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Alex's character is based on Nora (in reality named Catherine Cleary Wolters) in the memoir, Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison.
Alex Vause is snarky, manipulative and street smart. While she does associate with other inmates, she keeps to herself emotionally, although she isn't afraid to fight back if provoked. Alex is often seen with a book in hand as she loves reading. Alex is good at reading people and is perceptive. Both Alex and Piper betray each other for personal gain, despite their feelings for each other. Alex relies on Piper just as much as Piper relies on her, but she uses her hard demeanor to hide it all, only showing weakness on rare occasion to close friends such as Nicky. Alex has good survival skills, is very smart and calm and usually has good sense of humor when facing problems.
Alex Vause is a tall (5'10"), athletically built woman. Although in S2E1 Piper stated that Alex is 5'9". She wears her hair down and dyed black, usually wearing dark eyeliner and her eyebrows plucked. She wears glasses with thick black frames (described as secretary glasses by Piper). She has a penchant for dark lipstick when seen in flashbacks. She is a fan of tattoos and displays quite a few proudly. She has a salt shaker tattoo in the back of her left shoulder, big red rose tattoos on her right shoulder, a tattoo on her right wrist, small tattoos on her left arm, a large tattoo on her right thigh and a small shooting star tattoo on the right-side of her waistline.
For a list of episodes featuring Alex's flashbacks, see here.
Alex is the daughter of Diane Vause and Lee Burley. Vause was raised by her mother solely, as her father, a "rockstar", wasn't aware of her existence. Alex's mother worked four jobs to support them; nevertheless, they still struggled financially and Alex suffered bullying from her peers due to this. Her mother tried to console her, pointing out that her father was famous and she could use this knowledge to remain strong in the face of torment.
When she was older, Alex tracked down her father and, facing bitter disappointment at finding him an underwhelming, drug-taking washed up old star whose life still revolved around his former glory, struck up a friendship with his drug dealer Fahri. He subsequently became her industry contact in a drug cartel led by kingpin Kubra Balik. Alex then worked as a smuggler and dealer for many years.
She later took a sexual interest in Piper Chapman after meeting her in a bar. Alex was living with her girlfriend Sylvia at the time, but Alex eventually broke up the relationship and began dating Piper. Alex gradually integrated Piper into the drug trade while they traveled the world living in luxury. Vause once convinced Piper to smuggle cash through customs at an airport in Europe, the crime for which Piper is doing time. Vause specifically named Piper during her testimony, which is what led to Piper's later arrest. After Piper broke up with her, Vause began using heroin (she was sent to rehab by Kubra to get clean shortly after). She appears to have moments of depression, telling Nicky that she can no longer "get past the swirling darkness in her brain long enough to land on anything" and mentioning to Piper that upon entering prison, she was on anti-depressants, which she now trades for black eyeliner.
Vause's mother died from an aneurysm during Vause and Chapman's relationship; Alex finds this out just as Piper is preparing to leave her. Alex presumes that the break-up will be on hold whilst she deals with her death and attends the funeral, but Piper abandons her, refusing to stay around for support even though she is the only real friend that Alex has. Alex cites this as the reason she later named Piper, as that was the last time they had seen each other and Alex still felt betrayed.
Vause's first encounter with her ex-girlfriend in prison is not positive. Piper refuses to acknowledge her due to her assumption that Alex named her and is therefore the cause of her arrest, but Alex insists that she had not named her as a suspect.
After Chapman has gotten on bad terms with Red and is refused meals, Alex takes it upon herself to give her a piece of cornbread. Although Piper throws her offering away, it showed the level of feelings Vause still has for her ex-lover. She is then punished by Red herself for giving Piper food by enduring the punishment as Piper. She is starved out until she gives Red a foot massage for 45 minutes.
After Larry Bloom lies to Piper on the advice of his father, telling Piper that Alex did not name her as an accomplice, Alex and Piper reconcile. [...]
During Taystee's goodbye party, Alex and Piper dance together provocatively. Pennsatucky, the homophobic religious fanatic who hates both Piper and Alex, reports them to Sam Healy, also fabricating a lie that she has seen the pair having sex in the showers that morning. As a result, he has Piper thrown into the SHU. She is later released by Joe Caputo when it became clear that the punishment was unjustified. Upon release, Piper finds Alex in her dorm and pulls her into the chapel where they then proceeded to have sex ("Fucksgiving"). They continue their love affair until Larry reveals that she had actually named Piper as a suspect. [...]
During the last episode of the season, Piper admits to Alex that she choses Larry over her, which results in Alex shutting her out completely, and telling Piper that Piper doesn't get to run to her anymore. Larry unexpectedly visits Alex hoping to confront her about Piper. Alex reveals to Larry that it was Piper that initated their fling, saying, "She came to me". Larry ends the engagement to Piper and she goes running to Alex for comfort, but is rebuffed as promised. Before the Christmas pageant, Alex and Nicky Nichols, whom Alex has gotten for Secret Santa are sexually intimate in her bunk ("Can't Fix Crazy").
Alex Vause does not have many appearances in the second season. In their trial, despite saying she wouldn't and urging Piper to do the same, she named the prime drug lord, Kubra Balik, but the court failed to have him arrested due to misplaced evidence. She got released due to a plea deal, while Piper had to return to Litchfield. Alex became scared of what would happen to her due to the fact that she was living on her own with no security or protection and her murderous ex-boss who was seeking revenge. She often sent letters and a Valentine to Piper, telling her how sorry she was, but Chapman, still angry, either threw them away or disregarded them. [...] In the season finale, Vause was arrested again thanks to Piper convincing Polly to inform Alex's probation officer of her plans to skip town, which violated her probation. This was further complicated by Alex having had a gun when the probation officer arrived at her apartment.
Alex arrived back at Litchfield embarrassed and questioned Piper on why she is back. Piper later admitted that Alex was back due of her actions, and the two have "hate-sex". This continues until "Empathy Is a Boner Killer", when Alex forgave Piper during drama class when new counselor Berdie Rogers had them act out an improv scene between a manager and an unhappy customer who purchased bruised fruit. However, Alex could no longer hurt Piper during sex, which made Chapman less interested in being intimate with her.
As a new inmate called Lolly Whitehill started to obsessively observe Alex, she became very paranoid, thinking she was sent by Kubra to kill her. [...] She finally confronted Lolly, only to discover that Lolly is exhibiting signs of extreme paranoia and pychosis herself, thinking that the NSA is plotting against her.
Later on in Season 3, Piper grows increasingly unconcerned and bored by Alex's paranoia that Kubra is plotting against her and will, at some point, get someone inside the prison to attack her. Alex and Piper eventually had a falling out, during which Piper cheats with Stella Carlin, a new inmate at Litchfield. They broke up officially, but in a scene with Yoga Jones she asked, "Do you ever have a thing with someone that is never really over even when it is?", whilst talking about Piper.
In the season finale, her fate is unknown after Aydin appears in Litchfield's greenhouse as a Correctional Officer, and corners her.
In the Season 4 opener, "Work That Body For Me", Alex is saved by Lolly who stomps on Aydin's chest until he apparently dies. That night Alex goes to bury the body when she discovers he is still alive, albeit barely, and must tearfully kill him by smothering him. The next day Alex, Lolly, and Frieda cut up and bury the body in the garden. She becomes increasingly upset throughout the season as she deals with the fact that she has taken a life, and also starts consuming drugs again when Nicky returns from Max.
- Piper Chapman (girlfriend: former ex-girlfriend prior to Season 3; short relationship in Season 1; relationship prior to Season 1)
- Nicky Nichols (one-night stand)
- Sylvia (ex-girlfriend)
- Lolly Whitehill
- Kubra Balik (former boss)
- Aydin (hitman sent by Kubra)
- Stella Carlin (as a rival for Piper's affections)
- "I don't even know anymore. I used to. I had grand plans. Now I can't even get past the swirling darkness in my brain long enough to land on anything."
- — Alex Vause to Nicky Nichols (in "Imaginary Enemies")
- "Show me what you got, girl."
- — Alex Vause to Piper Chapman(in Season One deleted scene)
- "Rule number one, don't ever fall in love with a straight girl."
- — Alex Vause (in "Tall Men with Feelings")
- "Or I will fuck you, literally. I will sneak into your bunk in the middle of the night and I'll lick your pussy. I will do it so good and so soft and you're going to be on the edge of cumming before you wake up. And I will stop. And you'll be half asleep, and you'll beg for it. [chuckles] You'll beg for it. And maybe I'll be nice, and maybe I won't. But if I am nice, the things you feel, it will ruin you forever."
- — Alex Vause threatening "Pennsatucky"
- "It's a non-birthday gift."
- — Alex Vause to Piper Chapman
- "I'm pretty much the master of handling things completely wrong."
- — Alex Vause to Piper Chapman (in "We Have Manners. We're Polite")
- "Fuck Piper, she can't dance anyway!"
- — Alex Vause to Fahri about Piper Chapman (in "Fear, and Other Smells")
- — Alex Vause, stumbling over the word "Amazing" (in "Fear, and Other Smells")