Orange is the New Black: Tongue Tied

Orange Is the New Black

This week I’m writing about the Orange is the New Black episode “Tongue Tied.” This kept up the streak of episodes about characters who haven’t been featured previously and gave us a look at Norma Romano’s backstory.

The episode opens with Norma blessing people who continually come up to her and ask for her magic help. Someone even bothers her for a blessing (and a hex on someone else) while she’s on the toilet.

Norma is working in the kitchen with Red. Red tells her they’re a good team and Norma squeezes her shoulder. Red thanks her.

In a flashback, a young Norma goes to a workshop on empowering yourself. The leader of the workshop, a guy who calls himself Guru Matt, says they’re all asking questions. When he brings up the question “why do I hate myself?” it clearly strikes a chord with Norma. Guru Matt calls her “Sister Sad Eyes” and asks what brings her there. She tries to respond, but struggles with a severe stutter. He tells her, “I feel your spirit. You don’t ever have to speak with me. I hear you.” She’s so relieved she almost cries. It’s a very powerful moment.

Caputo leads the new guards through training. Danny arrives and pulls Caputo aside. He tells them that the guards should receive on-the-job training since they’re paying them. Caputo says they need at least 40 hours of training before he can send them into the field. Danny says they can just read the manual and they need to get them working.

Gina and another woman visit Norma and tell her that they’ve booked time in the chapel so she could lead a group of them and heal them. Red tells them, “There’s no way she’s comfortable with this, are you, Norma? Go on. Get out of here.” Red complains about the desperate women looking for her to guide them when she can’t even guide herself.

Norma remembers her wedding to Guru Matt. She looks happy and nods along as Guru Matt says his vows. After they kiss, another woman steps forward and he begins saying the same vows to her. Norma tries to hold her smile as this happens. A third woman steps up and Guru Matt begins saying the same vows to her.

A new guard tries to break up a fight and ends up spraying himself and Donaldson with pepper spray. Alex think this novice guard would be perfect to help her and Piper smuggle panties out of the prison.

Taystee tells Poussey about Suzanne’s erotic story. Taystee has nothing but complaints, but Poussey is actually intrigued. She grabs the story and says, “You can’t blame her for wanting an escape. It’s lonely as fuck in here.” Taystee looks a little hurt. We all know that Poussey has unrequited feelings for Taystee, but I think in a way, Taystee also has feelings for Poussey that aren’t returned. Because for her, their friendship is actually enough. It’s so strong and brought her so much happiness that it’s gotten her through the hard times. Poussey talks about her loneliness a lot this season and I think it wears on Taystee that clearly their friendship doesn’t fulfill Poussey the way it does her. It must hurt that Poussey has a void that Taystee can’t fill just because she doesn’t have romantic or sexual feelings for her.

Poussey talks to Suzanne about her story. She says that it was weird, but something about it sucked her in. She tells Suzanne she needs to keep writing and not leave her hanging. “Get to writing,” she says. “Chop chop.”

Norma puts up a sign that says “Closed for Business.” Gina tells her that’s a shame because she’s really helping people. She says that they still have the time booked in the chapel. Norma shrugs and holds up nail polish, indicating she has to go do Red’s nails. She gives Red a massage and listens to her. Red laments not being in charge of the kitchen anymore. Norma tries to “bless” Red. Red says that she’s not comfortable with Norma doing magic on her and says, “Let’s get back tot he real thing.” Norma resumes massaging her.

A flashback shows us Norma and Guru Matt, older now. Guru Matt complains there are no numbers to their group anymore. He says, “All those wives and I’m left with you. My one true believer. So much for sacred vows.” He complains about being charged with criminal activity but insists the girls where there of their own accord. Their van breaks down and Guru Matt starts kicking it and calling it a bitch.

Caputo admonishes Mendoza because he found out Maritza cut her finger in the kitchen while Mendoza was away, visiting her son. She screams at him that she quits. He says she can’t quit because there’s nobody else to do it. Red, who was sweeping, smiles at Caputo. Mendoza says, “Give it to her. I’m done. She wants this so bad, let her have it.” Caputo says, “Okay, Reznikov. You’re up. Enjoy.”

Later, Red bosses Norma around. When Norma looks back at her, Red tells her, “I saw that evil eye.”

In a flashback, Norma and Guru Matt stand on a cliff. Guru Matt asks why she’s still here following him. He says, “Go. Run away. Like the rest of them. They were right. I’m a fraud.” He tells Norma that she’s wasted her life on a worthless man. She shakes her head at him. He tells her, “You are old and childless and poor and damned.” She cries. He yells at her that she’s never going to leave because she’s a slave, a meek little servant, and she’ll never be anything else. He tells her that without him, she would have nothing, “silent nothing.” He yells at her, “Speak, woman. You won’t, will you? You know why? Because you have nothing to say.” She pushes him off the cliff. She stutters out, “Son of a bitch!” before she starts sobbing.

The people who want to see Norma stand in the chapel, sadly talking about how she’s not going to come. Norma walks in and grins at them. She starts touching each of them, and when she does, they smile at her and thank her. They all giggle happily. She puts her fingers to her lip and they all fall silent.

Photo Courtesy of Netflix

About Lenny

Lenny Burnham is a TV blogger and co-host of the podcasts Secret Lover and Rerunning Wild, available on iTunes. Follow Lenny on Twitter @lennyburnham.