After an entirely Piper-centered premiere followed by an entirely Piper-less second episode, “Hugs Can Be Deceiving” brings Piper back to Litchfield and resumes the show’s status quo.
The episode starts by introducing Brook Soso, the new girl at Litchfield. Shortly after her arrival, Piper walks in and everyone is shocked to see her back after her intense fight with Pennsatucky.
Then we get a great sequence of the black women playing Celebrity. It gives us a nice glimpse into how connected Poussey and Taystee are, as Poussey gets all the clues Taystee gives her in one or two guesses (“chick whose husband died real young” “the white Michelle Williams!”). Suzanne wants to play but they insist she has to watch the clock. They remind her that last time she lost her mind. She’s sad but returns to watching the clock for them.
In a flashback we see Suzanne excitedly running into a room dressed as a fairy. Turns out the easiest way to make me love a character even more is to show that as a kid they went around dressed as a fairy all the time. She’s in the hospital because her parents have just had a baby. She looks at the baby and then tells her mother, “She looks like you and daddy.” She sounds happy when she says it, but it’s still sad to hear this as the first observation from an adopted child looking at her sibling. When she asks to hold the baby, both her parents look very nervous. They cautiously allow her to hold the newborn for a few seconds before taking her away. As soon as the baby is taken away from her, Suzanne shifts completely and starts throwing a tantrum. Fortunately a nurse nearby steps in and calms her down. As soon as someone starts talking gently to her and giving her attention, she’s happy again.
Suzanne is sitting near Taystee when Taystee tells her to go away because she’s annoying. Suzanne says, “I was adopted, you know,” and it’s unclear exactly what train of thought led her to say this, but whether she knows it or not, it was a pretty cutting thing to say and Taystee responds with, “Good for you. I wasn’t.” Vee appears and says, “Weren’t you?” Do you think she was waiting a long time for that sweet entrance line? Taystee wants nothing to do with Vee, so Vee moves in on Suzanne instead.
We flash back to Suzanne’s mom dropping her and her sister off at a party. The mother throwing the party says she doesn’t think it’s appropriate for Suzanne to be there. Suzanne’s mom has a sweet monologue about how the people who have the hardest time in the world are people who are told their different and she won’t let her child be labeled as less than.
Red goes to Sophia to get her hair styled, saying she wants to look fierce and intimidating. She asks Sophia, “Do you ever look at yourself and realize how people must see you?” Sophia sounds amused as she responds with, “You caught the whole used-to-be-a-man thing, right?” Sophia says she’s got just the color to make her look intimidating.
Meanwhile, Lorna gets a call from her sister and learns that Christopher is getting married. She is devastated. It’s heartbreaking and the only thing that eases my pain is remembering that Lorna is pretty racist.
Back at the slumber party in the flashbacks, Suzanne’s sister asks her to please not be weird. Suzanne insists, “I’m not weird. I’m just like everybody else.” All the kids at the party starts making up a story together, round robin style. When it gets to Suzanne, she says that a dragon comes and breathes fire all over and no one wants to save the pretty girl in the story so she gets burned up and dies alone. Another girl tells her she’s stupid and everyone laughs. Suzanne starts to cry as she says, “But dragons are cool.”
Meanwhile, Daya has been telling Bennett she thinks she needs to tell someone about the baby so she can start getting proper care, including vitamins. He gives her spinach and expects her to be overcome with gratitude. Daya responds by sarcastically saying, “Fuck diamonds. I got spinach!” He says he can’t get the vitamins, so she says, “If you’re not going to be concerned with the health of the child…” He responds in the worst possible way by telling her not to talk like her mother. This dude can get the fuck out.
Suzanne is freaked out to see Piper. Vee sees this and gives her a pep talk, saying her “I see you. I see you. You’re a smart, strong black woman.” It’s a nice speech, but of course Vee is being manipulative. She’s gotten Suzanne to help her sneak in cigarettes. She hugs her and it’s clear that it means a lot to Suzanne. But hugs can be deceiving.
Red sports her new hairdo and makeup as she faces off with Vee. They act cordial and hug, but the subtext is clear. Hugs can be deceiving.
In another flashback, we see Suzanne’s high school graduation, where she has to sing a song. She’s very reluctant and we can see that her (well-intentioned) mom seems to be pushing her. When she gets up to the podium, she ends up screaming, “No, I can’t!” over and over. We then see that the night of the nativity pageant, she freaked out with stage fright, saw Piper—who looks a bit like her mom -— and started hitting her while yelling that she can’t make her do things.
Suzanne talks to Piper about this instance, feeling bad for hitting her, but it turns out that she actually helped. Her hitting Piper made the fight with Pennsatucky look like a fair fight, instead of simply Piper beating up Pennsatucky.
Vee has used the cigarettes Suzanne helped her bring in to trade for a cake. She uses the cake as an offering to get Taystee and the other black women on her side. Vee says that they can all play Celebrity and they can take turns keeping time. Suzanne is very happy.
Photo Courtesy of Netflix