The moment Piper is thrown into SHU we finally gain insight to what that part of prison is like and why inmates are severely different when they return to minimal security. From the cold emptiness of the rooms to the chained shower supervisions it is quite obvious how SHU can be horrible to go through. The person in the room next to her even stating “it’s not living, I mean yeah your breathing, but you aint a person no more. You start to hear voices”. Afterward I began to question if Piper truly had a neighbor or if the psychology effects of solitary confinement already had her hallucinating and hearing a voice that was not there, possibly her subconscious. I believe there was never a neighbor and it was a way for Piper to communicate to herself how surreal prison really is, and that no matter what they decide if Pipers time in prison is bittersweet or literal insanity.
After Piper is rightfully taken out of SHU and brought back to “civilization” her experience was the tipping point of Alex and Pipers relationship and essentially beginning it all again. Healy’s drastic efforts in trying to prevent this was the entire reason it happened. I’m not sure what Healy’s reason for being overly infatuated with Piper, possibly because she resembles his uninterested wife or because in the beginning she was a beautiful woman whom actually acted kindly toward him. Either or it builds the reason I dislike Healy.
In “Bora Bora Bora” we even see the nature of what the prisons psych ward is like. Susan telling Piper that it is 10x worse than anything in solitary confinement and that you can come back from SHU but you will never come back from Psych. This brings back to Piper and Alex’s actions, practically causing Pennsatucky to be sent to Pysch not only messing with her actual sanity but causing others to perceive her as completely and utterly crazy (which for the most part isn’t entirely false). But through SHU and Psych we see how dehumanizing those places are, even literally caging Pennsatucky like an animal during an evaluation and stripping her down to a bed. Not to mention the previous chained shower supervision Piper experienced.
By the end of episode 10 a huge issue is arisen with the death of Tricia Miller, it not only brings up the issue of suicide but also the constant pressure one is under in prison (due to drug-douche-dealer Mendez). The very contrasting reactions of the death between inmates and officers is both interesting and sorrowful. The CO’s showed lack of sympathy especially coming from Mendez even making light jokes about the girls suicide. This has huge contrast with the inmates whom get together in memory of Miller, the racial barriers between groups is brought down shortly just to help the other inmates in time of need. Which further shows the close relationship that is brought on the inmates once they go to prison. Just a great big old prison family.
Lastly I wanted to point out mainly Larry’s choice of words in response to the inmates at the end of “Tall Men with Feelings”. When Piper tells him that “These are people Larry, actual people. you made them sound like, like…” “What? Criminals?” Obviously the inmates are criminals and Larry was right in this terminology but Pipers point that these women were people really stuck with me. I’ve learned that there is no one perspective that everything is multi dimensional.The officers and public only see these women for their crimes, even when they have no idea what crime that actually committed. Essentially they are define by their crimes. And Piper Kerman and the producers are trying to point out that this is false, you can’t just degrade someone and define them as only one thing that’s happened. And this is seen throughout the series with these women’s backstories. Proving to the audience and public that these women are real, they have their stories, they are not defined by their crimes, that their crimes do not rid them of their stories.