Frieda Is One Tough 'OITNB' Inmate

by Kayla Hawkins
JoJo Wilden/Netflix

Out of all of the many characters on Orange Is the New Black, it's hard to pick a favorite, or even a handful of favorites. However, it is easy to pick a character or two that deserves more screentime, like expert gardener and Admiral Rodcocker fan Frieda, who's been around for years but never featured in her own episode. Why is Frieda in prison on Orange is the New Black? She's one of the characters not treated to a flashback in Seasons 1 through 4, but, she has made an impression over the past three years as a member of the ensemble, and reportedly, she does get a backstory in Season 5. But even what has been explained about Frieda's past pre-Season 5 is enough to warn you that this character is incredibly tough and doesn't shy away from violence. Between her octopus neck tattoo and when Red called her a "badass biker chick," it sounds like Frieda was a career criminal.

In Season 2, she implies that the offense that she was imprisoned for is assaulting and potentially killing her husband. "I cut off my husband's dick with a butcher knife. And it wasn't even sharp," she says. She also calls it the "best thing I ever did." This is echoed in the fourth season, when she muses about when she "killed four people in one year," including stealing a cop's gun and shooting him with it... but she can't recall whether or not she was ever caught, because her memories of the time are fuzzy.

And that's another thing that's been established about Frieda's past: the crimes that landed her in prison were violent, and they happened a long, long time ago. Long enough that as she explains in Season 4, she started out her sentence in a maximum security prison and was since transferred to the minimum security camp. Frieda was introduced in Season 2, as one of the "Golden Girls" who populated Red's new clique after she was exiled from her kitchen and lost her family. While the older women in the prison complained that their concerns and needs were frequently ignored, Frieda in particular bemoaned the lack of respect afforded their group despite that fact that they all have a serious criminal history. And in a moment in CO Bayley's Season 4 flashback, a younger version of the character throws an egg out of a moving car at Frieda, and she angrily responds, "You can't do that! I'm a human being!"

After she was folded into the main ensemble, Frieda became a go to person for characters who found themselves with a secret or problem that needed a cool head or the threat of violence. In the second season, as Vee became a threat, Frieda orchestrated an assassination attempt, and helped Red put together the gardening shed that became an underground smuggling ring. And in the fourth season, she helped Alex and Lolly dismember and hide the body of a guard in the prison garden. When Lolly's guilt led her to start demonstrating erratic symptoms, Frieda calmly suggested multiple times that Alex should kill her using oleander leaves from the garden.

Of course, they wind up not needing to kill Lolly because her mental illness renders her confession ignored by Healy and the rest of the Litchfield staff, but that running bit sums up Frieda's history on Orange Is the New Black: she's been in prison for a long time, but she expects respect and dignity from her fellow inmates and anyone else she interacts with. And she certainly doesn't tolerate any abuses, because she's willing to come up with violent solutions to protect herself — and she harbors no regrets for taking retribution on her husband's anatomy, even though it's meant that she's lived her life behind bars.