The details surrounding The OA are just as mysterious as the Netflix series' arrival. The streaming giant surprise-released the trailer only days before its Dec. 16 debut, lending viewers nothing more than a vague premise and a trio of dark, foreboding questions. Its concept lands somewhere between mind-bending sci-fi and psychological thriller, unraveling the perplexing reappearance of Prairie Johnson, a once-blind 20-something who returns seven years after disappearing, her sight now restored. In the promo, you can see strange markings on Prairie's back. They're seemingly a remnant from her time away, and could help unravel what happened to her while she was gone. So how did Prairie get her scars on The OA? Major spoilers for The OA ahead.
At first glance, they look like the handiwork of something extraterrestrial. Alien-oriented shows and movies have long made use of post-abduction body markings, and Prairie's wounds appear no different. But The OA doesn't harp on familiar allegories. Instead, it examines the boundaries between life, death, and what lies in the middle. You see, Prairie is an angel — the original angel, in fact — and her scars symbolize two of the five movements necessary to help her travel between separate dimensions.
She discovered the movements while in captivity with four other angels. A man named Dr. Hap has become obsessed with studying near-death experiences, and kidnaps and imprisons those that have had them in his underground lair. He continuously kills them for research, but they always survive. While in the world between life and death, the angels receive various motions from their other-realm guardians. Separately, these movements can help cure diseases and bring back the dead, but together they can open a portal to other dimensions.
The angels view this as their only way to escape Dr. Hap's nefarious hideaway, but using the motions comes with high risk: a side effect of dimensional travel is amnesia, which means they could forget everything they've learned. To sidestep that danger, they invent symbols to record the movements and carve them into their skin."We figure [it's] a map we can never lose," Prairie explains in Episode 6, "Forking Paths."
Whether or not that's really what happened is left up to interpretation, but the scars are certainly real. Fingers crossed The OA gets a second season so Prairie's story can get a more conclusive end.
Images: Jojo Whilden/Netflix (2)