[WARNING: This article contains spoilers for Orange Is the New Black season 3.]
The ladies of Litchfield Prison are back on Netflix this summer with the premiere of Orange Is the New Black season 3. There are newcomers to the prison, along with the return of many fan-favorite characters. However, certain prisoners and guards don’t stick around for too long in season 3.
One character to leave early on is prison guard John Bennett (Matt McGorry), who – in one of the worst moments of season 3 – drives off at the end of episode 2, “Bed Bugs and Beyond”. He leaves behind the inmate Daya Diaz (Dascha Polanco), who is pregnant with his child and had recently said accepted his marriage proposal. Now, McGorry has spoken about his character’s decision and how it reflects the reality of life at Litchfield.
In an interview with Vulture, McGorry talks about how Bennett’s departure, along with the flashbacks to his time in the army that are featured in episode 2, work to paint the character as someone who wants to do the right thing but doesn’t always follow through on it. Additionally, the actor explains the reality of the relationship between Bennett and Daya.
Read McGorry’s full quotes:
Well, speaking of trust issues, there are tough decisions that Officer Bennett is coming up against with Daya and the baby on OITNB. This is a guy who’s seen war, but now he can’t stick around for his baby mama and baby?
Well, yeah, that scene is pretty heavy. The flashback is analogous to what ends up actually happening with Bennett and Daya. Here he is, he’s in battle, he’s talking a big game, but when it comes down to it, the other lower-ranked guy jumps on the grenade as Bennett goes and runs. I think it’s sort of who Bennett is: He wants to be the hero so bad, and he tries but falls short. It’s pretty tragic, but there is some part of me that thinks Bennett believes he was doing the better thing by leaving. It allows Pornstache’s mother to step in, it allows other things to shift. I mean, if you think of it, that relationship has been a ticking time bomb since the beginning.
But you want their relationship to work so bad…
That’s part of the effectiveness of the storytelling. It baits you into that relationship. It’s so romantic, but you forget [that it’s doomed to fail]. But I think there is something very real about how it turns out. The nature of a relationship between a guard and an inmate, it’s not a problem until it’s a problem.
Certain aspects of life at Litchfield have been on the more surreal side, such as Piper’s (Taylor Schilling) panty brigade this season, or the series-long legend of the prison chicken. However, the show’s focus on compelling character development seems to be what keeps viewers invested and returning for the third season.
In that way, Bennett’s seemingly abrupt decision to leave Daya and his child is the culmination of his character arc throughout the series, but especially in “Bed Bugs and Beyond”. The flashbacks to Bennett’s time at in the army, while establishing him as no “Hollaback Girl”, also depicted his struggle between wanting to do what’s right but inevitably failing.
However, as McGorry asserts, Bennett leaving is perhaps the guard’s idea of doing the right thing for Daya and their child. Whether or not viewers agree with McGorry’s take on the situation, though, remains to be seen.
Orange Is the New Black season 3 is now available on Netflix.