Orange Is the New Black: A Rundown of the Beef Between Frieda and Red
Warning! Spoilers ahead for Orange Is the New Black.
If there's one thing Red has always loved at Litchfield (and now Litchfield Max), it's her prison family. Who, exactly, is included in that family might vary from season to season on Orange Is the New Black, but it's clear that Red values loyalty and honesty. So when she learns that some of her allies seemingly betray her during their interviews with the federal investigators in season six, it's no wonder Red is more than a little displeased. This rift carries into season seven, and might have you struggling to remember one important question: what happened between Red and Frieda?
When the investigations start, it's clear that the feds aren't very invested in finding out what truly happened during season five's Litchfield riot. Instead, they're looking for a few people to blame for the events, regardless of whether that blame is justified. The investigation leads plenty of inmates to turn on each other, trying to deflect responsibility and avoid having time added to their sentences. Nicky, for example, agrees to name Red in her statement so that she won't have time added to her sentence for her distribution of the prison medications during the riot. Because Nicky explains the situation to Red, though, she forgives her.
But Red is less forgiving toward Frieda, who also names Red during her conversation with the feds. During the conversation Frieda has with the investigators, they tell her that the supplies in the bunker have her fingerprints on them (no surprise, since she's the one who discovered and stocked it in the first place).
Frieda tells the investigator that she and the others simply "immobilized" Piscatella, and that they didn't kill him. But the investigator tells her that she'll have to name someone else in addition to Taystee. We don't see Frieda explicitly name Red, but Frieda is taken to Florida right after the investigator suggests she give a Russian name. It's implied that Frieda reluctantly agrees and names Red as being responsible for Piscatella's torture.
At first, Red doesn't know what happened with Frieda, and she's actually happy to see her during the walking circle exercise in episode three. Before her conversation with the investigators, Frieda tells Red that she attempted suicide because of her past, which viewers soon learn is with Carol and Barb. But over the course of season six, Red's resentment for Frieda grows strong enough that she teams up with Carol to try to take Frieda down. In a particularly heartbreaking moment, Red chooses to attack Frieda rather than visit her grandchildren after begging her son to bring them to the prison.
Plenty of former Litchfield friendships have been destroyed on OITNB, and it's sad to see Red and Frieda at odds in season six given their history together. Their storyline is a harsh reminder of the awful choices the inmates often have to make, and it's easy to see both characters' points of view. Fortunately, through a surprising and sad twist, they're able to be somewhat civil in season seven after it's revealed Red is suffering from early-onset Dementia.
Following her diagnosis and a few situations that put her life in danger (ex: forgetting why she went into the freezer and staying there for hours, nearly freezing to death), Red is moved to the safer "Florida" block of the prison. As soon as Frieda sees her there, she drops her tray in fright, expecting a fight. But then Red warmly greets her, clearly having no idea who Frieda is. Her former friend graciously introduces herself and shows her around the new block.
By the series finale, Red does end up having a brief flash of remembrance of her history with Frieda and the two nearly come to blows, but Frieda is able to get in her cell in time to keep a furious Red out. There's no telling where their stories will end, but we have faith they'll be able to patch things up and live peacefully. (If Red forgets all about it, of course.)