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Recap / Orange Is the New Black S02E01 "Thirsty Bird"

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"Thirsty Bird" is the premiere episode of Season 2 of Orange Is the New Black.

Piper is moved from SHU to a facility somewhere else in the nation for reasons unknown to her; she eventually learns that she is in Chicago for a federal trial. This latter she learns from Alex, who is there for the same reason: the man who ran her drug ring, Kubra, has finally been extradited, and they are to serve as witnesses. More of Piper's back story is shown, including how her father trained her to always avoid rule-breaking.

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This episode provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Absentee Actor: Though the entire cast is credited in the opening sequence, including a few who were Promoted to Opening Titles, Alex and Piper are the only familiar faces to appear. Even the Litchfield C.O. who escorts Chapman from SHU is a new role.
  • Blatant Lies: After a CO pulls a razor blade from under the tongue of an inmate on the bus: "That's not mine."
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: Invoked by Alex: "God, I can never tell what's going to be black and white with you."
  • Celebrity Paradox: Ashton Kutcher is mentioned. Kutcher and Laura Prepon stared in That '70s Show together.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Pretty much everyone on the plane, including the pilot, but the con who says "There ain't no mountains in the Midwest, just plains, corn, and a shitton of white people who don't vote in their best interest" is the best example.
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  • Disproportionate Retribution: Kubra is an international drug dealer and a stone-cold killer. Alex pleads with Piper to pretend they never met him, so that they aren't Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves. Piper does. Alex changes her mind and doesn't. Alex goes free, while Piper is left incarcerated, and likely facing perjury charges on top of her existing sentence.
  • Heroic BSoD: Piper has a breakdown on the plane re: her No-Holds-Barred Beatdown of Pennsatucky. "I went there and I didn't know there was a there."
  • I Have No Son!: Larry's father Howard comes out to help Chapman, at her own request. By the end of the episode, he's washing his hands of her.
  • In Medias Res: The episode begins with Chapman being rousted out of SHU, having been there for a month. The Cliffhanger from the Season One finale has not been addressed, and nobody tells her where she's going and why. Both she and the audience are unable to get their bearings for at least a third of the episode.
  • Put on a Bus: Alex.
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    • Pretty much the closest to real life that Alex has ever been. Being moved to a different facility to testify against another dealer is the only time Piper Kerman ever shared a prison with her former lover.
  • Spoiler Opening: several actors have been Promoted to Opening Titles, including Udo Azuba, Natasha Lyonne, Danielle Brooks and Taryn Manning. If you're lucky enough to not know who plays who, you're in business; but if you do know, then one of the Driving Questions of the episode (whether Pennsatucky, played by Manning, survived) is pretty much answered.
  • Stepford Smiler: Piper's mother is revealed to be one. She'd rather punish the 12-year-old Piper for seeing the R-rated Dazed and Confused than confront what Piper saw just before said film: Her father kissing a woman who was not her mother.
  • Title Drop: Piper's introduction in the episode. She's been painting the wall in SHU with her breakfast eggs. "I call this one Thirsty Bird."
  • Wham Line: Alex to Piper at the end: "I had to tell the truth."
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