HomeTelevisionRecap: Orange is the New Black Episodes 8-10

Recap: Orange is the New Black Episodes 8-10


EPISODE 309: “Where My Dreidel At”

“Where My Dreidel At” stands out in the overall scope of Season 3 in the sense that it is much more cinematic than we’ve come to expect for Orange Is The New Black. We see this particularly in its cinematography, and specifically during the backstory sequences – this time exploring Leanne’s (Emma Myles) criminal history, and her past life as an Amish (who would’ve known, right?). There’s a moment towards the middle of the episode, that cinematically, is unlike anything OITNB has done before – Leanne is eavesdropping on her parents through a cracked door in her Amish home. Myles’ darkly-lit face fills an entire half of the screen, the other showing her parents in their room, except they’re completely out of focus. This shot goes on a for a while, and when we get a good look at it – we get a chance to observe its framing, its style. The episode is directed by Andrew McCarthy, who most will likely know for portraying Larry Wilson in the ’80s classic Weekend At Bernie’s. McCarthy has done a lot of directing for television – he directed this season’s opener, “Mother’s Day,” as well as seven other episode for this series since Season 1. He should do more. He brings a style and framework to his episodes that make them visually and aesthetically pleasing, and brings a fresh structure to the scenes both technically, and in terms of story arrangement.

Photo Credit: JoJo Whilden for Netflix
Photo Credit: JoJo Whilden for Netflix

Another highlight to this chapter was Lori Petty’s performance as Lolly. The more suspicious her stalking of Alex (Laura Prepon) becomes, the grander her performance grows. We still don’t know quite what she’s up to, but she’s entertaining to watch. Petty weaves the ambiguity of Lolly’s actions into her performance meticulously, and with great awareness. She’s brooding, but not too intense – she keeps us in suspense, but also in the dark. She’s not a secondary character, but she’s not top billing either — she’s somewhere in between, and it works for her. Whatever she’s up, good or bad, it’ll surely it will be a hell of a thing to watch.

As to be expected, however, “Where My Dreidel At” is not all sunshine and lilacs – there’s always a black rose in the garden of red. This time around, it lies in the ongoing Norma meetings/spiritual/religious/cult/meditation club/whatever you wanna call it storyline that seems to have grown tired before it’s even really gotten started. Themes of spirituality and faith were relevant when Norma’s backstory was being explored, but what purpose do they serve here? There does exist the ongoing arch of inmates faking Judaism to get Kosher meals, but is that a really a connection? If it is, it shouldn’t be.

Lastly, let’s talk about Ruby Rose. When word got out earlier this year that she’d be a part of this show’s third season, fans raved, but not everyone did. If you’re like me, who had never heard of Ruby Rose before in their life, you took it with a grain of salt and hoped that she would add something of value to the series. When we’re first introduced to her in “Ching Chong Chang,” as well as the two episodes following, she doesn’t. For a while, she only seemed to exist for the purpose of commentary – to provide smarmy comments that serve as cherry on top of Chapman’s witty Whispers workshop monologues. She didn’t have any real story purpose. I excluded mentioning her from the last few reviews for this reason. Finally, though, it seems that she is assigned the task of driving a wedge between Piper (Schilling) and Alex, and she’s written into doing it quite well. With this, her slow, seemingly aimless introduction comes to makes sense. Now I understand. Shoving a character in and having her start conflicts right away would’ve been a silly thing to think, and unlike the nature of this show.

Photo Credit: JoJo Whilden for Netflix
Photo Credit: JoJo Whilden for Netflix

The problem is that Rose is simply not a good actress. There’s a difference between reciting lines and standing where you’re supposed to stand, and truly portraying a character. Rose sits on the former side of this side-saw. As Stella, she has no charisma, no charm, no likability, and above all, no conviction. Every second she’s on screen, we’re looking at Ruby Rose – NOT Stella, whatever Stella is supposed to be anyway.

Stella would be a better edition to Orange Is The New Black if she was played by somebody who wants to seem like they’re trying. In the long run, it doesn’t hurt “Where My Dreidel At” too bad, but it hurts it a little bit.


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