The latest season of Orange is the New Black is the best one so far, hands down.
Nuanced, intelligent and utterly captivating, this season focuses less on Piper and her coterie of ladies, and focuses more on the grown racial discord among the prisoners.
It also contains a particularly upsetting death rendered all the more tragic by its societal relevance beyond the walls of Litchfield…
But it’s not all heartbreak! So, here are some of the funniest moments from Season 4.
Piper inadvertently becomes the head of a White Power prison gang
The end of Season 3 saw perennial sour-puss Piper heartlessly sacrifice her tattooed Aussie sheila in the name of cementing her rep as number one knicker-sewing king pin (or in prison parlance, the HBIC). But, Bea from Prisoner Cell Block H she ain’t, and no amount of surly Hawaiian muscle can disguise it.
When she attempts to rally the white ladies in the face of the new Latino prison majority, she inadvertently kick-starts a White Power movement (“White Lives Matter!”) The lack of overt gang affiliations up to this point (Litchfield’s inmates group themselves among racial lines broadly, but no ‘name brand’ gangs are evident) has always seemed kind of a strange omission for a prison drama.
Piper quickly learns that race-hate isn’t an easily-wielded weapon and before long she’s smoking crack and getting branded with a swastika. (Bonus points go Ruiz for pointing out that direction of the swastika is important.)
The look on Piper’s face – imminently punchable in its smugness at the best of times – as the meeting careens away from her is priceless.
Judy King gets King-ky with Yoga Jones and Luschek
I suppose I should’ve seen where it was going when the polyamorous Martha Stewart-ish cookery guru stockpiled a few pills (of Molly, which is what American’s call MDMA, for some reason) ahead of a prison-wide lock-down in episode 11.
King, who has already made apathetic slacker guard Luschek her unwilling portly paramour, really embraces the lawless vibe. When some serotin-induced reassurance (“For your ages you’re both beautiful women!”) turns to sloppy smooching things get, well, weird. It’s a big ol’ slacker-hippy-polyamorist sandwich.
“Two Beards, Actually….”
This season’s hard-assed captain of the prison guards is man-mountain and Zangief from Street Fighter look-alike, Piscatella. And he’s as gay as he is a harsh disciplinarian, outing himself to Piper in the most hilarious way possible after she flirtily compliments his beard. “I’ve had a beard since tenth grade. Two beards, actually. The one on my face, and the one I took to junior prom,” he tells a sort-of shocked Piper.
“Yeah, I like dudes.” And just so she gets the message: “I will never find you adorable. Keep that in mind.”
(Also: his put-down game is on point, like when he asked Luschek how he ended up working in a prison when he “so clearly belongs in a Game Stop”. Classic!)
Sister Ingalls punches Mendoza
Sister Ingalls (star of one of my favourite sight gags of last season when the viewers are shown a copy of her autobiography titled: Nun Shall Pass) is desperate to check in on poor, forgotten Sophia in the SHU. When a distraught Ingalls tells Mendoza that, as a peaceful activist, she has no idea how to get thrown into lock-up, Mendoza urges her to think of the greater good.
So, she punches a stunned, but impressed, Mendoza in the face before uttering a hilarious, though less-than convincing, parting shot: “And I’d do it again…Latino!”
Palestine VS Israel
Recent convert to Judaism Black Cindy is less than thrilled to be paired with Muslim Alison Abdullah (whom she calls ‘Scarfy’) in episode 2. Soon, a squabble over whether Abdullah can leave her prison issue Crocs on the floor of the dorm prompts Litchfield’s very own odd-couple to engage in one of the funniest exchanges of the series.
When Cindy (who took the name Tova after converting to Judaism at the end of the last season) tells Alison “Oh, you and Tova got beef now,” Alison responds: “First of all your name ain’t Tova…black people been naming their kids some crazy shit, but Tova ain’t on the list.
“Unless the ‘V’ is like a five or something.”
Happily, all’s well that ends well between Abdullah and Tova and the pair eventually bond over their shared dislike of Scientology. Go figure.
Seasons 1-4 of Orange is the New Black are available on Netflix.
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