Written by Dylan Brandsema
EPISODE 311: “We Can Be Heroes”
“We Can Be Heroes” is an unusual title for an Orange Is The New Black episode. Yet, it’s appropriate, as so much of the episode focuses on the prison’s guards as they try to work their way back into the union. The episode centers in, specifically, on Caputo (Nick Sandow) who has reluctantly taken on the role of the leader of their movement. For the first time in the series, we explore the backstory of character who’s not an inmate, and it’s a surprisingly refreshing change. He’s someone mostly everyone can relate to – he’s a good, troubled man who never intends to harm, but gets shit on by everyone else. He has a compelling backstory, and he makes a good protagonist. I would watch a show about Caputo.
Recurring themes of anger run rampant in this episode – just about everyone is angry at someone or something. Piper (Taylor Schilling) is mad about conflicts within her new business. Big Boo (Lea DeLaria) at CO Coates (James McMenamin) for raping Pennsatucky (Taryn Manning), and at Pennsatucky herself for not seeking retaliation. Caputo is mad, in both past and present, at a variety of things. And Alex (Laura Prepon) is seemingly just angry in general, which actually leads to the episode’s biggest turn – the breaking up of Alex and Piper. We all knew it was going to happen eventually, given the rocky status their relationship had since Alex’s return to Litchfield, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it hurts any less.
The final scene of the episode is interestingly placed. All the Litchfield COs are involved in the plot to get back into the Union are meeting at a bar, discussing their plans. Shortly after, Caputo walks in with plans to disrupt the gathering, but at the end, joins them, and volunteers to be their leader. It’s interesting, especially having seen Caputo’s backstory, how quickly he can turn with enough conviction, and it makes the end of the episode, in a way, almost uplifting. This scene could have been anywhere in the episode, but it’s placement at the tail end of it asserts its relevance and importance. The scene preceding it is that of Alex and Piper’s break-up, which is something that connects all the way back to the first very frames of the pilot, so the placement of this scene involving only the guards as the episode’s closer is an interesting parallel to observe how far the series has come.
“We Can Be Heroes” is a different kind of OITNB episode than we usually see, but it only works towards itself. In the flow of this last half of the season so far, it’s definitely highlight, and more episodes like this can only benefit the show’s future.
OVERALL RATING: 8.5/10