1. It’s Christmastime at Litchfield! Sophia and Sister Ingalls are planning the Christmas pageant. They’re holding auditions.
Laverne Cox and Beth Fowler.
2. With mixed results.
“He’s not an eggplant — he’s retarded!” — Nicky (Natasha Lyonne)
3. We are reminded that Pennsatucky (Taryn Manning) is insane.
As the glorious first season of Orange Is the New Black comes to an end, the story’s tension is coming from two main sources. There’s the Piper/Alex/Larry triangle (Piper and Larry have impulsively and desperately decided to get married as soon as possible), and there is the sinister, growing threat of Pennsatucky’s hatred of Piper (Taylor Schilling). So far, Piper has avoided the more violent pitfalls of prison — but it seems that her luck will soon end. This episode was co-written by Jenji Kohan, the show’s creator, and Tara Herrmann.
4. Piper, who called out Healy (Michael J. Harney) for being disgusting, now has to ask him for a favor — a marriage request form.
He reminds her that not only does she need the form from him, but his permission, which he won’t give her. Orange Is the New Black is interesting about pretty much everything, but its portrayal of marriage and the idea of marriage is particularly fascinating. Piper is lying to herself, as we know, that marrying Larry (Jason Biggs) will mean something — and he chooses to believe her (for now). In Healy’s case, as we also know, he is married to a mail-order bride who despises him. “Marriage is a privilege,” he tells Piper here. “And to use one of your own delightful phrases, go fuck yourself.” (Also, I hadn’t noticed that he’s carrying Funyuns in this scene, and that is amazing.)
5. Red (Kate Mulgrew) has been kicked out of the kitchen for smuggling things into the prison, but is ignoring that fact.
6. Caputo (Nick Sandow) makes Gloria (Selenis Leyva) the head cook. She asks if she can bring in her own people.
It’s a significant power shift that will carry in to Season 2.
7. Bennett goes to Figueroa to tell her about finding the drugs that were coming in to prison.
She doesn’t want to know about it. She tells him not to fill out a report, and gives him a raise/bribe.
8. Larry tells his parents that he and Piper have decided to get married right away. Here is how they react.
Kathryn Kates and Todd Susman.
9. Larry’s father asks him hard questions about why they’re rushing, and why he’s with Piper in the first place. “I get it — she’s a natural blonde, she’s exotic for you!”
They are, of course, completely correct.
10. Alex (Laura Prepon) asks Piper, jokingly but knowingly, why she’s been avoiding her.
“I pick him; I pick Larry,” Piper tells her. Alex is, naturally, upset. Piper tries to act like it will be OK. “I love you, too,” she says. “But we both know I don’t have the balls to free-fall through life with you.” She also tells Alex that she should be proud of her for making a decision. I know there are people who are fans of this show who hate Piper. But she is so well-drawn by Kohan, and the rest of the writers — she’s incredibly consistent.
11. Consistent or not, Alex is truly hurt. “You may never come to me again. Ever.”
12. Pornstache, who has been suspended because Daya says he raped her (he did not), tells Bennett that he can’t stop thinking about her.
“I see myself buying sheets with her.” (Pablo Schreiber, left, with Matt McGorry.)
13. Pennsatucky: still insane.
“Don’t be talking about tampons while I’m sitting here plottin’ my revenge.”
14. Nicky plans a Secret Santa; Big Boo and Morello admit that Gloria’s food is better than Red’s.
15. Figueroa (Alysia Reiner) calls Piper to her office to discuss the critical things Larry said about Litchfield on the radio.
Piper sees an opportunity to get Healy in trouble for calling Larry about her and Alex — and she gets the marriage request form and approval too.
16. Gloria has installed her crew in the kitchen.
17. Norma and Gina have been relegated to lesser jobs. They pick from Nicky’s Secret Santa bag, and discuss Red’s depression. Gina begs Nicky to go talk to Red.
Abigail Savage (left) with Annie Golden
18. The guards read incoming mail and gossip. Larry has written to Alex asking that she put him on her visitors’ list.
19. Nicky goes to talk to Red, who asks how breakfast was. “I heard someone found a long black hair in her eggs, but it went unconfirmed.” Red is furious (and racist).
20. Taystee (Danielle Brooks) points out to Piper that there’s a dead rat on her chest of drawers. With a note: “YOUR GONNA DIE AMALEKITE.”
21. Here is the note.
22. Piper and Taystee ask Black Cindy what an Amalekite is. Piper tells them she’s going to tell on Pennsatucky.
Taystee and Black Cindy tell Piper she has to handle it herself, and not go to the guards. “Kill that motherfucker!” – Black Cindy (Adrienne C. Moore)
23. Red tries to get Gina and Norma to subvert Gloria in the kitchen: “You need to fuck with that kitchen.”
24. Gloria to Gina and Norma: “If you fuck with this kitchen, I’ll have you out of here so fast you’ll think your ass grew wheels.” That’s the end of that.
25. Piper tries to imagine scenarios in which Pennsatucky doesn’t actually mean she’s going to kill her. She thinks maybe she just wants to talk to her.
Black Cindy tells Piper she needs to kick Pennsatucky in the “cooch.” In many ways, Black Cindy is both the star and the fulcrum of this episode!
26. Bennett tells Daya (Dascha Polanco) how upset he is that Pornstache is in love with her. They fight.
“It was a bad plan — and you had sex with him,” he tells her.
27. Nicky and Alex discuss Alex’s broken heart.
28. Sophia shows Sister Ingalls a card her son sent her, pointing out that her wife didn’t sign it for him this time. “That’s something, right? That’s something.”
Season premieres and finales for shows with large ensemble casts generally cram as many characters in as possible. This episode (“Can’t Fix Crazy”) is doing that, but expertly. Some of these scenes are short, but each one also manages to be meaningful.
29. Larry visits Alex. “You’re tall,” he tells her.
30. He angrily tells her to stay away from Piper, which Alex says will not be a problem. He’s confused.
“She came to me,” Alex tells him. “Dragged me into that chapel. And fucked me.” He does not like hearing this. “But I’m done. I can’t survive another spin on her merry-go-‘round.” And then: “She is fucked up. I know it, and you do too. Or else you wouldn’t be here warning me to stay away. I’m not your problem.” Was there any doubt of who would get the best of that interaction? And can we say together thank god Laura Prepon will be back fulltime on this show for Season 3? The Orange Is the New Black cast is so strong — but the show needs Prepon and Alex.
31. Pennsatucky and her gang trap Piper in the shower — and she’s terrified.
Pennsatucky shivs — I think it’s called a shiv! – her own hand like a psycho. A guard comes and kicks them out. Piper is shaking and terrified.
32. Taystee gives Piper a peptalk. “Stop being a bitch-ass bitch.”
33. Red sneaks into the kitchen in the night, committing various acts of subterfuge. She pours oil into the oven.
34. The next morning, when Gina opens the door to the oven, it explodes.
35. Caputo yells at Gloria for the oven accident. She knows what happened.
36. As a result of the scare in the kitchen, Bennett and Daya make up.
37. Bennett tells Caputo that Fig talked him out of reporting the drugs. “She is cutting off your balls to protect her own,” Caputo tells Bennett.
Caputo says to give him the report instead of Bennett filing it himself.
38. Big Boo gives Piper her Christmas present early.
It’s a screwdriver.
39. Red is tearfully regretful about what happened to Gina.
Norma is no longer speaking to Red. (Heh.)
40. Alex and Nicky continue to commiserate.
41. Nicky tells Alex she knows what she wants for Christmas. “Yeah?” Alex asks, bored.
42. What Nicky wants is Alex!
43. Secret Santa indeed.
44. Red can’t get served in the cafeteria — everyone ignores her, even Norma.
45. Piper calls Larry to tell him the good news that she got the marriage form, and the bad news that someone is trying to kill her. He greets both with weariness.
He tells her he met Alex. “Whatever she said is a lie, Larry,” Piper says. Which is, actually, a lie.
46. Combining an exact mixture of what his parents said to him about Piper and what Alex said to him about Piper, Larry finally breaks up with her.
“I can’t be on your ride anymore.” (Fellow viewers, is describing someone in real life as “an even worse Larry” now a thing? I found myself doing that the other day.)
47. Piper is shocked — and alone.
48. So alone that she seeks out Alex immediately.
49. Post-coitally (post-digitally?) emboldened, Alex says, “No fucking way.”
50. She tells Piper to get out.
Piper: As alone as it gets!
51. It’s the pageant. Fig tells Healy never to call an inmate’s family again for one of his lesbian witchhunts.
She attaches various threats to this scolding.
52. Caputo gives Susan the guard flowers. She introduces him to her boyfriend.
(He did not know she had a boyfriend.)
53. The pageant begins.
Considering what’s coming, it’s nice to hear the singing talents of the Orange Is the New Black cast.
54. Poussey (Samira Wiley) sings “Amazing Grace!”
With Taystee and Black Cindy doing back up. It’s lovely.
55. Pennsatucky is an angel in a crazy nativity scene.
56. They all sing “I Saw the Light.” Suzanne (Uzo Aduba) is supposed to do a solo, but she freezes.
57. Unexpectedly, Norma, who doesn’t speak, begins to sing instead, filling the silence. She has a beautiful voice.
Does everyone know that Annie Golden, who plays Norma, was in the movie version of Hair, as Jeannie? It’s one of my favorite facts. Here she is singing “Good Morning Starshine.”
58. Norma takes center stage.
59. Piper, who knows this moment is one of communality and grace, has no place here. She walks out.
60. Piper goes outside, and Pennsatucky has followed her. This is it.
61. Healy happens upon their confrontation. Piper thinks she’s saved.
This episode, directed by Michael Trim, has a number of nicely framed shots like this one.
62. But Healy hates Piper. He turns around and goes back inside, leaving her.
63. Piper takes out the screwdriver. But Pennsatucky quickly disarms her.
Pennsatucky is insane, spouting madness, but she’s saying things Piper fears to be true.
64. “You ain’t worthy of God’s love, you ain’t worthy of nobody’s love.”
65. Piper is shaking with rage. Pennsatucky lunges at her, but Piper kicks Pennsatucky, taking Black Cindy’s advice, in the cooch, knocking her to the ground.
66. Piper sits atop Pennsatucky, wailing on her, as we used to say in third grade.
Piper, who in her mind never should be in prison in the first place, has finally lost it — she’s become part of where she is. She can’t stop herself from murderously hitting Pennsatucky, the opposite of anyone she’d ever want to know, and nor does she want to.