Lorna Morello (portrayed by Yael Stone) is best described as the hopeless romantic whose idea of love and romance has been severely warped by popular culture. As Nicky Nichols deftly observes, her “entire world view [is] based off of West Side Story” (a poster of which is pictured hanging in her room in one of the flashbacks). A dreamer and an idealist since she was a child, Morello treated her First Holy Communion as if it were a rehearsal for her wedding. When her mother urges her to eat the Eucharist (the whole “point” of this occasion), which Morello saves in her hand, Morello responds,
“No, Mommy, the dress is the whole point. Thank you, Jesus! Thank you, Jesus! Thank you, Jesus!”
This sketch of Morello’s childhood reveals the ways in which society has taught her–and other young girls–that the best thing that she can hope for, as a woman, is marriage. Moreover, as a Roman Catholic, she should be “thankful to God” for determining her position in the home and in relation to man, an idea which Morello evidently subscribes to. In fact, much of what we know about her past revolves around her confused ideas about love and life.
We learn that Lorna had been scamming credit card companies by buying designer goods online and calling in to claim that she never received them, an offense which landed her in Litchfield Penitentiary. Surprisingly, it is her drive to dress herself up that actually leads Morello to a far more superficial arrangement: she meets Christopher at the post office where she collects her ill-gotten goods. However, much like her credit fraud, she believes that if she can claim the fun parts of romance (the excitement of new love) without actually paying for it (not actually knowing who he is), everything can feel fresh and new forever. While there is no illusion of love on his side of things, Morello’s fantasy of dating this magazine man compels her to tell her family that she is “going away” to Atlantic City with him, when in reality she was stalking him and his girlfriend (his now fiancé), Angela, on their vacation. Her delusions escalate to the point of attaching a homemade explosive to the underside of Angela’s car, which (when combined with her incessant calls and voicemails planning their life together) compels Christopher to take her to court and request a restraining order against her.
When we first meet her in the van that takes Piper Chapman, Janae Watson, and Daya Diaz to Litchfield, she is busy picking out wedding dresses from a magazine. This is not surprising given her desire to be a “home maker,” according to her job resume workshop interviews season 2. This idea, as well as her sailor outfit chosen for the mock job fair, however, is “childish” in that at this point in time, Morello believed that (despite all that had come to pass between her and Christopher) she still had a chance with her one “true” love.
Morello is one of Red’s girls; in earlier seasons this may have indicated that Morello had some form of addiction, as many of Red’s “daughters” do, but it seems as though Morello’s belonging is purely racial. Under her influence, Morello runs for the Women’s Advisory Council, but she loses out to Piper in the race to represent the white tribe of Litchfield.
Her closest friendship in Litchfield is with Nicky Nichols, but it is problematic for Morello because of the romantic component that has developed. Although the two were happily intimate with each other, Morello discontinues this intimacy on the grounds of wanting to “stay true to Christopher,” which is problematic in retrospect. While nobody in Litchfield–especially Nichols–was privy to the fact that Morello’s relationship with Christopher was a figment of her imagination, Morello’s decision to forego intimacy in favor of the idea that she would one day return to the world of men brings up another topic that is discussed in season 2 by Vee and Taystee–being “gay for the stay.” Although Morello seemingly does not make this decision on the grounds of homophobia, it does suggest, however, that she desires genuine emotional connection and intimacy from someone that she is going to spend the rest of her life with. Both hurt and annoyed by Morello’s decision, Nichols forces her to come to terms with a reality that neither the viewers nor Nichols herself was aware of at this point in time: she tells Morelllo to stop planning her “pathetic” wedding because Christopher would not be waiting for her upon her release from prison.
It is not until season two that we discover the truth about our lovable little Lorna. Once she receives news from her sister, Franny, that Christopher is engaged to be married (on the day that Morello claims was originally picked for their wedding) and is moving closer to the prison, something within her snaps. She is angry, but she is quick to try to compose herself, for she received news of this over the phone. While she is driving Miss Rosa to her chemotherapy and waiting in the van, she decides to break the law and drive to Christopher’s house, breaks into it, and takes a look around.
“A beautiful Italian. Today must be my lucky day.” – Christopher
All of the wedding paraphernalia gets to her and she ends up wearing Christopher’s fiancé’s veil into the bathtub, whimpering, until she hears someone coming into the house. She quickly hops out of the tub, ditches the veil, steals a bathrobe and a teddy bear off of their “love lives here” bed, and runs back into the van and returns to the hospital, undetected.
Christopher later calls her at the prison to say that he knows she broke into his house. When Christopher shows up at the prison to visit her, Morello is more than ecstatic; however, the visit is only to humiliate her in front of the entire prison by yelling at her for being crazy. Nicky comforts her, despite the truth–in spite of the truth. She may be “fucked up,” but she still loves Lorna.
There have been many clues that pointed to this outcome. Her warped perspective of Toy Story is telling of her psyche: she cannot tell what is a made up cartoon fantasy from what is real, for she describes Woody as being a cowboy and Buzz an astronaut, what these toys believe they are instead of what they actually are–mere toys.
“You’re bat-shit crazy, but you’re a beautiful, sweet girl.” – Nicky Nichols
After this falling out with Christoper (and reality), Lorna mourns the loss of her dream. To keep busy, she joins the staff of Litchfield’s newsletter–The Big House Bugle–as a beauty columnist because she’s “trying to stay away from romance type stuff for a while.”
Season 3 proves that this oath does not go as planned.
In the “Mother’s Day” episode, Morello pretends that she has children–“Little Donovan” and “Baby Frankie”–which seems to be a replacement for her now-destroyed obsession with Christopher. When the other mothers take offense to her pantomime of motherhood, she gives up her charade and settles into her new, duller life as a toilet scrubber, since her stint as the campus driver was taken away from her after her conspiracy with Miss Rosa. This charade, she claims, is something to distract her from her depression. She begs Sophia to “let me feel like a person [again].” Despite the hard time she has been having, Nicky Nichols has been around to cheer her up, as evidenced by their playful banter during the Mother’s Day celebration at the porta potties. However, she is far more distraught than Red when Nicky is hauled off to Maximum Security when Joel Luschek rats her out for heroin trafficking, hysterically sobbing at the sight.
An utter wreck, Morello seemingly still believes in fairy tales. She looks to Extreme Makeover, a show depicting people who get makeovers and “all their problems just went away after,” for inspiration. While grossly exaggerated and symptomatic of a culture that values physical outward beauty over inward beauty and self-fulfillment, the ethos of the show seems to complement Morello’s mentality and perpetuate her severely warped view on life. Despite her beliefs on material things and looks bringing happiness, she seeks solace in Berdie Rogers‘ drama class, where she particularly feels at home, considering the fact that she took drama classes in high school.
Although Morello is not selected for the high-paying new job for Whispers at Litchfield, she takes up a new occupation aside from her toilet scrubbing duties. She begins writing to men on the outside and lying about the reason for her incarceration, which helps her pass the time as well as cash in on their sizable commissary contributions. However, Morello finds herself mixing up the men and their interests as well as molding her interests and personalities to fit each individual
“sucker” that willingly believes her. Her lies range from being heavily invested in anime–her favorite being by none other than Dayanara Diaz–to her interest in Jiu Jitsu and birds. She can only keep up this charade so long; when on of the men catches onto her scheme, Morello divulges how lonely prison is. Despite the fact that these men aren’t in the pen-pal relationships for particularly savory reasons either, Yoga Jones illuminates the fact that Morello has the gift of being able to see the good in everyone.
Her conning comes to a halt when she discovers that one of the guys–Vince Muccio–isn’t a creep with a detained dame fetish. As soon as she meets him, she declares,
“I can feel it in my elbow. All the women in my family got the knowing elbow.”
But as soon as Morello feels as though she has found “the one,” Vince suggests that they break up, for this arrangement is like “blue balls but for my heart.” Rather than allowing this to hinder their physical and emotional connection, Morello proposes to Vince with a magazine cutout of an engagement ring, which he accepts gleefully. Surprisingly gender-bending for a woman who has dreamed of a heteronormative fairy tale wedding for as long as she can remember, this proposal marks a shift in Morello’s attitudes toward romance and love, which once led her to stalk and harass a total stranger. While Hamlet’s flaw, “all vision, no action,” prevents him from getting what he wants–as Morello points out–Morello has always taken action on her feelings; however, this relationship is different for she actually has an emotional connection with Vince that she did not have with Christopher. In a way, Vince seems to be just as idealistic about love and marriage as Lorna is, which makes him the perfect match for her. But his expectations might override or complicate the attainment of Morello’s own.
Morello’s wedding vows to Vince, while characteristically both inspired by fantasy and directly taken from Foreigner’s “I Want to Know What Love Is,” suggest that she is about to embark on a journey that acquaints her both with life and love in the most genuine way possible. Not only will the two have to deal with their policed intimacy but the extensive amount of separation as well.
High off of her new nuptials, Morello begins season 4 bragging to everyone she can about her first time with her husband, Vinnie Muccio, while everyone else was busy swimming in the lake, and she is more than thrilled to refer to herself as Mrs. Muccio. Excited by her deep and “spiritual” connection with Vinnie, she claims that she’s happy to have his “doinker” “locked up” in a box “until the day he dies.” Though we know Morello to be eccentric and possessive, this moment suggests that the only way she could ever be happy is when she’s sure that nobody else has his attention. When Vause tries to feed into her happiness by asking a simple question about him (what his favorite color is), she storms off feeling as though people are trying to poke holes in her relationship.
Their relationship continues to grow, and they have notably awkward phone sex and engage in marital bliss fantasies (such as Morello pretending to just be getting home for work or making food for him) while other women wait nearby for the phone, but when Morello discovers that Vinnie‘s “roommates” are actually his parents and his kid brother, she finds herself disappointed. When he explains that he hid the facts from her because she thought she “married a man, not a boy,” she seemingly accepts the explanation and moves on, convincing him that there’s no shame in it.
When Nicky returns from Max, it becomes clear that Morello rushed into her relationship with Vinnie without resolving her feelings for her friend. Though she is happy, she grows inexplicably bitter when Nicky is shocked that her marriage is real for once. Expecting Nicky to be happy for her, she sulks when her friend instead points out the fact that “you’re virtual strangers living in a fantasy world.”
Although the marriage is real, Nicky doesn’t see it as such, and she repeatedly tries to get Morello to sleep with her, despite her insistence that she does not want to be unfaithful to Vinnie. She eventually breaks down and says that Vinnie hasn’t visited in weeks and that she’s afraid he’s being unfaithful to her.
They perpetuate their fantasies, but soon Morello worries that he’s not being faithful to her, so she convinces her sister, Francine, to visit him and get to know him. When she does, hitting it off and inviting him to a family event, Morello instantly believes that her sister is trying to sleep with her husband.
The next time she’s on the phone with Vinnie, she accuses him of having an affair with Francine, officially and for the first time ever showing her true self to Vinnie, and he calls her “crazy.” Despite the fight they have on the phone, Morello leaves the phone announcing to the world that she and Vinnie are trying to have a baby.
Nicky once again attempts to take advantage of her, but Morello resists and breaks down, claiming that she’s afraid that she’s ruining her relationship and that she doesn’t know what to do if it goes down in flames.
Though Morello and Vinnie’s future is unclear for season 5, it’s suggested that Vinnie might further distance himself from her in light of her true, jealous self.