Warning: The following post contains spoilers for Orange is the New Black Season 7. For all of Season 7, there is a wall between Piper and Alex on 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 were able see each other was during visitation hours, when a glass partition kept the distance between the two of them. That separation ended up creating the ultimate '''/. long-distance relationship between them, and put a great strain on their connection. So, do Piper and Alex end up together? The series finale leaves fans looking for answers.
At the end of Orange is the New Black Season 6, Piper (Taylor Schilling) and Alex (Laura Prepon) made things official (or as official as things could get while behind bars) by having a prison wedding. Even though they didn't technically have a marriage certificate, they began saying they're each other's wife. At the start of Season 7, that label of "wife" seemed like it might be enough to keep them close during the years remaining in Alex's prison sentence. However, that very quickly proved not to be the case as the physical and emotional distance between them proved extremely tough.
When they realized their struggle, Alex suggested they open up their relationship so that Piper wouldn't feel like she was being held back. That seemed like a good idea at the time, but it turned out to be a much better plan in theory than in practice. After their agreement, Piper had a couple unsuccessful flings, but she did begin a close friendship with a woman named Zelda (Alicia Witt). Meanwhile, Alex grew closer to CO Artesian McCullough (Emily Tarver). Piper and Alex each developed feelings for their other women, leaving them both feeling hurt by the whole experience. Instead of fixing their relationship, it all seemed to only drive them further apart. The tension was exacerbated when it was revealed that Alex was 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 go through wildly different experiences. After they realized their current setup wasn't working, Alex broke up with Piper and said she was setting her free. Piper was heartbroken. She then consulted with her family and her ex-fiancé Larry (Jason Biggs), who all tell her Alex had been a destructive force in her life, and that maybe she should just move on. But of course, there was just something in Piper that continually drew her to Alex every time.
Prepon previously spoke to The Hollywood Reporter about Piper and Alex's relationship, saying:
Ultimately, you just can’t control where your heart goes. Anybody would look at that relationship and be like: Alex needs to get as far away from Piper as possible, and maybe vice versa. The fact remains, you can’t control it and it’s one of those things where you almost can’t help yourself.
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 broke up with Piper, the audience was unsure of what Piper's next move would be until the final montage of the series.
In the montage, viewers saw Piper working at a Starbucks, and driving to an unknown location. It seemed maybe she had moved on and was building a new life. But then, in the final scene of the entire series, Piper sat in a prison visitation room, one that didn't have any glass walls at all, only open air. Alex walked in, a big smile on her face, and sat across from Piper. It wasn't totally clear what the exact status of their relationship was, but what was clear was that they seemed happy being together in that moment. The finale left things open, but it also seemed pretty optimistic that Piper and Alex will have time to figure it all out.
You can watch all of Season 7 of Orange is the New Black on Netflix now.