Suzanne R. Warren (portrayed by Uzo Aduba), better known as “Crazy Eyes” and sometimes “Looney Tunes,” is an inmate at Litchfield Penitentiary. Although we don’t know exactly what brought Suzanne to Litchfield, we do know that she has some sort of emotional disturbance that has made her dangerous both to herself and others. She was initially imprisoned in Litchfield’s psychiatric ward. She has additionally been housed in the Special Housing Unit (SHU), which she claims is not as bad as the psych unit; however, because both of these housing options demand a great deal of attention from her parents, she was moved to the minimum security facility. Suzanne’s dream, as she explains in season two, is to work with mentally ill children because she feels she has good insight as to what they experience on a daily basis. She is perhaps best known for throwing her pie for Piper in the cafeteria (and again for Vee in season two).
When her foster parents had a biological child of their own, Suzanne was incredibly excited about her new sibling. However, she also felt lonely because she thought that this meant she would be excluded from her family. Watching the young Suzanne begin to act up in the hospital room, the nurse begins paying attention to Suzanne. In fact, she is the on who does Suzanne’s hair in knots, a style that she keeps (more or less the same) through prison.
Just as she feared, Suzanne was an outcast in school. Suzanne often accompanied her sister to play dates, which the younger girl clearly resented. While her mother thought that she was helping Suzanne by having her follow her sister around to various parties and play dates, Suzanne could sense the apprehension in both her sister’s friends and in their parents about having an emotionally disturbed child attend the same parties. Moreover, her younger sister often made her feel excluded and unwanted at these play dates and sleep-overs.
While Suzanne has faced a great deal of hardship, she managed to find her passion: singing. Chosen to sing at her high school graduation, Suzanne is proud and excited about the privilege. However, standing on stage before all of her fellow classmates staring back at her, she suddenly loses the nerve and runs off stage, humiliated and alienated. Much like the emotions experienced following this failed performance, Suzanne moves through life in a constant cycle of being too forward (as she was when she was a child) and subsequently too ashamed, down on herself, and lacking self-confidence.
In the decade following high school, Suzanne moves in with her sister and her boyfriend and holds down a job at The Super Emporium (likely a stand-in for Walmart) as a greeter, where she is acquainted with various families and develops good relationships with them. Her performance is so outstanding that she’s awarded with the honor of Employee of the Month. While she seems to be advancing since high school, she’s not as advanced or capable as her sister believes she is. When she and her boyfriend decide to go away for a weekend, Suzanne doesn’t know what to do with herself but be a greeter at the local park, where she sees one of the boys she knows from The Super Emporium. She innocently invites him over to have popsicles and play video games, but when she asks to have him sleep over and refuses to let him go home, the boy, Dylan, panics and calls 911. Her feelings hurt, she chases after Dylan, shouting, “Friends do not run away from friends,” but he loses his balance on the fire escape and falls to his death, the occurrence which most likely landed her in prison.
We first meet Suzanne in the cafeteria when she begins eyeing up Piper Chapman. She additionally shows up at the Alcoholics Anonymous/Narcotics Anonymous meetings (although it is unclear whether she has abused any substances in the past. She might attend because she’s interested in getting to know people and their troubles). She only summons the courage to approach her after overhearing that she has been searching the prison for hot peppers that she would use to make Red‘s appeasement back cream. When Piper makes it known that she has nothing to trade for the peppers, Suzanne says that she doesn’t want repayment. However, we discover that what she desires is beyond what can be bartered. What she wants is love and partnership. This is made clear to Piper when she sits beside her during movie night and takes her hand in her own.
Suzanne begins following Piper around prison, writing and reciting poems for her, and eventually begins calling her “prison wife.” However, when Piper finally tells Suzanne straight-out that she does not want a relationship with her, she takes it very hard. She sneaks into the bunk of her “Dandelion” late at night and urinates on the floor to express her disappointment and anger. This does not mark the end of her involvement in season one, however. We learn in season two that Suzanne witnesses Piper beating up Pennsatucky in the prison yard just after the Christmas pageant. While her intention was to get even with Piper, while also helping Pennsatucky, we learn that her actions allow Piper to seem as if she was matched fairly with Pennsatucky, saving her from a greater punishment than was served. When Piper addresses this action in season two by thanking her for her actions (she “saved” her), Suzanne is beyond confused and therefore does not know how to act around Piper.
Suzanne continues to fail in her quest to find someone who is willing to pay attention to her and value her for who she is until season two, when Vee enters prison. Vee, like the nurse in the hospital on the day that Suzanne’s sister was born, notices her deep need for acceptance, attention, and appreciation. This is what compels her to prove her worth by fetching the cigarettes that Vee asks for, which have been stored in the warehouse for years. Vee subsequently takes note of Suzanne, and, naive as she is, Suzanne is instantly charmed by her, especially when Vee gives her an Uno game and promises that they will “play [together] later.” After all, Vee is the one to tell Suzanne that while Piper is a mere dandelion, a weed, she is a “garden rose.” It is only through Vee’ observation that Suzanne is able to explain to Piper the reason why she has a photo of Piper and Larry hanging in her bunk (which was stolen when Piper was shipped to Chicago): “It ain’t about you. I like the beach.”
Vee begins to play the part of a tender, loving mother figure to Suzanne, which continues to solidify Suzanne’s love, admiration, and loyalty. This bond compels Suzanne to believe that she is “the muscle” to Vee’s “brains,” which creates dangerous circumstances for all involved, Suzanne included. This position requires Suzanne to beat up Poussey Washington in the bathrooms. Because of the violence carried out while under Vee’s charge, Vee has an incredibly easy time framing Suzanne for stocking Red by stealing her combination lock and thanking her for her service. Because Suzanne admits to the fact that “[she] do[esn’t] always know what [she’s] doing,” she is initially pinned for the crime. However, the other women in her tribe eventually come to her rescue when they decide to snitch on Vee.
In season three, Suzanne is forced to come to terms with her loss of Vee following her escape from prison. She is initially in denial about the fact that Vee is gone for good and becomes incredibly defensive and even violent when anyone ventures to talk negatively about her prison mother, as when Pennsatucky taunts her, telling her that her “big hair Mammy’s in Hell,” and nobody is going to stop her from being fucked by Satan. “One shot away from being a puddle of black drool in psych,” Suzanne’s tribe manages to get her to calm down. While this taunting nearly gets her taken to the SHU, it also plants an idea in her head: the idea to write a science fictional novel, the Time Hump Chronicles (which will be discussed shortly).
Suzanne begins having dreams and nightmares about Vee, which keep everyone in the dormitories up at night, especially when she yelps and screams herself awake in the middle of the night. Additionally, she begins talking to her mop and walking around in trances inspired by the idea that Vee is still alive. Sometimes she reports seeing Vee walking around the halls. However, when Taystee finds her undressing with a mop on her head, she rushes Suzanne away from the administration (who are currently taking the private prison corporation around on a tour) and takes care of her. It is here that Suzanne and Taystee both dissolve into sobs about the mutual loss of their mother figure, no matter how horrible she was to the both of them. Of course, the moment of bonding falsely leads Suzanne to believe that Taystee has now become her new prison wife; however, when Taystee rejects her, Suzanne notices the pattern (finally) and becomes even more hesitant to develop relationships with others.
Having worked as a janitor for the first two seasons, Suzanne applies for the new, higher-paying job with Whispers. But when she finds out she was not given the job, she comes down hard on herself, declaring that she should have answered in reverse:
“The opposite of me is better.”
However, Taystee assures Suzanne that “the opposite of you is . . . Boring
and that she is “too creative” for this job anyway, which seems to make Suzanne feel better.
Suzanne eventually does find a new place where she feels that she fits in: Berdie Rogers‘ drama class. Having an affinity for singing (as shown through her high school graduation flashback), reciting poetry (as portrayed when she does so for Piper), and other types of performance (as suggested by her auditions for the Christmas pageant), the drama class is an exciting activity to add to her daily routine. Yet this opportunity is taken away from her (and the rest of the inmates) when she writes the Time Hump Chronicles, an erotic play, for the class. She explains to Berdie that this play is “not just sex, it’s love.” Even so, Rogers advises her to choose different subject matter. The incident compels Rogers to describe her as a “child [who] functions like a six-year-old.”
When Taystee learns about this conversation, she encourages Suzanne to keep writing, which she does. The script eventually gets passed around and accrues immense popularity. Though the women think she is genius, Suzanne vows that she is “but a lowly instrument to the muses.” In turn, the inmates begin pressuring her to turn out new chapters to add to the story. Interestingly enough, despite the content written about, Suzanne claims to have no knowledge of sex whatsoever. Rather, she takes from other things she has read and puts her own spin on it.
Once again, we are reminded of the fact that every intention of Suzanne’s is only to do good and to help others. However, when she makes a scary-looking kite for the Mother’s Day celebration, one of the prison guards reminds her that she was banned last year from interacting with the children last year. Despite others constantly pushing her away, Suzann doesn’t find anyone lay interested in her until Maureen Kukudio, a Time Hump Chronicles enthusiast, takes an interest in her.
Maureen initially offers to help Suzanne in coming up with new ideas for the story, but then, in poetic form, she also offers to spend more time with her romantically. Not exactly sure what Kukudio is offering, yet understanding where she is coming from at the same time, Suzanne flees the situation. Later on, the two find themselves sitting beneath a tree planning to meet each other in a closet to “experiment” with their sexualities; however, when Suzanne approaches the closet, she retreats, leaving their brief entanglement alone for a while.
In the meantime, Suzanne’s manuscript is confiscated, which sends the prison into a frenzy. While the women are devastated about not being able to finish reading (or begin reading in the first place) Suzanne’s erotica, and Poussey even encourages her to rewrite the story from the beginning, Suzanne feels mysteriously “lighter” because the inmates’ expectations had been weighing on her too heavily. Unfortunately, however, Suzanne discovers that others were only interested in her for her story. Although she decides not to continue writing, she discovers that someone else has. Encountering the manuscript for chapter 9 in the bathroom, Suzanne becomes annoyed at the fan fiction that is “cheapening [her] legacy.”
Understanding just how cruel others can be, Suzanne takes a special interest in Brook Soso when she discovers that she was found overdosing on medication in the library. She is especially interested in Soso because she knows that if she is found with drugs in her system, she will be sent to Psych, which is absolutely “terrible.”
Suzanne, despite the fact that she has lived much of her life as a coward, proves that she is no longer afraid of the consequences of her actions, and she is the first to dive into the lake in the season three finale. She continues on her streak of courage by approaching Maureen with the turtle that initially snapped at her on the beach, which seems to mend things between them and allude to a relationship in season four.
Season 4 picks up immediately where season 3 leaves off, and Suzanne and Maureen are in the woods together envisioning their future. When Maureen proposes that they run away together, Suzanne is hesitant to do anything that could get her in trouble with the prison guards. But Maureen eventually persuades her to walk further into the woods and entertain the idea of them running away and living together.
It soon becomes apparent that Maureen wants to spend forever together with her in the old C.O. housing they find, but Suzanne finds that she’s moving too quickly for her liking. She sprints away when it becomes apparent that Maureen is “gingerbread in the head” (crazy), yelling “I don’t want to play this game anymore!” Caputo and Bayley find Suzanne pressed up against the fence, begging them to let her back into the prison.
Following her escape, Suzanne wonders if she’s made a big mistake and if Maureen was her only soul mate in the entire world. When speaking about the situation with Black Cindy, who tries to convince her that there is more than one soul mate for her in the world, Suzanne reveals that she’s always longed to know a person deeply and that she wishes she had sex with Maureen when she still had the chance, for she thinks it’s an experience that every human being deserves to have.
She decides to re-approach Maureen about the experience, but when she agrees, Suzanne unfortunately realizes that Maureen stops before her big finish to show her what it feels like to be “left in the middle of the woods.” Their beef doesn’t end there, though, for Maureen volunteers to fight her while waiting to be interrogated. Though Suzanne doesn’t understand why Maureen is still mad at her for leaving her in the woods, she takes her hits until she’s called someone who “everybody will always laugh at,” which makes her snap and beat Maureen senseless.
Suzanne is catatonic following the incident and is horrified at herself, but she’s able to snap out of it long enough to join the peaceful protest. However, when she sees C.O. Humphrey her memory is triggered from the horrible things she did to Maureen, and she gets down off the table and starts trying to harm herself, which is interpreted as a threat to the C.O.s, and C.O. Bayley jumps out to subdue her. Knowing Suzanne and the way she works, Poussey Washington tries to intervene, but Suzanne’s commotion is too much for Bayley to handle, and he accidentally crushes her to death.
Feeling even more guilty for harming two people whom she loved, she first grabs as many books as she can to lay on her body to try to understand the feeling of being crushed. When Taystee tells her to knock it off, she then tries in the library, where an entire bookshelf and its contents collapse onto her just before Brook Soso enters the library. Perhaps she and Brook will join forces in their attempt to understand and come to terms with Poussey’s death in season 5.