This episode really stood out for me. I loved the fact that Piper had to face something like isolation in a more traumatic way because it showed the depth of the punishment of law and also showed depth in Piper’s character. Seeing her being downgraded to, in her mind, a worthless and regretful person showed that the SHU works to an extent. I say this because if that’s how it went for Piper, I can only imagine how it works for people who have been in there for three years. I believe Piper was not imagining that voice, so I am hoping that in later seasons we see Piper get locked in there for longer or even meet the person she was talking to through the air vent.
One thing I found pertinent of this episode was the ongoing usage of irony. When Healey came to visit Piper, Piper confronted him by saying that he is being “on the outside”, meaning she is in more control than he is. However, ironically, she said this as she was being confined into that small SHU room by Healey. A lot of what goes on in the prison is ironic, specifically in this episode, we as the viewers suspect that the SHU would have a more terrifying effect on Piper’s mind, especially since we see her crying and saying, “I am so stupid,” due to the fact that she blames herself for being down there. However, once she leaves the SHU she is empowered even more and has less fear of Healey.
I think this shows an ironic flaw in Piper’s character. She almost always defies the odds of everyone else. Everyone else in the prison goes about their days in a predictable manner, but Piper, however, is the outsider, straying from the norm. This is why I see her as a leader and although she is still learning to fit in the prison, I believe at some point the prisoners will learn to respect her because of her spontaneity in her actions. So in a way, her flaw is actually helping her.