Time. You've got time. In the Netflix show Orange Is The New Black time is pretty much the only thing that is on the characters' side, because as Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling) learned in season one, it's about all you can count on. The lyrics from the hypnotic song by music artist Regina Spektor that radiates as the theme song to Orange Is The New Black couldn't be more apropos.
That it's not people who are the biggest evil or threat with you behind bars that will get you, it's time. Time to dwell on the past, time to rethink choices and mistakes, and time to figure out just what the future may provide. As season two has been released it doesn't stray far from that same theme.
Lolly (Lori Petty), when Piper asks her what time it is, says "I left my watch back with my freedom." Time is all relative in Litchfield, especially when an inmate has been locked in the Shu. They lose all concept of how long they have been in there, what day it is, and they lose control of a lot of their faculties. They are stuck in a small box with only themselves and end up being forced to confront their inner demons. Time becomes an enemy and they start to lose sight of who they are and what keeps them sane.
In season one when Piper is locked in the Shu she starts a conversation between herself and another inmate she hears in a vent. Both begin to question if either is real, and the absence of time starts to play tricks on them. In season two Piper is locked in the Shu two more times, and each time she ends up a little less lucid and a lot more damaged.
They say, "that time heals all wounds," but when you have nothing but time on your hands, there is no way to close what can't properly heal. Old grudges are resurrected when time hasn't healed battle scars. This was prominent in season two between the characters of Red (Kate Muldrow) and Vee (Lorraine Toussaint).
These two ladies had a rich history together as arch rivals starting from Vee's first steps in Litchfield. Now that Vee has returned to prison, they can pick up where they left off. Unfortunately, time hasn't hardened Red enough, and it has not changed Vee one bit. It's time for Red to settle the score, or for Vee to finally take out her competition, for good.
No matter what though, you will always be your own worst enemy. Because when time is relative, the only things you are confronted with are your own inner demons and regrets. In season two Piper requests a furlough in order to spend time with her grandmother before she dies. Many of the inmates are jealous and angry because they have tried asking for furloughs in the past and were denied. They never had the opportunity to see their loved ones before they passed away, had a necessary operation, or when a baby was born. Piper ends up missing when her grandmother passes away and breaks down because she doesn't get to say goodbye or have closure with her relationship. She can only live with the regret with the circumstances she is in because of the choices she has made. Her relationship with her fiancée is gone, and she has pretty much given up everything including her happiness and freedom.
The first two words in the show's theme song are "the animal." And it is exactly as if these ladies truly are animals. They are of course obviously animals trapped in a cage, but beyond that, they are territorial, predatory, and extremely primal. One of the characters named Leanne (played by Emma Myles) says it best, "Nobody likes to live like an animal."
When we met Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling) in season one she is a lost lamb being thrown to the wolves. She is naive, and as she gets acquainted with her life behind bars and her fellow inmates, she soon learns the rules of this concrete jungle are far different than beyond the walls. In season two Piper's journey is mirrored by new inmate Brooke So-so (Kimiko Glenn) who quickly becomes the newest prey for the inmates. She becomes a part of the sexual competition between Nicki (Natasha Lyonne) and Boo (Lea DeLaria), but she also is fresh meat for the inmates to manipulate and assimilate.
The ladies aren't killing time in Litchfield; it's the other way around. Time eats away at their sanity, moral compass, and beliefs. It has been said that time flies when you're having fun, but when you've got nothing but time in front of you as a ward of the state, fun is just a distant memory of time well spent.