Oh, Valentine’s Day in prison. What could possibly be worse? Unsurprisingly, given the holiday in question, this episode deals with many odd couples, laying the groundwork for some serious drama in the latter half of the season.
We get more of Bennett and Daya’s relationship than we have at any point in the season thus far. They’re alternating between pretending to be a normal couple and Bennett frantically backpedaling every time he says something that sets Daya off, which is frequently. She is beginning to be really concerned about her baby’s future and that of their relationship, since it will be a while before their child has two free parents. Things are good between them at the Valentine’s Day party until Daya thanks Bennett for a sweet, albeit misspelled Valentine’s Day card…and they both realize it’s from Mendez. This underscores just how jacked their situation really is, and it sets us up for Pornstache’s return later in the season.
Other weird pairs in this episode: Piper and Larry, who don’t even seem to really like each other much anymore. Larry floats the idea of the exposé to her and she reacts wearily, telling him that he needs to stop riding other people’s coattails to success. In return, he goes to Polly’s apartment and kisses her, only to nearly get caught by Pete, who has returned from his walkabout. Dun dun DUNNNN. We also continue to see the redemption of Healy, who is bummed out to realize that he is one of the least popular counselors at Litchfield, and vows to do a better job, mainly to impress his wife. His first efforts end with him sharing a cookie and an embrace with Pennsatucky outside, so I’d say he’s either doing really well or it’s a huge disaster, depending on your point of view.
Red and Vee continue to face off in the great Litchfield contraband war, and Nichols and Big Boo put an end to their sex contest, but who cares about that when we get to see Poussey’s backstory? She was a military brat living with her family in Germany, when she fell in love with a German soldier’s daughter. He caught them in bed together and conspired to have her father transferred, allowing us to see that Poussey has become very good at shutting down and deciding not to care about people as soon as it becomes clear that she has lost them. She snaps, taking a gun to confront the bad German dad, but her father stops her from making that mistake just in time. We still don’t know what sent her to jail, but we do know now that she’s a hothead, and willing to go to extremes for the things she wants. Unfortunately we also see more evidence of her ability to dissociate when she is incredibly cruel to Taystee after sensing that Vee has become more important to her than she is. Ugh, I just want these two to get along again!
Piper is interviewing the inmates about what love means to them for her new project, the prison newsletter, so we get to hear everyone’s insane opinion (at one point, someone invokes a pizza). While all of this crazy love business is happening, however, the Goldenest of the Golden Girls, Jimmy, has been wandering around talking about meeting her husband. Most of the people she encounters blow her off. Unfortunately, Caputo conspired to get Fischer out of covering the Valentine’s Day party so that she could go see Side Boob perform (oh, boy), and she told a bunch of the other guards, so they show up at his gig. He’s all excited and hopeful when he sees her, and the moment is quickly ruined by the other guards’ razzing. I think it’s Luscheck who calls him “the gay Edge,” which is as sad as it is hilarious.
While he’s performing at the bar, Daya and Bennett are canoodling in his office, Healy and Pennsatucky are pondering the meaning of life outside, and the inmates are drinking punch and eating cookies, Jimmy literally just walks out the door. I suppose Bennett left it open when he ran away from the party with Daya. Not the brightest tool in the shed, that one. How has this prison not been shut down yet? I’m not clear on the geography of the bar that Caputo performs at in relation to the prison, but it must be one of the first buildings nearby, because as he looks out into the crowd, he sees Goldie smiling and nodding her head to the music. I confess — I laughed harder at that than I have at anything in the season thus far. I’m very excited to see what comes of it.