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"Empathy Is a Boner Killer" is the third episode of the third season of Orange Is the New Black. It is the twenty-ninth episode of the series overall. It premiered on June 11, 2015. It was written by Nick Jones and directed by Michael Trim.
Norma is in the middle of a spiritual session with Angie when Luschek approaches Nicky's bunk and wakes her up, telling her she's needed in electrical. Nicky says it's not her shift but Luschek says it's an emergency. Luschek tells Nicky he found a dealer (his brother-in-law) to sell their heroin stash but Nicky says that it's not where they left it and it's probably stolen. Enraged, Luschek says that's why women end up in prison: they suck at crime.
Outside, Daya, Maritza and Flaca discuss planning Daya's wedding to Bennett. Daya isn't getting out for three years, but Maritza and Flaca believe she should start looking at dresses, DJs and wedding halls right away: "go big or go really big", since it's also about family and friends. Maria asks them why they think Daya would want them there, and Daya backs up Flaca's assertion that they're family. Maria says that they won't stay in touch after prison because they'll realize they're not family; they're band-aids and once you rip them off, all they are to each other are scars.
Caputo is updating his resume when CO Charles Ford walks into his office asking if the rumors are true about Litchfield closing. Caputo won't confirm or deny, but instead tells him that if Ford is losing his job, he will be the first to know.
Outside in the garden, Golden Girls Frieda and Irma discuss growing a cornfield and renting it out "like a motel room". Irma objects, saying she joined them to garden, make things grow and just wants to enjoy the simple things; Frieda says they can do that, while they also rent out the cornfield for sex.
Healy approaches Red, apologizes for their previous argument and asks if she can help him communicate with his Ukrainian mail-order bride, Katya, by translating their conversation. Red protests that she can't be their marriage counselor but Healy has cleared Red's schedule for the evening so she has no choice.
Alex sits with her new counselor CO Berdie Rogers, who asks about her black eye and hickey. Alex brushes her off and asks about her work assignment, and Rogers says that she doesn't give out assignments until she gets to know her, and she's teaching a drama class later. Alex says she's not interested, but she gets that Rogers wants to make a difference and thinks she's one of the good guys. But Alex continues that "we all think we're good guys" and Rogers' efforts won't make any difference to inmates at Litchfield. When she's finished ranting, Rogers asks Alex if she can give that great speech again in drama class.
In the laundry room, Nicky brings a ladder over to a lighting fixture and finds Soso folding jumpsuits wearing a bra. Soso uncomfortably explains that it's hot in the laundry room and she's leaving. But she's not leaving because of Nicky… she was leaving anyway. Nicky climbs the ladder to the ceiling fixture and hides her 'stolen' heroin stash quickly. Soso returns with a question: why doesn't Nicky talk to her? Soso tells Nicky she uses people and throws them away. Nicky snaps back that she looks out for her friends but Soso isn't one of them.
In the lunch room Morello, Piper and Yoga Jones sit discussing the origins of the blow job when Alex storms in, upset about Piper giving her a hickey, trying to 'brand her' and she's not her 'sex cow'. Alex plans to hurt Piper and take her power back. Thanks to Piper, Kubra knows exactly where Alex is now and she has put her in danger. Morello teases Alex that it's nice to see them back together but Alex says they're not together, Piper is her sex cow.
COs Ford, Bell and O'Neill sort inmate mail and discuss Litchfield's future. Ford says the powers-that-be don't tell them anything and Bell says they're probably afraid they'll cash in their vacation days. When Caputo enters the room Ford asks Bell about her house. Bell says she took out a home-improvement loan and pointedly remarks "good thing [she] has a steady job!". Caputo says nothing and exits.
As Rogers places chairs in her drama class, Healy enters and tells her that he's tried these types of events before and don't expect too much of a turnout. As if on cue, the room suddenly fills with inmates and Healy is clearly irritated. He tries to bond with the inmates as Berdie has, making an inappropriate remark at Alex, calling her a 'dumb bitch', which doesn't go down well. Embarrassed, he walks out as Rogers starts her class.
In the exercise yard, Taystee and Poussey hold a funeral over a wheelbarrow full of charred books, returning their ashes to the trees. Daya approaches and asks Blanca if she has seen Bennett; she hasn't since before the weekend.
In the laundry room, Angie and Leanne fold khakis and discuss Norma. Angie says there's something calm about her, a quiet energy. Angie said she's made her birthday wish but won't tell what it is. CO Kowalski enters and asks why there are shoes in the dryer. When Leanne shows him the work order, the light fixture pops open and Nicky's heroin bags fall to the floor. While Leanne and Kowalski don't notice, Angie quickly runs over and retrieves the bags. When Kowalski leaves, Angie shows Leanne the bags and announces that her birthday wish came true.
In Rogers' drama class, Morello is performing an unsuccessful improv scene with Chang, so Rogers asks Piper and Alex to come up for an exercise involving a grocery store and bruised fruit. Piper admits that she missed Alex's 'patronage' so she sold her bad fruit so she would come back into her store. Piper is sorry but also not sorry, because by selling her bad fruit, she got to see her again. When Piper offers Alex a new piece of fruit, she responds that she knows she has a thing for soft fruit. The play is a metaphor for their relationship, obvious to Rogers and the inmates whom cheer at then end.
Nicky looks out a window watching inmates get into a van to leave. Pennsatucky sees how badly Nicky wants out of prison. Nicky asks if she doesn't and Pennsatucky says if it does happen it would be a nice surprise but if it doesn't, she didn't care to begin with. Boo walks up and, after asking Penn to leave, asks Nicky where the heroin is. Nicky lies that she doesn't know. Boo warns Nicky that she best not be lying to her.
At Nicky's bunk, she tells Norma and her followers to take their gathering to the kitchen, but no one's budging. When Nicky states that Norma doesn't have any abilities, Angie and Leanne come up, stoned on their newfound heroin, arguing that Norma has 'powerful powers' Nicky runs to the laundry room, finds the heroin gone and goes to Luschek for help.
Caputo calls Figueroa to congratulate her on her husband Jason's state Senate win and asks for help in saving Litchfield from closing. Figueroa, now remodeling the new Albany family home, isn't interested. Caputo reminds her of Gavin, Jason's 'butt boy' and also how they embezzled money from the prison and he'd be forced to come out and say that her husband is a 'lying embezzling fudge-packer'.
In Healy's office, Red translates a mediation session with Healy and his wife Katya, saying they've lost that feeling they had in the beginning, but Katya says they never had any real feeling because Healy isn't who he said he was on the Internet. He doesn't enjoy the opera, he isn't funny, he drools…and it's too late, because Katya deserves a better man. Red snaps in English that Katya doesn't deserve anything; she's a mail-order bride who isn't willing to lift a finger to keep their relationship going and Healy is a good man, he's handsome, he takes care of her and her mother and he's at least trying, which is more than Red can say for Katya. Healy looks surprised and pleased at this.
In the laundry room, Luschek finds Angie passed out in a pile of laundry and tells her to give him the heroin or she will spend the rest of her sentence in Max. When Leanne emerges from the laundry pile, Luschek takes the drugs from them and threatens to kill them if they say a word to anyone. When Luschek later prepares baggies for sale while Nicky looks on longingly, he tells her that she's better off without heroin and it's best to get it out of the prison altogether.
Daya overhears one of the inmates, Annie, tell Lea that the 'cute' guard is back. Daya excitedly runs outside to find CO Ford, then walks away quickly. Angie and Leanne then tell CO Ford that they know where to find drugs and a prison employee is the culprit. CO Ford tells them to go away. Angie tells him to look into Electrical - specifically Luschek.
In the library, Alex says she doesn't have anger and hate anymore and doesn't want to hurt Piper, thanks to Rogers' drama class. What then, asks Piper, do they do now that they can't have hate sex? Alex suggests hate snuggling. Piper says she doesn't think that's a thing.
Outside, Ford, Bell and O'Neill sit eating lunch discussing where Bennett went. Caputo walks up and asks if an inmate said something about drugs. Bell said Angie and Leanne were squawking all over camp about it and Caputo asks why they didn't do their job and report it. Because, says Ford, why bother? Caputo tells them the prison is closing and everyone needs to do their jobs effectively until then. He orders Ford and Donaldson to follow him to Electrical.
In Electrical, Luschek tells Nicky that the heroin has all been sold and Nicky reminds him to put her share into her commissary. Caputo, Ford and Donaldson enter and begin a sweep; Donaldson finds a small heroin baggie in Luschek’s desk. When Luschek rightfully points the finger at Nicky, she is quickly seized to be taken to Maximum Security.
Outside in the parking lot, Figueroa hands Caputo an envelope containing the business plan of a private firm (Management & Correction Corporation - MCC) in the hopes of acquiring Litchfield to save it from closing.
As Donaldson escorts Nicky to a van waiting to take her to Max, Morello and Red follow her and ask what happened. Nicky doesn't bother to explain as she taken into the van. Red is devastated that she has failed her 'daughter'. Pennsatucky, who is driving the van, remarks that she wanted out, she's getting out! Penn asks if she said goodbye to her mom. Nicky says that Red isn't her mom and she wouldn't wish that on anyone as her reality starts to sink in.
Note: Flashbacks are arranged in chronological order, not the order in which they occur on the show.
Nicky and her friends Drew and Jade need to score heroin but their dealer is leaving soon and they have to get uptown quickly. When a cab driver ignores Nicky's request for a ride and walks away, leaving his keys in the ignition, Nicky and her friends steal the cab, and Nicky immediately crashes it.
In the limo ride home upon Nicky's release from jail, she begs her mother for money to bail out her friends. Her mother says no, so Nicky grabs her mother's wallet from her purse, takes the cash and says she needs to take a walk and think for a while.
While Nicky gets high with other junkies, she talks on the phone with her jailed friend Drew and lies that she couldn't get bail money. When he hangs up on her, Nicky says she didn't force her friends to get into the cab and it's not her fault they're in jail. She does have an idea, though: their friend Monica has rare valuable books in her home that they can sell - and she happens to leave her door open for the dog walker during the day. When her friend suggests they use the money to bail Drew and Jade out, Nicky hesitates and says 'Let's play it by ear'.
Nicky and her mother meet with a lawyer, who explains that even if the burglary charges are dropped, she's still looking at 5 to 10 years. Nicky lashes out at her mother for giving her money even though she knows she has a drug problem. Her mother says that Nicky has 'an unquenchable thirst to self-destruct' and someday she actually will. Nicky says at least while she's in prison she'll be out of her mother's hair. Nicky's mother says she's not the enemy and never was.
- Dum Dum Girls - Coming Down (credits)
- First appearance of Annie Valdez.
- First appearance of Lea Guerrera.
- Last appearance of Irma Lerman.
- Last appearance of Jason Figueroa.
- Last appearance of Marka Nichols.
- This is the last episode of the season featuring Nicky.