans,” the seventh episode of Orange Is the New Black, puts us at the halfway point of Season 2. This is where I expected things to really heat up, but it’s actually a quieter episode, one that continues to touch on the brewing war between Vee and Red (and their respective smuggling businesses), albeit without any grand reveals. The episode also focuses on Black Cindy’s story, which is necessary, but it feels a bit lackluster.
In Litchfield, Vee’s cigarette enterprise is in full swing, and Cindy is helping her (even though Vee is taking “like, 90 percent” of the profits), but she’s not too good at it. She’s also having trouble with the guards; she gets busted for being late for count before she’s even technically late (meanwhile, White Cindy gets off scot-free) and is a victim of the newly instated shot quota. But her life there isn’t all bad. She’s enjoying her new power as part of the cigarette brigade and gets Angie to clean her bunk in exchange for a cigarette. “Karma wise, your people had this coming,” she says, in one of the best lines of the season so far.
As for her backstory, Cindy previously worked as a TSA agent in an airport where she both enjoyed and abused her power. If nothing else, I’m glad we got a scene featuring Cindy gleefully driving a golf cart, swiping candy bars and water. She steals expensive items from flyers’ luggage — like an iPad, which she gives to her younger sister— and lingers a little too long while patting down attractive guys. She’s selfish and irresponsible, leaving her sister locked in the car while she goes to get high with old friends. And while she’s being lectured by her mother, it’s revealed that Cindy’s sister is actually her nine-year-old daughter, but they’ve been keeping it a secret from the young girl. It’s not the most shocking twist Orange has ever done, and honestly, Cindy’s entire story isn’t too engaging, but it’s better than nothing, which is what we previously knew about her.
As for her current story, when she fails to collect the stamps from the cigarettes, Vee lectures Cindy on her life. According to Vee, Cindy has no responsibility or plans for the future (and she’s not locked up forever, right? Likely, she’s in for theft), so what is she going to do when she gets out? She needs to build something. Vee digs deep into Cindy’s insecurities — “You’re a loser,” she says plainly — and it strikes a chord because Cindy goes back to Vee the next day, agreeing to take her medicine.
What Cindy’s small arc is best at is providing a contrast between her and the Golden Girls. They’ve been locked up forever and will die in prison — well, except for Jimmy, the inmate who escaped during the last episode and is losing her mind more and more with age. This time, she takes a dive off the chapel stage. She’s not going to die in prison, though, as Litchfield decides to give her a “compassionate release” which is anything but compassionate. She has nowhere to go and will surely die on the street.
Cliff notes on the non-Cindy happenings:
- Piper meets with the reporter to help out with his story; she complains about not getting furlough and he reminds her that some prisoners are starving or getting raped. He becomes the umpteenth person to put self-absorbed Piper in her place.
- Red’s business is also booming which means some shit is about to go down.
- Bennett’s being blackmailed by the Hispanic prisoners a but more importantly we learn that he listens to Fleet Foxes because of course Bennett listens to Fleet Foxes.
- Susan is under pressure to be a tougher guard and she gives a shot to poor Sister Ingalls for sneaking out food.
- Susan also finds out about Daya’s pregnancy but doesn’t tell anyone.
Episode 208 — “Appropriately Sized Pots”
Rosa! There’s a flashback that I didn’t know I wanted until it happened. It was definitely more compelling than Cindy’s. First, we learn that Rosa’s going to die very soon — there is no way the state will pay for the procedure she needs — and in the hospital, she bonds with a younger kid, planning “one last heist.” Stealing a wallet from someone in the hospital isn’t as exciting as her past — as a bank robber! — but it’s the small things that inmates cling to.
Anyway, her backstory is interesting and sad. In the ’70s, Rosa was in her prime and robbing banks but she believes that she’s cursed, or maybe it’s shitty karma, because bad things keep happening to the men around her. Her husband dies after catching a bullet in one heist, then her second husband has a heart attack right after that heist. During one impulsive heist (immediately after another heist), Rosa ditches her boyfriend to go alone and is caught.
In the hospital, Rosa and her new young friend complete their “heist” and snag the wallet. The teen’s cancer is in remission and Rosa’s happy for him, but it’s just another reminder that hers isn’t. It’s also a reminder that she’s going to die, very soon, and she’s going to die in jail. “I’ve always pictured myself going out in a blaze of glory,” she laments. She continues on saying that the death path she’s on now — “disappearing into nothing” — is terrifying. Before she drifts off to sleep, she pulls out the money from her shirt that she stole and inhales deeply, having missed the smell of money. It’s strange and beautiful and sad at the same time, and an example of what Orange Is the New Black does best.
Cliff notes on the non-Rosa happenings:
- Piper is granted furlough and the other inmates, predictably, are jealous and pissed off. No one has gotten furlough except for Piper, even when they had more dire circumstances. Piper tries to give back the furlough because she’s worried she’s become a target but Healy refuses.
- Fig is cracking down hard on all the prison guards which means so is Caputo, especially when it comes to Susan (and especially because she’s dating Luschek). She’s the weakest of the guards, too nice to work in a prison, and when she tries to stand up to Caputo, he fires her. At least we got a nice scene when her and Nicky. “Getting canned from this soul-sucking pit is the best thing that ever happened to you,” Nicky says.
- Vee stalks down Gloria, intent to find out what’s the deal with Red’s contraband business. Caputo has also raided Red’s greenhouse to find out how she’s been sneaking in items but Red’s one step ahead, having stored them in the kitchen.
- Piper calls her mother to tell her about furlough but learns her grandmother has already died.
- Pornstache is back! And the episode ends with “Bitchin’ Camaro” which more than makes up for that “Hey There, Delilah” use earlier this season.