'Orange Is the New Black's' Danielle Brooks on Taystee and Poussey's Complicated Friendship

"Taystee feels so guilty for allowing Vee to interfere with their friendship," the actress tells THR.
Jessica Miglio/Netflix

[Warning: This story contains spoilers from the fourth episode of Orange Is The New Black's third season.]

Season three of Orange Is the New Black finds Taystee (Danielle Brooks) trying to manage two relationships — one long-standing bond that has been fractured and one she never really saw coming. Both of them have one thing in common: Vee.

Taystee's former mentor (Lorraine Toussaint), who cut a terrifying figure at Litchfield during season two, continues to loom over her former protege. It was Vee who drove a wedge between Taystee and Poussey (Samira Wiley) and whose mind games with Crazy Eyes (Uzo Aduba) left her even more damaged than before.

Yet Brooks tells The Hollywood Reporter she wasn't initially sure her character would even get any closure following Vee's death at the end of last season.

"I was very thankful they allowed me and the character a chance to express that. I thought it was really brilliant of the writers to come back to that moment [in season three's fourth episode]," says Brooks. "I totally was thinking, what's going on here? … I was wondering if we're really going to leave this story without addressing how Taystee feels about Vee. But they came back to it, and I thought they did it in a beautiful way."

Her big moment comes when Taystee finally gets it through to Aduba's Suzanne that Vee really is gone. As the two embrace, all the feelings Taystee has been holding in erupt. "That emotional response from Taystee was, I think, shocking and something that she wasn't expecting," says Brooks. "It was also something she was holding in and trying to not deal with. But at the end of the day, Vee has been someone who's given Taystee more than anyone has ever given her."

Even as Taystee and Suzanne — Brooks notes her character is one of the few who uses Suzanne's real name instead of Crazy Eyes — are "becoming sisters," as Brooks puts it, she's trying to repair her friendship with Poussey. It's not an easy road.

"Taystee feels so guilty for allowing Vee to interfere with their friendship and allowing Vee to manipulate the relationship they have," says Brooks. "Taystee's really trying to make up for that with Poussey and have her back and not see her fall to the wayside."

Complicating matters is the fact that while Poussey and Taystee are both seeking love, they may not be defining it the same way.

"Taystee wants love too," says Brooks. "She just doesn't want it in the same way Poussey does. But she definitely wants to care and love. … A question I have that I'm not sure has been answered yet is if Taystee really doesn't like women or if she's operating out of fear. … Is this really coming from a place of fear or is it coming from a place where she's really a heterosexual woman? But she's not a girl who's willing to explore that right now."

Season three of Orange Is the New Black is streaming now on Netflix.