Netflix dropped the trailer for their secret new series The OA last week only four days before it premiered. It only took the weekend for The OA to become Netflix’s latest binge obsession. Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij, two Sundance darlings who met at Georgetown University, created the show. Their first feature film together, Sound of My Voice, went to Sundance in 2011, the same year as Another Earth, another movie starring and co-written by Marling and directed by their third Georgetown friend Mike Cahill. Marling and Batmanglij then re-teamed for film The East.
The OA stars Marling as Prairie Johnson, a blind woman who’s been missing for seven years. When she returns, she can see and she calls herself “The OA.” She recruits four high school students and their teacher (Phyllis Smith) and tells them the story of her captivity by Hunter Hap (Jason Isaacs). Hap kidnapped four people who’d had near-death experiences to study their connection to the afterlife. Now free, The OA teaches her new friends the skills she learned.
These are 15 questions raised after finishing all eight episodes of The OA.
The questions below include major spoilers if you have not finished the show yet, so reader beware!
Throughout the show, the OA experienced a starry-lit darkness when she visited the other side. Her entire plan was to get to another dimension. The final shot of the season showed OA waking up in a plain white room, unlike the visions she’d previously described. So is that another dimension? Is it somewhere else? Is she still here?
Homer (Emory Cohen) was the captive OA fell in love with over seven years. Her entire mission was to get back to him, suspecting he’d moved on to another dimension through their practices. Wherever she is now, did she find Homer?
No one else seems too concerned about this, but Hap just left OA on the side of the road and was never seen again. Shouldn’t someone be looking for this kidnapper?
At one point she says she’s the Original Angel; however, earlier she said she heard her name and was trying to recreate the sounds. The closest she could approximate in English was OA. (It actually sounds like “away” also.) It’s possible the angels were trying to tell her something, in a language that’s not from Earth or even with the same concept of sounds. Or maybe it’s really as simple as Original Angel.
5. Who is Khatun?
Khatun (Hiam Abbass) was the guide OA met in the beginning of her near-death experiences, first when she was a child nearly drowning. There’s clearly a much bigger operation over there. Is Khatun in charge? Does she have a boss? What is her title exactly?
Scott (Will Brill) and Rachel (Sharon Van Etten) were in the other cells with OA and Homer. Where are they? Only Homer and OA got to learn the fifth movement, so Hap would have no need for the other two. Hopefully they’re still alive and managed to make their escape too.
The final episode climaxes in a school shooting, but we never got a clear look at the shooter’s face. Maybe it doesn’t matter. He’s just an evil force that unites the five disciples to come together. But the mysterious obscuring of his face raises the question: Could it be someone we’ve seen before?
Clearly it worked. The mystery surrounding the sudden appearance of the trailer got people to watch the show. It hasn’t even been a week, and it’s already the “sharing theories” stage of The OA. This is clearly the new world of television where traditional marketing doesn’t apply. Whoever decided to make the show itself the mystery was proven correct.
Batmanglij and Marling have a track record. They’ve actually mentioned plans for a trilogy of Sound of My Voice films, at least based on the mythology they created for that film. Yet TV is the new Gold Rush. It’s very desirable for filmmakers to tell longer stories, and Netflix gave them the opportunity and protection to do it in secret.
10. How long did it take the actor to learn the choreography?
There are five movements OA and Homer perform to open a tunnel to another dimension. Even less than five are enough to bring the dead back to life or cure ALS! Ryan Heffington designed the movements. The prisoners perform them more in depth, but the five present day disciples learn them too. And are they based in martial arts, dance or a combination of both?
11. How many people have already learned the movements?
Fandom is interactive now. Has The OA spawned real-life disciples studying the movements and practicing them in real life? Are there any flash mob videos of this?
The prisoners invented symbols to represent the movements and even scarred them on their own backs so they could never be erased. This is essentially inventing a language out of whole cloth. It’s not a spoken language so perhaps it is not as thorough as the languages of Star Trek and Game of Thrones.
13. Has anyone tattooed the symbols on their back?
Scars are dramatic, but hopefully people won’t take OA fandom that far. Tattoos are fun though. The symbols would make a nice shoulder tattoo.
14. Did the fangirl in the restaurant post the selfie on Instagram?
When the OA went out to dinner with her parents, she was shocked to have a fan take a selfie with her. The woman was impressed with OA’s inspiring story, surviving and returning from captivity, but also quite invasive. OA’s mom (Alice Krige) was rightfully concerned that this fangirl would post the picture online. That probably wouldn’t put a dent in all the media attention she was already getting as a blind woman who could see again, but it’s still cause for some concern.
15. Are there deleted scenes from episode six?
This episode was only 30 minutes long when most of the other seven were 50-60. It doesn’t feel like anything is missing and the beauty of streaming is episodes only have to be as long as they need to be, but there’s never been a drastic anomaly like that before.
Have you watched the season? Do you think you have answers to some of the questions above? Let us know in the comments!
Season 1 of The OA is now streaming on Netflix