One of the things I really like about the credits is how you start being able to recognize the pieces of the characters as you keep watching the show.
The flashback this episode belongs to Sophia, the transgendered hairdresser who was formerly a firefighter. I missed the significance the first time I saw this episode, but he’s taking a picture of a credit card bill in a burned-out house so as to steal the person’s identity to help pay for the transition. His wife gives lessons on how to dress as a classy woman and is generally very accepting and adapting in what is a very difficult situation. Their son is less so. He’s especially bratty in public when they run into another firefighter, but it’s difficult to have sympathy when he’s totally playing Sophia, acting sullen to get $300 shoes. To me, this is just as much a symbol of excess as everything Piper and Larry do. There’s even an indication the son might have been the one to turn Sophia in.
Several inmates get assigned to dorms from bunks. Piper is confused why she wasn’t called, but I’m confused about a lot of things – her bunkmates have been there a LOT longer than her, so why are none of them assigned? Do they prefer the bunk? Are the dorms actually better? Piper also realizes for the first time that all but one bathroom stall is missing a door. Has she been holding it for three days? Sophia gives her advice on when to shower and getting over herself and shows off her duct tape flip flops. Of course, Piper decides to take this advice at exactly the moment Crazy Eyes finds her to ogle.
The guards talk like the prisoners are produce to choose from the grocery store. Pornstache (he’s even called that in the captioning) messes with Sophia, because he can, but privately admits he actually finds her sexy. When he tries to turn the conversation to his co-guard Bennett and his war service, but that conversation turns very non-sexy very fast. So Pornstache just pretends Bennett didn’t say anything and just keeps being gross.
The prisoners line up for medications, but Sophia finds out the prison has switched her to generic meds at a lower dose to save money. They don’t explicitly talk about it, but there’s an underlying current of how messed up a for-profit prison system is. (In this particular case, also healthcare in this country in general.) The counselor tries to impress on the warden’s assistant what it means to switch out people’s medications (and has a real point about Zoloft- you can’t just go on or off that shit or you risk losing your mind) but the assistant is less than sympathetic.
Sophia tries to explain, in graphic detail, why the prison can’t change her medications. The counselor blows her off, and of course she doesn’t know that he has no choice. She swallows a trinket from his desk so she can be sent to the infirmary (emergencies only) and consult with a doctor. This backfires when the doctor puts her on suicide watch and takes her off the hormones completely, offering only an antidepressant. Sophia approaches Red about getting hormone pills, but the best Red can do is some soy. She asks her wife to sneak them in, but that’s a no-go.
Crazy Eyes catches up with Piper running in the yard and recites poetry. She is not put off by Piper mentioning her fiance or anything else she says, for that matter. The only thing that interrupts the horror is the track being closed for budget reasons. Piper’s ex (I should just start calling her by her name – Alex. It’s easy, it even has “ex” right there in it) insists on sitting next to her at lunch. Piper thinks it can’t get worse until Crazy Eyes joins them. Piper tries to use Crazy Eyes as a weapon against Alex. It’s effective, except for the part where Crazy Eyes has more ammunition against Piper now.
Piper whines at Larry over the phone about having to visit with her mother alone, but the conversation comes to a halt when they’re making fun of Piper’s brother and he says, “I don’t think he gets the title ‘family fuck-up’ anymore,” which, ouch. Fortunately it turns out Piper has stopped talking because she was distracted by the sound of Larry unpacking groceries and she wants some food porn. She needs some food porn. You know how yuppie these people really are when Piper gets excited about vegan cookies. “I can feel them in my mouth,” which is probably true because… no. Cookies are made with eggs. She’s getting excited about glorified cardboard. Larry tries to turn the conversation to actual porn, but Piper puts an end to that real quick because she would rather not be spank bank material for the guards who are listening. Piper has her meeting with her friend Polly and her mom, who really doesn’t want to hear that Piper will get strip-searched on her way out and would rather discuss how Piper isn’t as fertile today as she was yesterday. Then Piper finds out she may be getting pushed out of the soap-making business she has with Polly.
The counselor rebukes Piper for trying to choose bunkmates, which is how Piper finds out that Crazy Eyes has put in a request to bunk with Piper. Piper loses her shit, so the counselor goes on a homophobic rant. Then we get the flashback story of how Piper met Alex, and suffice to say Alex was always the alpha. Larry goes to visit Piper’s brother Cal, who tries to tell him about “edging,” the trendy new masturbating technique of not finishing. It is every bit as stupid as it sounds. Larry tries it, unsuccessfully, at home.
Piper gets her commissary money! The first thing she does is buy everybody presents. Except Crazy Eyes. She just gets a lecture about how they’re never going to be a couple. It is potentially the first thing she’s ever said that Crazy Eyes heard, but that remains to be seen. Piper finally confronts Alex about ratting her out, but Alex insists it wasn’t her. She’s rather convincing. So much so that Piper asks Larry to ask his dad (a judge) to look into the trial records to confirm that Alex named her.
Piper finally gets assigned to a dorm, and everyone’s a little confused because she’s assigned to the black dorm. (The racial politics are never officially spelled out, but they are very clearly everywhere.) Her bunkmate is Miss Claudette, an older woman with strict rules. Her primary concern is cleanliness, which is why she is not pleased when Crazy Eyes welcomes Piper to the dorm by squatting and peeing on the floor in their bunk in the middle of the night.