The OA – Tiffany Tran

The OA by Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij proves itself to be a confusing piece of work, mainly because it is a story within a TV series. The story is told by the OA, also known as Prairie. Throughout the series, Prairie tells both the group of 4 that she asked for and the audience what has happened to her during her 7 year disappearance.

The series starts out intriguing, presenting Prairie as someone who went lost blind and came back with scarring on her back and her sight returned. As the storyline progresses, science fiction elements present themselves, such as Khatun, a woman who seems to have the ability to take away Prairie’s sight and bring her back to reality. A mystery also evolves with both the audience and the chosen 4 that Prairie tells her story to, with figuring out if her story is true or not.

Personally, I had believed Prairie’s story at first. She shows to have some abnormal abilities, such as gaining her sight back miraculously and calming down Steve’s dog, who was commanded to attack her. Even when the other characters started to not believe her, I did. With how odd her dreams foreshadowed real-life events, I couldn’t not believe her. But after watching the series and having discussions, I started questioning the validity of Prairie’s story. It was weird because she displayed signs of some magical powers and things that just couldn’t be real but happened, but it is also valid to say that her story isn’t true. This whole time, she could be delusional and trying to recruit people who may easily be affected because they have other things in their life that perhaps cause them to be slightly unstable? Or she finds pleasure in lying and manipulation, but who knows? I try not to think about it too much, because in the end, we don’t really know unless the show explicitly shows it. It also hurts my head to think too much about things that aren’t solidified.

There were a few parts that made me question things, such as the FBI counselor, Elias, entering Prairie’s house. Why was he there? What was he trying to do? Maybe he, too, was trying to figure out if Prairie was telling the truth. Maybe he was trying to frame her by placing the books there for French to find. But why? I wasn’t sure if it also added anything much to the story, besides making Elias a suspicious character. And even so, that ended up not adding anything to the series, at least for this season.

I also wished there were more development on other characters, such as Jesse. All we know is that his mother committed suicide and that he is a stoner who lives with his sister. He seems like a nice guy, honestly. And I was curious about Buck too. It was nice getting character development from Steve and French, and even some from BBA, but I wanted more about the other characters. But the reason as to why the other characters weren’t as developed could be because it took away from the main storyline. With the main character being Prairie, it’s understandable as to why we get her development. I don’t understand too much as to why some characters were more focused on. Such as why Steve was more focused than BBA, or why BBA even had much focus. How did Steve’s character development contribute to the storyline? Did it make it so that this guy, who probably would think that Prairie is ridiculous, turned out to believe in her story and therefore, convince the audience?

The trailer for the second season has been released, and watching it made me think that Prairie was telling the truth. We saw scenes of Prairie not recognizing anything about her apparent room, and Obama apparently wasn’t president in 2016. However, these scenes could be hallucinations that Prairie experiences. But, we aren’t so sure.

In terms of the digital age, the series jumps to different times periods, primarily from the present to and from Prairie’s captivity. It displayed discontinuous reading, and  I thought that it helped the reader understand the story well and the producers utilized the time jumps effectively. Different genres were introduced, such as mystery, light romance, and supernatural. Each genre helped add to the series. Adding the romance intensified the characters, e.g., Homer and Prairie in love but Homer sleeps with Renata (this part actually made me think that Prairie didn’t think of Homer as a lover because of how she never lashed out at him or anything, but then it turns out that she is just very forgiving and understanding). And whether the supernatural actually exists is a mystery. The series also took elements from a book. Aside from telling a story, they named episodes as “chapters.” There is always one thing that will lead on to the next chapter, and it flowers well. The videography was beautiful, showing many great scenes in Russia and intensified different parts well, e.g., French sneaking around Prairie’s house. It makes me think less of a TV series and more of a movie, but the episodes are around an hour long, so it might as well be sort of like a movie.

The OA is a show I would recommend to those who like mysteries. Not necessarily Criminal Minds and NCIS mysteries, but more like a magical mystery-ish. It makes the audience curious as to what is the truth, and that curiosity helps the audience maintain interest. Because honestly, what is the OA?