The OA, A Forrest Review
Alright, this show is W I L D. If I were to give it a genre, I’d call it urban fantasy + modern sci-fi, but it’s a whole lot more than that. Drama, mystery, you name it. From what I’ve seen online, it’s got a pretty decent cult following.
The OA is a Netflix original, and it has two seasons. Unfortunately, it’s been cancelled, and despite the roar of fans begging for a continuation, even a movie follow-up, it doesn’t look like it has any hope. :[ My fingers are crossed anyway, because I love this show, it’s incredibly unique and fascinating. Regardless of the cancellation, I still highly, highly recommend people to watch it. Who knows, maybe it will get picked up again one day? The creators already had the next three seasons mapped out, and I honestly can’t even imagine the twists and turns they would have given us.
The OA is about a young woman named Prairie Johnson, played by Brit Marling, who also happens to be one of the creators and executive producers of the show.
Part I (season one) starts off with Prairie suddenly returning to her hometown after having been missing for the last seven years. Not only is her reappearance shocking in and of itself, but to top it off, she’s no longer blind.
Prairie now calls herself ‘The OA’, and refuses to tell the FBI about where she was or what happened to her, and clearly something has happened, because her back is covered in strange scars. Her adoptive parents do their best to understand where she’s coming from, but the mother in particular is having a hard time giving Prairie the freedom she feels she needs after having been missing for so long, afraid that she might disappear again, thinking that she ran away.
Her internet access cut off, Prairie seeks out some of the local kids in her neighborhood, and sets up shop in an unfinished, empty house. She gains a following of four teenage boys and a local teacher, and begins to tell them stories every night of where she’s been.
If you don’t want to be spoiled, I wouldn’t read the rest of this article past the spoiler warning. I really recommend going into the show blind. I had no idea what I was in for when I started up the show, and it was a wild ride the whole way through. The storytelling is phenomenal, there are so many surprising moments, and as outlandish as some of the material becomes, it never seems out of place.
The acting is also fantastic, and I’m always convinced by each character in both seasons. There is awesome LGBT+ rep in both seasons, one of the main characters is trans, and for anybody who likes Sadness from Inside Out, or Phyllis Vance from The Office, Phyllis Smith plays a main character too! (BBA!) Each character has so much depth, and even the less likable characters have their place. There IS some nudity in this show, one particular sex scene early in the first season, so I do feel the need to point that out for any younger readers or anyone else not wanting to be surprised by that. Although that might be the only one that I can think of, let me know if I’m wrong. It’s been a little bit since I watched both seasons.
Prairie goes into her childhood, where she’s from originally, and how she became blind, which was due to a near death experience. It’s a very interesting story, and the kids and teacher are quite taken by her words, but not all entirely convinced. This all eventually leads to her telling them she was kidnapped by a man doing experiments on people who have had near death experiences, which they abbreviate to NDE, and that these experiences can give people extraordinary abilities.
At first, these abilities aren’t anything too crazy: for Prairie, despite going blind after her first NDE, she did gain the ability to play a heavenly tune on the violin. For another, the woman gained “an angelic singing voice”.
But with these experiments the kidnapper is using, he is causing them to die over and over again, and reviving them. For some reason their revival is easier for a previous NDE than someone who’s never had one before.
Eventually, the abilities do become extraordinary: they can speak to people “on the other side”, and learn these dance-like moves called Movements. They’re very chaotic and interesting movements, and by doing this dance, they can perform amazing abilities like rapid healing, and even bringing someone back from the dead.
This stuff is nuts! I was really blown away by how off-center Prairie’s stories became. Prairie isn’t the only one who’s been kidnapped, and there are three other people down in this laboratory basement with her. What’s interesting about her even being here is that she wasn’t simply black-bagged and carted off: the man, Hap, meets Prairie at all due to hearing her play violin in a subway. He is so taken by her ‘heavenly’ playing that he targets her. He charms her, and they talk about NDEs, and she agrees to be part of a study. Except she doesn’t know she’ll be locked in a glass cage in the middle of nowhere in this guy’s basement.
A lot more happens in the first season, and the second season is even more wild (but just as interesting). I feel like the second season really pulls the first together and helps to tie all the questions I had in the first. Of course, at the end of the second season, I’m left with just as many questions as I’d had from the first, so my fingers are still crossed for some kind of continuation, some way or another.
As I said before, I can’t not recommend this show. Give it a watch and let me know what you thought of it in the comments!