New Show Recap: Orange is the New Black, 2×05, “Low Self Esteem City”

Things are starting to heat up at Litchfield, so let’s dive in!

*Trigger Warning for mention of domestic abuse

The episode opens with sewage backing up into the “Spanish Harlem” bathroom. Gloria Mendoza uses her new influence as head cook to lead her kitchen staff to try and jump the line in another bathroom. This escalates tensions with Vee, who I am still unbelievably suspicious of (Ed. note: Good instincts).

Vee Orange is the New Black
(Image Credit: Megafilmy.sk) She just looks devious.

This is a Gloria Mendoza flashback episode, which I am very excited about. She’s obviously a force to be reckoned with; a woman who isn’t anyone’s doormat. Before Litchfield, she worked at a shop that sold general bodega merchandise as well as ritualistic materials like candles and herbs. Oh, and she also lets people trade in their food stamps for cash, and claims the money back from the government, so I guess we know why she’s in prison. A disgruntled customer wants a refund for a candle that was supposed to get him a job, but he leaves, skulking out the door. Yikes. Gloria’s boyfriend shows up, and he seems like an abusive creep.

Back in present-day Litchfield, Nicky and Boo are participating in some sort of sex competition. Did the show writers think it was cute to perpetuate the “predatory lesbian” trope? We rarely get any butch lesbian representation in media, and when we do, they behave like aggressive men (see also: Pitch Perfect). I am not here for this and this arc needs to die.

Red is poking around in the abandoned greenhouse, but what is she up to? She might say that she’s too old to get into any more mischief, but we all know this is a lie. What could be under those floorboards?

Piper meets up with her family on visitation day, and her mother sympathizes with Piper’s recent break from Larry, saying, “You’ll get a new man. I’ll help you!” It turns out that Piper’s grandmother is dying, and Piper is understandably very upset that she’s going to lose one of the only family members who accepts her for who she is.

As we suspected, Gloria’s boyfriend is a terrible person. She shows up with bruises all over her face, and her mother tells her to have him deported. Gloria replies, “But he’s never hit the boys!” The boyfriend shows up at the playground, and they reconcile, and my heart breaks a little bit more. Gloria’s mother is either praying or cursing him, and I just hope it comes to fruition.

We find Figueroa and Caputo in the sewage-riddled bathroom with a contractor, who quotes them $80k for the repairs to the plumbing. Ouch. Something tells me that Fig isn’t going to pay it not because she doesn’t have the money, but because that money is going somewhere else.

Piper goes to Healy’s office to ask him for a 3-day furlough to say goodbye to her grandmother. Healy says, “Glad to see you’re looking well.” Piper replies, “Are You?” The last time Piper saw him, he was leaving her to be killed by Pennsatucky at the end of season one. He says he’ll do his best to have her furlough approved, but I can’t help but feel like it’s just guilt.

In the cafeteria, the kitchen staff has over salted the food trays for Vee’s new crew. Janae isn’t happy about it, but when she tries to ask for a new tray, Bennet goes berserk and tackles her to the floor. He really needs to cool it because his behavior is getting way too aggressive.

Back into Gloria’s flashback, we find out that the terrible abusive boyfriend hit her son. She wants to run away with the cash she stashed away from the food stamp scam, but before she can get out, the police show up and arrest her. It turns out that the disgruntled customer turned her in, ruining her life for a $4 candle. Hope you’re happy, dude.

Apparently Caputo is in a terrible band called “Side Boob” that sings songs about pedophiles, in case we needed reminding that he’s also a terrible person. He talks with Healy, who calls Figueroa a “cunt-faced monster.” Even if she is embezzling, gendered and misogynistic slurs are never acceptable. Sometimes this show just serves to remind me that people actually talk like this, and it makes me feel a host of negative emotions.

Back in the bathrooms, a confrontation develops between Vee and Gloria. Just when I think it’s going to come to blows, Vee starts…crying? I can’t help but think that this is a manipulative ploy to get what she wants, and when Red confronts Gloria, saying, “You have no idea what you’ve done,” I feel like I was right.

Closing out the episode, we see Gloria’s boyfriend skulking around in the shop, stealing her stash of food-stamp money. Appropriately, he gets locked in a room and burns to death, and I remember the prayer/curse that Gloria’s mother threw at him earlier in the episode.

Sweet, karmic retribution.

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