‘Game of Thrones’ Power Rankings for “The Queen’s Justice”

This one’s on top, then that one’s on top…

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In descending order, here are my power rankings for this week’s episode of Game of Thrones, “The Queen’s Justice.”

17. Theon

He may have had precious little screentime, but Theon still managed to draw the ire of everyone he came in contact with. (To be fair, it was only a boatload of Ironborn, and they are a hard lot to please.) Last week I defended Theon’s deep-seeded PTSD as his excuse for literally jumping ship instead of preventing Yara from being captured by Euron. While that may still be the case, Theon’s excuse felt super weak even for him. “I couldn’t save her. I tried,” he says. Fortunately someone is quick to point out, “You wouldn’t be here if you tried.” Cue Tyra Banks.

16. The New Maester in Winterfell

I don’t like this guy’s vibe. I get that he arrived late to the party and Sansa’s got most things covered (and who could fill Maester Luwin’s shoes?!), but shouldn’t he be the one thinking ahead? Shouldn’t the all-knowing, lengthily-trained maester be the one giving counsel, not being told what to do? In short: so far he just generally sucks.

15. Ellaria

Some people’s vengeance will get them everywhere. Ellaria’s vengeance has only gotten her locked in a dungeon as she watches her daughter die the same way she killed Myrcella. Oh, yeah, and let’s not forget the part where Ellaria is going to be kept alive as long as necessary to watch her daughter decompose. Poetic, tragic, and gross.

(Silver lining: if Ellaria isn’t going to die, we can’t rule out that she won’t come back!)

14. Grey Worm and the Unsullied

They may be fourth from the bottom, but I’ll freely admit it wasn’t their fault. Grey Worm and the rest of the Unsullied showed up to Casterly Rock and did precisely what they were tasked to do: kill all Lannister forces in the Lannister stronghold. It just turned out that all the Lannister forces they killed (literally all of them) were nothing more than decoys. And then Euron shows up?! It was a bad day for the Unsullied.

13. Melisandre/Varys/Davos

Some of the most fun characters flopped this episode. Varys went out of his way to heckle Melisandre for no real reason. I get it, man, no one really likes her, but was climbing that cliff just to get in a few jabs necessary? Davos, usually the skillful orator and all-around Great Convincer of Men, totally dropped the ball when parlaying with Daenerys. She’s more stubborn than most, but if he got Lyanna Mormont to join the North’s cause, he could’ve tried harder to bring Dany around. Also, quit hitting on Missandei, guy! Jesus.

Even though she’s so low because of how hard she historically sucks, Melisandre gets some points for being self-aware. She admits to Varys that the reason she’s not meeting with Jon is because she left him on “bad terms,” specifically (or unspecifically) due to “terrible mistakes” she’s made. If she’s not going to come out and say, “I burned a child alive because I thought Stannis was the Prince That Was Promised, even though literally everything pointed to the fact that he wasn’t,” that admission was a start.

12. Daenerys

I wish she would just give it a rest. Remember when Dany wanted to break the wheel? Even up until this episode I had faith that she’d chill on this whole conquering the world business and try to use her power to create a better world for the little people. But noooo! We can’t have nice things! Because not long after Jon walks through the door (and endure her ever-exhaustive list of titles) does she harp on about him bending the knee because of an ancient fealty the Starks swore to the Targaryens. Her reliance on her “destiny to rule the Seven Kingdoms” is making her immune to the real plights of the world. And what’s worse, Dany’s luck isn’t keeping up with all her posturing. She’s been soundly defeated twice in as many episodes.

11. Tyrion

Tyrion had a couple of impressive turns this week. He stretched his diplomatic muscles, convincing Dany that Jon is to be trusted and to relax on making him bend the knee for now. We also got some classic Tyrion one-liners, which will always result in a plus one. (“I’m not sure of the nomenclature” is a great line.) But his mind for strategy is weaker than his enemies’. His instinct is right but he’s not thinking a step ahead the way he should. Casterly Rock may have been the zenith of Lannisterdom while his father was alive, but at this point has no wartime value.

10. Bran

The new Three Eyed Raven is delightfully opaque, in that befuddling old guy kind of a way that makes everyone confused whenever they speak. (Think Maester Pycelle, but better because it’s not Maester Pycelle.) I kind of love Bran’s new demeanor, even if it’s clear that the weight of the world rests wholly on his shoulders. He’s so important that he can’t even be bothered to smile. Bran’s stone-faced meeting with Sansa was this show in a nutshell: just when you think things are going well, they’re not really. (In my note taking during that scene, I literally wrote, “NOTHING ON THIS SHOW CAN BE PERFECT.”)

9. Jorah

Speaking of stone-faced! Jorah Mormont is alive and well and so free of greyscale that he’s given leave from the Citadel. He gets 500 points for living through the greyscale removal treatment that looked super gross and painful. Good for you, buddy!

8. Jon

The unlikely King in the North’s responsibility fatigue may be growing episode to episode, but it’s only making him more resolute. He stood his ground with Daenerys, even as she was pummeling him with unrealistic commands and historical precedents and assertions of power. He was even daring enough to retort Dany’s “I will rule” declaration with a stern, “You’ll be ruling over a graveyard.” One could be tempted to say he’s just as stubborn as she is, but their intentions are different, and that’s making all the difference. Jon’s goal is to help the world, when Daenerys is still interested in helping the world by way of helping herself. He got what he wanted out of this episode, which is more than most people on this list can say.

7. Sansa

For all of us who assumed Sansa would crumble under the pressure of being Acting Queen of the North, she proved us wrong and then some. She displayed the kind of forward-thinking leadership that Tyrion is guilty of neglecting, outsmarting the Maester and the accomplished war veterans in provision planning. Sansa loses a handful of points for even momentarily allowing Littlefinger to get under her skin. She knows better than that.

6. Littlefinger

It’s super hard to give this guy any credit at all, but you can’t deny his persistence pays off. And while he may have shown his hand a bit by admitting to being a paranoid crazy person, his “fight every battle in your mind” speech may have worked. It was like the logical inverse of “Climb Every Mountain” from The Sound of Music. Way weirder, but potentially just as effective.

5. Sam

Oh, Sam. Adorable, honorable, foolhardy Sam. That gamble paid the fuck off, I’d say! And then he shakes Jorah’s hand at the end? He’s too much. (Or too confident in his greyscale removal abilities…) I’m looking forward to how that improbable friendship comes back around.

4. Jaime

We’re not entirely sure who came up with the idea to take Highgarden and leave decoy troops behind in Casterly Rock, but Jaime did it and that’s impressive. Highgarden is the breadbasket of Westeros and home to the wealthiest family. Really, it’s a no-brainer. It’s hard to compete with Euron for Cersei’s affections, considering how many things he’s already done for her this season. But for love and blowjobs, Jaime came through and it’s a big win. Also major points for willingly going easy on Olenna. He’ll become a good guy yet.

3. Euron

But for all Jaime tries, Euron is unstoppable. This guy captures Yara and Ellaria, and moves right onto Casterly Rock to take over the Unsullied forces. (Not sure how he knew to go there, but let’s just say it’s luck for now.) That’s half of Daenerys’ strategy, just obliterated by Euron! Dare I say he gets more enjoyment out of killing and raiding and pillaging than Ramsay did at torturing? Or than Joffrey did at being an all-around little bitch? It’s hard to hate him when with his swift takeover of Daenerys’ forces is just so damn impressive. But to watch him steal power from others with such glee is most remarkable.

2. Cersei

Her father’s daughter, indeed. Cersei sweet talks the Iron Bank, knowing full well Jaime will take Highgarden and all their gold. She also secures food for King’s Landing in taking Highgarden, should that Dothraki siege ever take place. And the people seem to love her. What! Seriously, did you hear them cheering and clapping? What Bizzaro Westeros are we in right now?!

And then she succeeds in carrying out the cruelest, most spiteful death possibly in the whole of Game of Thrones. (Remember her treatment of Septa Unella last season? It’s even more spiteful than that!) It’s not enough for Cersei’s enemies to die, she needs and wants for them to suffer. And suffer Ellaria will.

1. Olenna

“Tell Cersei. I want her to know it was me.”

I mean, do we need more explanation than that? I gasped. I had goosebumps. That line, and the admission leading up to it, was the thrilling climax to an already strong episode. She wins the episode. She may very well win the season with that line. Cersei’s power is impressive in its scale and savagery, but Olenna’s last barbed, loaded mic drop beats all. And so passes the Queen of Thorns! She couldn’t have asked for a better exit.

Worlds and Crossbows Colliding: Making Moves in “Stormborn” on ‘Game of Thrones’

Is anyone else having a hard time focusing while watching Game of Thrones these days?

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Is anyone else having a hard time focusing while watching Game of Thrones these days? For once it’s not mentally juggling the various storylines and backstories and motives just to stay on top of the action. But this season my eyes are having difficulty adjusting to seeing so many huge characters in the same room! It’s like seeing two friends that you know from separate ways chatting on Facebook. It’s disorienting! And amazing!

Tyrion and Daenerys was one thing. Now it’s them, and Varys and Olenna and Yara and Theon AND Ellaria?! (Throw Grey Worm in there and try to name anything else you’ve ever seen with three eunuchs as main roles all in one room!) It’s no wonder Daenerys is getting antsy with all these major players to bounce tactical plans off of. Though she also seems to be displaying that earlier-season tendency of impatience, wanting everything right this very moment without consideration of the consequences. And I get it, now that she’s finally in Westeros she’s anxious to get things going.

She’s also feeling understandably dubious about Varys’ position in her council, considering the slew of kings he’s unscrupulously served under, including her father. But even when you’re tempted to think of Varys as just another self-serving social acrobat like Littlefinger, it’s important to remember that Varys has never been manipulative for his own personal gain. Daenerys doesn’t know that, of course, so she grills him on his flip flopping allegiances (including the touchy subject of who conspired to have her killed in Essos, and most likely Varys used his little birds to get to the wine merchant in season one) until he’s had enough, and offers this zinger: “Incompetence should not be rewarded with blind loyalty.” One thinks immediately of Maester Pycelle. He goes on to admit that his true loyalties lie “not with any king or queen, but with the people.”

And then Dany toes that line between reasonable and ruthless as she so often does, and makes Varys swear to “look her in the eye” and tell her if he thinks she’s ever failing her people… with the condition that if he betrays her, she’ll burn him alive. Reasonable, ruthless.

Who better to follow-up a scene about fickle loyalties with than Melisandre?! She rode from Winterfell to Dragonstone after Jon banished her for burning Shireen alive. This is also after proclaiming he was the Prince Who Was Promised, after proclaiming it was Stannis for years, and now telling Daenerys she’s the Princess Who Was Promised, thanks to some deft translation skills from Missandei.

Melisandre is brash in her opportunism, but at least these days she’s willing to admit that “prophesies are dangerous things,” even if she spins the truth to tell Daenerys that Jon believes she has a part to play in the grand Lord of Light scheme. I’m pretty sure Jon barely knows who Daenerys is at this point, but at least Tyrion can vouch for him as a quality ally.

What Daenerys says next is quite telling: “Tell Jon Snow that his queen invites him to come to Dragonstone… and bend the knee.”

This makes the second command in as many episodes for Jon to bend the knee by a queen who supposes herself omnipotent. I like Dany, you like Dany, we all like Dany. But it’s hard to ignore this declaration as a comparison to Cersei. Daenerys has a lot of good guys on her side, but that haughtiness of hers can get her in trouble.

Especially if she doesn’t listen to the ONE person she’s appointed herself to listen to above all others. Yara, typical Ironborn, just tells Daenerys to take the King’s Landing with all their might while they still have it. The Iron Price for the Iron Throne, as it were. Ellaria has been out for blood since season four (for as much as she’s been in the show, which isn’t much) and wastes no time cutting Tyrion down with grievances about the respective deaths of Oberyn and Myrcella. “My greatest regret is that he died fighting for you,” she says to him. Ouch. (Let’s take another moment to appreciate how deep the seeds were sown on this show to get to that line.)

Daenerys echoes Tyrion’s advice earlier in the episode about not being “queen of the ashes,” but when Olenna comes out with the pithy directive “they won’t obey you unless they fear you,” it seems to speak to Dany’s very intuition. Olenna’s bloodlust is more reined in than Ellaria’s, but it’s definitely there. And considering Olenna Tyrell is up there with Tywin as the most cunning wordsmiths of Westeros, why wouldn’t Dany listen to her when she implores her to “be a dragon”? Isn’t that all that Dany wants to do, anyway? That Cersei comparison may become more prescient the longer she waits to take the Iron Throne.

Particularly when Tyrion’s entire plan just went up into smoke (sorry, it’s really hard not to use fire puns). The goal was to lay siege to King’s Landing after Yara and Ellaria sailed to Dorne and got their armies together, and also for the Unsullied to sail to Casterly Rock to take it from the Lannisters. That was an excellent plan that did not for a single moment take into consideration where in the Narrow Sea Euron Greyjoy was plotting. If anyone Yara should have known better. But more on that later.

Since the Unsullied are heading out for who knows how long, this seems as good a time as any to consummate Grey Worm and Missandei’s relationship. Or, not quite relationship, more than a silently-agreed-upon love. And… consummate? Well, I think we’re still not sure of exactly what Grey Worm has going down there, but it’s really besides the point. Even though sex scenes feel increasingly superfluous (which is weird to say for Game of Thrones), Grey Worm and Missandei’s love is one of the purest on the show. Both of them grew up as slaves, their bodies used in respectively horrendous ways until Daenerys came along. Having a well-rounded idea of how to love is not something either of them were taught.

Grey Worm calls her his “weakness,” explaining that the Unsullied training was meant to kill all the fear in him, but now he feels fear because of her. Fear of losing her, perhaps, or fear of something happening to either of them. The tragedy is that the fear (love) he feels now could trip him up in battle.

And who knows if he’ll even make it to Casterly Rock now that it seems the entire fleet Daenerys waited so long for has been taken over by Euron. The timelines on this show are so wonky it’s a waste of time to consider how this all happened, but if Euron wanted to get Cersei that “priceless prize” he must’ve known to head for Dragonstone. Maybe he got a lucky break bumping into Yara and company on their way to King’s Landing.

I think it’s safe to say at this point that the prize Euron wants to give Cersei is Ellaria. She who got back at the Lannisters by killing Myrcella after the Mountain killed Oberyn on behalf of the Lannisters after the Mountain killed Oberyn’s sister and children. Yikes. It’s a real shame the Dornish plotline lived and died with Oberyn in season four, I’m sure their cunning had more to offer the world. Who wants to put money on Ellaria dying the same way as Oberon?

And then there was Theon. I, unlike my boyfriend and my brother and most of the internet, thought Theon’s abrupt exit was tragic rather than maddening. Of course I get it. He had the opportunity to rise above his abuse and prove himself strong and capable. But let’s be real here: the most strength Theon has been able to muster since getting captured by Ramsay was pushing Myranda off the Winterfell balcony. He’s had several scenes in which it was made very clear that he has not recovered from the seven hells he went through as Reek, mentally or physically.

And if we’re considering his opponent in that moment is Euron, who’s salivating with adrenaline-filled excitement at taking over Yara’s fleet, Theon would never have beaten him. Theon was never a very capable warrior even at the height of his physical strength. So he bails. I’d like to think it was purposeful, but that may be giving him too much credit. He looked like he was suffering a PTSD flashback and couldn’t handle it, but it’d still be convenient to say that it was better if one of the Greyjoys didn’t get captured so he can report what happened to Daenerys. Let’s go with that.

It’s safe to say that Cersei will be thrilled with her present once Euron gets back to King’s Landing. She may even offer her hand in marriage, which did seem like the agreed upon arrangement. Enron gets her a present, Cersei gives him a more impressive crown than the one that rules the Iron Islands.

The wild card is how Jaime will respond if Cersei gives herself away. Now she’ll only do it symbolically, of course, but their love has been a symbol to them for the whole series narrative. They could never express their love openly (even though everyone knows at this point) so they built the idea of their love into an incorruptible symbol of strength and perseverance. It feels like it won’t be long before Cersei forsakes even Jaime in her quest for power.

And Jaime’s trying so hard to help her! He’s trying to rally support wherever he can find it. Which includes connvincing Sam’s dad, Randyll Tarly, to back the Lannister army, even though the Tarlys swore an oath to House Tyrell. “We’re not oathbreakers, we’re not schemers,” Randyll tells Jaime. But you look at his face and tell me he’s not a bad guy, especially after all we know about him through Sam. There’s no way that alliance will hold.

Really, it feels like the only person giving Cersei joy these days is Qyburn. Not only did he create Zombie Mountain, but he just gifted the queen with a crossbow the size of Zombie Mountain with which to kill dragons. It’s a fitting gift, really, considering Joffrey’s favorite toy was his crossbow. It’s almost adorable.

Daenerys would be wise then to heed Davos’ deductive reasoning and keep the dragons in the north where they could avoid Cersei’s crossbow and also take out hundreds of wights with every fire-spewing breath they took. Okay, so it’s doubtful she’d delay her conquering just to defeat a nameless foe that could take over the whole world. But if anyone can convince her it’s Davos!

The events in Winterfell in this episode really hammered in how quickly things are moving on GOT these days. Jon is addressing his constituents with both the ravenscroll from Sam and the one from Tyrion, and again, worlds collide! But it’s clear from both of these trusted sources that Dragonstone is the place to go. After most everyone in the room voiced their discomfort with Jon leaving the North (including Lyanna Mormont, and really, I don’t care who’s king or queen, if little Lyanna speaks that should be the final word!) he still decides to go. Obviously the right call, and I know none of us can wait until Jon’s meeting with Dany. Remember how intense it was when Tyrion and Daenerys met?

I’m less worried about Jon and Davos’ trip to Dragonstone (and their meeting with Melisandre when they get there) than I am with Sansa’s wardenship of Winterfell. She and Jon have the same intentions, but entirely different tactics. And with Littlefinger skulking around? I imagine it won’t take long for his little fingers to wrap themselves around Sansa’s leadership skills.

Meanwhile, in the Citadel, Sam’s busy once again disobeying the Archmaester. This time it’s not just stealing books, rather it’s performing an extremely risky medical procedure. Sam’s moral compass is too much sometimes. But of course, it’s a noble cause: to rid Ser Jorah Mormont of the greyscale that’s taken over the right half of his torso. And it’s SUPER gross. I’d call it ridiculous, but Sam has always found the way to be on the right side of history.

Speaking of history, the bit from the scenes in Oldtown that’s hard to forget (including the puss spewing from Jorah’s right pectoral) is the Archmaester mentioning he’s writing a history of King Robert and the events following his death. Which, it’s not hard to break down, is Game of Thrones. The show we’re watching is being written AS we’re watching! Westerosi Inception!

And then there’s our lone wolf. Arya had the opportunity of two huge reunions in this episode, neither of which were heartwarming. Her focus was so honed-in on killing Cersei that she barely registered Hot Pie’s existence as she ate his bakes. Makes you want to slap her. But she knows how rare it is to find someone again in this brutal world, and she didn’t regard it all the same.

That is, until Hot Pie told her that Jon is King in the North. The person Arya’s been cultivating since season two, the faceless assassin with vengeance to spare, seemed to melt away in that moment. Since witnessing her family’s demise at the Red Wedding, she hasn’t even considered a Stark reunion was possible. Now, of course, Jon is headed out of Winterfell just as Arya’s arriving, but that should give Arya and Sansa some much needed reconciliation time. And little do any of them know, Bran is at Castle Black!

The second reunion was more surprising and obtuse at the same time. Nymeria, Arya’s long lost direwolf, appears to her in the woods, seemingly the leader of a great wolf pack.  It’s touching as Arya reaches out to her pet, trying to get her to come to Winterfell, (I actually had goosebumps) until Nymeria turns away. “But WHYYY?!” we’re all shouting at our TVs. And then Arya says, “That’s not you.”

And what the hell does THAT mean? I briefly took the literal route, assuming it meant that the direwolf was actually Lady and not Nymeria, but that would require a hefty amount of plotting acrobatics. But thanks to The Hollywood Reporter, D. B. Weiss clarified that that line was a “direct reference” to what Arya tells Ned in the first season when confronted with a hypothetical future as a lady to a lord. She tells him, “That’s not me.”

So I guess that’s all to say that Nymeria is off doing her thing, and she’s not interested in following Arya anywhere? One of the things I love most about this show is its commitment to its own history, especially in bringing up lines or visual cues (including the way Jon choked Littlefinger against the wall this episode, as Ned did in season one) to remind us of the connections to the show’s past. But “That’s not you” was stretching it a bit.

I have a feeling Nymeria will indeed continue on, protecting Arya from a distance, eventually coming around. Considering the urgency with which everything is progressing this season, it’ll likely happen sooner than later. I mean, we’re only bouncing between six storylines this season! Only six! Can you imagine an episode where everyone is in one place?! Insert Andy Dwyer gif.

 

Shall We Begin? Motives and Visions in the ‘Game of Thrones’ Season 7 Premiere

Winter isn’t just a forecast anymore. It’s a looming threat of utter extinction.

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Really, the Freys should have suspected something was up. Walder is giving praise? Speaking in lucid, eloquent sentences? Smiling without violent stimuli? Even with the bit about not wasting wine on “a damn woman,” all the signs were pointing to Old Walder not being his usual surly self.

Then again, as a people the Freys have a reputation for being a little dim. And how would they have known that a girl fed Walder his sons in a pie, only to kill him and put his face on hers? It’s a stretch.

But thank the old gods and the new for the doltish Freys! Their stupidity gave way to the one triumphant cold open that fulfilled Old Nan’s tale to its logical extreme. Did I guess what was happening thirty seconds in? Sure. Does it matter? No, no it does not. Because even though the sound of Walder Frey’s voice gives me the full-body creeps, it was worth it for Arya to use his face in such a glorious way. The whole of Westeros breathed a collective sigh that night, even if they didn’t know why, with the knowledge that the Frey bloodline would never be able to continue. What a treat!

Later, we see Arya with the merriest bunch of Lannister soldiers this side of the Twins. It was refreshing, but super disorienting, to see an encounter with pleasant people on this show. Were they created just for Ed Sheeren’s cameo? (A cameo of which, by the way, I am not thrilled. It was passable because he had very few lines, but Game of Thrones is a better show than to stoop to celebrity kitsch for its own sake.)

Call me impatient, but I do wish Arya would head to Winterfell instead of giving in to her revenge whim. It’s most likely she doesn’t even think any of her family members are still alive so it’s not even worth trying, but I’m hoping the super nice Lannister soldiers talking about their family planted a seed.

When it comes to Arya moving forward, more than anything I’m hoping the show doesn’t overuse her faceless expertise. When she did it in the finale of last season to kill Walder, I assumed she used a face taken from the House of Black and White. But if she can just do this now, kill anyone and use their faces, that’s quite a skill to have in your back pocket. Used too often and the novelty will likely wear off, but if she only uses other faces to cross off those left on her kill list then it’ll be effective.

And considering Arya’s on her way to King’s Landing with the intention of killing Cersei, this skill will come in handy. Thinking of people she could kill and use the faces of to get close to Cersei is a fun game: Qyburn, Jaime, the Mountain… okay so that’s about all that’s left on Cersei’s side, and the latter two would be rather difficult.

Even those left on Cersei’s side would find it difficult to get to her at this point. Post-wildfire Cersei has become a slightly more restrained version of Joffrey: brutal, short-sighted, and entirely without concern for anyone but herself. Not the family and herself, not even Jaime and herself. Just her own egomaniacal self.

Jaime said he’s not angry with her (and pretty quickly so I’m inclined to believe him) but it’s safe to say he’s wary of her intentions as queen. Cersei said she wants to build a dynasty, and when confronted with the reality that there are no heirs to carry on that dynasty, she flippantly said, “A dynasty for us then.” I’m skeptical.

She didn’t even want to talk about Tommen, whom she said “betrayed” them. Okay, so he foolishly took up with the Faith Militant and Margaery instead of sticking by his mother, but to call that a betrayal is pretty hyperbolic, even for Cersei. That’s definitely up there on the list of Most Shocking Developments of Game of Thrones Characters. Cersei doesn’t care about her children? For the entire series up until now her love for her children was her one saving grace.

Now, without any allies and the gall to rule (conquer? slaughter?) just because she can, Cersei is painting herself into a corner of the map. Her only ally in the literal world is Euron Greyjoy. He’s a pretty good one to have, I’ll give her that. He’s a powerful and experienced loose cannon, an Iron-born if ever there was one, with a thousand-ship armada at his command. (And “two good hands.” Rude.) Cersei does seem to have a knack for cultivating morally questionable inner circles.

Cersei’s not dumb, so she plays hard to get. If Euron wants to rape and pillage for funsies, it’d help to have the queen’s support, and she knows that. She is pleased, however, when he offers to get her “a priceless gift.” It’s not specified, but I just have to assume it’s Tyrion and/or his head. Is there anything that would delight Cersei more at this point?

And let’s just all acknowledge that Euron wins for best glow up between seasons, for sure. Haircut, smudgy eyeliner, excellent asymmetrical jacket. Joshua Jackson is crying somewhere.

I can’t recall another time that Game of Thrones did a montage, but even if it had, Sam’s Citadel montage is undoubtedly the best. The books, the bedpans, the shit! The soup that quickly begins to resemble shit! He dry-heaves nine times in two minutes! It was glorious.

And also a telling look into the life of a new Maester-in-training: you really have to pay your dues. If one gets their chains when they become a Maester, and the Citadel is full of old men without chains, it seems like it’d take decades to become a full-blown Maester. And that’s time Sam doesn’t have to spare.

Urgency is what pushed Sam to ask Archmaester Marwyn for privileges well outside of his newbie territory. He knows that books on the White Walkers are locked away in a secluded section of the biggest library ever (seems silly to forbid a subject for people who are there for the sole purpose of learning, but here we are), so he asks the Archmaester for access to them considering his previous experience.

The Archmaester predictably says no, even though he believes what Sam says about the White Walkers. But his theory, while long-winded, is a startlingly objective one: in dire times everyone thinks the end is near, but the end never actually comes, so there’s no reason to worry about what’s coming. With his apparent wisdom and matter-of-fact speech, it’s almost easy to forget literally everything we’ve seen up until now. Winter is coming (or is here), sure, but the Archmaester interprets the catastrophizing of global events as no big deal because historically civilization has always come back from the brink.

The difference is that previously “winter is coming” mostly just meant the weather, but this time winter is also coming in the form of hundreds of thousands of undead soldiers. (And, courtesy of Bran’s short scene, we know there also at least THREE giants? That was terrifying in a way I didn’t think White Walkers could be after six seasons.) Winter isn’t just a forecast anymore. It’s a looming threat of utter extinction.

Sam doesn’t skip a single beat in stealing keys to get into the private section of the library, and in short order finds exactly what Jon was talking about earlier in the episode: a large deposit of dragonglass beneath Dragonstone, which also happens to be where Daenerys just landed after sailing from Essos.

And who else would ask about Daenerys but Jorah the Andal! He’s back and worse than ever, it seems. Dany gave him the task of finding a cure for his rapidly spreading greyscale, and he did the super smart thing of going to the Citadel, the only place in Westeros dedicated to learning. Surely they’d have (or at least be working to find) a cure, right? If so, the cure seems to be taking its time because Jorah’s arm is in pretty bad shape. That was the arm that was initially infected by the disease, so it’s likely that it’s the  most diseased part of him, but it’s doubtful the rest of his body is faring much better.

So Jorah’s asking Sam about Daenerys. Daenerys just arrives to a dragonglass-rich island. Sam’s writing to Jon about that all that dragonglass. Let’s all take a moment to savor the idea that these worlds will probably colliding very soon. Dany and Jon in the same room – fire and ice! – verbally sparring over why obsidian is more valuable than gold, and oh look at those dragons! Say ‘dracarys’ and they could probably take out several hundred White Walkers at once! But what about the Iron Throne?! I imagine it’ll go something like that.

But for now, Jon’s making plans and keeping the peace as King in the North. And really, if it weren’t for Lyanna Mormont, who knows how Jon would be able to do it. (That little actress is amazing. Having a child put grown men in their place should come off as gimmicky but it just doesn’t!) Especially considering Sansa has no bones about openly disagreeing with the new king.

She definitely has a point in determining the validity of punishment versus reward for loyalty, but Jon’s counterargument is better and way more effective. He says, “Yesterdays wars don’t matter anymore,” and then proceeds to prove it by allowing the highest ranking living Umber and Karstark to stay in their ancestral homes, even though their fathers betrayed the Starks. And even though Sansa warns Jon not to be like Ned or Robb in one way or another, Jon stands his ground to her criticism in a way that Robb never did. He’s firm and fair, and unimpressionable.

There may be reason to be wary of Sansa’s motives. She was Westeros’ most valuable pawn for five full seasons, and it’s hardened her to showing any mercy if there’s the slightest whiff of duplicity. No one can blame her, but Sansa admitting that she “learned a great deal” from Cersei is a troubling statement. Even if she is doing a great job of keeping the ever-scheming Littlefinger in his place. Best line of the episode: “No need to seize the last word, Lord Baelish. I’ll assume it was something clever.”

But then, how can we forget the Hound’s astute burn (sorry) to Thoros of Myr: “You think you’re fooling anyone with that top knot?” Incredible.

The Hound’s narrative arc has become the most significant one of the whole series. That arc started bending when his relationship with Arya became borderline compassionate (even though she left him for dead), and continued last season with his reappearance among a small religious sect. He’d given up fighting, started taking his anger out on logs to build a chapel. He wasn’t friendly, but not being immediately threatening is a big step for the Hound.

So when the Brotherhood Without Banners happens upon an abandoned house, which once belonged to a generous man that the Hound robbed back in season four, his behavior is not startling as it is sweet. He shows a kind of sincerity and regret that doesn’t just confront the awful things he’s done, but that knows he needs to actively atone for those things. He’s become one of the small handful of characters (really just Theon, and Jaime in some ways) that have seen and participated in the brutality of this world, and then rejected it. And this is happening concurrently with Arya and Sansa’s respective spirals into vitriol. What a turn.

Possibly even more enlightening than the Hound’s ideological progression is the vision he saw in the flames. Religion is one of the major forces of this world, as conflicting as they all are, and the presence of the Lord of Light seems to become more and more validated with each passing season. The Hound rightfully inquires as to why Beric Dondarrion was brought back to life six times considering he’s a minor player in this big game, though there can’t be an answer. So Thoros tells him to look into the fire and tell him what he sees, and what he sees seems to be the exact location that Jon appointed to Tormund earlier in the episode: a castle where the Wall meets the sea, where “the dead are marching past.”

I was waiting for the moment where the Hound would break and say something like “you cunts are full of shit,” but that never came. His explanation was entirely unironic, and, like the Archmaester says, contains too many similarities from unconnected sources to be bullshit. So for Tormund’s sake, let’s hope Daenerys allows them to mine all that dragonglass before the Hound’s vision becomes reality.

That’s a sentence I never thought I’d type. I love this season already.

In Search of Humanity on ‘Orange is the New Black’

“I am a fucking human being!”

A recap for Orange is the New Black – Episode 12, Season 4
More from this season:
EP 1 / EP 2 / EP 3 / EP 4 / EP 5 / EP 6 / EP 7 / EP 8 / EP 9 / EP 10 / EP 11

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As the inmates prepared to join forces, I thought Maria was wrong in saying that Piscatella, not Humphrey, was the real source of the COs’ corruption. Sure, Piscatella set up the interrogations, which was exactly the opposite of what Caputo ordered, but his treatment of the inmates was never outwardly cruel or even all that aggressive (considering they’re in a prison). But in forcing Red to stay awake after interrogating her all night, then announcing to everyone, “You are criminals. You deserve nothing,” I realized Maria was absolutely right. Humphrey wouldn’t have felt like he could get away with his sadistic behavior if it weren’t condoned from the top down.

Well, almost the top. As distracted as he was this season, Caputo’s always wanted to make the system work in favor of the inmates. When Piscatella confronts him on suspending Humphrey, Caputo is reminded of a time when he thought he could do better than the warden, too. But he’d been too removed, too wrapped up in red tape and too entangled in Linda from Purchasing to realize that Piscatella had won the loyalty of the guards in his absence. Caputo’s influence stopped being vital long before Humphrey’s battle royale.

This feeling of inadequacy brought him all the way to Fig. Now, let’s not forget that Fig embezzled a shit-ton of money and decidedly did not have the best interest of the inmates at heart, but Caputo wanted to apologize to her in person all the same. “This is an impossible job. You were trying and I shouldn’t have judged you,” he says. To which she replies, “They broke you too, huh?”

If Caputo’s broken, he’s been bending for a long time. I think it was an important to bring us back to Caputo’s house this season, which we saw for the first time during his backstory in season three, as a visual reminder of how decent he is. It was the same house and in the same kitchen that we saw him fight with his ex, where he goes on about giving up his dreams and taking the job at Litchfield to provide for his family. It’s not difficult to see how much he sees himself in Bayley, another well-meaning kid with an impossibly optimistic spirit. When Caputo asks Bayley why he works at the prison, he responds, “I don’t know. It’s a job until I figure out the next thing, I guess.” It’s likely the exact response Caputo would have given when he started working there. And it’s the exact reason why Caputo tells Bayley to leave. “This place crushes anything good,” he says. “Get out of here.”

Bayley was a good kid who messed around with other scrappy kids. He was a teenager who didn’t realize actions have consequences, as most kids don’t. He pelted an egg at Freida, laughing as she screamed back at him. Until: “I’m a fucking human being!” Did he end up at Litchfield as penance for his belittling of another person? And did he maintain his unassuming nature because he was constantly reminded of that time he did something shitty?

Narratively speaking, he had to be the one. It had to be his knee in her back. Anyone else would have turned this episode’s final scene into something other than a complete, gut wrenching tragedy. Bayley was Poussey’s mirror. Sweet, kind, selfless Poussey is the only character in this entire series to never be tempted by hate. She’d rather suffer alone than inflict pain on anyone. Just look again at her backstory, and you’ll see that all she ever wanted was love. She may have been a criminal, but she deserved everything. She was a fucking human being.

The 3 Most Manipulative Characters in Season 4 of ‘Orange is the New Black’

“But we’re also people when there are no people around.”

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It’s a real feat to stand out as a bad guy in a show that is literally fully of criminals. Maria’s done a pretty good job of flexing her tyrant muscles this season. Piscatella is your standard bad guy, not excessively villainous, but enough not to trust. And then there’s all of the white supremacists. But of the litany of new characters introduced in season four of Orange is the New Black, three stand out as the worst, most manipulative people in/around Litchfield.

3. Linda from Purchasing

Ugh, this bitch. She’s actually my least favorite person on the show in general, but that has more to do with my distaste for corporate bullshit and general bougie-ness, of which she has plenty. But Linda from Purchasing is the total worst because of how much she’s wrapped Caputo around her finger, influencing his every decision as warden of Litchfield. And she’s never even been to a prison!

2. Judy King

She exploits her influence as far as it’ll go in any situation, and in most cases people are so completely taken by her celebrity or charisma that they’ll oblige. It’s all well and good if there’s a feeling of camaraderie, but worst part of how Judy behaves is how she changes people with no regard to their feelings. As much as their relationship was a sham, Cindy feels jilted by her fair-weather boo. Yoga’s having a severe identity crisis at the hands of Judy King, and Luschek been pressured into having sex with prisoners at least twice. And Judy will continue to get away with her behavior long after she’s out of Litchfield.

1. CO Humphrey

This guy is the worst thing that has happened to Litchfield in this entire series. Remember when Pornstache was the bad guy? I mean, he was bad, selling drugs to inmates in exchange for sexual favors, among other things. But I think even he would be appalled at the sadistic moves of CO Humphrey. His behavior goes beyond Stanford Prison Experiment power trips into something darker and downright evil. His manipulative mind games caused Suzanne to lose her shit on Kukudio, and who knows what’ll happen to her for severely assaulting an inmate? I wish they hadn’t dug up the garden. I’m sure we could’ve made another six one-foot holes for this guy.

And more!

Best line of the episode: “But we’re also people when there are no people around.” – Yoga Jones. It’s a good, introspective line that puts a lot of what happens on this show into perspective.

Thank you!: For taking another opportunity to humanize Healy and completing Suzanne’s backstory. Both were beautifully sad.

Questions: Did anyone else think Healy was really about to kill himself? When will Caputo show the hell up?! Will they be onto Humphrey?

 

The 7 Inmates with the Worst Regret on ‘Orange is the New Black’

“Just like that poster kitten or Jesus on the cross… you hang in there!”

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Literally every inmate on Orange is the New Black regrets at least one thing in their lives… most likely the choice that got them sent to Litchfield in the first place. But in episode 10 of season 4, there are a lot of other things going on that are stirring up feelings of remorse.

7. Suzanne

Regrets: Suzanne literally running away screaming from her nutty almost-girlfriend. Suzanne’s finally ready for some broom closet action and Kukudio messes around with her just enough to give her blue balls. At the same time, she may be feeling regret now, but I think we’d all agree that in the long run Crazy Eyes dodged a bullet.

6. Maritza

Regrets: ever getting involved with Maria’s drug and panty dealing. Perhaps then she wouldn’t have been seen by Sadist CO Humphrey and didn’t have to choose between eating ten dead flies or swallowing a live baby mouse.

5. Ingalls

Regrets: smuggling a cellphone into the SHU through her vagina. Now instead of her Save Sophia campaign, she’s got herself actually locked in there.

4. Luschek

Regrets: associating himself with Nicky at all, but particularly working with her to get rid of the drugs Vee left behind when she died. He may not actually be in love with her, but at the very least he thinks of her fondly. He’s the one who got her sent to Max, and also the catalyst for her going back to heroin.

3. Aleida

Regrets: being so impulsive and trusting Cesar. Though he wasn’t far off with his message: “Cesar says hi and not to act like a bitch.” It doesn’t take much for Aleida to go off (she’s generally not great at using words when experiencing high emotion) and if Cesar’s Baby Mama wasn’t so generous, she’d have nowhere else to stay now that she’s out.

2. Piper

Regrets: ugh, everything? She said she likes her scarification now that it’s a window, and should consider it as a permanent warning like Alex said: “It’s a reminder to stay out of other people’s shit.” But no! She has to go right back and fight for the honor of Flores and all disgraced prisoners. And now she’s standing on a table in the cafeteria indefinitely, smelling Flores’ pungency.

1. Anyone involved with the garden

Regrets: nothing, really. It’s hard to come up with a specific source of regret when all there is to do is mourn is the unfortunate turn of events that led to digging up the garden. It’s hard to say at this point who is going to be blamed for the hitman’s murder and subsequent dismemberment, but it’ll all go back to the garden crew. Caputo will say it wouldn’t have gotten there without their knowledge.

Future regret: Daya

She may be wanting friends her own age now that her mom’s out, but it won’t take her long to be pinned under Maria’s thumb.

And more!

Best line of the episode: “Just like that poster kitten or Jesus on the cross… you hang in there!”So inspirational.

Thank you!: For showing some compassion still exists in Caputo. He took Ingalls’ phone, took a picture of Sophia, and passed it right along to Danny so Crystal can build her case against MCC. After that Linda from Purchasing gun incident I thought he was a goner.

Questions: What the hell will happen with the body? How long before Maria recruits Daya? How long will Piper last on that table? How long will Nicky last in general?

The 6 Schemes in ‘Orange is the New Black,’ Ranked According to Success

“I’m guessing it goes wrong somehow.”

 

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“Turn Table Turn” was an episode full of characters trying by whatever means necessary to get what they want. Their causes range from food to moral quests to basic human decency, and are all doing it at varying levels of success. Let’s see who’s doing the best at achieving their goals:

6. Nicky and Her Heroin… Again

Since succumbing to temptation to use again while in Max, Nicky’s taken up stealing in order to pay for her heroin. After saying some pretty shitty things to Morello and trying to push Red away, she agrees to become clean again. So this “scheme” is all but negated for now, but considering Nicky’s love of heroin and her impulsive behavior, it’s not unlikely she’ll be able to refuse going back to her drug of choice.

5. Piper, Alex, and Shake Shack

On good terms again and working the crack out of their systems, Piper and Alex get the brilliant idea to persuade baby-faced CO Bailey to smuggle in some Shake Shack cheeseburgers for them. But he’s come a long way from his days of being a panty dealer for free, and agrees to their request, as long as he gets that hand job promised to him last season. Now on the straight and narrow, Piper and Alex agree to forego the burger-by-handy for a spam and spray cheese. Off-brand Spam sandwich of righteousness, indeed.

4. Maritza’s Crack Down

… So to speak. It was actually a pretty ingenious maneuver, stopping the influx of drugs where it began so she didn’t have to be the runner anymore. Unfortunately for her, Maria is onto her and the creepy CO Humphrey is playing a real-life game of What Would You Rather Do? with her. The poor thing shouldn’t have gotten involved in the first place.

3. Judy and Cindy’s Love Affair

Cindy was skeptical as to the success of their make-out-for-the-tabloid stunt, but eased into it nicely once she discovered the perks of being “romantically involved” with Judy King. Sure, Caputo’s more than suspicious, but as long as the two love birds maintain their facade, they’re in the clear.

2. Blanca’s Stink Fest

You have to admire Blanca’s resolve, both in present day and back when she was an at-home caregiver to a surly old lady. She’s working the civil disobedience angle as far as it’ll take her, becoming the Che Guevara of Hallway Groping, though it cannot be easy keeping that up while also smelling like several different kinds of fish. But she’s got more gumption than any of the COs put together. I don’t doubt she’ll be standing on that table for days as one big middle finger.

1. Sister Ingalls’ Trip to the SHU

It’s mostly unfortunate for Gloria that Ingalls tried to get sent to the SHU at a time when it’s almost maxed out, otherwise she may have been able to avoid a slap to the face. But Ingalls’ ruse worked, and she’s about to endure solitary while trying to get some intel on her friend. That’s dedication.

And more!

Best line of the episode: The whole bit about USA shows. Brilliant shade!

Thank you!: For Morello calling out Angie on her shower pooping. Angie was completely blindsided and it was hilarious.

Questions: Will Morello fully lapse into paranoid stalker mode again? Will Maria lose her power? Will Daya and Aleida stop giving each other shit before she’s released? What happens to Boo and Tucky’s relationship now? What the hell did Maritza choose?!

The 3 Best Confessions from ‘Orange is the New Black’ Season 4, Episode 8

“I would have treated you like a person.”

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It was hard to watch, but we all have to admit it felt good to see Piper’s punishment from the last episode have an effect on her. When her Hawaiian ex-bodyguard asked if she was okay, Piper responds, “Not even a little bit.” It appears we’re seeing legitimate emotional progress happening, and not just in Piper. Several characters have developed some newfound humility, which led to moments of confession. These were the best ones:

3. The Friendliest Racist You’re Ever Going to Meet

A little misunderstanding and a lot of racist puppetry led to Judy King having a heart-to-heart with Poussey. She’s given up trying to make up for her racism by telling everyone how many black friends she has, and instead blames it on doing a lot of blow in the ’80s, which didn’t do much for her “cultural sensitivity.” Eventually she admits that she may be racist, however unintentionally, apologizes, and makes a plea to be friends. It’s a start.

2. The First-Time Crack Smoker

And then there was Piper. Reeling from the experience of having a swastika burned into her arm and the realization that she was the cause of all of her problems. In a surprising turn of events, and while high on crack for the first time, Piper rattles off a refreshing list of self-aware confessions: “I’ve brought this on myself.” And then: “My parents didn’t teach me to be like this. What I did to Maria? I didn’t feel bad. I didn’t think twice. I just went too far. I always go too far. I always go too fucking far. And I can’t stop it.” And then she discovers why: “I think that I’ve been trying to win prison. And I’ve destroyed people’s lives.” It’s a bit too soon to be cheering for her, but this was at least a taste of the kind of introspection we’ve all been waiting from Piper. It only took being branded to get it out of her.

1. The Time Traveler

Coates has been undergoing a lot of personal reflection ever since Tucky confronted him on raping her. It was hard to figure out what was most surprising, the fact that it happened  at all or is unawareness that it was, in fact, rape. Coates finally tracks down Tucky to let her know what he’d do with a time machine: “I’d go back to when we first met. I would have treated you like a person. Not like a duck, or a thing. I would have liked our first time, if we had gotten there, to have been nice. And I would have wanted to see your face. And to have told you what I told you about loving you, but softer. I wish I hadn’t been so mad. It wasn’t fair what happened.” And after admitting he’s still trying to figure out what happened he says, with the utmost sincerity, “I’m sorry, Doggett.” This show just achieved the unthinkable feat of turning a rapist into a sympathetic character. Who knew that was possible!

Bonus: Morello’s Sister

“Tommy, go back to your room, your mommy and daddy are making love.” That was just hilarious.

And more!

Best line of the episode: “When God gives you a swastika, he opens a window. And then you remember there is no God.” – Red. Appropriate for the circumstance.

Thank you!: For Cal! I’ve missed that weirdo.

Questions: Has Caputo officially gone over to the dark side? Does Judy have a phone too? Will Aleida make it out, or will Maria’s drug dealing get in her way? Is Morello’s husband actually cheating on her?

Piper’s Comeuppance: When Tribal Turns Racist on ‘Orange is the New Black’

“I don’t think racism should be a group activity.”

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Let’s take a moment to remember the pilot of Orange is the New Black. Particularly the look of shock on Piper’s face when Morello handed her a tooth brush and told her, “We look out for our own.” And then: “Don’t get all PC on me. It’s tribal, not racist.” I can’t think of a single other television show that could get away with creating a community that operates with segregation as its primary social structure. Maybe the lay-viewer, unfamiliar with prison life, was able to easily digest that line as the truth. Maybe it’s the lack of a class system to distinguish inmates. But I think stating “tribal, not racist” so early on in the series, compounded with the show’s eagerness for representing real people from a variety of backgrounds and ethnicities, is what allowed OITNB to segregate its racial groups and make it a non-issue.

Though skillfully handled, racial tension has always been bubbling under the surface of things, and it was bound to come up every now and then. When Red had control, Vee gathered “her girls” to get it back. Healy only ever took white inmates under his wing. It’s not hard to imagine white privilege was the reason Piper got furlough. But this season has ripped the cover off the show’s secret weapon and with this episode, Piper may have finally been taught an actual lesson.

Piper’s shortsighted selfishness is something I bring up in almost everything I write about her because it happens to be her primary personality trait. I’m always reminded of when Larry called her out on always playing the victim. “I didn’t ask for this,” she’d say every time she got herself in a bind, and a version of that has repeated each season when someone had a vendetta against her. This episode Nicky confronts Piper on her new Aryan friends, to which Piper unsurprisingly responds: “I didn’t have a choice.”

It may be hard to spot, but Piper is growing as a character, if only very slowly. When she gave up Larry and Polly she gave up her WASP identity, and ever since she’s been trying to reconcile the person she actually is with the part of her that’s in prison. It may be a form of self preservation she’s using as a coping mechanism. It may be a release of expectations now that she doesn’t care enough about what her family thinks of her to even rebel against them. The trouble is that she doesn’t know who Genuine Piper is, and so Prison Piper is winning. And Prison Piper is all about posturing, because she’s not actually a gangsta with an A.

That posturing was always a problem for a handful of people closest to Piper, but now that there are twice as many inmates with as many opinions, her ego has caused some of those under-the-surface racial tensions to start bubbling over. Judy King has a part to play in that, too, with her extraordinarily racist puppet show. Perhaps Morello was right again in saying, “I don’t think racism should be a group activity.” Let’s be real: racism shouldn’t be any activity. It’s philosophically dangerous when one person thinks it, but when a group unites under a common hatred, it becomes a real force that inflicts real violence. Piper’s involvement with this new White Power group is a symptom of her classic shortsightedness, but this time it’s being met with actual retribution. She’s got her label, all right. Maybe now she’ll finally allow Genuine Piper a chance to come out.

And more!

Best line of the episode: “Okay, that’s insane. You cannot block out voices with cheese.” – Lolly. She’s probably right.

Thank you!: For the Lord of the Rings references! Makes me a happy fangirl.

Questions: What will Red do to Nicky when she finds out about the heroin? Will Lolly continue to spiral? Will Healy become a genuine good guy? Who will Piper turn to now?

A Ranking of the Best Confrontations from ‘Orange is the New Black’ Season 4, Episode 6

“Pizza, daises, smelly markers, any animal, a really good dream, a warm bath, picking a booger – a dry one, pizza, graham crackers and icing sandwiches, the feeling you get when you make a really good joke and someone laughs, in a nice way, not a mean way.”

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6. Soso Confesses to Poussey

Soso is not a very good lesbian. In fact, she’s probably not a lesbian at all. Her sexual fluidity extends about as far as her hippie sensibilities would have presumed (loving the person, not the gender), but she seems to be succumbing to going “gay for the stay.” Soso tells Poussey she’s not sure if a lesbian relationship is what she’ll want once they’re out, and sweet, understanding Poussey once again convinces her to stop putting labels or “maybes” on their relationship.

5. Abdullah and Cindy Find Common Ground

Let’s not ask too many questions about how, but Abdullah is in possession of a cell phone that could be very useful for taking pictures of certain celebrity inmates to sell to tabloids for serious cash. And she’s more than happy to allow access to it for the right price, but Cindy’s too stubborn to see past their differences. When Taystee holds a mediation session to gain access to the phone, Abdullah let’s Cindy have it: “You know, I never did shit to you except claim what was rightfully mine. They gave me a bed, I slept in it. And ever since you’ve been making this bunk an unsafe place.” Hard to argue with that. Cindy does, briefly, until they both share a passion for Going Clear and how batshit Scientologists are.

4. Alex Calls Piper Out on Season 3 Antics

Piper’s primary characteristic is her narrow-minded selfishness, and season three saw some of the worst behavior. She framed Alex to get her back into Litchfield, but once Alex started behaving (rightfully!) paranoid about Kubra getting his revenge, Piper became bored and cheated on her with Stella. Now that Piper doesn’t have much of her own shit going on, she’s available to talk. Alex calls her out: “Now you have time for me? Now you want to talk? Where were you before? When I needed you? I begged you to listen to me and you were too busy fucking that tattooed kangaroo and calling me paranoid. I spent months thinking I was crazy because of you! And you know what? I was right!” She hasn’t told Piper about the cut-up body under the flowerbeds, but yeah. She was right.

3. Coates Lays Into Luschek

Whoa, whoa, whoa. Time for a revolutionary thought: Is Coates a good guy? He sure seems like he’s yelling more at himself when he’s telling Luschek to get off his ass and take Gina to medical: “If she’s telling you she needs something, you need to listen to her. They’re people, for Christ sake. It’s our job to take care of these women. Do your fucking job! You’re not listening to her!” You’re not listening to her, he says. Yeah, he’s definitely working through some responsibility issues.

2. Nicky Lets Luschek Have It

Luschek did not have a very good episode. First Coates, then Nicky, who has had a decent chunk of time to think about what she’d say to the person who got her sent to Max. (Not to mention the confusing sex Judy King pressured him into.) Luschek goes to see Nicky and tries to get on her good side with the light banter they used to share. When that doesn’t work, he tries to give a sincere apology, saying he’s sorry for “how things ended up.” But Nicky doesn’t accept it, explaining how her sobriety was hard won with the availability of drugs and how lonely she is without any friends or prison family around her. “It’s all my fault,” she says as she breaks down. “So thank you for coming all the way down here and reminding me of all that while also managing to conveniently clear your own conscience.” Ending with a rousing, “Fuck you!” Nicky storms out and goes right back to heroin.

1. Maria Warns Piper

Maria learns that she will have another 3-5 years added to her sentence because Piper framed her with dirty panties in her bunk. All it takes is one line and a lot of anger to get her point across: “I am going to bury you. You’re never coming back from this. Never.” Terrifying.

And more!

Best line of the episode: Suzanne’s list of things that are better than being prison famous: “Pizza, daises, smelly markers, any animal, a really good dream, a warm bath, picking a booger – a dry one, pizza, graham crackers and icing sandwiches, the feeling you get when you make a really good joke and someone laughs, in a nice way, not a mean way.” What a treasure.

Thank you!: For showing the old inmate who accidentally shivved someone when she meant to shiv Vee in season two and Ruby Rose in Max! I am a sucker for continuity.

Questions: OMG SOPHIA WHAT DID YOU DO?! When is Caputo going to see Linda from Purchasing is full of shit? Could someone actually die this season?