'Orange Is the New Black' Star Laura Prepon: Alex Is Off Her Game in Season 3

The actress also previews a new love triangle at the center of the Jenji Kohan dramedy.

The opening of Orange Is the New Black season two threw fans a curveball when Alex (Laura Prepon) took a deal that got her sprung from Litchfield. It led to a season in which the Alex-Piper (Taylor Schilling) drama that dominated its first run was put in the background in favor of broadening and deepening the show's formidable ensemble cast.

That doesn't go away in the new season, launching Friday on Netflix, but Piper and Alex are once again in the center of the story — thanks to Piper having ratted out Alex for having a gun, in violation of her parole.

See more Watch the 'Orange Is the New Black' Season 3 Trailer

The Alex viewers see coming back into prison, however, isn't the same confident, self-assured woman they got to know in season one. She's wracked with self-doubt and, as Prepon puts it, "feels like a fool."

"She doesn't know how she got back in, she doesn't know that Piper is the reason for it, and I think she just feels foolish and stupid," Prepon tells The Hollywood Reporter. "Now that she had that freedom and it was taken away again, I think she just has lost faith in herself, has lost faith in her and Piper and is kind of a little hopeless."

Faith and belief is a theme OITNB creator Jenji Kohan is exploring throughout the new season. Suzanne (Uzo Aduba) still needs to believe Vee (the apparently departed Lorraine Toussaint) didn't hang her out to dry. Red (Kate Mulgrew) is looking for a new direction in her life, which brings her in close contact with Healy (Michael Harney). Even unlikely friends Boo (Lea Delaria) and Pennsatucky (Taryn Manning) explore different questions of faith.

For Alex and Piper, a big test comes early on in the season, when Alex discovers Piper is the reason she's back in prison. It's no surprise that Alex is angry to hear it, but the way she channels that anger is probably not what you'd expect.

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"That's the thing that's so great about their relationship. It's tumultuous and manipulative, but they love each other," Prepon says. "Whenever either of them does these things to the other, I don't want to say they do it out of love, but it's grounded in this authentic love for each other. They both look for themselves at times, but it's like two magnets. They can't not be with each other."

A further test will come midway through the season when a new inmate named Stella (Ruby Rose) sets her sights on Piper.

"Alex basically is like, 'Who is this Justin Bieber person?' " Prepon says with a laugh. "So she has a very funny take on Stella. By the way, Ruby Rose is absolutely gorgeous — that is what my character calls her. It's interesting — you have to have some kind of love triangle. Larry's gone, so they brought in [Stella], and it's great. She does shake things up. I can't give too much away, but it's fun."

Twitter: @RickPorter