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"40 Oz. of Furlough" is the ninth episode of the second season of Orange Is the New Black. It is the twenty-second episode of the series overall. It premiered on June 6, 2014. It was written by Lauren Morelli and directed by SJ Clarkson.
It’s the blessed day of Piper’s furlough and she wakes up to find a smiling Red watching her. Red hands her a post it, the address of her shop, and gives her a hug before sending her off into the world. Before Piper leaves, she has to go through a strip search by CO Wanda Bell who encourages her to “shake out that pink.” Piper gets a pair of prison issue civies, and is escorted out by CO Scott O'Neill who runs down the lists of rules and regulations for her furlough: "No booze, no drugs, no fun. Got it?". She steps out into the cool spring air, free for a full 48 hours. Cal Chapman and his monstrous station wagon have come to pick her up and Piper screams with joy as she piles in. Soon, their smiles turn somber as Piper laments missing her grandmother’s last days. Cal tells his sister that he made sure Nana knew that Piper was thinking of her.
Red stops by the commissary to pick up a shit load of spices. Vee, who is handling the transaction, is wildly curious but Red tells her to mind her business. Vee can’t help but notice how flush Red’s account is and starts digging around about Red’s family. Red growls back at Vee to leave her family out if it. Vee condescends about Red “finding her way” with her new crew of mature matrons.
Red finds Nicky in the hall and asks for a favor. Sure, it will only cost two boxes of Little Debbie Oatmeal Pies, Nicky tells her. Red agrees and asks Nicky to gather Red’s former crew the next night for dinner in the greenhouse. Nicky agrees but advises Red that she’s not exactly handling this whole “apology” thing the right way. Before they can finish their conversation, the doors swing open and George Mendez’s second reign of terror begins. He’s handing out SHOTS left and right, and feeling mighty good about it.
The inmates aren’t the only ones who are horrified to see Pornstache again. Bennett bursts into Caputo’s office to ask why the hell Mendez has been allowed back at Litchfield. Caputo informs him that Mendez’s suspension is up, and his brand of boorish civil rights infringement is just what the administration is looking for. Bennett exclaims that he is more that up for the task of being the bad guy and Caputo asks him to prove it.
In a nicely decorated office, on a couch with tasteful throw pillows, Mr. Healy sits for his first therapy session. His therapist tries to get to the heart of Healy’s anger issues which makes him angry. Not exactly one who is comfortable being questioned by women, he lashes out at her. He apologizes but the therapist knows she’s got a lot of work ahead of her.
At the podium of the Litchfield AA meeting is Nicky, who expounds on the evils of heroin in her own special way. She’s painfully honest about the drug that landed her in prison. “Heroin is the love of my life. She’s my best girlfriend. She’s my soulmate, cause she makes me feel better than anything.” Also sitting in on the meeting are Vee (reading The Fault in Our Stars), Suzanne (getting her back rubbed by Vee) and Taystee (generally glowering). Rosa, who is the leader of the meeting, wishes them all well and ends the session. Vee approaches Rosa at the end and offers her the copy of The Fault in Our Stars, thinking it’s would be right up a dying woman’s alley. Vee asks Rosa what her escape is, trying to get a feel for any weakness of addiction she can exploit. Rosa doesn’t play that game though and walks away. Vee sets her eyes on Nicky next. From the other side of the door, Red watches the exchange with a wary eye.
Red heads straight to Gloria to discuss her stashed goods, but their conversation is interrupted by a puffed up Bennett. He orders Red out of bounds for being near the kitchen and issues her a shot when she talks back to him. Fearless, Red walks up to him and whispers, “You’re going to make a great father.”
In the library, Poussey is doing a bang up job with the stamps for smokes racket. The inmates stick the stamps in the library card slot and voila. Tampon cigarette and Flowers in the Attic for you! Suzanne stops in to drop off replenishment and for a second, she and Poussey act like actual friends. But just for a second.
A nervous Larry prepares French press coffee in anticipation of Piper’s arrival. When he answers the door, he and Piper share an awkward hug. Piper gets teary at the homey smell of the apartment, which is no longer hers. All of Piper’s stuff is literally in a box on the left. Piper asks about Polly, which makes the color drain from Larry’s face as he fumbles around for some reasonable answer. “She’s fine!” Larry reluctantly offers to let Piper stay at his place, but she knows that isn’t something he wants. Plus she has to stay at her folk’s house since that is what’s on the prison paperwork. Piper suggests that she, Larry and Cal all go to the Spotted Pig and eat overpriced burgers and drink bourbon. Cal thinks that’s a swell idea, except for the whole funeral home viewing. Once there, Piper stands in the greeting line with her parents, as she has to explain herself to mourner after mourner.
In the cafeteria, Mendez zeroes in on Soso, who is not eating. He gives her a dose of his personal brand of torture. Soso stands up to him, but has no idea what she’s dealing with. He calls her out in front of the other inmates, but she strikes back shouting that she is starting a hunger strike to protest the conditions at the prison. Mendez grabs her and takes her away. When the other women start to raise their voices, giving Soso props, Bennett slams his hand on the table, causing everyone to be quiet. He can’t follow through though and asks them politely to keep it down.
At the memorial dinner back at Piper’s parents house, Piper is slamming Pinot Grigios and eating lettuce straight from the salad bowl. Larry is there, she takes his wine as well, then starts pawing at him. She’s more than a little tipsy at this point and asks if he wants to do it, but he is understandably hesitant. He excuses himself to the bathroom as Piper’s father walks into the room. He comments on the fact that Piper shouldn’t be drinking, and how unfortunate it would be if she ended up with an longer sentence over a couple glasses of wine. She confronts him about the fact that her hasn’t visited her, but he asks her to leave it be for the day. He just lost his mother, a fact that Piper seems to have forgotten by being so wrapped up in her own head space. He does tell Piper that her grandmother was proud of her, her whole life. He admits that he just can’t bear to see his little girl in prison. He doesn’t think that is who Piper really is. “That’s exactly who I am,” she replies and walks away.
Piper walks in on Larry in the bathroom and starts kissing him. They start having awkward bathroom sink sex, but Larry can’t get aroused. Piper tries another way, but Larry can’t hold in the truth any longer. He slept with someone else. She handles it pretty well for the most part, and asks if it’s someone that she knows. When he says yes, she stops him from saying anything more. They sit on the cold bathroom tiles together and have the conversation they’ve been putting off since Alex came back into Piper’s life.
It’s so hard to let go, even when you can see the writing on the wall. Those goofy days of kisses and brunches, reading the paper together, talking till dawn. They all come flooding back, even when they are no longer a part of your life together. Piper knows that Larry’s been holding on for her, and she him. It’s just they don’t fit anymore. She rests her head on his shoulder and tells him she loves him one last time. He returns the sentiment.
Soso is aggressively doing laundry when Leanne Taylor and Pennsatucky walk in for their shift. When Pennsatucky rides her about showing up early, Soso explains that she’s been given extra work duty by a new guard for standing up for her beliefs. Pennsatucky tells Soso that conviction isn’t really embraced by people (cough, Leanne, cough). Soso explains that once word gets out about her hunger strike, the rest of the prison will follow suit. Leanne thinks that Soso might actually have a point. Pennsatucky finds Leanne’s response pretty comical since she’s never expressed concern for prison conditions before. Leanne tells Soso, depending on what’s for lunch, she just might join her hunger strike. Pennsatucky gives the women a sarcastic round of applause so Leanne gets up in her face to let her know that Pennsatucky doesn’t have a friend in the world now. For her insolence, Leanne’s nose violently meets the dryer courtesy of Pennsatucky.
Red’s crew saunters into the kitchen on a mission. They’ve come to retrieve Red’s goods, but Flaca, Maritza Ramos and Maria Ruiz know when they hell they are talking about. They make the mistake of teasing Frieda and the other women about being old and decrepit. Frieda in turn, whips out a shiv, and places it to the side of Flaca’s pretty face. Frieda reveals she’s in prison because she lopped her husband’s dick off back in the day. The Golden Oldies leave with what they came for. “It’s so disappointing being underestimated as you age,” Irma remarks as they walk out.
In the broom closet, Daya is giving Bennett a hand job while he freaks out about the prisoners knowing he’s the father of Daya’s baby, not to mention Mendez being back. She tells him not to worry, Red isn’t going to say anything and Mendez hasn’t even said hello to her. The hand job isn’t going so well so Bennett zips up his pants and confesses his plan to tell Caputo that Mendez is the father of the baby. Daya takes issue now with throwing Mendez under the bus, but Bennett finds a way to rationalize the whole mess. Even though he and Mendez both did the same thing by sleeping with Daya, Bennett loves her. She is quick to point out that Mendez loves her too. Bennett then reminds her that screwing Mendez so he would get sent to jail was her idea in the first place. Oh these two. Leanne and her bruised up face approach Poussey in the library looking for something to dull the pain. Leanne is looking for the hard stuff and heard Vee’s crew is selling it. Poussey sends her away empty handed, but now Poussey is confused and full on pissed off.
At Piper’s grandmother’s funeral, she delivers a sweet eulogy about her grandmother’s reaction to Piper screwing up the Christmas cookies one year. “Piper, life is made in the mistakes,” her grandmother would say. When Piper starts weeping, Cal takes over. He talks about celebrating life, and part of that is co-opting his grandmother’s funeral and making it into a wedding much to the chagrin of his parents. He’s actually had the whole thing planned. His bride to be Neri pulls a rose off of Grandmother’s coffin and puts it in her hair, and then they kiss in front of all the mourners/wedding guests.
Poussey finds Taystee in the hallway and confronts her about the drugs Vee is selling. Taystee is far from interested in having this discussion and warns Poussey to keep her mouth shut if she doesn’t want to deal with Vee’s wrath. Taystee says that Vee is her family, a role that Poussey thought she held in Taystee’s life. Taystee grabs Poussey by the collar and warns her not to talk about Vee anymore.
Mr. Healy attempts to counsel Pennsatucky who is in trouble again for assaulting Leanne. She sobs and begs him not to send her to SHU again. Healy whips out some of the same questions his therapist asked him in his session. He asks her if she’s quick to anger, then describes what that feels like. She’s taken aback by his insight and he opens up about his own problems with anger. He assigns her to weekly counseling sessions in lieu of the SHU.
Red has laid out a lovely spread in the greenhouse for her new and old crews. Nicky even manages to convince Norma and Gina to come along, albeit reluctantly. Big Boo, Morello, Yoga Jones, and Sister Ingalls are also in attendance. Boo drops her napkin and spies the sewer grate that Red uses to smuggle in the goods. She promptly gets a smack on the head for interrupting Red’s speech as well. Red finally apologizes to Gina and the rest of the women. “I’m willing to make this more of a democracy if that’s what you all want. I just want my family back,” she tearfully tells them. Red takes special care to tell Norma how much she misses her, and Norma responds by lifting her glass. Everyone cheers. Na Zdorovie!
The Spanish girls tell Gloria that three older inmates came in and stole their goods. Just as they try to defend themselves to Gloria, Irma comes in with a box of spices and Red’s apologies.
As Bennett walks down the hall, he finds a cigarette butt on the floor and becomes enraged. All the fear and frustration comes bubbling up and he starts tearing apart one of the dorms, starting with Suzanne and Taystee’s bunk. Mendez watches from the control room, getting a real kick out of Bennett’s meltdown. “I’m in charge!” Bennett screams. “I’m in control!” Mendez rushes out and grabs a crying Bennett like he would a child, advising him to call down and attempting to comfort him. He then escorts Bennett out and away from the inmates.
At Cal and Neri’s reception/Grandmother’s wake, Piper sits and watches the festivities from afar. At the same table, and older couple comments on how great Piper was as a child, an achiever. They tell Piper they still see her that way, but Piper knows that life will never be the same after this experience. She is forever changed in both wonderful and terrible ways. Piper leaves and heads to Queens where she finds Red’s shop shuttered and up for lease. She then goes to a bodega, where she chooses a 40 over a bottle of champagne. She sits alone on a bridge, the wind whipping through her hair, eating a cheeseburger but contemplating eating the world.
Big Boo waits for Vee in the bathroom to let her know she’s found out how Red’s getting in contraband. But first, Boo wants a cut of the cigarette dealings. Vee finds Boo to be smug and opportunistic, but Boo has what she wants, so Vee agrees.
As Nicky sets up for AA, Taystee comes in and hands her an unexpected bag of heroin. Nicky can’t even believe what she’s looking at, and Poussey watches the whole thing from the other side of the room.
Caputo lectures a nearly catatonic Bennett about his behavior. Bennett admits to being under a lot of stress, but Caputo tells him to leave his personal shit at home. Then Bennett lets it out that Daya is pregnant. And names Mendez as the father. This is the best news Caputo has heard in a long time.
Note: Flashbacks are arranged in chronological order, not the order in which they occur on the show.
Flashback to Red’s first night in prison. She and her long hair are huddled up and terrified in her bunk. Also there is Anita, who has just arrived as well, and Vee. As Vee starts to make her bunk, we learn this isn’t her first prison rodeo. A group of African-American prisoners make their way into the bunk, led by a woman named Rhonda. Rhonda hands Vee a welcome basket of toiletries and tells Vee to meet them for breakfast. Vee, who doesn’t take kindly to being told what to do, tells them that she’s not a morning person, so no thanks. Rhonda gets in Vee’s face and tells her that she’s a breakfast person as of right now. Vee offers Red a toothbrush and toothpaste from the basket and starts making chit-chat. Red reveals that she’s on kitchen duty and her store’s produce guy is now the prison produce vendor because of her. Vee suggests that Red use the connection to her advantage but Red is hesitant to break any more rules. Vee tells Red it’s all about survival.
Red and Vee are in the kitchen at Litchfield while Red works. Vee tells Red that Rhonda was "sent to max" but she doesn’t know why. New girl and all. This is also the time when Anita has her first heart attack. Vee and Red share a casual closeness that makes their inevitable fallout feel even more unsettling. Red pulls Vee aside to show her a stash of contraband that she has hiding in the dry goods. Red is pretty pleased with herself and Vee seems impressed to say the least. Red shows her hand too soon. A member of Rhonda’s crew, which now seems to be Vee’s crew, interrupts them. Red suddenly registers that she might be out of her league batting with Vee.
Vee and her crew approach Red in the kitchen. Red thinks that her troubles are over until she finds out that Vee is the one who sent the threats. When Vee tells Red how things are going to change, Red threatens to tell Mr. Healy. Vee warns her that is she does that, she’ll end up just like Rhonda, "sent away to Max". When Red vows that Vee will never take her business away from her, Vee lands the first punch. She instructs her crew to finish the job and they take turns until Red is broken and bloody.
It is later revealed that Vee killed Rhonda.
Flashback to Red and Norma in the kitchen, working their side business without a care in the world. One of Rhonda’s old crew shows up to tell Red they plan on taking over the smuggling operation. Red is far from intimidated, though Norma looks a little nervous. Red says her boss will have to come herself if she wants to discuss anything further. She then shoos the woman away.
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