Orange is the New Black has practically made sport of determining how consistently Laura Prepon’s Alex Vause will appear from year to year, but Season 3's finale made for a much more dangerous game. Thankfully, Prepon has confirmed at least some return for Season 4, but in past or present?

We’ll presume you’re caught up with all three Orange is the New Black seasons from here in out (if not, spoilers!), but Alex’s fate looked pretty grim by the closing minutes of the most recent finale, in which her season-long paranoia finally culminated in one of drug-dealing Cooper’s assassins confronting her in the Litchfield greenhouse.

Granted, Prepon’s Instagram previously confirmed at least some Season 4 appearance (Hey, if Tywin Lannister can “return”), TVGuide got more direct confirmation from she and Taylor Schilling, Prepon offering of Alex’s arc next year:

She was justified in her paranoia [about Lolly]. I think that empowers her. In Season 4, we definitely don’t see a timid side of Alex.

Conspiracy theorists such as ourselves might interpret Prepon’s words as “don’t see a timid side of Alex [because she's dead],” but her thoughts on a subsequent reconciliation with Piper are at least more optimistic:

You can’t control where your heart goes. Alex and Piper will always have a connection, and I definitely think that if Alex needed her or she needed Alex, they would be there for each other completely.

Still a bit cryptic, if you ask us. In any case, Prepon’s wasn’t the only Season 3 departure to leave fans hungry for Season 4, as Matt McGorry (Bennett) made an early exit for his more permanent slot on ABC’s How to Get Away With Murder, while both Natasha Lyonne (Nicky) and new addition Ruby Rose (Stella) were carted off to the oft-mentioned, but never-seen maximum security.

Orange is the New Black Season 4 will bow in 2016, but what should we make of Prepon’s words, and who else in jeopardy might return to Litchfield next year?

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