Orange Is the New Black: Empathy is a Boner Killer
June 13, 2015 6:39 PM - Season 3, Episode 3 - Subscribe

Nicky's stash situation gets complicated. Alex and Crazy Eyes try a new drama class. Red assists Healy with a personal matter.
posted by schnee (13 comments total)
 
Loved the memorial service for the books. Best line: Lorna's comment that when she took a drama class, they learned about "chlamydia de latte."
posted by FelliniBlank at 7:22 PM on June 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm liking Norma this season.

The post-'tucky meth girls are bunches more interesting now than during their generic-protestor phase.
posted by porpoise at 9:18 PM on June 13, 2015


For anyone else who just sat through the entire season in one sitting and need a reminder this is the one with Nicky's Bad Day(s):
Orange Is The New Black doesn’t really have the same freedom, and “Empathy Is A Boner Killer” offers an example of an episode that has precisely one thing to say with its flashback. It follows Nicky in the period immediately preceding her trip to Litchfield, where she makes a series of decisions that reinforce how selfish she can be. She steals a cab in order to get uptown to score heroin, crashing the car immediately since she has no idea how to drive. She uses the money she takes from her mother for drugs instead of bailing out her friends in the car with her, and she is arrested again in her attempt to steal old books she intends to sell for more drugs. The moral of the story: Nicky is an addict, who will sacrifice anyone and everyone in order to get her fix, and whose self-destruction knows no bounds. She is, as she tells Luschek while attempting to sell Vee’s heroin through him, “a bloodhound for oblivion.”
av club
When the show began, many of the flashbacks answered the question of how these people ended up in prison, but I admit I don’t really find myself pondering that all that often. The community at Litchfield has become strong enough as a story engine that I don’t feel I need to go back into a character’s past to understand them any better. While the quick hits in the premiere were pointed and poignant in the way they picked up on an episode’s theme, here they are deployed as part of a character study that I’m not convinced need their help. We didn’t need to see more of Nicky’s complicated relationship with her mother to understand why she wouldn’t wish being her mother on anyone. Red and Morello’s concern for her as she’s carted off down the hill to the maximum security facility does not need to be framed in the context of flashbacks for it to be meaningful. We care about these characters without the need for further insight into their pasts, and so returning to them to just keep making the same point strikes me as redundant.
I just gotta say that I do not understand this mode of criticism that seems to be all over the place lately (and I mean criticism in the sense of "the act or art of analyzing and evaluating or judging the quality of a literary or artistic work, musical performance, art exhibit, dramatic production, etc.") I don't understand saying "We didn't need to see this." That's like, not how it works? The show shows you itself, and then you think about what it showed you, you don't say "I didn't need you to tell me that much about the characters because.. you could have showed me something else!" That just makes zero sense to me at all. You let the show take you where it wants to go, and then you decide if it was any good, but you can't criticize it for doing whatever it's going to do. It's like someone serves you a chocolate cake and you say "You know, they could have made a pineapple upside down cake, those are also good." Um, okay, but this is more like shoulda-been-this-cake fanfic than a review. A work of fiction isn't a Congressional hearing or a Wikipedia article listing facts. You can't criticize it for not telling us facts we're interested in.

Anyway, I really liked Nicky's whole thing in this episode. I felt like the flashback was really good at painting the entire picture of Nicky's story. And even though we've all heard the sad addict story ad nauseum, both in real life and everywhere tv show, movie, book, etc. I really got it for the first time by being able to see the whole thing. So okay in infinite parallel universes there's infinite shows about what's going on at Litchfield at any given moment but that's not what we have to work with. You have to meet the work where it is and not write your own fanfic and then complain that the original isn't as good as what you're imagining.

She didn’t have it when she was lying to Boo, she didn’t have it when she was playing Luschek—she had it when she saw the fences of Max, and realized that she has reached the proverbial end of the line (if not the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel).

This moment wouldn't have made any sense if we didn't get to see the entire story. "Another inmate goes deeper into the system" without the full context of what lead them there is just another prison story.
posted by bleep at 12:27 AM on June 14, 2015 [7 favorites]


The book funeral (The ultimate book return) was awesome - "For the Jonathans: Swift, Franzen, Livingston Seagull."

Loved the Nickie bits - but she's one of my favorite characters.

Can I just express my ongoing exasperation with Alex and Piper? The two least interesting characters on the show right now.
posted by nubs at 7:59 AM on June 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


Watching Fury Road recently has taught me how much can be gained by not overexplaining things, by leaving things to the imagination and focusing on the immediate challenges to characters. I sympathize with the feeling that we don't need to see her mother to understand Nikki's feelings about her. That one line about not wishing that on anyone would probably have stronger emotional resonance if the viewer built the reasoning for it from their own store of memories, knowledge, and emotion. I think it's a valid form of critique to describe how things could have been done differently, because it's a way of figuring out which techniques do and don't work and thus improving as artists.

However, I think their specific argument that the show doesn't need flashbacks is off base. It's important to remind the viewers that these women in prison are not the same women that they woudl be outside the prison. Their limitations shape their behavior and choices in important ways. How would you recognize those differences if you didn't see the 'before' picture of the inmates? In Nikki's case, she's been portrayed as really responsible and levelheaded compared to the other inmates. It's easy to forget that this only applies when she's not around drugs. If we only know of her sober, prison self, it's harder to understand why she would be so reckless and why she would be willing to endanger Luschek.
posted by tofu_crouton at 12:41 PM on June 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


Making the viewer fill in the blanks is bad writing. The guideline is "Show don't tell" but another lesser known saying is "Show, don't not show and not tell, because otherwise I could just be meditating or something, you're supposed to be telling me a story."
posted by bleep at 3:45 PM on June 14, 2015


So Caputo et al. found heroin and gum in Luschek's desk. I seem to have missed something on the chain of possession of the drugs. Did he not take it all out or not have the opportunity to move it? Did Nicky stick a bag to the underside of the desk with gum to get later? Presumably, she knows she's screwed because her DNA would be in the gum?
posted by Morrigan at 4:18 PM on June 14, 2015


I was thinking he put some there in order to frame Nicky and have her out of the picture so he could keep all the money.
posted by bleep at 4:20 PM on June 14, 2015


Healy seems headed for a nasty fall.
posted by Burhanistan at 5:06 PM on June 14, 2015


I thought we were supposed to infer that when Nicky was playing with that bag and didn't want to give it back at first, she had also pocketed another bag or two and squirreled them away for later retrieval. But I would buy the frame up too.
posted by Stacey at 6:42 PM on June 14, 2015


She flashes Luschek a panicked look when Caputo first starts going through the desk - she definitely knew the bag was there.
posted by twoporedomain at 8:48 AM on June 15, 2015


Caputo doesn't really need evidence to send someone to max, does he ?
posted by Pendragon at 1:26 PM on June 16, 2015


I wonder if we will ever see Nicky again? I for one liked her flashbacks. They were hard to watch but I think it would have been easier for me to not realize how much drugs make Nicky a bad, manipulative person. Like tofu_crouton said, she's such a level headed sober person in prison and that's what we mostly know her as.
posted by lucy.jakobs at 12:39 PM on June 17, 2015


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