Brook Soso (portrayed by Kimiko Glenn), or “Mulan” as Leanne Taylor calls her, is a Japanese-Scottish inmate. She was incarcerated for trespassing while protesting. She is as preppy and “granola” as Piper was at the start of her sentence (did you know she went “WWOOFing in Xenia”?). She also has a very complex theory about Ferris Beuhler’s Day Off, which she tries telling to Sophia Burset, with the idea that Ferris doesn’t even exist. She works in the laundry at Litchfield Penitentiary with Pennsatucky and the other meth heads.
Brook grew up in an affluent, atheist home with a mother that stressed perfection and success. In a flashback, her mother scolds her severely for skipping a part of the piece she was playing on the piano. Her mother barks, “There is no Heaven. There is no Hell. When we die, all that remains are the memories of our achievements. And cheaters are very quickly forgotten.”
Before her incarceration, Soso was devout to stopping corporate giants from invading neighborhoods. Working on a petition crew to prevent a Walmart from entering the neighborhood and instead proposing a park, she is dared by her ex-boyfriend to knock on the door of a registered sex offender, a challenge which she accepts in exchange for a date with another guy in the petition crew and $50.
Upon speaking with him, she learns that the man wasn’t a child molester, as people thought, but he was caught having sex with his girlfriend on the beach and received the designation from that. Rumors spun out of control due to that. Returning to the group with a smile on her face, she finds her ex-boyfriend downplaying her victory. Instead of taking the opportunity to set the record straight, she instead tries to make her victory sound even bigger by claiming that he lured her into the house and tried seducing him, a questionable choice on her part considering the fact that she’s constantly trying to correct people’s incorrect perceptions.
She is processed into Litchfield Penitentiary the same time that Piper is re-entering the facility in season two. Since they share that “bond,” Brook follows her around like a puppy dog, hoping to be befriended. However, she quickly and unexpectedly becomes the object of desire for both Nicky Nichols and Big Boo in their sex competition. After Piper tries trading her off for Miss Claudette‘s blanket to Boo, Brook is less insistent on being her friend.
We learn that Brook was named after Brook Shields; her parents joked that she was named Brook without the “e” because she’s like a brook, always babbling. This seems to be her main trait, for someone’s always begging someone else to “take out her batteries” so she’d stop talking. Despite her chipper tone, she becomes rather depressed and stops showering. She stinks to the point were Officer Bell has to force her to get in the shower and clean up her act.
She’s big into political protests, hence why she starts her Litchfield Hunger Strike to raise awareness about the prison conditions the women are enduring. Perhaps that’s because Litchfield doesn’t have many vegetarian options. Catching wind of the Hunger Strike, Pornstache tries to make an example out of her in the cafeteria, but that only fuels her even more. Eventually, the hunger strike peters out.
In season three, Soso turns into the metaphorical piñata of Litchfield. Everyone is used to Brook endlessly blabbering on about everything and anything, and as soon as she begins to speak, someone is quick to bark “shut up” at her. Her depression from season two soon returns in full-swing as she hopelessly and uselessly searches for a sense of belonging behind bars. Even when her friends on the outside visit her, she still cannot get past the fact that her life is over – for now, anyway. She grows particularly angry when Meadow tries to say that what Brook’s doing is “brave,” seeing as she is merely existing and not actually living here.
The first place Brook seeks refuge is in Berdie Rogers‘ drama class, in which Sister Ingalls snaps at her for trying to provide acting advice. She then turns to Norma’s spiritual club, which soon pushes her out. She cannot even successfully connect with Leanne and Angie at work. Failing to succeed in establishing meaningful connections, she turns to her counselor, Mr. Healy, in hopes that he will be able to allow her to see Berdie for counseling since drama class has been somewhat helpful despite the hatred aimed toward her. When he discovers that she is depressed, however, he merely writes off her depression as something that is just “all in your head.”
Feeling dejected and after a considerable amount of time taking Leanne’s bullying, Soso snaps and says that “maybe” she is “better than everyone” and that she is not sorry for it. Hardened by utter hatred, she is thankful that she was Berdie to turn to until she is suspended due to the Time Hump Chronicles incident. Shamefacedly, she returns to Healy to stoop as low as to get some pills for her depression.
When she is seeing the prison doctor for her anti-depressant meds, she steals a ton of allergy medicine, with which she overdoses in a suicide attempt and is found in the library by Poussey Washington and transported by Taystee and Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren into the bathroom to force her to throw up the pills. The group then proceeds to take care of her and defend her to Norma, who has a hard time accepting that her group drove someone to attempt suicide.
The next time Soso enters Healy’s office, he asks her to tell Joe Caputo that Berdie was an awful counselor, to which Soso retorts: “You make me feel worse about myself every time we talk” in addition to telling him that he is very bad at his job.
The world continues to crash down on Brook until the inmates discover the gaping hole in the fence. Brook finally finds peace as she floats belly-up in the fresh, cool water of the pond on the skirts of Litchfield’s property. It is here that she finds kinship, and possibly even love, with Poussey.
At the start of season 4, Soso and Poussey continue their relationship, despite the hard time that Big Boo gives her for refusing to define their relationship or her sexuality. Though this remains a significant concern throughout the season, Poussey is just happy to go on the ride with Soso. When things start to escalate, she worries that the intimacy isn’t enough for Poussey, considering the fact that she never reciprocates oral sex.
Wondering if their relationship would ever work in light of their issues, Poussey reassures her that she doesn’t want Soso to do anything she doesn’t want to do. Regardless, they proclaim their love for each other and begin to plan their future together.
Wanting to surprise Poussey, she approaches Judy King to arrange a lunch. In attempting to explain to Judy why Poussey feels that a conversation with her is unattainable, she generalizes about Poussey’s past, telling her that Poussey’s mother was a crack whore and they were poor, facts that are very wrong but ones that she assumed about her. When Judy agrees to meeting Poussey and suggests to her what Soso said about her past, Poussey gets mad at her for assuming things about her that were not true, wondering why Soso was so willing to profile her the way black people are so often profiled in American society.
They eventually get over this argument but delve into another one when Poussey doubts the effectiveness of the peaceful protest, but she apologizes in their final shared glance across the cafeteria during the protest just before Poussey’s untimely death.
Unable to cope with her girlfriend’s death, Norma Romano tries to comfort her by rocking and singing to her, but she ultimately finds her only comfort in Poussey’s hooch stash.
Considering the fact that Poussey was the only one to pull her out of her season two depression, it will be hard for Soso to integrate into Litchfield society for season 5 onward.