The next day, Liz passes out in the prison yard. Franky assumes that Jaqs poisoned her, but Doreen confesses in private that she poured bleach into Liz’s bottle. Coming from anyone else, I would interpret this as an act of revenge, but I honestly believe that Doreen was just trying to help. Franky, however, would prefer if everyone left the mercy-poisonings to her, and sends Doreen to her cell without any supper. Desperately in need of a stress relief, Franky sneaks off to the exercise yard with Kim, where they engage in some foreplay on a secluded bench. Unbeknownst to them, they are being watched via CCTV by Erica, who could use a release of her own. She slides a hand under her pencil skirt, but leaves the blinds to her office open, I guess to get a voyeurism/exhibitionism combo. As she gives into her forbidden lust, she recalls the last time she was this titillated. It was back in the days when she was a lawyer, and she had to go to some underground kink club for a case (just go with it). The sight of the chains, whips, and cages awoke something deep within her, something that said “I should really get a job at a women’s prison.”
But seriously, Erica’s problem isn’t her BDSM fetish; it’s her repression of it. And I don’t think we needed a scene set in Jenny Schecter’s Season 2 fantasy world to teach us that, but point taken. We understand now why Franky is so irresistible to her: because their relationship is an exercise in power. It’s not a love story; it’s a deadlocked embrace in which Erica wants to dominate and be dominated, and Franky wants to be saved and wants to destroy anyone who tries to save her. Healthy? No. Compelling? Always.
That night, Liz returns to the unit and tries to make amends with Doreen, but that is going to be a long road. She does succeed in apologizing to Bea, who confesses that her sex life has only ever been a site of domination (not the healthy, consensual kind), and never pleasure. Liz is like, “Well, if there was ever a place to get good at self-care, it’s prison.” To which I would only add, “Or you could try lesbianism. Always an option, just putting it out there.”
When Erica returns home to her fiancé, Mark (I swear I will try to remember his name from now on) he asks if he can really give her what she wants. And Mark is a nice guy, in the tradition of Hec from Imagine Me and You, and he has patiently waited for Erica throughout five years of engagement. So when he asks her to either step up or walk away, you kind of can’t blame her for standing by the only stable thing in her life. But one gets the sense that it’s a decision she makes more out of fear than a real desire to move forward.
That night, Erica has sweet, gentle sex with Mark. And across town, Franky has hot, playful sex with Kim. And the whole time, they think only of each other. In the next cell over, though, Bea has her very first solo climax, and it’s really the healthiest thing to happen in the whole episode. Because it’s about finding her own power and strength and agency. And trust me when I say, she’s really going to need it.