The OA arrived as a mystery, and apparently the series intends to stay that way. Netflix unveiled a trailer for the sci-fi thriller only days before its Dec. 16 release date, and even then the premise was murky. Created by Sundance darlings Brit Marling and Zal Batmangli (The East), it traces the tale of Prairie Johnson, a formerly blind 20-something who reappears after seven years spent missing, her vision fully restored. Spoilers for all eight episodes of The OA ahead. The show slowly uncoils what happened to her in the gap between, but whether or not Prairie is telling the truth on The OA is left open-ended when the season wraps.
The cliffhanger finale follows in the footsteps of films like Inception and Shutter Island, leaving its final chapter up to the interpretation of its viewers. Prairie weaves a convincing tale, recounting life as an angel born to navigate the boundaries between life and death. According to her, a crazed scientist named Dr. Hap imprisoned her in an elaborate, underground lair with four others who have survived near-death experiences, much like she did when she was a child in Russia. While in captivity, she met a man named Homer and fell in love. Along with the others, they traveled back and forth from the afterlife, where their guardians gave them five movements that, when done together, allegedly open the door to another dimension. When they finally received the fifth motion, however, Hap left Prairie on the side of the road and drove off to open the door himself.
At least, that's the story Prairie tells the five companions she recruits to help her try again when she returns home to her adoptive family in Michigan. Many people write her off as delusional, but Steve, Jesse, French, Betty, and Buck genuinely believe her. That is, until, French uncovers a box of books on many of the subjects her story included under Prairie's bed, which seems to indicate she fabricated the whole ordeal.
After some time apart, Prairie finally pieces together one of her angel premonitions, and returns to save her former friends from a school shooter. Together, they do the five movements, and escape (mostly) unscathed — primarily because it distracts the shooter long enough for someone to tackle him. But Prairie is shot, and as she's taken away in the ambulance, you can hear the faint "whoosh" of her soul. She proclaims the dimensional travel is working, and we see her open her eyes in a white room where she says, "Homer?" But from there, it cuts to black, and we're left wondering what's real and what's imagined. We'll have to wait and see if The OA gets a second season to finally get the answer, but perhaps, like the series, the point wasn't the ending, but the story itself — what's in between.
Images: Netflix (2)