Orange Is The New Black: Hugs Can Be Deceiving, Review

OITNB's best episode of the season is an emotional look at one of its most complex characters.

In my humble opinion, this episode was one of the season’s best. The character Suzanne (better known as Crazy Eyes) has been a fan favorite ever since she threw her pie for her Dandelion (Piper). In the beginning of Season 1, Piper had gotten on Suzanne’s bad side by spurning her affections. Piper earned a puddle of pee at the foot of her bunk during the course of the debacle. Their relationship improved when Suzanne acknowledged that Piper was a bad person and she no longer needed/craved her approval. And she really was; Piper was willing to use Suzanne and anyone else as it suited her. Stringing along a woman who thinks she is your prison wife is probably a bad idea.

This episode, Piper, still jaded and extremely grumpy from Alex’s betrayal, has no problem pimping out her new bunkie, (the horribly annoying) Soso, to Big Boo in an effort to get back Miss Claudette’s blanket. It doesn’t work out as planned, but at least Piper is learning how to play the game.

In other news, Larry has started dating. Morello discovers her fiancé Christopher is getting married to another woman. Pennsatucky is back in the laundry showing off her new teeth. Daya demands that Bennett bring her prenatal vitamins so she can make sure the baby has enough folic acid.

But we were talking about Suzanne.

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This is going to be the toughest episode to review. A person could write reams about this episode. Volumes. This episode could support a doctoral dissertation about race, gender, and issues surrounding mental health. Fortunately for you, this viewer is limited to a mere episodic review.

For lack of a better term, and because her diagnosis has never been established within the series, Suzanne is wackadoodle-crazy. This does not preclude her from having a penchant for Shakesepeare.

This episode we learn that Suzanne struggled with her mental health issues from a very young age, and that her wealthy, white, parents did not know how to deal. Instead of focusing on Suzanne’s obvious issues, they chose to focus all their efforts on making sure their daughter was not a victim of prejudice. They pushed her to succeed and fit in and Suzanne did not respond well to that pressure. In one scene her mother takes a 10 year old Suzanne to a party for wealthy, white, 6 year olds where her age and race immediately mark her as different; a situation exasperated by her crazy. In another scene, she has a meltdown during her college graduation ceremony and is unable to sing in front of her class. This scene played itself out again during the Litchfield Christmas Pagent, resulting in Suzanne running outside and punching Piper (momentarily mistaking Piper for her blonde mother). As Piper had been in the midst of beating the teeth out of ‘Tucky, this worked in her favor; making it look like both girls were equally to blame for the fight.

As a result, Suzanne had been studiously avoiding Piper, sure that Dandelion hated her for the beat down. It turns out that Piper was grateful Suzanne had stopped the fight. But according to Vee, none of that matters.

If there is one person in Litchfield who can see Suzanne’s potential, it is Vee. Well, the OG sees Suzanne’s potential to be used, while Suzanne sees Vee as a kind of prison mom. One who tells her that Dandelion is a mere weed, while Suzanne is a rose. The rose does not need validation from a weed. The rose does, however, seek constant validation from her mom. Suzanne tears apart the store room, looking for an ancient pack of stale cigarettes that Vee had stashed there. Which Vee, in turn, uses to get a cake from Mendoza and the kitchen staff. The cake is then used to win over Taystee, Black Cindy, Watson, and Poussey. And just like that, Vee has allies.

Between Vee and Mendoza, Red realizes that she is alone and at a disadvantage. Motivated to kick it up a notch, a newly dyed and coiffed Red (complete with makeup and red nail polish) meets Vee in the hallway, where the two hug and reminisce about the good old days when the OG’s ran the prison. Sure, they hug and laugh, but you have to wonder what kind of competition Vee constitutes that could wake Red out of her funk.   

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5 out of 5