'Orange Is the New Black': Inside Daya, Bennett, and Mendez’s tricky love triangle in season 2

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Image Credit: Netflix

It can feel overwhelming to keep up with all the different stories going down at Litchfield Penitentiary, from the drama between Piper and Pennsatucky’s cronies to Red’s girls in the kitchen and the ladies who layer at Sophia’s hair salon.

Still, there’s one plotline on Orange Is the New Black that always stands out: the taboo love story between prisoner Daya (Dascha Polanco) and corrections officer Bennett (Matt McGorry). Add into the mix Pablo Schreiber’s jealous, implacable Officer Mendez — who imprudently believes Daya loves him — and you’ve got a grade-A romantic triangle, one the cast promises will heat up in season 2 (premiering on Netflix on June 6).

“Daya is still in love with Bennett, and she’s an endless romantic still fighting for him, so you’re still going to see that romanticism that everyone loved in season 1,” says Polanco, who promises that fans are going to be “very happy” with how things proceed for the characters’ budding relationship. “The love she has for Bennett is still constant and goes to the next degree.”

But it’s still not smooth sailing for Bennett-Daya (Benya?) shippers, mainly thanks to crooked C.O. Mendez. He’s still in love with Daya after having sex with her in a supply closet — and oblivious to the fact that she was trying to pin her pregnancy on him. In season 2, Pornstache continues to throw a wrench into the romance.

Polanco breaks it down: “Daya is in love with Bennett, yes, but then there’s another man that’s in love with her and is willing to go to the extreme for her. It really creates doubt in the belief that she has in Bennett. It’s Mendez saying, ‘I’m willing to do this for you — he’s not.’ She’s always being slapped in the face by Mendez saying, ‘I’m really into you — he’s not.’ So she’s always a little retracted.”

Though sweet-faced Bennett might have won your heart in season 1, don’t rule out the possibility of changing loyalties this year. “I think you might be surprised by who you may be siding with in that triumvirate,” Schreiber explains.

Season 2 also holds big things for Daya’s baby, although Polanco declined to comment on the fetal front. (“All I’m going to tell you is that she’s working on her family,” she says.) But the actress does reveal that her idea of a happy ending for Daya may not be what fans want.

“Matt and I, on occasion, have that conversation about our ending. I always tell him I want a realistic ending. I don’t want a happy ending in the sense that she escapes prison, and they run away together, and there’s a spinoff of Daya and Bennett living happily ever after,” says Polanco. “I want a realistic touch to it. What would really occur if this situation happened in prison? Does he take care of the baby as she fulfills her sentence? Or maybe she loses the baby and they both realize this isn’t worth it. Or maybe she gets transferred to another prison. There are so many options.”

Polanco also teased that viewers will get a further exploration into Daya’s backstory and her evolving relationship with her mother — but the crime that landed Daya behind bars won’t be fully clarified this season. Oh well; guess we’ll have to watch season 3 now.

Additional reporting by Stephan Lee


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