At this point in the season, Orange Is The New Black has so many plotlines advancing at once, it’s hard to keep them all straight. This is a great thing — for a show whose premise sounds so simple, albeit dark (“All these women are in the same prison”), it might be one of the most densely plotted shows on TV right now. In particular we get some new intel on the rivalry between Vee and Red, and it’s not great. Turns out they were newbies at Litchfield at the same time years ago, and Vee was very adept at bonding with Red over being “the new girls,” while secretly pulling strings behind the scenes. She gave Red the idea to use her kitchen connection to smuggle beauty supplies and other contraband but harmless stuff into the prison, but then got the idea to use the same connection to smuggle in drugs. When Red balked, Vee’s girl gang threatened her, which she didn’t take seriously, thinking her best friend would protect her. That turned out not to be true at all, as Vee very happily let her girls beat the crap out of Red.
In the present Red is having a bit of a moment of triumph: the greenhouse is coming along nicely, she gets her Golden Girls to intimidate the kitchen staff into letting them borrow supplies for a secret dinner, and she uses the dinner as an opportunity to ask her friends for forgiveness. Nichols and Yoga Jones come around pretty quickly, but Norma (the silent one) and Gina (the burned one) still need some convincing. Big Boo asks Red for a dedication of her own and Red calls her a “pain in the ass” and it’s received by the group as a merry joke, but later on Boo finds Vee and tells her that she knows how Red is getting contraband into the prison, giving Vee the same connection that she beat up Red over all those years ago. Boo, why?!
Now that Vee has her additional channel she is starting to bring harder drugs into the prison. Poussey finds out when one of the laundry room girls finds her in the library and asks about their “special” stock. Pouseey goes to Taystee to express how awful she thinks this is, but Taystee is fully drinking the Vee Kool-aid, telling Poussey to stay out of Vee’s business and that she is her family. Taystee further earns my ire by giving Nichols a tiny baggie of heroin, telling her “the first one’s free.” Nichols looks like she’s been handing a ticking time bomb. Meanwhile, Soso is trying to convince the other inmates that they should join her on a hunger strike to protest the conditions in the prison. Nearly everyone laughs it off (including, improbably, Mendez, who seems to be juuuuuust toeing the line in order to keep his job), but when she gets Laundry Room Girl to agree to consider it, Pennsatucky Takes It Personally and bashes her head into a chain link fence. Lovely. Pennsatucky is hauled off to see Healy, but rather than throw her in SHU he bonds with her over their mutual anger issues and sentences her to an hour of counseling a week with him. He really is turning over a new leaf.
Bennett is acting like an insane person now that Mendez is back, and taking his aggression and anxiety out on the ladies in order to prove to Caputo that he can crack down hard enough to make Mendez redundant. He almost blows Vee’s whole operation when he starts ransacking everyone’s bunk in an effort to show everyone that he’s “in control” (sure, dude), despite Daya begging him to calm down and talk to her before he does anything crazy. She also doesn’t seem to loathe Mendez the way that he does, which definitely doesn’t sit right with him. Finally he shows up in Caputo’s office to tell him that Daya is pregnant, and it had to have been Mendez. Oooh, Bennett, you have lost your mind! Caputo sits back in his chair and smiles at this news like the cat that swallowed the canary.
Finally, there’s Piper, who looks to be regretting her furlough with every moment she has to spend explaining to relatives and family friends that she is not technically free and still has to go back to prison. Everyone seems to want her to revert to the person she was before she went away, and though she’s resentful of that expectation she also seems a little bit relieved to discover that she’s really not anything like that person anymore. She and Larry officially break up, she confronts her father for not visiting her in prison, she witnesses her brother turn her grandmother’s funeral into his own wedding and she finally slips away to visit Red’s market, only to find it closed with a “FOR LEASE” sign in the window. She spends the evening drinking a 40 and eating a burger on what looks to be the Brooklyn Bridge pedestrian path, resigning herself to the fact that you really can’t go home again.