Orange Is the New Black “Hugs Can Be Deceiving” Review (2×03)

9 Jun


“Sometimes people just don’t want to play with you.”

Connecting with others can be difficult, but it’s what many people have to do to get through the day; it’s especially relevant for prison, where the environment is harsh and the people can be unforgiving. So, when Vee walks in and starts handing out cake, it understandably brings out a sense of camaraderie amongst the inmates in that moment.

Yet, we know that this is merely a power grab for Vee, someone’s who’s perceptive enough to pick up on what exactly she has to exploit in order to obtain respect. She’s willing to step on toes to push her way to the top, and she knows how to play those around her, acting as if she’s a leader of sorts as she brings together this dysfunctional family. Of course, the more toes you step on, the more flames you ignite: Red has her mojo back and Gloria’s pissed off about the cigarettes, and it’s clear that a race war/power battle is on the horizon.

One of the people Vee manipulates is Suzanne, who gets her own flashback backstory in this episode. It’s a nice contrast to Taystee’s story, as Taystee is someone who had the drive and the intelligence to succeed, but ended up in a rough environment; Suzanne, on the other hand, was well off, but she didn’t possess those skills due to her problems with mental illness. In “Hugs Can Be Deceiving”, we see the sad reality of the situation: her parents truly love her and want the best for her, but the pressure to be “normal” is too much for Suzanne to handle. There’s a lot of nice commentary on race and class in this episode, and it essentially boils down to this at the end: they simply don’t understand her and her needs, and her breakdown at graduation is a sad reminder of that fact.

Just like the nurse settles her down and gives her that signature Suzanne hairstyle, Vee, in the present day, changes it up. One, a moment of genuine kindness; the other, a power play under the guise of kindness. Either way, it works for Suzanne.



-We also get the arrival of Brooke Soso, who’s instantly comparable to Piper when she first arrived in prison. Piper’s reassuring at first, but when Suzanne refuses her offers–nice reveal of Suzanne actually punching Piper on the night of the Christmas play, which winds up helping Piper–she takes it all out on Brooke. She’s a wolf now.

-Also, it’s revealed that Suzanne mistakes Piper for her mother in that scene.

– “Someone who doesn’t get excited by the wedding industrial complex and society’s bullshit need to infantilize grown woman.” You go, Nicky.

-Yael Stone gives a very convincing performance as Morello in that phone call scene. More on her in the next review.

-Pennsa’s not received very kindly when she returns, and it’s a situation befitting that major theme of relationships and connections.

-Hugs can be deceiving, and Piper, Pennsa, Red, Vee, and Suzanne all participate in some type of hug in this episode. Yet, are they really sincere?

Photo credit: Netflix, Orange Is the New Black


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