We’ve heard a lot about SHU, but it was starting to take on a kind of mythical existence, having not been shown in any of the previous eight episodes. I imagine this is deliberate, in order to instil ‘the fear’ of SHU into the audience, just as it is instilled in the inmates. Well we finally experience the SHU in this episode, and it’s safe to say that it lives up to the hype. SHU is awful.
Who goes to the SHU? Naturally, it’s Chapman. On Thanksgiving. Just as Larry arrives to visit. Why does she get sent to the SHU? Because of Healy’s inexplicable hatred of lesbians.
Taystee is having a leaving party, and Chapman and Alex start dancing, perhaps slightly ‘provocatively’. Pennsatucky runs to Healy to inform him of the latest lesbian-goings on. He accuses Chapman of attempted rape and sends her to the SHU. Even Mendez, an unequivocal arsehole, agrees that Healy can’t really do this. But Healy’s on a lesbian warpath and Chapman is going to the SHU.
When asking how long she’ll be in the SHU, Chapman is met with the ominous reply of ‘until we let you out’.
The situation seems particularly unfair because:
1) Healy is being completely unreasonable
2) Chapman had just been talking about how much she misses human contact, only to be shut up in the SHU on Thanksgiving
Although I feel bad for Chapman, I can’t help but be frustrated with her when she insists on shouting back at Healy when he visits her in SHU. He tells her Alex is sick and that Chapman isn’t like her. Instead of nodding in agreement for the sake of getting out, Chapman decides that now is a good time to tell Healy ‘you don’t get me’ and then pretty much go apeshit at him.
Only later does she realise that, in hindsight, this was pretty stupid. ‘Why did I say those things? I am so fucking stupid!’ Yes Chapman, those were my thoughts exactly. But it’s too late now and she’s stuck in there with mouldy food, guarded showers and talking to a disembodied voice that may or may not exist.
Elsewhere, Red is fuming because Mendez has infiltrated her kitchen deliveries with drugs to sell to inmates. She responds by flushing them down the toilet. When Mendez learns this he says it’s a Cold War stand off, ‘and I’ve got a bigger weapon than you’. As if that wasn’t disgusting enough, he then urinates in her Thanksgiving gravy. Delightful.
The flashback floor is with Alex this week. We learn that she didn’t know her Dad, who was a famous rock star. When she eventually went to find him, he was a bit of a let down, but she meets a drug cartel there, who convinces her it’s a great life choice.
People at the Litch assume that Alex is another white middle-class privileged kid who got caught selling drugs, but we learn that Alex was poor and she was teased at school as a result.
Diaz’s baby drama continues as Gloria whips up an ‘abortion potion’ for her. If you’re thinking, ‘wait a minute, is that a thing?’, it’s not. Mum Diaz harps on about how she might not be mum of the year but ‘babies give you hope.’ This has pretty much no resonance coming from her as she’s certainly right, she is no mum of the year. Plus she seems to be forgetting that Diaz’s situation is slightly different with the whole being pregnant in prison with a prison guard as the baby daddy.
Taystee gets out. It’s sad to lose her to the outside world, but it’s even sadder to see the reception waiting for her there. She’s given an address by her cousin, and initially turned away until she begs to stay there. She’s begrudgingly offered a mattress on the floor for one night only.
This raises the real issue about the options available for inmates when they are released from prison. It seems like the system is set up to make it impossible for people to return to normal life, so much so that it’s just easier to go back into prison.
Speaking of the outside world, Larry goes on a radio talk show to talk about his ‘long distance’ relationship.The result ends up pissing off pretty much everyone Chapman knows in prison, as his descriptions don’t paint the inmates in an all too positive light.
The episode ends on another ‘WHAT THE…’ type bombshell, as Chapman finally gets out from SHU (Caputo puts his foot down) and she runs to see Alex and starts kissing her. Called it.
Oh, and Healy is still cross so he calls Larry and tells him that his wife was sent to SHU for essentially being a lesbian. It is ALL kicking off.