Recap: OITNB Episode 3- Oh, Suzanne!

images-3 Piper’s back at Litchfield, and she has a new swagger. Word has spread about her unexpected fight with Pennsatucky and everyone’s surprised that Pipes had it in her to fight— and actually win. Piper relishes her new reputation, but Brook, the newbie ,is the only person who’s remotely afraid of her.

Speaking of Brook… I didn’t know it was possible for a character to be more annoying that Piper, but then Brook- no “e”—  Soso arrived as a new inmate at Litchfield. She’s the worst of Piper O.D., even more privileged and more clueless. In comparison, Piper, at least now, is tolerable. Brook also shows us how much Piper has grown during her stay at Litchfield, especially when Piper gives  the “it’s gonna be okay” speech on Brook’s first night in prison.

Red overhears Vee singing in the shower, and it’s a voice she would know from anywhere. Her reaction to seeing Vee is about like Taystee’s in that she’s none to happy to be reunited with her frenemy. Red knows Vee from back in the day when Vee served a previous bid. And Red’s preparing for the worst.

The Black girls—Taystee, Poussey, Janae, Black Cindy and Suzanne aka “Crazy Eyes”—  square off in a game of prison Taboo.   Suzanne wants to play, but  instead, has been assigned to watch the clock. She feels left out— again. It’s been a reoccurring theme in her life.

Kiddie Suzzane

In a flashback, we see (again, her mother was shown in the visiting room during Season One) that Suzanne was adopted by an affluent white family, one that seems naïve about the needs—social and perhaps, special— of the Black child they’re raising in an all white community. One of these people is not like the others, but Suzanne’s Mom seems determined to pretend otherwise.  “You know which kids suffer in this world, Melanie?"  she asks a Mom who doesn’t want 10 year old Suzanne at her 6 year old (white) daughter’s slumber party. "The ones who are told they’re different,” Mom is impassioned and liberal and means well, but pretending Suzanne isn’t Black and that she doesn’t need a different (but equal) type of attention than other children doesn’t benefit her.

Suzanne’s not crazy, despite her nickname, but she wasn’t properly socialized, and maybe not told “no” by her parents enough (I’m thinking of the swimsuit with angel wings. On the fence as to whether that’s evidence the parents don’t set boundaries or them just choosing their battles with the kid.).  And maybe she just needed a Black mama. Suzanne freaks out in the hospital room when her dad takes her new sister away and her parents are entirely clueless as to how to calm down their own child. The Black nurse on duty automatically relates to Suzanne and chills her out. The same thing happens when Suzanne meets “Vee” for the first time. She’s being all, you know, Suzanne and “Vee” hits her with “don’t interrupt” in a firm Black mama voice. Suzanne  automatically pipes down again. Is it the Blackness or people who know what to do with kids, or er, child-like adults? Both? (I’m leaning toward both with an emphasis on Blackness.)

Pennsatucky was the unofficial leader and the one with the biggest bark in her group of girls, former meth addicts. While she recovered from/ was punished for her fight with Piper, LeAnn and the other girls realized there was less conflict and drama when Pennsatucky  wasn’t around, so they aren’t happy to have her back. There’s that, and then there’s Pennsatucky’s new teeth. All the girls have messed up grills, the physical markers of the women’s shared drug habit. But now Pennsatucky doesn’t have it anymore. Lookswise, she can fit in with any other white groups at the prison. Her improvement makes her friends self-conscious and too, jealous.

Vee and Taystee finally have their showdown. Taystee’s pissed she had nowhere to turn when she got out. She was likely locked up in connection to her work for Vee and Vee being her Mom and all, was supposed to take care of her. Vee apologizes, but Taystee isn’t getting it over it— yet.

Since she’s not up for taking on her daughter role to Vee in prison,  Vee sets her sights on Suzanne. She immediately senses Suzanne’s lacking sense of belonging and she is clichéd putty in Vee’s hands.

It’s nearly impossible for anything good to come out of Daya’s ongoing relationship with the CO and the resulting pregnancy. It’s just too muddled and that’s sad because they genuinely care for, if not love, each other. “I want to be better than my Mom,” Daya tells John. “I want this baby to have everything.” It could happen someday, but anytime soon?  No. We’ve seen what happens to women who give birth in prison. If they’re lucky, they get to coo over the baby on visiting day. That’s the best-case scenario, and Daya and John can’t even have that because John can’t publicly claim he’s the father.

Morello’s dream has finally turned into a nightmare. Everyone but her knew that fiancé Christopher wasn’t waiting around for her until she got out, but no one wanted to be the one to tell her. Or maybe because she’s such an incredibly sweet girl, they were hoping for the best along with her. But Morello’s sister, Franny, has confirmed the worst— Christopher’s getting married. Morello loses it, like we’ve never seen her before “You don’t go Jessica Simpson when you got Rihanna,” she bellows to Franny.  Great, great acting by Yael Stone.

Other thoughts:

*As a kid, Suzanne has a big personality and given the way she quotes Shakespeare and her dramatic flair for counting the clock, I wouldn’t be surprised if her parents channeled all her extra energy toward the theatre. In some ways, her story reminds me of Audra McDonald’s recent Tony Award speech where she thanked her parents for recognizing they had an energetic child, and instead of putting her on meds, they introduced her to the arts. Audra got some flack for that from a Mom who medicates her ADHD kid. And McDonald  responded that she wasn’t criticizing medication, just saying what worked for her. Suzanne’s parents seem to have the tried the Audra McDonald approach on a kid who needed more than that.

*Piper thought the administration knew how she got her now-healed battle scars from her fight with Pennsatucky, but they don’t. And Piper's not telling. It seems Suzanne had an episode after the Christmas pageant, stumbled out into the yard and went off on Piper whose blond hair and white skin reminded Suzanne of her mother. Being beat up by Suzanne is the only reason Piper's not facing additional time in prison for the fight. “You saved me,” Piper tells Suzanne when she tries to apologize. “I am so grateful to you.”

*Larry can’t escape Piper even when he tries. He gets a call from a journalist, the same one that’s on to Fig, and the guy only wants to know how to get in contact with Piper. He takes his father’s advice and tries to get laid and his date, who says she likes guys with no ambition, and the first thing she asks him about is… Piper. He can't win.


What did you think of Episode 3?