For the fourth season of Orange Is the New Black, Spencer Kornhaber and Sophie Gilbert are discussing the series via recaps, taking turns to analyze one episode at a time. Spoilers abound; don’t read further than you’ve watched.
Episode eight, “Friends in Low Places”
Read the review of the previous episode here.
“I think that I’ve been trying to win prison, and I’ve destroyed people’s lives.” Thus spoke Piper, in an extraordinary moment of clarity brought on by smoking crack in a cornfield while sitting on top of a dismembered corpse.
I winced, I confess, when she reached for the pipe. The end of episode seven, wherein Piper got a makeshift swastika tattoo at the hands of Ruiz’s gang was one of the darkest moments the series has offered up. Sure, Piper’s annoying, and sure, she was due for a fall after sauntering around like John Gotti, but watching her get branded with a red-hot iron while screaming in hysterical fear and agony was pretty bleak. So having her become a drug addict, too? Eesh.
A lesser show would have followed Piper’s iffy decision to inhale down a road of “Just Say No”-inspired degradation and misery (although maybe it would have added sweet irony to the fact that Alex calls her “Pipes”). And Orange still might, who knows. Instead (and I’m not advising this for people who haven’t been branded with a Nazi tattoo or forced to suffocate a cartel hitman), crack brought catharsis. Piper showed Alex and Nicky her arm. Alex admitted she’d killed a man. The grisly confessions seemed to relieve them both.