Orange Is the New Black: Thirsty Bird
June 6, 2014 9:20 AM - Season 2, Episode 1 - Subscribe

Piper is taken on a mystery journey and encounters some bug problems.
posted by transient (39 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I liked the way this ep kept mysteries open for a while: where Piper was going and why, what Pennsatucky's fate was. It's effective to keep us in Piper's shoes in a way.
posted by transient at 10:25 AM on June 6, 2014 [2 favorites]

So that was effectively a reset? It seemed that way. Except maybe now minus Larry's support...

I liked his Dad (was he around at all in season 1?). But his gravelly voice made me want to keep clearing my throat.
posted by tracicle at 1:17 PM on June 6, 2014

It's effective to keep us in Piper's shoes in a way.
Good point -- and really, I need all the help I can get trying to empathize with Piper, who is so friggin' whiny and entitled and hyper and self-sabotaging at every opportunity. How many times is she going to fall for Alex's bullshit? Nice to see some of her childhood, though, which also helps to explain her Piperness.

I'll be happy when we get back to the other characters, who are way more interesting than Piper. But this is another one of those Biko Syndrome* shows, so whatchagonnado?

* dumb term I coined for movies and shows about topics largely affecting POC or less-than-ideally-privileged characters that center on a privileged white character instead, Cry Freedom being perhaps the most jaw-dropping example.
posted by FelliniBlank at 1:19 PM on June 6, 2014 [7 favorites]

Man . . . Pennsatucky was a character/ storyline I was sick of after about five minutes. Not that I necessarily wanted her dead, but I was hoping maybe we wouldn't be seeing any more of her. Guess that probably won't be the case.

It's too bad because I actually like Taryn Manning but that over-the-top religious wacko character just seems to get boring so quickly. (See also: Melisandre in GOT. Sigh.)
posted by GastrocNemesis at 2:51 PM on June 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

Larry's dad was around a tiny bit season one, usually with Larry's mom. He advised Larry not to confirm to Piper that Alex named her, for instance.

I missed the rest of the girls, but it was nice to see Lori Petty. Even if Piper did totally leave her hanging.
posted by rewil at 4:15 PM on June 6, 2014 [2 favorites]

I appreciated the attitudes of the COs at the beginning when Piper was being transferred. Seemed really accurate. Also "booches" (sp?) was a nice touch, especially when repeated by the marshalls -- seemed like exactly the consequence of well-meaning correctional policies that have little relevance to reality.

Also, I dunno. I think in her situation, I might have done what Alex told me to do, too. Safety is a valuable commodity, and it is more relevant to the kind of short-term interests that prison life seems prioritize.
posted by likeatoaster at 9:17 PM on June 6, 2014

There's a chapter in Piper Kerman's book about being transported by plane for her trial, so it does seem to be a normal thing.
posted by rewil at 9:19 PM on June 6, 2014

Wow, I loved the show last year but this episode was watching two sociopaths for an hour! Hard to take. I did enjoy the new characters. Who is the white lady obsessed with astrology? She looked like maybe some minor lesbian celebrity but I can't say who.
posted by latkes at 11:18 PM on June 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

How many times is she going to fall for Alex's bullshit?

Apparently at any and every opportunity? Which is actually the only time I can relate or really tolerate Piper. She grates. She's supposed to, at times, I think.
posted by RainyJay at 11:23 PM on June 6, 2014 [3 favorites]

Not sure how I felt about this episode, especially with Piper falling prey to Alex again, but I appreciated the surreality of the cockroach stuff, especially in contrast to House of Cards (I finished season 1 just before I watched this episode) - my feelings for that are extremely ambivalent.
posted by minsies at 2:10 AM on June 7, 2014

Since Piper herself is one of the aspects of the show I care least about, I wasn't thrilled with this episode. But it was nice to see Lori Petty.
posted by Stacey at 3:46 AM on June 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

My brain with its incipient midlife crisis didn't let me process that it was Lori Petty. I was like "oh, her, I like her, who's she again?". The Internet had to tell me. Alex is a stone cold bitch and Piper is so dumb, all the damned time. Hsi format is quite difficult if you are ahead, so I'll keep it to this for now. Also, this seems like the relevant place to say I saw Laura Prepon at the zoo in Sweden two weeks ago.
posted by Iteki at 4:27 AM on June 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

It was interesting to compare this to the first episode of the first season. Piper seems to have reset a bit as a character herself. She's walking around in a dazed haze, not knowing what is happening, meeting all these oddballs in prison and trying to learn the ropes. Again.

Also it was not clear to me why Alex knew why they were there and Piper did not. Was that merely a function of Piper being in seg?

I was underwhelmed by this episode. Is Piper seeing her dad with another woman on the street supposed to be the root cause (or one of the root causes) of her behavior? That's what the woman who read signs in prison (sorry, I didn't catch her name) seemed to be suggesting. That seems questionable to me at best. But then, so does reading signs and predicting human behavior based on the date and time of birth. Maybe that was the point the episode was trying to make: who knows why she ended up there, it's a host of factors.
posted by sockermom at 6:15 AM on June 7, 2014

Have we seen much of Piper's mom before? I think living with that would be way more toxic than catching your dad philandering. Grandma didn't seem especially helpful to healthy development either.

To be clear, I dislike Piper. But I think you are supposed to. I think the point is that she is often a worse person than the women who look more to society's eye like criminals.
posted by chatongriffes at 7:35 AM on June 7, 2014 [6 favorites]

sockermom - I think Piper seeing her dad and the other flashbacks are just to establish that she grew up being taught never to take unnecessary risks - which is why she decided in the end that playing it safe was better than telling the truth, even when her desire to finally do the right thing seemed like it would win out.
posted by caution live frogs at 8:39 AM on June 7, 2014 [3 favorites]

Is Piper seeing her dad with another woman on the street supposed to be the root cause (or one of the root causes) of her behavior?

No. It's about the scene with her grandmother.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:20 AM on June 7, 2014 [4 favorites]

I must have gotten distracted by my cat at some point and missed some key scenes in the episode. Sorry for the uninformed comment and thanks for the explanations! Looks like I've got some rewatching to do.
posted by sockermom at 9:24 AM on June 7, 2014

It would be an interesting wrinkle if later we heard that Koupra (sp?) had Alex killed for testifying against him, and that Piper actually saved her own skin.

Not clear why she couldn't just plead the Fifth though.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 11:36 AM on June 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

Are prison planes a real thing? It seems like an insane expense for the federal government to own and operate their own $100M+ jet just to move prisoners around. With no bathroom doors, it's not like you could easily just charter one for special flights either.
posted by mathowie at 12:45 PM on June 7, 2014

I would have thought the prison plane would have had more security (a la Con Air), seems like it would be too easy for the prisoners to overcome the guards. In the Chicago prison, there's male inmates mixing with female inmates, does this Hall pen IRL?

Piper isn't meant to be sympathetic, I think. But after a few months in prison, good have thought she'd have toughened up some and learned to cope with the zodiac inmate.
posted by arcticseal at 2:01 PM on June 7, 2014

Prison planes are a real thing. Previously documented in the movie 'ConAir'. The trip she took from Danbury to Chicago would have taken weeks, and she would have had to get off and stay somewhere random, like Atlanta for some amount of days. The planes make many many stops and do not follow a direct or foreseeable route at all. Everyone HATES having to go on conair; from what I've heard it is much worse than what was shown on the show. Some prisons even have their own airports...

I think sometimes that it is hard to even fathom how many people are in prison, and how massive the infrastructure is required to keep them there. Another thing that isn't really shown on the show is the trauma of being put in a prison REALLY far from your home. The federal government has separated the country into six regions, and your sentencing judge can request that you be placed in a particular region is, but the Bureau of Prisons makes their own decisions, and even if you are designated to a particular region it doesn't mean it will be close to your home.

(my knowledge comes from my job, not from my past, not that anyone should judge a person who has been to prison, I just don't want to be fronting like I'm tough or anything)
posted by goneill at 2:05 PM on June 7, 2014 [9 favorites]

The gender integrated prison transport and facility strained my credulity to the point of distraction. Even if it is a real thing I can't imagine for what possible purpose the show would include it.
posted by mzurer at 3:51 PM on June 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

Favorite line: "Ain't no mountains in the Midwest, dumbass. There's plains and corn and a shit ton of white people who don't vote in their best interest."
posted by valeries at 4:17 PM on June 7, 2014 [32 favorites]

Not booches - close captioning showed it as poochies.
posted by tilde at 6:08 PM on June 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

I also had trouble with the integrated transportation and holding. Is that a thing? It seems far too dangerous for women. Especially having the male inmates doing work in a way they can freely access the female inmates. If it is real? I've got a whole new thing to get angry about our prison system on top of the existing pile of injustices.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 7:27 PM on June 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

Pootchies! I thought its was hootchies, like hootchies mamma, but a cross between that and pooches to bring back the dog reference I guess.
posted by Iteki at 11:37 PM on June 7, 2014

I liked it. I had read Alan Sepinwall's (spoiler-free in terms of actual plot points) season overview which explained that the first episode was Piper-centric, so the lack of other familiar cast members wasn't as jarring as it would have been otherwise. I thought the episode did an excellent job portraying the utter helplessness, hopelessness, confusion and despair someone like Piper would be feeling.

If I have a major complaint it is that the "surprise" ending, with Alex double-crossing Piper, was pretty well telegraphed and thus didn't quite pack the emotional punch it was intended to.
posted by The Gooch at 11:58 PM on June 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

More info about the DoC plane system:
The flight schedules are kept secret from the public, and are known only to those directly involved in its operation. Inmates scheduled to fly are given little or no advance notice of their flight, to deter escapes and sabotage, and to prevent harm from outsiders.
Passengers aboard a flight are restrained with handcuffs as well as ankle and waist chains which are double or even triple locked. Those who pose additional danger may be given additional restraints, such as reinforced mittens that completely isolate and almost completely immobilize the hands and face masks to prevent biting and spitting. However due to FAA regulations inmates are not physically restrained to their seats in any way except for seat belts used during takeoff and landing.
Flight and seating arrangements are made carefully with the intent to separate inmates who may conflict with one another. Members of rival prison gangs may be transported on different days to help reduce the risk of an in-flight incident.
Unlike the practice of most jails, male and female inmates fly together on the same planes.
posted by rewil at 8:10 AM on June 8, 2014 [5 favorites]

The gender integrated prison transport and facility strained my credulity to the point of distraction. Even if it is a real thing I can't imagine for what possible purpose the show would include it.

Probably because it's another real world example that is pretty fucking appalling and frightening that raises the dramatic stakes just a little bit because you can so easily and quickly imagine all the ways that could go wrong. And how harassment of the women is so low on the "shitty things that could happen" that it almost doesn't register until you realize that it does.

(For the record, the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Chicago also houses male and female prisoners, though I have no idea if there's any possible cafeteria interaction like was shown here. I do know that I have no idea why the bus would have to cross the river two or three different times to get there. I love me some establishing shots of my fair city but that bus route was ridiculous.)

The worst thing about how Piper is treated when she boards the bus and plane to go somewhere but is not told where or why is that's how we treat people who are arrested (and not even yet prosecuted) for much less serious crimes than what she has been charged with.

"Ain't no mountains in the midwest, dumb ass. There's plains and corn and a shit ton of white people who don't vote in their best interests."

There's something about that line that reminds you, in case you've forgotten, that this show is definitely made by the same person who made Weeds.

I love this as an opening to a new season of a streaming show. It's a strong first episode but it leaves you wanting more of the other stories you've grown to care about, so you can just go ahead and watch the second one!

(I did not love it as somebody who just finally finished the back half of season 1 this weekend and didn't even really have time to watch it last night but decided to watch "just one more episode" anyway.)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 8:13 AM on June 9, 2014 [4 favorites]

This show is one of those "living nightmare" shows I find it hard to watch but I have to anyway. I have a very deep fear of falling into that system and getting lost. The shots of Chicago made me feel weirdly homesick for a place I am right now. I was working at Willis Tower when they shot those scenes. You can actually see the prison from there, and the prisoners on the roof.

I don't see Piper as being particularly whiny, but she is entitled- but I don't see that as a bad thing. She does feel entitled to personhood, but I think it's healthy.
posted by bleep at 4:48 PM on June 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

And yes, that bus route was "Bob Newhart-esque"
posted by bleep at 4:57 PM on June 9, 2014 [2 favorites]

I'm split on this episode. The writing on the show often disappoints me, and I thought this script was mediocre. Using flashbacks strikes me as an unsatisfying way of adding character shading, especially when you're not even using the series regulars to play themselves, as in this case. The newbie's search for the perfect cockroach at the behest of veteran inmates felt like a direct rehash of Chicken Quest from the first season. And the whole Alex-tells-the-truth twist was obvious enough to completely defuse any possible suspense over whether Piper herself would lie (she has to in order to give the story its ironic denouement), which made a chunk of the episode pretty tedious.

But I enjoyed the single-character narrative. And Jodie Foster's direction seemed really focused and on point. She got a series-best performance out of Taylor Schilling, which ain't nothing, concentrating on maximizing her sense of confusion and emotional isolation. As noted upthread, she did a really good job of unspooling worst-case scenarios in viewers' heads over the commingling of male and female inmates (and managed to land the jokes, too). And some of the blocking and camerawork was really nice, especially the slow track from Piper's left side to her right, bringing Lori Petty into the frame as Piper cries over Pennsatucky. I thought it was pretty gripping stuff despite some glaring missteps.
posted by Mothlight at 7:09 AM on June 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

Why are so many people down on Piper? I mean, yeah, the show likes to point to her as an asshole, but what did she do that was so bad, really? Cheat on Larry? Act a little ditzy and selfish? How is she in any way worse than the other inmates?
posted by archagon at 4:53 PM on June 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

I think that the way Piper is played by the actress is weird, personally. She's so... flat. She always seems dazed and confused. It bugs me. I want the actress to seem less like she's just walking around and doing whatever and more like she is actually acting.

Also, people like that in real life are just awful to be around. "I don't know why dramatic things keep happening around me! I hate drama, but somehow it just follows me around!" No. Dramatic things keep happening to you because you like drama and you foster it. Take responsibility for your actions, because you are causing dramatic things to happen in your life if it's a consistent pattern, especially at Piper's age. If you've met enough of these people, the very whiff of someone like them - even on television - will annoy you at best and repulse you at worst.
posted by sockermom at 5:29 PM on June 13, 2014 [5 favorites]

I don't know, she's not that bad, especially this season. I think people find her boring. And like a typical whiny yuppie that people love to hate. It took us a long time to get to know her and to find out what was interesting about her, and in the meantime we had to sit through a whole bunch of worlds most boring and tedious love triangle with Alex and Larry.
posted by bleep at 5:35 PM on June 13, 2014

The gender-integrated prison plane thing shows up in the nonfiction memoir on which this show is based. In fact, iirc, it WAS a longer multi-stage trip, and the men were already on the plane when Piper boarded with a much smaller number of women, so it actually was worse than portrayed. On the other hand, again if I remember right, the [finale of Season 1] wasn't in the book, and she didn't go there straight from SHU, so I don't think she was quite as confused about what was going on.
posted by salvia at 6:18 PM on June 15, 2014

How many times is she going to fall for Alex's bullshit?

The weird thing is that I hate Piper so much I tend to find myself agreeing with Alex, even though I know we're not supposed to trust her. I'm starting to wonder if that's not deliberate. Watching this episode, my thought process was basically, "Ugh, Piper, sometimes it's better to look out for yourself and not worry about being 100% truthful at all times." Which I guess played right into Alex's hands?
posted by Sara C. at 11:47 AM on June 21, 2014

I was super excited to see a bunch of the recurring cast promoted to main cast in the opening credits!

The transport issue I just couldn't believe was Piper and Alex being taken together to the courthouse, in near privacy, with plenty of time to collaborate on their stories. (Not that that it happened that way, but STILL.)

While I did kind of love Piper's monologue on the plane, about her actions in regard to Pennsatucky and not knowing there was a THERE to go to, inside of her, I never seem to feel any momentum in regard to Piper's character, even after what should be big emotional moments, and that wasn't an exception. The fear and the powerlessness Piper feels, that's all good stuff to portray, and it's portrayed well. But it doesn't seem to result in shifting Piper into doing anything interesting.
posted by mixedmetaphors at 9:59 AM on July 10, 2014

I don't see Piper as being particularly whiny, but she is entitled- but I don't see that as a bad thing. She does feel entitled to personhood, but I think it's healthy.

bleep, TY for helping me to rethink my understanding of Piper's role in the series. Her assumption (& expressions) of personhood should be the baseline mindset and behavior of every prisoner. Yet it isn't, because they exist in the context of lifelong oppression and have developed functional work-arounds. Like the idea that you learn to wear an elaborate construction of maxi-pads because you know that your pleas to use the toilet will be ignored.
posted by Cheezitsofcool at 10:22 AM on June 29, 2015

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