In my first blog post I mentioned that I chose to write about Orange is the New Black due in part to the excellent job the show’s writers do with character and plot development throughout the season. As the season progresses, it gets more and more clear that the relationships Piper Chapman has with people outside the walls of Litchfield are becoming tenuous. While there have been hints since Episode 1, Episodes 5 and 6 are the first in which there are obvious signs of distrust and frustration between Piper and her friends and family. For this post, I’ll be focusing on Episode 6, “WAC Pack.”
In Piper’s first appearance in this episode, she is being visited by her mother Carol, who has already been set up to be a judgmental and distant character. We see both in the interaction between the two. Carol starts off mentioning an event from Episode 5, in which Piper goes chasing after a chicken and leaves Polly hanging on an important business call. Carol does not understand what occurred there at all, and questions Piper’s mental state.
This is one major reason that Piper’s relationships are being tested: a lack of understanding of the world inside the prison. Time flows a lot faster outside Litchfield, and in terms of everyone else’s fast-paced lives, Piper is seen as slowing them down. This is especially true in terms of Piper and Polly’s budding business. Piper wants to contribute as much as she used to, but with all of the obstacles in the way, Polly is doing more are more on her own. This leads to a rift between the two best friends as well, which is only partially patched up by phone call in this episode.
But it is Piper’s relationship with her fiancé Larry that appears to be breaking down the fastest. There is clear distrust between them, and they have not been honest with each other, with Piper failing to tell Larry about Alex being in prison with her, and Larry falsely telling Piper that Alex did not name her in the indictment in a misguided attempt to keep them apart. This comes to a head in Larry’s visit later in the episode, where Piper and Larry have a brief fight about Larry wanting to write an article about Piper being in prison.
Works Cited: “WAC Pack.” Orange Is the New Black Wiki, orange-is-the-new-black.fandom.com/wiki/WAC_Pack.