What is love?
The ladies of Litchfield have infinite ways of answering that simple question: Love is light! Acceptance! Horrible pain that you want again and again! Sex! This thing you have once with your manager at Long John Silver’s! Take a closer look at the love stories told by this special Valentine’s Day episode, though, and a theme emerges: Each one is really a tale of frustration, depression, and heartbreak. Happy V-Day!!
Nobody at Litchfield may know the truth about love better than Poussey, who’s become an expert in unrequited affection – though it hasn’t always been that way for her. Flashbacks reveal that once upon a time, when she was just a stylish, carefree army brat, young Poussey fell head-over-heels in love with an equally stylish German officer’s daughter named Franziska. And wonder of wonder, miracle of miracles, Franziska loved her back. Like, a lot. Episode 6 contains the most graphic sex scenes ever seen on Orange, including one to rival the frenzied sapphic coupling of Blue Is the Warmest Color. Blue may be warmer than Orange, but it’s endlessly amusing to see the series subtly throw shade at that landmark piece of lesbian cinema when Poussey and her girlfriend have to give up on a sex act that just isn’t working out: “I told you scissoring wasn’t a thing.” Haaaa.
Of course, because we can’t have nice things, Poussey and Franziska’s love story concludes in heartbreaking fashion. The German’s father walks in on them making love; shocked and appalled by their relationship, he transfers Poussey and her family back to the States. The flashbacks end without revealing how Poussey ended up in jail – though given the desperation that nearly drives her to draw a gun on her girlfriend’s father, we can gather that weapons and volatile feelings may have played a role.
Present-day Poussey is also suffering, but only partially because of her feelings for Taystee. The rest of her problems start and end with the letter Vee. The aspiring prison empress is moving Taystee away from the library – away from Poussay – and into custodial, for reasons that aren’t immediately apparent. Janae, who’s also been transferred, is less than pleased with her gross new job; even some amazing improvisation, courtesy of Suzanne and a friendly, British accented mop named Moppy, can go only so far toward making her feel better.
The gals perk up, though, when Vee unveils Stage 3 of her master plan: Importing tobacco into the prison via cans of cleaning supplies. (How, exactly, did she get the tobacco-filled cans into Litchfield in the first place? That’s a question for another episode.) It’s a smuggling operation that has the potential to seriously change their status, flipping the prison’s power structure on its head once more – but it’s unclear whether Poussey is going to take part. She and Vee have finally had the confrontation that’s been building since Vee spotted P spooning her protege – and though Poussey puts on a tough front, she’s clearly wounded when Vee sneers that Taystee will never love her the way she wants. Vee, on the other hand, is totally unmoved when P rightfully pegs her as a “f—ing vampire” who takes advantage of lost, scared children and then abandons them without a second thought when the going gets rough. Because she might be an actual vampire.
And so the rift Vee’s been chiseling between Litchfield’s greatest power couple grows ever wider. A few episodes ago, Taystee neglected to save Poussey a seat at movie night; this time, at the prison’s Valentine’s Day party, it’s Poussey who rejects her friend, pushing her away in favor of a cute blonde we haven’t yet met. Flashback Poussey told her German girlfriend that her nomadic upbringing makes it easy for her not to form attachments to people (though her gun-assisted outburst later proved that wasn’t quite as true as Poussey wanted it to be). Now that she’s older and prison-hardened, will she be able to squash her feelings for Taystee? While I hope she does manage to find a reciprocal romance, I can’t be alone in hoping that after the dust settles, Poussey and Taystee manage to remain friends. Piper and Larry’s relationship doesn’t work because she’s the sun (volatile, burning anything that comes too close) and he’s the moon (always reflecting her light); T and P’s does work because at their best they’re like twin celestial bodies, contentedly and equally revolving around each other. And doing hilarious “white people” voices.