‘Orange is the New Black’ season 4 episode 5 review: Maritza’s past finally revealed; Piper throws the Latinas to the sharks
This season of “Orange is the New Black” is headed into deep political waters, and we commend the show for having its finger on the pulse of American culture and current events. When you realize the show was filmed one year ago, their prescience becomes even more compelling. They’re writing the story we see playing out nightly on cable news before it’s even happening. The tensions among the whites, blacks, and Latinas in Litchfield have long been simmering, but with the arrival of 100 new inmates and a completely new staff, things are escalating quickly.
Episode 5, titled “We’ll Always Have Baltimore,” leads out with a very long line for personal supplies. There are no tampons available outside commissary, but when you make 10 cents an hour and one box costs 10 dollars, you’re in trouble. Caputo is on a road trip with Linda to a convention. She is very cold and emotionless, always thinking in terms of dollar signs and power. She fires every assistant she has every three months. 29 and counting. Especially if they’re good. Caputo seems fascinated by her, as she lacks the self-consciousness and conscience that he is often consumed by. Taystee calls from prison with a mundane question about files, and Caputo lets her know she is on her own until he gets back unless it’s essential. She stays busy thumbing through tabloids, and spots a story of Judy King with photos in the prison garden. The drones! Piscitella is angry about obscene graffiti on the walls, and says it’s a gateway to prison gangs unless they get on top of the behavior now. A fight breaks out down the hall among the Latinas as Piper walks past, and the lightbulb goes off in her head. She has just stumbled upon another situation that she can completely take advantage of for personal gain, consequences be damned.
Maritza is in the van driving the new guards and Coates as they discuss their party lifestyle plans. Coates, the guard who sexually assaulted Pensatucky, is the moral voice of reason in the van. We have a sick feeling that this is not accidentally noted. Is it possible that Coates is the least dangerous? It makes Maritza look even smaller and more like prey, with her big doe eyes. When she embarrasses the big guard with the beard when he tries to humiliate her and the guards laugh at him, we are frightened for her safety, just like Pensatucky has been. He doesn’t seem to have a sense of humor about it. We are thrilled to see the backstory is Maritza’s, as she has often stood out and in a cast this size, that is impressive. She is a cocktail server at a hopping club, and she looks amazing. She fills up an expensive bottle with water instead of liquor, a co-worker noticing and warning her to be careful. She plays dumb, we think. It’s hard to tell with her where the act ends and begins, and is one reason we notice her. As she approaches the table of men, she knocks the bottle to the floor, smashing it, and immediately panics and cries. The men comfort her and offer to pitch in to cover it, to save her from getting in trouble. One of the men has his eye on her, and seems to wonder the same thing we are. As she counts her profits he approaches her from behind and says she needs to just go straight to using sex as her con, not pity. After threatening to tell her boss, she comes clean. We suspect he will be her new boss soon.
Morello and Crazy Eyes are on janitorial duty in the bathroom talking about how much better sex is when you love the person. They both wish they knew a love like that, and the longing in Suzanne’s eyes breaks our hearts a little bit. Watching Morello with her is really touching, as she listens to Suzanne and validates her. These scenes between them work really well, and we love their friendship. An awkward conversation about Suzanne’s parents teaching her about sex makes us wonder when we will learn why she is at Litchfield, and if this is related to it. Before it gets too heavy, Morello notices a turd in the shower. “Shower Pooper” is what they have deemed the mystery fecal ninja, so they decide to team up to catch the suspect. We are excited about the comic potential for this storyline, disgusting as it may be.
Back at CorrectiCon in Baltimore, Caputo and Linda have arrived. It’s a grotesque display of smiling corrections bigwigs clamoring to snatch up the hot new prison attire, or gun, or cage. Caputo is like a kid in a candy store, but Linda reminds him there is no budget. Over at the laser gun demonstration, Linda steals the show — and a man’s balls — to wild applause from onlookers. Kip Carnigan approaches Linda, who is enamored with his presence. She explains that he is the face of corrections in America. They even have celebrities in this circle. Caputo looks at him with half admiration and half envy. Linda introduces Caputo as the next Kip, irritating Kip and boosting Caputo’s ego. Taystee is back at prison trying to hack into Caputo’s laptop by guessing his password. Piscitella interrupts her and wonders if she is authorized to be on it. She dodges the bullet and figures out the password. E-Freedom. Maria has a problem in her panty startup to compete with Piper. They have the girls, and the goods, but no way to transport it. They toss out outlandish ideas and Maritza tries to quietly make a suggestion, but is ignored. Eventually they notice her. She has a van. A way out. We again head back in time. Maritza, who looks like Selena Gomez to us in the flashbacks, is casing a car dealership with the guy from the club who caught her scamming. He’s teaching her how to be a mark for old, rich men looking to test drive an expensive car. She again blurts out something ditzy, and we think this probably is not much of an act.
Black Cindy bought a coveted box of tampons, but refuses to share with Alison. They again take religious shots at one another, which have so far only managed to slightly offend the other. We feel it is only a matter of time before it escalates into something else. Piper makes her move and approaches Piscitella with her flirty, sweet manipulative suggestion that the Latinas are a gang, knowing this will put them under a microscope thereby ruining their business. Piscitella takes the bait, and suggests she organize a group of anti-gang inmates, but not before letting her know her flirting will go nowhere with him. Hes gay.
Caputo is inspired by Kip’s speech about how to make the prisoners lives full at CorrectiCon while Taystee is googling all of the other inmates. She finds Caputo’s band, Side Boob, and is not impressed. She settles on cute animal videos. Morello and Crazy Eyes are back in Cagney & Lacey mode, and run into Maureen in the showers. Morello suggests maybe it’s her doing the phantom pooping. We have our first suspect. The guards are frisking all the Latinas because of Piper’s intel, Gloria even being subjected to a cavity search for no reason. Caputo might be a scumbag most of the time, but he does care, which is once again apparent in his conversation with Linda at a bar about making the girls’ lives feel full. Linda is nervous about her panel discussion, but Caputo charms her and they share a moment. The new girls ask Cindy to buy one of her precious tampons, but she wants to charge five bucks each. They try to barter, but she wants the cash only. After having called them out for making stereotypical comments about Jewish people and money, she make one herself and points out that it’s ok since she said it. Alison heads into the stall and pulls out….a cell phone! She is texting her child. Piper has become Piscitella’s pet, and she is savoring it. He blows off Gloria’s complaint about the Latina profiling.
Maritza and Flaca sneak the panties into the van. Maritza’s plan seems pretty risky, and only allows a ten minute window assuming all the other factors fall into place. A crimp in plans occurs when Coates is replaced as her driving partner with the new female guard. We see Maritza again in the past, ready to follow through on her big deal scam of stealing a luxury vehicle. She manages to convince a man that she is a saleswoman and she gets his license to acquire the keys to the Grand Cabrio by posing as his wife. So far, so good. Just as they’re about to drive off, the male salesman slides in the backseat. She’s trapped. Morello spots Taystee squatting and interrogates her, sounding like she’s lost her mind. As soon as Morello is out, Taystee is back online searching how much money she can earn selling photos of Judy. Linda is in Baltimore speaking at the panel when she is interrupted by a heckler, who turns out to be Danny Pearson, former Warden at Litchfield! He protests the monetization of people, even bringing up Sophia being in the SHU for doing absolutely nothing wrong. He stands up and continues, imploring them to think of the people and to visit his website DannyTalksTruth.com. Caputo gets up and scuffles with the guards, and he and Danny are both removed.
Maritza is scared that the female guard has no intention of joining the male guards partying. She finds an excuse to get the guard out of the way briefly so the pickup can happen. We are back on the test drive, where Maritza is trying desperately to conceal the truth. It’s a hilarious conversation, and she almost pulls it off. When it becomes clear she can’t talk her way out of it, she pretends to need to vomit, so they pull over. She waits for them to come out and check on her, and makes a mad dash back to the car, speeding away as the salesman wonders how he intends to pay for it. Piper is taping signs to the porta-potties about her new anti-gang task force, and attracts the attention of the blonde girl the Latinas jumped after the stairwell incident with Blanca. Soso and Poussey are in love, giddy. They spot Aleida studying in the library, and Soso attempts to tutor her in math. The guards are hanging out being cavemen in the new quarters. They remind us of a pack of frat boys gone bad. We think there is a possibility they will do something awful together before the season’s end. Maritza’s friend grabs the panties, but the guards walk out and catch him. Maritza saves the day by approaching him like he is the groundskeeper. They accept this explanation, but one of the guards notices what she did. He will have his eye on her. Caputo and Danny are being held at the convention, and he warns Caputo about Linda by calling her Satan. Caputo thinks he is in trouble, but his defending her honor has instead turned her on completely. Piper’s Anti-Gang Club has come to order and she relishes in this position and the power and attention she garners. She doesn’t believe a word of what she’s saying, but they’re all buying what she’s selling. She has rallied and inspired them. The message they heard was…White Pride. They begin to chant White Lives Matter after disparaging all the other ethnic groups, and Piper realizes to her horror that she has just become leader of the white power club.
We love this episode. As always, the issues they address are on point, and pushes the narrative of the story in clever and amusing ways. We can’t wait to see how Piper will deal with this situation, and the target she had on her back just got bigger. We loved learning about Maritza, and realizing that she really is a smart girl with some bad luck and bad choices. Now that she has managed to get the panties off the lot, we wonder how she will handle it next time. The rabid wolf pack of guards have been circling the women since they arrived, and we dread what the end result will be. It’s just gotten a little darker. Grade: A+.
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This review was written by Michelle Wilmot and if you’re not already following her on Twitter, you can do so at the link here. (Photo: Netflix)