Starring: Brit Marling, Emory Cohen, Jason Isaacs, Scott Wilson, Alice Krige, Patrick Gibson, Brendan Meyer, Brandon Perea, Ian Alexander, Phyllis Smith, Sharon Van Etten, Riz Ahmed, Paz Vega
*WARNING: This post will contain spoilers as it’s practically impossible to talk about it without providing some details. If you plan on watching this show you should wait to read this review until after you’ve seen the whole first season.*
Having gone missing seven years ago, the previously blind Johnson returns home, now in her 20s and her sight restored. While many believe she is miracle, others worry that she could be dangerous.
I don’t know if it’s just me, but it feels like The OA just came out of nowhere. I had heard nothing about this show until about a week before the entire season became available on Netflix. The premise really intrigued me and I decided to add yet another show to my extremely long list of things I need to watch. Well, it ended up only taking me about a day and a half to watch the entire 8 episodes of the first season and I’m left with a lot of thoughts and feelings.
What I liked
The premise. The initial premise of the show is what pulled me in the first place. A young blind girl, by the name of Prairie Johnson, went missing seven years ago has now mysteriously returned, only now she has full sight. The synopsis we were given barely scratched the surface in terms of what is actually going on throughout the show. The OA was described as a drama/mystery, but it’s more like a sci-fi/fantasy in a way. Or at least that’s what it feels like at first. As you watch each episode, you start to realize that there’s more to this show than Netflix has let on. There are discussions on Near Death Experiences or NDEs, we learn about alternate dimensions and also, the possibility of Angels. This may sound like a mismatch of some weird and random things, but they actually come together to form a beautiful and unique story.
Prairie soon meets a motley crew of various people from her neighbourhood and she finally starts to open up and tell them what happened to her throughout the 7 years that she was missing. She tells them that she was held captive, along with 4 other people, by a scientist that is studying people who have gone through near death experiences. The story is told throughout the entire 8 episodes with Prairie explaining her life from childhood up until she mysteriously returns.
The characters. There were definitely a lot of them. There were the four others that she was held captive with. There are the five people that she meets after her return. There are her parents and of course, the weird mad scientist. Each of these characters served their own important purposes throughout the story. The five captives all worked together to plan their escape via alternate dimensions. The five friends that Prairie meets later work to help her finish the job that the others could not.
Here’s where my discussion may get really spoilery so please continue reading at your own discretion. I think the five friends that Prairie meets after her return all needed her in one way or another. Each of these characters had their own sets of issues that they were dealing with. Steve was angry and broken, Betty was dealing with the loss of her twin brother, Jesse was dealing with his mother’s death and his father’s decision to leave their family, French was dealing with his mother’s neglect and the pressure of obtaining a scholarship & Buck was dealing with his transition. All 5 of these people needed something or someone to believe in. Someone that they could look up to. Prairie referred to herself as The OA throughout the show which we later find out means Original Angel. Maybe these characters really believed that she was an angel and that was what they really needed to get through life.
The mystery. Honestly, this whole show was a bit of a mindfuck. There were a lot of things happening and a lot of it was hard to follow at first. Even after watching the entire season, I still have a lot of questions…which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I like television series and films that make me think, that probably have this deeper hidden meaning that I need to figure out on my own rather than having it explained to me. There’s still a lot that I don’t understand and I’m okay with that…as long as we get a season two.
What I Didn’t Like
The questionable ending. Endings like this can sometimes really grind my gears. I’ll warn you one last time, there are spoilers ahead. After watching the final few scenes of the season I’m left here wondering what the hell was real and what wasn’t. Was the story that Prairie told real or was it this huge delusion made up by a girl who has a slew of mental issues brought on by her childhood/abduction. Were there ever 5 other captives? ere they a figment of her imagination? This is the first question that popped into my mind, but then I remembered that the first thing Prairie did when she got home was try to look up Homer, another captive, on the internet. She finds an old video of him after his accident…which means he’s real right? But, what if she had seen that video before her abduction. What if she became obsessed with NDEs after her own personal one and learning about Homer’s? Was he actually being held captive with her, or did she create him as a figment of her imagination so that she could have a friend?
I think the ending proved that her five new friends all had faith in her. They believed her. This is one scene that I don’t want to ruin in case some of you haven’t seen it yet, but they must have really believed in her and her story to be brave enough to do what they did.
I’m not sure what the premise of a second season would be…however, I really do want one. Although, I don’t think I would be mad if it ended right here. I would be frustrated, yes, but I also think it’s an intriguing idea for the audience to come to their own conclusion…kind of like at the end of Shutter Island.
I highly recommend giving The OA a watch. Yes, it can be confusing and a little out there…but it was well worth it!
Thank you for reading!