Orange Is the New Black “We Have Manners. We’re Polite.” Review (2×13)

5 Jul

"Orange is the New Black" Season 2 Episode 13 (Screengrab)

“Always so rude, that one.”

How fitting is it that in an episode titled “We Have Manners. We’re Polite.”, the final line of the season is the one mentioned above? Suzanne, a product of Vee’s manipulation, recites that line after going down for Vee, and Vee eventually gets run over because she goes against it. Ah, the satisfaction. Simply put, she doesn’t mesh with the rest of the prisoners–and “rude” is an understatement, by the way–which is interesting considering 1) Out of all our characters, she’s the one who most belongs in prison, and 2) For a time, she seemed like the one who fit in the most.

Of course, what it all comes down to is that manipulation I mentioned, first recognizing and then preying upon innocence, taking someone like Suzanne and stripping her of her basic humanity; it’s sad, though, because Crazy Eyes is what’s left on the outside and Suzanne’s sobbing on her own, with no one to play Uno with and with no one left to see her for who she really is. It’s her story that’s the most heartbreaking because we know that even after the storm passes, the wreckage remains, and her relationships with people like Taystee and Poussey have been shattered and are in need of repairing. Vee does the exact opposite of what the leopard in O’Neill’s story does: instead of raising the baboon, she takes advantage of it and leaves it dying in the cold.

Outside of Suzanne, though, everything seems to be essentially back to normal, but I don’t think that’s what the show’s intending to convey. The status quo can return without giving into repetition, and although I do believe the show falls victim to repetition a bit this season, things simply can’t just go back to the way they were before Vee did her thing. If anything, the finale is about our natures, our actions and beliefs and attitudes shining (or leaking) through in the face of change. Take, for example, Caputo, someone who’s become one of the more likeable characters this season, someone whose goals we can get behind. Yet, for all his endearing qualities, he’s still Caputo underneath; he’ll still take glee in, even though she deserves it, screwing over Figueroa, and he’ll cover up Bennett’s confession because it’s only his second day, man.

As for Piper Chapman, she’s been on quite a journey this season, realizing that prison changes you and maybe that’s okay. At the end, she gets Polly and Larry to call Alex’s parole officer, and Alex returning to Litchfield (which I’m not interested in at all, but at least it’s better than Polly and Larry) is more about Piper wanting to protect her rather than Piper wanting her all to herself or Piper wanting to get back at her. There are certainly elements of the latter two, though, and since she’s essentially lost her family, it’s understandable that connection would be a major motivator; it is, after all, a theme we just saw play out over the course of the season.

The biggest thread that comes to a close in this episode is, of course, the power struggle between Vee and Red. The penultimate episode portrayed them at the end of their respective times in power, culminating in a brawl that conveyed the ultimate futility of their conflict, and the finale portrays their downfall. Red, at first, won’t snitch because it’s not in her nature to do so–once again, the inherent views and attitudes we have in the face of change–but eventually, Sister Ingalls convinces her to tell the truth by appealing to a layer of her deeper than her pride. This is not how Red wanted to do things, but hey, at least something good can come out of it.

As for Vee, that’s not the case. Her former “family” essentially shoves her out the door, and she’s left running through the woods with nowhere to go. Rosa, on the other hand, has a purpose as she’s barreling down the road; she’s going to die soon, but she finally has a sense of freedom, a way to go out in a blaze of glory. Is it hammy? A bit. Is it perfect? Yes.

So much of this season has been about an inability to change, about corruption and the static nature of both the prisoners and the prison. That final scene, however, is one of movement, of living, of pure joy. Good luck, Rosa. You’re free.





– “This is a song about my mom and dad…and the divorce that they should have haaaaad…” Every single scene involving O’Neill in this episode is comedy gold. I’d buy a CD of his (gaggle of) nun songs.

-Schilling’s delivery during the Larry-Polly visitation scene is pitch perfect. Love that sarcasm.

-Healy shuts down Safe Space, and as much as Pennsatucky’s words may help, it’s also clear that who Tucky’s hanging out with causes some resentment.

-Daya telling Bennett to turn himself in is just plain selfish on her part. It’s entirely unreasonable because, well, babies can’t really pause time until both parents get out of jail.

-Hey, that’s Skipp Sudduth–most recently seen in Louie‘s fabulous “In the Woods” as young Louie’s teacher–as one of the SIS investigators!

-I need some Flaca, Maritza, and Norma flashbacks next year. Flaca in particular has become one of my favorite minor characters.

-Taystee says her favorite color is red, but it used to be blue, wasn’t it? Nice way to convey her character shifts.

– “Is it cold for Amazon to underprice books just to capture market share? No, it seems to me that as shareholders in this company, you are immune to the cold—just like polar bears (shout out to me!).” There goes Vee with the metaphors, which really goes to show you how everything’s slipping away. She’s grasping onto whatever comparisons she can find, but at the end of the day, the truth is right in front of her face: she’s being kicked out.

-It’s been fun covering this season! Although I did have problems with the concept behind Vee’s character, Toussaint gave a magnificent performance that made up for some of the shortcomings (not all, but some). The season as a whole was nicely drawn, but was a bit more overt in its characterization and thematic underpinnings than I would’ve liked. Still, it’s a thoroughly enjoyable ride.

-Join me next summer for season 3, and share your favorite episodes/characters/backstories/predictions/hopes below. For me, Morello’s backstory was excellent and disturbing, and it was also nice to see more of Rosa, especially given how the season ended.

Photo credit: Netflix, Orange Is the New Black


3 Responses to “Orange Is the New Black “We Have Manners. We’re Polite.” Review (2×13)”

  1. amnesiadream75 July 5, 2014 at 11:00 pm #

    Quick nitpick: it was Poussey, not Taystee, who said that the red Jello was her favorite.

    Even though I watched this episode/season a few weeks ago, it stuck with me. I’m not really sure how I feel about the ending. There’s a lot to digest in a 90-minute episode (unless you’re watching Sons of Anarchy), so that might be part of it. But I think Vee’s story was a little too pat in this series’ otherwise fresh storytelling techniques. Sure, things like the episodic flashbacks have been done before, but I never figured OITNB to deploy the Big Bad seasonal format. I think the black girls were manipulated a little too easily (justified in Suzanne’s case, but not so much in everyone else’s) and the whole storyline felt a little try-hard. I enjoyed the hell out of most of season 2, but – as with the later seasons of Weeds – the plot contrivances definitely ramped up as the story progressed. Morello’s breakout? Polly and Larry? Pornstache’s brief, kinda undercooked reappearance? Vee’s silly death? Ehh. Another f-ing underground tunnel, Jenji Kohan? Come on.

    I loved Rosa’s arc, Pennsatucky’s and Healy’s redemption, less Alex, less Piper, the Christopher reveal, “SCATTER THE NUNS!”, and everything Poussey. I still like the show a whole lot, and I’ll definitely come back for season 3. With that said, I remain skeptical about the potential longevity of a show like this, especially when (imo) the cracks are already beginning to show.

    • polarbears16 July 5, 2014 at 11:17 pm #

      Ah, thanks for the correction.

      And yeah, I agree with you about Vee’s storyline. I understand what the writers were trying to show thematically, but one of the pleasures of season one was seeing the ways each character developed, especially outside of some Big Bad-esque force’s influence. We got development elsewhere–like with Rosa–but the characterization of people like Poussey and Taystee were too reliant on Vee. The overarching Vee-Red conflict wasn’t that interesting to me, as well.

      The ending was a bit too pat, but it was nonetheless satisfying. I’m not sure about the Weeds comparisons as I haven’t seen it yet, but I do know that that show fell victim to the Showtime curse. Hopefully OITNB can maintain its quality and hopefully it isn’t dragged on too long.

      One more thing: as for Piper, it wasn’t so much less Piper that I enjoyed as it was Alex-less Piper. I really liked seeing her navigate prison life without clinging onto Alex or her family, so I’m not too excited about Alex-Piper next year.

      • Pop Eye July 7, 2014 at 3:32 pm #

        It’s been a while since I’ve reviewed OITNB’s second season, but I remember really liking this episode. But I agree: Vee wasn’t a good addition to the show, since too much screen time was spent on her and her lackeys. It really took away from Piper’s story for me, and from the core cast of characters we’d gotten to know during the show’s first season.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: