Orange is the New Black is known for not focusing on just one star, but with a cast that huge, it's inevitable that some characters are pushed to the background. For Yael Stone, who plays Lorna Morello on the show, that was the case all of last season and the first half of this one; her character was occasionally seen driving the van or swooning over her fiance, but that was about the extent of her time on-screen. Stone seemed like a sweet, likable actress, but with so little material to work with, she never got a chance to shine.
But then came season two, episode four. In that hour, everything changed; no longer was Morello just some background actor, relegated to cheering up Piper or hooking up with Nicky. Instead, she was the star of the show, one whose flashback sequence revealed a shocking, incredible twist that forever changed the way Orange fans view both the character, Morello, and the actress, Yael Stone. (Warning: Morello-centric Season two spoilers to follow.)
In the episode, viewers learn that the fiance Morello's been talking about since we met her is actually just some guy she's in jail for stalking, and that their entire life together — all those dates, their plans to get married, his unwavering devotion towards her — is really just a figment of her imagination. In truth, Christopher is a pissed-off, terrified man who brought Morello to trial for planting a bomb under his real girlfriend's car, and, even now, in prison for her crimes, she's still convinced herself that they're in love. It's a game-changing episode for Morello, who, from the little viewers previously knew, seemed like a harmless, lovestruck woman who'd probably done something silly to land herself in prison. Now, in the span of an hour, she's become one of the most deluded and dangerous inmates at Litchfield.
It's a gut-wrenching storyline, and it's made even more powerful by Stone's devastating, superb performance. All of Orange's cast is wonderful, but in that episode, Stone was simply extraordinary. She was adorably innocent when she flirted with Christopher; sympathetically nervous when she fretted over their vacation; pathetically hopeful when she sat there in court, listening to her "boyfriend" list her crimes and demand she gets put in jail. She's scary when she breaks into his house, pitiful when he leaves her, again, and heartbreaking when she tells Nicky the truth. In the span of a few short scenes, viewers went from loving Morello to pitying her to being terrified by her, and then right when we thought we understood who she was, the cycle started all over again.
It was a powerhouse performance, and one that, if all is fair, should give Stone an Emmy nomination. Orange may not have a leading actress, but in that one, transformative episode, Stone became a star. Here's hoping the show's producers take note of this change and make the actress the latest Orange cast member to become a series regular, because after that incredible episode, we can't imagine the show without Morello taking center stage.