After a long, arduous wait, Season 3 of Orange Is The New Black premiered on Netflix June 12. Finally! Being that the premiere coincided with the release of Jurassic World (dinosaurs #FTW — amiright??), my plans to barricade myself in my bedroom and devour the entire third season like a voracious velociraptor (sorry...still speaking in dino-terms at the moment) were put on hold. Still, I have thus far viewed the first three episodes of the latest OITNB season and there have already been enough jaw-dropping moments to coax me into canceling any weekend plans in favor of some late-night binging. One season shocker came during the second episode, when [MAJOR SPOILER ALERT] correctional officer/adorable person, John Bennett, proposed to inmate Daya (who is pregnant with his child) with a gum wrapper ring. All is well and good until he promptly skips town. For those that have watched Season 3 in its entirety — or are like me and looked up spoilers — you know that Bennett does not return for the rest of the season after ditching the crib Daya had when she was a baby on the side of the road and driving off.
"I think he's gonna come back," my friend/OITNB binge-watching partner-in-crime remarked after the scene faded to orange. I was hoping so too, but apparently he's not and now all I have to console myself with is re-watching the flashback scenes from episode two of a shirtless Bennett dancing to "Hollaback Girl" by Gwen Stefani during his military days.
Although the loss of Litchfield's dreamiest staff member is most assuredly a tragedy, closer inspection of Bennett's exit makes me think that maybe the writing was on the wall for him to go the entire time. Case in point: Bennett and Daya's relationship — as cute and borderline fairytale-esque as it was — is still one that would be considered illegal, since a correctional officer cannot have romantic relations with an inmate. Other than that, they're romance moved at a breakneck speed, with a few conversations and shared chewing tobacco leading to proclamations of love, intimacy, and Daya's subsequent pregnancy. Moreover, as vile as Pornstache (a.k.a. George Mendez) was, framing him for sexual assault of Daya wasn't exactly on par with the highest moralism. Perhaps the coupling between Bennett and Daya was less about romance and more about the series issuing a cautionary tale — don't move too fast in relationships, especially when said relationship is breaking the law. Their's is far from the only pairing on OITNB noting the dangers of infatuation and moving too fast, with Piper and Alex being another prime example (sorry shippers).
As we dry our tears over the loss of Bennett — and his portrayer, Matt McGorry — let's take a look at some lessons we can learn from OITNB on taking heed when getting bitten by the love (infatuation) bug.
Relationships Based Around Tension & Thrills Can Be A Red Flag
I'm not trying to hate on the whole Alex/Piper romance, but if we've learned anything from the three seasons of OITNB (or two seasons and three episodes of Season 3, in my case), it's that Alex and Piper's relationship basically centers on excitement, tension, and fights leading them to maul each other. In the second episode of Season 3, Alex discovers that Piper was the one responsible for ratting her out for breaking the rules of her parole which subsequently sent her back to Litchfield. This invariably leads to arguments, a slap, and "hate sex". When Alex forgives Piper in the third episode, the tension between them wanes, signaling that their relationship may be based more on heat than actual feelings.
Don't Propose Just Because Your S.O. Is Being Sent To Prison
Ah, Larry — remember him? Piper's boyfriend who decided it would be a good idea to propose marriage exclusively because she was about to go to prison? Yeah, that turned out well...
Build A Foundation Before Taking Certain Steps In A Relationship
We already talked about reasons the Bennett and Daya coupling may have been ill-fated from the start, but just to reiterate, these two definitely taught us that getting to know someone takes time; moving too fast not only robs the relationship of establishing a foundation, it can lead to the romance being dismantled completely. Bye, Bennett *sniff sniff*.
Don't Marry Someone You Just Met Off The Internet
Actually, don't marry someone immediately regardless of where you met them. Obviously Healy's wife wasn't found on a typical dating website (he disclosed in past seasons that she was a mail-order bride), but they found each other via the internet, regardless. That relationship hasn't been going well for either.
It Takes Time To Build Trust
Remember how Pornstache bought into the fact that Daya was madly in love with him, like, immediately? Yeah, she wasn't, and he's in jail now thinking that the baby Daya is carrying is his. It's fine to be optimistic in relationships, but it takes time to truly get to know someone and learn exactly what their intentions are.
Define The Relationship Before Assuming You Two Are A Couple
One shocker from Season 2 was learning the backstory of Morello's "engagement". As it turned out, the man Morello had claimed was her fiancee was actually a man she had been on only one date with and she was later arrested when he pressed charges against her for stalking. Obviously that is an extreme scenario, but one takeaway we can glean from the storyline is this: have a conversation on exclusivity and define the relationship before assuming you and the person you are seeing are official. Having "the talk" can be nerve-wracking, but blurred lines can be as well.
Move On If A Crush Can't Reciprocate
Poussey and Taystee are, IMHO, one of the best relationships on the show — and they aren't even romantically involved! Their friendship was expounded upon in Season 2 when it was revealed that Poussey had developed romantic feelings for her BFF. It was heartbreaking to see Poussey's anguish over Taystee being unable to reciprocate those feelings, but — in the end — the trials both went through together further cemented their platonic bond. Many of us will experience (or have already experienced) intimate feelings for a friend. Sometimes these feelings can be mutual and develop into a relationship, while others will realize their amore is completely one-sided. Experiencing unrequited love — for lack of a better word — sucks. It majorly sucks. Still, losing a worthwhile friendship can be even worse. Crushes and feelings of infatuation will inevitably diminish when the other party doesn't reciprocate, but that doesn't mean the wonderful friendship that has already been established needs to be nixed as well.
Images: JoJo Whilden/Netflix (1); Giphy (8)