. . . evidence mounts that solitary confinement produces many unwanted and harmful outcomes—for the mental and physical health of those placed in isolation, for the public safety of the communities to which most will return, and for the corrections budgets of jurisdictions that rely on the practice for facility safety.
Remember the bags of Vee’s heroin that Nicky hid in the vent in the laundry? Yeah. That heroin. Well, Nicky and Big Boo (Lea DeLaria) decide to get it out of the prison. Luschek (Matt Peters) will help them and will sell it in the outside world. They plan to use the tunnel that opens into the greenhouse.
That plan falls through. Nicky gets nervous and moves the bags into a fluorescent light housing in the laundry. It falls out. The girls in the laundry get stoned on it. Luschek gets all the remaining heroin from them, puts it in a toolbox with Nicky watching, and carries it out of the prison.
Nicky saves one tiny bag and sticks it under Luschek’s desk. She can’t bear to let it all go. The laundry girls talk, so Caputo (Nick Sandow) searches electrical. Of course, they find the little bag.
Nicky gets all the blame and is sent to SHU Maximum Security [see comments]. Luschek points the finger at her, and that’s all the proof anyone needs. There is no investigation. Nicky’s just carted off. Luschek is not blamed for anything.
This happens in episode 3. Nicky is gone for the rest of the season. Orange is the New Black just isn’t right without Nicky, you know?
I wish there had been an episode near the end of season 3 where Nicky returned. It would have been good to see the effect on her. Maybe that will happen in season 4.
Motherhood is one of the main themes throughout all of season 3. Sophia’s story as a parent is particularly difficult and touching. Her son (Michael Rainey, Jr.) is doing the teen rebellion thing and she doesn’t know how to help with it. She doesn’t know if he needs mothering or fathering from her. She’s conflicted and upset. Her wife (Tanya Wright) says Michael is out of control.
She tries to help by having him come to the prison more often. Gloria (Selenis Leyva) is trying to see her teen-aged son more often, too. She arranges for him to ride with Sophia’s wife for the visits.
The boys get in trouble. Sophia blames Gloria’s boy. Gloria blames Sophia’s boy. Sophia’s wife stops bringing Gloria’s son to visit.
Tension between Sophia and the entire kitchen staff results in Sophia being targeted with transphobic bullying. It sweeps through the prison like a wave. She’s attacked and beaten up by other black women. They even take her blonde wig right off her head. Dirty fighting, that.
The fight wasn’t Sophia’s fault, but she gets taken to SHU “for her own protection.” Nothing happens to any of the instigators or attackers, although, to Gloria’s credit, she looks really sorry about what happened.
Misuse of Solitary
At least in Sophia’s case, Caputo argues against sending her to SHU. But the for-profit bosses running the prison overrule him. I have heard that putting transgender prisoners in solitary “for their own protection” is a common practice in prisons.
In both cases, SHU was used as a quick answer rather than a solution. In both cases, the person who will suffer the horrors of isolation for who-knows-how-long should have been handled in some other way.
There are documented cases where people are kept in isolation for YEARS. As many as 80,000 individuals may be held in isolation per day in federal facilities alone. “Long-term isolation can create or exacerbate serious mental health problems and assaultive or anti-social behavior, result in negative outcomes for institutional safety, and increase the risk of recidivism after release.”
Nicky and Sophia have decent mental health. What if Suzanne (Uzo Aduba) or Morello (Yael Stone) or the paranoid new prisoner Lolly (Lori Petty) ended up in SHU? What about the depressed Soso (Kimiko Glenn)? They would be basket cases when they came out. Or dead.
Piper (Taylor Schilling) did a couple of short stints in SHU in previous seasons, but she had more people working to get her out. What happens when no one is trying to get someone out?
I know Orange is the New Black is TV, not real prison. But I think it brings the injustice and inhumanity of the real prison system into focus for the general public with story lines like these for Nicky and Sophia.
It’s easy to understand why the real Piper Kerman came out of prison and wrote a book. And why she became an activist for prison reform. And why she continues to provide input into this series.
Only two episodes of Orphan Black remain in season 2 after this week’s “Variable and Full of Perturbation.” This episode introduced quite a lot of variation and perturbation to resolve in that time, especially with a new clone Tony (Tatiana Maslany) showing up.
Yep, Tony. Formerly Antoinette Zwicky, now a trans man named Tony. He’s a bit of a thug with too much long hair and sparse, wispy facial hair. (I can’t believe I once complained about Cal’s hair and beard.)
The introduction of a trans clone ties a blue ribbon and big bow on the nurture position in the nature vs. nurture debate that has been ongoing since this show began. Rachel even said, “nurture prevails” last week. I’m not saying your upbringing makes you trans. I’m saying your biology doesn’t determine your individuality.
Tony’s buddy Sammy is killed by “suits.” His dying words are for Tony to find Beth Childs. Since suspended cop Art Bell (Kevin Hanchard) still has Beth’s phone, Tony reaches Art. Art takes him to Felix (Jordan Gavaris) who quips, “Holy Tilda Swinton” at the sight of Tony. Felix and Art want to hear the message for Beth, Tony wants to know what’s going on, and nobody trusts anybody.
While at a standoff over who will give who what information first, Tony takes a bath at Felix’s place, first showing off his monster package bulging in a pair of tight shorts. Felix definitely notices. There’s a bit of sizzle between them.
Tony tries getting information out of Felix with sex. It’s a little strange with Tony looking so much like Felix’s favorite sister and all. Felix pulls back.
Tony finds paintings of the clones in the apartment. Felix still won’t reveal anything to Tony. Tony still won’t reveal anything to Felix. Tony’s about to give up and leave when Sarah arrives.
With Sarah there, we finally get the message from Sammy (who Felix and Sarah assume was Tony’s monitor) to Beth Childs. Sammy was ex-military like Paul. The message is, “Tell Beth, keep the faith. Paul’s like me. He’s on it. He’s a ghost.”
Speaking of Paul, Rachel spends the whole episode trying to find him. He’s disappeared.
Allison goes home from rehab to find Donnie (Kristian Bruun) drunk in bed. Later that night she finds him in the basement, packing to leave.
Now that they are finally using the C word together, they have a bit of mutual talk therapy. They both confess their problems with murdering people. Once they are honest with each other, it’s clear that they actually do care about each other. Instead of leaving the family, Donnie shows Allison Leekie’s body in the trunk of the car. And he mentions that he shot Leekie with Allison’s gun. Boy, do they have a lot to do.
Sarah, Cosima, Delphine, Duncan, Mrs. S, Rachel and Kira
Sarah, Kira (Skyler Wexler), Ethan Duncan (Andrew Gillies), and Mrs. S (Maria Doyle Kennedy) are all at Mrs. S’s place, waiting to see if they are going to give Duncan and his floppy disks to Dyad. Duncan is taken with Kira. He reads to her from and old copy of The Island of Doctor Moreau, a copy he used to read to Rachel. He gives Kira the book. Duncan tells Sarah that he can cure Cosima – no question about it.
At Dyad, Rachel tells Dolphine (Evelyne Brochu) that Leekie died of a heart attack and that she, Rachel, is in charge. She dispatches Delphine to get Duncan. Delphine thinks Rachel killed Leekie and the situation for Cosima is more urgent than ever.
Cosima has more or less forgiven Delphine over the Kira stem cell incident. They have a talk in which Delphine assures Cosima that she loves her. Cosima says, “You have to love all of us.” Cure one, cure them all. Delphine says she does love all of them and Cosima finally admits, “I love you, too.”
Delphine convinces Mrs. S and Sarah to let Duncan go into Dyad. When Rachel meets him again, she is cold and professional. He tells her what equipment he needs. Then he tells her that Sarah’s fertility was a failure, not a success. “You were all barren by design.” Rachel is frozen in place on the outside, but inside she cracks. Inside she throws a tantrum, tossing everything on her desk, throwing furniture, and hanging on to her emotions by the thinnest of threads.
When Delphine shows up at the lab with Duncan in tow, Cosima says it feels strange to meet her “maker.” Scott (Josh Vokey) is there to help. (Cosima told Scott that she is 324B21.) All of them are ready to get to work when Cosima has a seizure. She’s writhing on the floor with blood gushing from her mouth.
At Mrs. S’s, Kira wakes up early. She sneaks out of bed and sits on the floor with the copy of The Island of Doctor Moreau. She smiles as she leafs through the pages, which are filled with hand-written scientific drawings, chemical equations, and annotations in the text.
Helena was only mentioned in passing in this episode. Presumably she is still with the Prolethians, being impregnated with her own eggs fertilized by God’s representative on earth, Henrik.
The quote for the episode title, “Variable and Full of Perturbation,” comes from Francis Bacon’s Novum Organon, and reads:
the spirit of man (according as it is meted out to different individuals) is in fact a thing variable and full of perturbation, and governed as it were by chance.