Review: Orange is the New Black, Episodes 3-5

Written by Dylan Brandsema



One thing this show does so well is find that perfect balance of comedy and drama that many other shows can’t. Despite it’s dramatic structure and story, this season’s third episode, humorously titled “Empathy Is A Boner Killer” is probably the funniest episode in a long time for the series.

Orange is the New Black Season 3, Episode 3
Photo Credit: JoJo Whilden for Netflix

As we’ve known, one of the funniest characters in the show is Luschek (Matt Peters) Litchfield’s electrician and one of the shop instructors. Up until until this point, with the exception of the missing screwdriver story in Season 1, Luschek has always been a comic relief character – commenting and blurting out jokes where they don’t necessarily need to be there, but always made for a good chuckle. This time around, he’s actually utilized for story purpose, and he’s woven into the show’s quilt of characters quite well. It’s nice to see, and considering the effect his utilization has on the characters, we’re sure to see it more of it in the future.

This season also provides us with an interesting look into Nicky’s (Natasha Lyonne) criminal past. We’ve seen flashbacks of her before, but now we get to see how she got into prison, and why she’s the person that she is. It’s riveting stuff, and Lyonne’s eccentric performance only fuels the flame.

Laura Prepon in Orange is the New Black
Photo Credit: JoJo Whilden for Netflix

The highlight of the episode is the arc between Piper and Alex, who previously had expressed their hatred and other true feeling towards each other, then hate-fucked it out in the vacant library. They’re probably the one of the most dysfunctional TV “couples” ever — at this point, they almost hate each other’s guts, and that only makes them more attracted to each other. That continues, but also subsides. In a brilliant scene in which they’ve both conveniently been chosen to do in an improv drama scene for an acting class, they confess more feelings to one another, this time in a calmer manner, and with forgiveness and clemency. They’re forced to mask the words under the lines of the scenes that they’re making up freely, but it’s easy to understand both to us, and the inmates watching. It’s a beautiful scene, and probably some of the best acting we’ve seen so far on this show from both Taylor Schilling and Laura Prepon, as well as some of the best writing.

“Empathy Is A Boner Killer” ends with an emotional cliffhanger and effective cliffhanger. When Nicky’s drug operation goes kaput, to no help from Luschek, she’s caught redhanded and sent off to Max (short for “Maximum Security”, for those who don’t know). As we watch Nicky sit in the back of the van as it bumps along on the way across camp, we can literally see the life drained out of her. All of her prospects are gone, and all that’s left is unattended sadness. “I know what I have to do”, she says as her fears slowly overwhelm her. What does she mean? We don’t get the chance to find out. We might never find out, in fact. This final scene brings the episode to a close with a hard hitting cliffhanger, making “Empathy Is A Boner Killer” the best of these first three chapters.

More please.


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