There is a wall between Piper and Alex for all of Season 7 of Orange is the New Black, both literally and figuratively. With Alex still serving time in prison and Piper out on early release, the only way they can see each other is during visitation hours when there’s a glass partition between the two of them. That separation ends up creating the ultimate long-distance relationship between them, and puts a great strain on their connection. So, do Piper and Alex end up together? The series finale is leaving fans looking for answers. Warning: The following post contains spoilers for Orange is the New Black Season 7.
At the end of Orange is the New Black Season 6, Piper (Taylor Schilling) and Alex (Laura Prepon) make things official (or as official as things can get while behind bars) by having a prison wedding. Even though they don’t have a marriage certificate, they say that they’re each other’s wife. At the start of Season 7, that label of "wife" seems like it might be enough to keep them close during the years remaining in Alex’s prison sentence. But, that very quickly proves not to be the case as the physical and emotional distance between them creates a great strain.
When they realize they’re struggling, Alex suggests that they open up their relationship so that Piper doesn’t feel like she’s being held back. That seems like a good idea at the time, but it turns out to be a much better plan in theory than in practice. Piper has a couple unsuccessful flings, but she does begin a close friendship with a woman named Zelda (Alicia Witt). Meanwhile, Alex grows closer to CO Artesian McCullough (Emily Tarver). Piper and Alex each develop feelings for the other women, and they each feel hurt by the whole experience. Instead of fixing their relationship, it all only drives them further apart. The tension is exacerbated by the fact the Alex is getting transferred to a different prison in Ohio.
Piper and Alex’s Season 7 storyline does an excellent job of exploring what happens when two partners in a relationship are going through wildly different experiences. After they realize that their current setup isn’t working, Alex breaks up with Piper and says that she’s setting her free. Piper is heartbroken. She consults her family and her ex-fiancé Larry (Jason Biggs), who all tell her that Alex has been a destructive force in her life, and that maybe she should just move on. Yet, there’s something in Piper that continually draws her to Alex.
Prepon previously spoke to The Hollywood Reporter about Piper and Alex’s relationship. She said:
The fact that Piper and Alex can’t fully control their hearts seems to be the guiding principal of their final Orange is the New Black scene. After Alex breaks up with Piper, the audience is unsure of what Piper’s next move will be until the final montage of the series.
In the last montage, the audience sees Piper driving and working at a Starbucks. It seems like maybe she has moved on and is building a new life. But the, in the final scene of the entire series, Piper sits in a prison visitation room; this one doesn’t have any glass walls at all, only open air. Alex walks in, a big smile on her face, and sits across from Piper. It isn’t clear what the exact status of their relationship is, but what is clear is that they’re happy being together in that moment. The finale leaves things open, but it also seems pretty optimistic that Piper and Alex have time to figure it all out.
You can watch all of Season 7 of Orange is the New Black on Netflix now.
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