Orange is the New Black: Season 1 Episode 2, “Tit Punch”

The episode is named after what got Red (Kate Mulgrew, very clearly not playing Captain Janeway) sent to prison, so that’s our flashback story. Basically, her husband tried to get her to ingratiate herself with the popular girls, but that’s just not how she’s cut out. So they rejected her and were mean to her and she shoved one of them, which is exactly how it usually plays out in high school except in this case, the woman she shoved had breast implants and she popped one of them. So it was more shit luck than anything, because even though she shouldn’t have lost her temper, no one would have seen that coming. Anyway, to get back in with the popular crowd, her husband agrees to let them use their restaurant freezer to store bodies.

Meanwhile, Piper is still starving. Luckily for her, she does not get hangry so she can take a couple days to figure this out. First, she tries to get sent to another prison so she can start again, but when she realizes she can’t make a formal request without getting someone else in trouble and the first rule of prison life is “snitches get stitches,” she decides to go a different route.

There’s an orientation in which some of the inmates have the orange scrubs that identify them as newbies and some have the khaki ones that mean they’ve been there at least a week and this confuses me. There’s a video from the early ’90’s demonstrating laughable amenities available to them, as if it’s a retreat, followed by a series of speakers demonstrating all of the “don’t’s”: don’t use weapons, don’t commit suicide, don’t talk to me. Piper also gets “don’t eat,” which actually seems moderately better than feeding her used tampons, but I had a full dinner tonight so I guess I can’t judge. She decides to just sincerely apologize, but everyone else gives her the look like, “yeah, what you did might not have been that bad, but all we have in here is grudges so we hold onto them.”

One of the other inmates lets the counselor in on why Piper asked to change prisons in exchange for candy, but he doesn’t do anything with that information so I’m not sure what that scene’s for. If they just needed to recap the pilot they could have added a couple more obvious lines into the lunch scene and saved themselves a set. Piper tries to deliver her sincere apology, but Red flat-out tells her that apologies come with gifts, not words. She says this while complaining about her back and getting her legs shaved by a lackey, so that’s all the information Piper has to work with to craft her next sincere apology.

Piper walks by a fight over an ice cream cone, which is on the floor, but she still has too much pride to try to eat it off the floor. The other women in Piper’s bunk give her advice, but since it generally boils down to “get cancer,” there’s not much she can do with it. Oh, there’s another flashback plotline! Piper and Larry (the fiance) decide to try a cleanse. Everything you’ve ever heard people say about a cleanse? How they feel euphoric and it’s not actually that hard? And everything you’ve really thought? That it’s a ridiculously bad idea and the human body is made to run on food? That’s all it is. And, of course, contrasting her current non-voluntary hunger strike with her past-life yuppie version.

The women at the prison clearly live for visitations, crowding around the windows and waving at their first glimpse of their families. Piper tells Larry about the starvation, and even if it hasn’t made her hangry it has made her paranoid. Everything is Red’s fault, even faulty vending machines. Although it turns out that may actually be true.

The kitchen freezer finally dies, which means they have to cook all the meat immediately. Piper picks that moment to try to get Red to fight it out, but Red demonstrates she learned her lesson about physical violence and instead just counts to ten and tells Piper she’s being starved to death. Red goes to the counselor to demand a new freezer (barging into the men’s room) and it turns out she actually does have clout. The food may suck, but she’s the only reason it’s edible. Not so much clout, though, that she can talk back when the warden (?) makes fun of her cooking. It becomes one more thing she’ll have to take out on Piper.

Piper, meanwhile, has a new plan. She gets one of her bunkmates to forward her some commissary for a cup. She trades a few locks of hair (to be used in a weave) for shea butter. She trades any future hope of sanity when she accepts a gift of jalapenos from Crazy Eyes. Fortunately she’s mistaken for newbie-sad when a guard catches her crying and she’s actually chewing the jalapenos to mix with the shea butter for homemade capsaicin cream. Oh dear Larry. I can’t tolerate spicy foods at all, so I can’t imagine that part, but I couldn’t even tolerate capsaicin cream when I tried it for my bursitis, so this is just risky all over the place. Plus she’s starving and she’s using her mouth for something besides eating. There’s got to be so many layers of crying happening right there.

She hasn’t been able to give Red the cream before dinner, which is all that meat that needed to be cooked so everyone else is super excited for dinner. Piper’s ex-girlfriend tries to sneak her some food, but she still has more pride than is perhaps called for and she throws it away uneaten. She finally gives Red the cream before the nighttime count. At home, Larry breaks his promise to not watch Mad Men until he can watch it with Piper, turning an absolutely terrible picture of them onto the table out of guilt.

And in prison, Piper finally gets breakfast. Her ex girlfriend, however, is getting frozen out. Apparently Piper apologized so well that Red not only forgave her, but took on her grudges as Red’s own. And Piper has made a new friend in Crazy Eyes, who shares her earbuds with her to watch the weekly movie but is clearly expecting her own version of repayment. Bye-bye, future sanity!

(UPDATE: What I’ve been doing is writing these up while I watch the episode at night, and then the next day reading the recaplet on Television Without Pity. It feels like having a conversation, but I don’t have to worry about what I’m reading bleeding over into what I’m writing because the writing is done first. Anyway, TWoP points out that Red is starving out Alex because Alex tried to sneak Piper food, which Red specifically forbade. Although I still like to feel there’s a bit of “Piper is our girl now” happening too.)

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About Generation Coax

I am an aspiring TV writer, amateur photographer, and craft hobbyist.
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One Response to Orange is the New Black: Season 1 Episode 2, “Tit Punch”

  1. I love your recaps of shows that I should’ve watched or should be watching. In a life where time is limited this is extremely helpful. Now, I can be current around the water cooler and binge watch later! 🙂

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