Piper Chapman has come a long way from her first days at Lichfield. While Seasons 1 and 2 of “Orange Is the New Black” saw her struggling to find her way in the strange, often scary and confusing hierarchy of the prison, Season 3 sees her finally starting to come into her own, according to Taylor Schilling. The Netflix star says Piper may finally be getting the hang of the place.We chatted with her about what’s to come for Lichfield's finest.

If there’s a theme for the third season, what would you say it is?

We’ve talked about it really being based around faith and belief. How faith manifests differently in different people and what we classically think of as a system of faith and what we really believe in, and how that plays out in people’s lives.

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How has Piper grown in the third season?

She started his journey having a solid idea of who she thought she was, and her life was pretty nailed down. I imagine it being like a house during a rainstorm, with a leaky roof, and it’s like, if you put enough buckets around, you’re walking around the floor and ostensibly, it’s a dry house. But if you really examine what’s going on, there’s a lot of cracks and there’s a lot of leaks. So, prison has forced her to really look at what’s happening within her. I think the journey is that she’s finding and enjoying parts of herself that she didn’t really know existed. And a strength and determination, and wildness and a recklessness, and a pleasure, a joy, a power. It’s almost like trying on different articles of clothing and seeing that lot of them fit.

Not to diminish the suffering she goes through, but she does seem like she’s finding ways to be happy in there.

Yeah, exactly, and even finding pleasure in the power or pleasure in the manipulation or pleasure in the strength. It doesn’t necessarily add up to the way that she thought happiness or success looked when she came in to prison. So her conception is changing.

Do you think she’s finding her place a bit more?

Absolutely. I think she was a fish out of water and she spent Season 2 finding her place, and now she’s exploring her place, and she’s enjoying it, and she’s reveling in it, and she’s trying on different facets of who she is.

Is it good to have Laura Prepon back full time as Alex?

Yeah, I love Laura. She’s a dear friend, like so many girls in this cast are. It’s always fun to have her around, and we work really well together. We have a really nice working dynamic. It’s very safe, and I think we both feel comfortable taking risks that we’re proud of later.

After all they’ve been through, can the two of them find a way to have a healthy relationship?

I don’t know. I think oftentimes it’s not the relationship necessarily that’s twisted, it’s the two people coming at it that have twists within themselves that have to be worked out. So those twists will manifest in any relationship. The minute you add sex into the equation the relationship gets so much more complicated. But it will be interesting to see where they land as they both become more of who they are and those internal kinks get ironed out or seen or understood.

One of Season 2’s big cliffhangers was that Piper got Alex thrown back in prison. Was she really trying to protect Alex, or did that come from a selfish place?

I think it’s all of those things. Piper was operating from all of those places. And that’s what’s so fun about this work is that it’s so rich and complicated and knotted. And what I so love about playing this character is that she is kind, and she is a wife, she is a best friend, she is a daughter, she’s a lover and a caretaker, but she’s also confused and angry and manipulative and disloyal and attention-seeking and power-hungry and all of those things. That’s a real woman. All of those things existing within. I long for that and I’m excited by that, to see someone who’s not a picture or an idea, but a fully fleshed-out person.