The OA Questus Reviewus – Hayden Dewey

Brit Marling’s Netflix Original, The OA, had many ups and downs for me personally throughout the series. The first four episodes left me extremely confused at times as most mysteries intentionally do when setting up the storyline. This strategy is often beneficial, however, these were very drawn out and extensively long introductory episodes that left me feeling lost and uninterested rather than intrigued to discover what was really going on.

Episode five was a pivotal point in the show for me that regained my interest significantly as we found out what the group has learned to do while in their glass cages. I later realized, however, that discovering this developed an idea in my head of what I wanted the remainder of the show to be about which was not the case in the end. When watching Prairie and Homer bring a human being back to life, I inferred this would explain why she was telling her story to a random group of individuals who all seemed to have lost someone close to them at some point in their lives. She was going to teach the group the movements to bring back those who they had lost. Prairie would have been helping those around her with what she learned from an awful experience for herself personally which would have made for a very pleasant end to season one. Furthermore, this led me to believe the show would delve more into how the doctor and his captives were able to develop such outstanding knowledge and explain why Prairie was telling her story in the manner that she was. Instead, the second half of the show focusses more on the captives escape from the doctor and Prairie and her family attempting to return to normalcy and get some sort of closure on their situation.

A film technique that I very much appreciated and wanted to point out was the way in which the filmmakers conveyed a literal and figurative perception of the multi-dimensional aspect of the show. The flashbacks of her life when being held captive and her life afterwards felt like two completely different worlds which did a great job of symbolizing the group’s goal of multi-dimensional travel throughout. Prairie’s life post-captivity felt extremely normal in a small American town while her life in captivity consisted of living in glass boxes in some spaceship looking basement and being drowned in an attempt to enter a new dimension. These drastically different worlds only mimic the gap between the real world and the parallel universe the characters are searching for but the thematic metaphor still got its point across. Parallels like this often go unnoticed but they prove the attention to detail the writers put into the show.

The final episode of season one once again left me lost and quite disappointed but thankfully the trailer for season two made season one feel worth watching. The ending quite simply felt lazy as it failed to explain many key plot points such as how the captives escaped, why Prairie told her story the way she did, and left the audience questioning whether or not her entire story was even real. I felt a connection to the group of individuals she told her story to as they stood around the car with Prairie’s box of books on top, frustrated with the possible lack of sincerity in her story. Luckily, unlike season one itself, the season two trailer confirms the multi-dimensional aspect of the show and seems like it will answer the many questions I have following the finale of season one in an extremely exciting way as the characters finally enter the new dimension they have been searching for.