John Bennett (portrayed by Matt McGorry) was a new correctional officer at Litchfield Prison in season one who was taken under George “Pornstache” Mendez’s wing. Early on, we learn that Bennett is an Afghanistan veteran who had his leg amputated although not from the war but from an infection he got while in a hot tub in Florida.
While in the service, Bennett was a corporal who was seen as believing himself to be “hot shit.” Unlike the rest of his battle buddies, Bennett paid more attention to his appearance than others, bringing along a travel iron which earns him the title of “Fobit.” It was this pride in himself that led others to see him as arrogant. Moreover, Bennett’s clean and pressed uniforms signified to his colleagues that Bennett was feminine, not only because he took such a foppish interest in his appearance but because he never actually saw any action. The militaristic heteronormative attitudes extend beyond his unit to the cooperating locals, who see the unit’s fun-loving music video to Gwen Stefani’s music as “homosexual.” Regardless of Bennett’s actual or perceived sexuality and gender, the taunting gets to Bennett, and when a bomb is thrown into their camp, he freezes in the moment. He was faced with the opportunity to either sacrifice himself and protect the rest of his unit “like a man” or save himself and risk the unit being blown to bits. The fact that someone else jumps on the bomb before he does seems to bolster the idea that he is a wimp and a failure.
He takes a liking to Dayanara Diaz, despite the fact that he could lose his job over starting a relationship with her. Their friendship progresses into a full-on affair, which leaves Daya pregnant with his child. Once he finds out that she is pregnant, and that she had sex with Pornstache in order to place blame on hI’m and save Bennett’s job, he becomes suspicious and mad at Daya for her “design.” He is even more livid when Mendez seems to have fallen for her and won’t stop talking about her to Bennett, oblivious to their relationship.
Once Mendez is suspended on an unpaid three month leave, he gets Bennett to find the drugs that he was shipping in on the Neptune produce truck and bring them straight to Joe Caputo, who believes they have a “win.” When taking his findings to Natalie Figueroa, she highlights that technically he brought the drugs onto the site of the prison. She is willing to bypass the report in order to protect Bennett, for his “intentions were so good.”
In season two, he begins sneaking Daya prenatal care items like raw, organic spinach and anything else he can sneak into the prison in his hollow prosthetic leg. The other girls catch on, however, and threaten to blow his cover if they don’t smuggle in what they request. At first he plays along, but he gets really tired really quick of doing as the prisoners say; he goes on a search-and-destroy rampage, shouting “I am in control! I am in charge!” in the dorms. This tantrum is one that even Mendez is surprised by, which compels him to calm down the younger guard.
As the birth of their baby approaches, they go through some rough patches, forcing him and Daya to question their prior choices.
“I should’ve never given you that gum, should I?”
However, they are both resolved to act in the best interest of their baby. When Daya gives him the ultimatum to either confess or walk away from the child, he decides to tell Caputo about their affair. This particularly becomes important to him after his boss calls him a “good man,” one who he wants to bring to the top of the prison system with him. In interest of his political career and Benentt’s own safety, Caputo tells him to not tell anyone and that he will forget Bennett ever told him.
Despite this “out” that he’s been given, Bennett seems to not understand just how important it is that he maintain strictly appropriate relations with both Daya and her family. During Litchfield’s Mother’s Day festivities, Caputo becomes extremely agitated at Bennett’s apparent favoritism toward his fiancé’s family. After yet another severe reprimanding and the threat of being written up, Bennett continues his behavior. It soon becomes apparent that Caputo expects Bennett to cease all relations with Daya and her family, and he advises the young C.O. to “let go of the dream.” This advice, we learn, is rooted in the administrator’s own history of being let down after being “the nice guy.”
Bennett is the last to know about the Diazs’ correspondence with Delia Mendez Powell, Pornstache‘s mother, regarding the child who “belongs to” the now imprisoned prison guard. Outraged at the idea of his family receiving child support from the mother of his fiancé’s “rapist,” Bennett is afforded the first of a series of reality checks regarding his future with Daya and their child. Not wanting to lose her, he proposes to her with a ring made out of a gum wrapper–symbolic of the way they initially connected–and promises to marry her some day, even though they will never be rich, will live in a small place, and have to work hard every day to see to it that their love for each other is honored. He makes it known that this ring is temporary until he can get her a real one.
Excited about their engagement, Bennett visits Cesar‘s apartment, as suggested, to visit her family and to deliver the good news. He also brings a birthday gift for Daya‘s younger sister, Lucy. Despite the fact that he mixes up her sisters’ names, he seems to be in the family’s good graces. However, this visit startles him when he sees how the children are violently intimidated into obedience. Moreover, when Cesar makes him feel bad about not knowing Daya‘s famous quiñcanera story, Bennett begins to question whether he knows her at all.
Cesar sends Bennett home with Daya‘s old crib, which apparently has given their family a lot of “good luck” over the years. But something seems to have spooked Bennett, for he leaves the crib on the side of the road. This is the last time Bennett is seen.
Back at the prison, Caputo speculates that Bennett has taken off, like a “smart” individual, never to be seen again. However, Daya thinks differently; her newfound hatred for this “fucking piece of shit” of a man compels her to want their child to be adopted just so she doesn’t have to raise a child that reminds her of him.
There has been much speculation about Bennett’s disappearance; some believe that Bennett is gone forever, whereas others believe that Bennett plans to leave his job long enough so that he can marry Daya and raise their children together someday. However, because he is not present on the day of their daughter’s birth (although he likely was not informed of the event), the latter scenario seems less likely. Others believe that Bennett staged the DA bust at the family apartment in order to get Daya‘s siblings into after environments than the on in which they had been living. Regardless of what happens, I don’t believe that we have seen the last of Bennett.
The most likely scenario, based on Bennett’s crippling guilt for not being a “man” in Afghanistan, is that Bennett will return in some capacity and try to interfere with Child Protective Service’s redistribution of the Diaz children into the foster care system. His indignant response to Caputo‘s advice suggests that he wants his dream to come to fruition, even though leaving the family crib at the curb is not a particularly heartwarming scene. If anything, Bennett wants a new start for the Diaz family, and the supposedly “good luck” of the family crib is regarded as bad juju. In leaving that piece of family history behind and disbanding Cesar‘s negative influence on the family, Bennett just might be able to resurrect the Diaz family and pull them out of the cycle of incarceration.