Orange is the New Black Season 4 Episode 1 Review: Work That Body For Me

at .  Updated at . Comments

Apparently Litchfield doesn't participate in #FBF because "Work That Body For Me" was distinctly lacking in any origin stories this time. 

While Orange is the New Black Season 4 Episode 1 picked up seamlessly from where Orange is the New Black Season 3 Episode 13 left off, the story it told couldn't have been further removed from what we saw a year ago.

There's riot gear instead of clowns, staff that is worn down bureaucracy instead of hopeful about a regime change, isolation instead of camaraderie.

Work That Body For Me

There was a lot left unresolved at the end of Orange is the New Black Season 3, so I almost understand that not focusing on any particular character via flashbacks. Certainly it's been done before, but always in season finale episodes, where there multiple stories to wrap up.

It was a jam packed 52 minutes, and there wasn't anything that I would voluntarily cut for look into the past, but there were more than a few lines that got me curious about our more secondary characters.

Who knew that there could be someone crazier than Crazy Eyes? What did Maureen do that (supposedly) didn't hurt anyone, but still shocked Caputo?

And Frieda is still a mystery, the kind where every tiny snippet of information you get makes your imagination go even wilder. She's been part of the old lady set, and so seems harmless, but her "murder math" indicates a disturbing past.  

Freida: Haven't you ever killed someone before?
Alex: No. Have you?
Freida: That's personal. But if I had, I'd know better than to waste my time digging one six-foot hole when I could dig six one-foot holes.That's just murder math.

Two of the guards sparked my interest, albeit in very different ways.

Gerber's story about his father's dog dying enterprise hints an entertainingly bizarre childhood. But Coates' solicitation of advice about his "girlfriend" was deeply disturbing. His lack of understanding only highlighted the rape culture rampant not only in prisons, but in American society at large. 

The fact that it was an overheard conversation and not even the main focus of the scene made it resonate even more deeply with me. I was emotionally KOed by the one-two punch of that conversation and Alex's desperate suffocation of her would-be killer. 

Laura Pepron's midnight garden shed scene was the emotional apex of "Work That Body For Me." There have been other murders on Orange, sure. But Alex is (relatively) sane. She's talked a good game, but she's never been brutal or particularly violent. 

The first time that Ayudin was killed was in immediate self defense. And technically Lolly killed him. But he was not an immediate threat that night. Pepron did an amazing job of showing Alex's guilt and terror while killing him. She may come off as a bad ass bitch most of the time, but she's still got a soft center.

Lolly: Ooh, what's that?
Alex: Emoji.
Lolly: They got more of those?
Alex: Hmm, yeah. I mean, there's all kinds.
Lolly: Oh, I like the kitty with the heart eyes. [gasps] And the alien! But that's not how aliens really look.

Lolly got a lot of screen time in the premiere, and I would put money on that continuing through the rest of the season. You don't murder a guard, dismember him, and bury him in a prison garden and then just drop the story.

Ben Franklin's axiom about three people keeping a secret is even more true when one of them is a paranoid schizophrenic.

But who will take out whom in the Mexican standoff? If two of the three conspirators has to die, Lolly does seem like the logical choice for first to go. Frieda's (probably) got the rap sheet to do the deed, but with one kill under her belt, I could see Alex reluctantly taking out her stalker-cum-friend.

Gina: Jesus, Chapman. A little magic happens around here and you make it all about you, like you made it happen.
Piper: But I did, that's my point. I'm gangsta. Like with an "A" at the end.

Piper has become less and less the focus of Orange, and honestly, I'm okay with that. While I acknowledge the character couldn't emerge from prison the same person as she went in, I'm having a hard time reconciling myself with "gangsta" Piper.

Sure, her egocentricity is funny. And I won't deny that it helps advance plots. And upping her hubris will allow the character a unique way to become isolated (one of my predicted themes for Orange is the New Black Season 4). But it also just always seems so farcical. 

How long will it be before the new girls realize that "la jefa" is a facade? Before or after they beat her down in an attempt to climb the prison pyramid of power? I'm probably a bad person for this, but I hope it's after. Piper could use a little lesson in humility.

Lolly: Ooh, what's that?
Alex: Emoji.
Lolly: They got more of those?
Alex: Hmm, yeah. I mean, there's all kinds.
Lolly: Oh, I like the kitty with the heart eyes. [gasps] And the alien! But that's not how aliens really look.

While "Work That Body For Me" didn't examine the prison industry in the personal manner that is it's wont, that didn't mean there weren't some truths being told. They all just happened to be relevant to the current situation, and not how the characters got there. 

Black Cindy managed to stay true to herself and show the depth that developed during her religious journey within just a few minutes. I love when her character manages to drop insightful truths in the midst of her joking around.

Just because she isn't well educated per se doesn't mean that she doesn't know what's what and can't speak that truth to others.

What? I'm bored! Can't we have a race war? It'll be fun!

Black Cindy

One of the ways that the show runners emphasized the dramatic changes of the increased population was just by crowding all the inmates, old and new, into one space. It was a dramatic juxtaposition to the relative freedom that inmates had enjoyed under Caputo's brief reign and to the freedom they had just experienced at the lake. 

The ways the prisoners were divided, both by the bars between the commissary and the common room and by their different colored uniforms, was just the start of the us vs them mentality that will lead to examining isolation in prison.

Cliques divided up within those rooms, and Yoga Jones pointed out that resources will likely become scarce. 

Crazy Eyes: I -- I don't know if I'm in trouble or not. I...ate...lead.
Taystee: Girl, we've all eaten lead. That's probably why half of us are in here.

Judy King is sure to feature more in the upcoming episodes, and I can't wait for Poussey to finally talk to her idol. I'm also just plain curious to see if she milks her status with Caputo to keep the special treatment coming, or if she uses it with the inmates, who may be dangerous to piss off. 

We also still haven't heard from Sophia, who was sent to SHU, and Daya and Aleida don't know about their kids being taken into foster care. We've only gotten a glimpse of Piscotella, and I can't wait to see what else there is to the bearded giant of Litchfield. He certainly made an impression.

TV Fanatic Amanda Steinmetz will be back with a review of Orange Is The New Black Season 4 Episode 2 on Sunday, June 19th. Hopefully we'll get answers on some of those dangling threads from Season 3!

Share your thoughts on the Season 4 premiere with us in the comments section! 

Work That Body For Me Review

Editor Rating: 4.0 / 5.0
  • 4.0 / 5.0
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
User Rating:

Rating: 4.7 / 5.0 (10 Votes)

Elizabeth Harlow is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.

Tags: ,

Orange is the New Black Season 4 Episode 1 Quotes

Lolly: Ooh, what's that?
Alex: Emoji.
Lolly: They got more of those?
Alex: Hmm, yeah. I mean, there's all kinds.
Lolly: Oh, I like the kitty with the heart eyes. [gasps] And the alien! But that's not how aliens really look.

Gina: Jesus, Chapman. A little magic happens around here and you make it all about you, like you made it happen.
Piper: But I did, that's my point. I'm gangsta. Like with an "A" at the end.