What happened to Prairie Johnson? What does "O.A." stand for? What are the five movements? These are some of the questions raised in the first season of Netflix's bizarre 2016 sci-fi series — and they're questions fans may want to revisit the answers to by recapping The OA Season 1 before Season 2 premieres on March 22.
There's this phenomenon that seems to happen every time a new show hits Netflix. For one weekend, it seems like everyone in the world is talking about it. But when you watch an entire season of television in one sitting, you can find yourself forgetting some details after marathoning the next big thing on Netflix, no matter how diligently you watched. And when a show aired as long ago as Season 1 of The OA — which premiered over two years ago, way back in December of 2016 — anyone can be forgiven for needing a refresher course. (Let's be real, I already need a refresher course reminding me what happened in the holiday special of Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina, and that only aired three months ago.)
So practice your modern dance and polish up your movements, because it's time to travel to another dimension.
Gone Girl, Found
Season 1 started when Prairie Johnson, a girl who had been missing for seven years, turned up alive and well. Making her case even more unusual was the fact that she had been blind when she disappeared, but was found with her sight inexplicably restored. Although her parents Nancy and Abel were thrilled to have their daughter returned to them, Prairie was more preoccupied with recruiting a new following: angry drug dealer Steve, sensitive jock French, choir singer Buck, lonely stoner Jesse, and mousy teacher Ms. Broderick-Allen (aka BBA). Once assembled, Prairie told her five new friends her life story.
It turns out that Nancy and Abel are Prairie's adoptive parents. Prairie was actually born in Russia, the daughter of an oligarch. Her birth name is Nina Azarova. When the mafia targeted a school bus full of the children from upper class families, Nina was the only survivor. During her near-death experience (NDE), she met an angel named Khatun, who returned her to life without her sight. Nina's father sent her to a boarding school in America to keep her safe but, after her father's death, she ended up adopted by an American couple, who renamed her Prairie.
As Prairie got older, she started receiving premonitions and visions of her father. On her 21st birthday, she ran away from home, convinced that she was supposed to meet her father at the Statue of Liberty. After he never showed up, she wound up bumping into Hap, a scientist interested in NDEs. He convinced her to be a part of his study, but he ended up kidnapping her and locking her in his basement along with several other test subjects. During an escape attempt, Prairie was knocked out by Hap; while unconscious, she met Khatun again, who restored her sight and sent her back to the world of the living.
To Infinity And Beyond
Prairie and her fellow subjects, including Homer, had no idea what Hap was subjecting them to, given that he would knock them out with gas before taking them up to his lab for experiments. But Prairie discovered that they could team up to suck the gas out of each other's cages, allowing Hap's designated subject for the day to remain awake, feigning unconsciousness, during the procedure. It turned out that Hap was drowning them to find out what happened to them during their NDEs — and, more specifically, where they were going.
Based on sounds he recorded during their near-deaths, Hap became convinced that Prairie and the others were traveling somewhere near the rings of Jupiter. Meanwhile, Prairie and Homer started coming back from their NDEs with "movements." When fellow test subject Scott was killed during an experiment, they performed their movements in sync over his body for hours… and Scott miraculously came back to life.
The Missing Piece
Eventually, Prairie became convinced there were five movements that, when performed by five people, would open a doorway to a new dimension. Although she and her fellow subjects received four of the five movements during the NDEs, they were still missing one. Then a local sheriff discovered them in Hap's basement — but Hap convinced the sheriff not to turn them in, telling him Prairie and Homer could heal his comatose wife. When they performed their movements and the woman awoke, she brought with her the fifth and final movement.
Hap then killed the sheriff and his wife and took Prairie away, dumping her on the side of the road. He said he didn't need her anymore; with the fifth movement, he and the rest of the subjects could travel to a new dimension without her. So Prairie made her way back home, determined to recruit and teach the movements to five new people who could open a doorway and allow her to save Homer.
Back in the present day, Prairie was once again receiving a series of premonitions she couldn't quite decipher. She told her friends and her adoptive parents that her new name, OA, was an abbreviation for "Original Angel." But doubt was shed on her story when French stumbled upon a box of books that could have inspired Prairie's far-fetched story, Keyser Söze-style (like The Iliad by Homer). Or were the books planted by Prairie's shady FBI counselor, Elias?
Any doubt, however, was forgotten when a shooter walked into the kids' school one day. Desperate to prevent a tragedy, they and BBA stood up to the armed intruder and performed the five movements flawlessly. At the same time, Prairie realized her premonition was of the shooting, and ran to the school to help. The movements distracted the shooter long enough for him to be taken down, but one stray bullet went through the glass and struck Prairie. As she was taken away in an ambulance, she told Steve that the movements had worked; that he and his friends had opened a doorway, and that she was on her way to meet Homer. The ambulance drove off, with Steve running after her, asking Prairie to take him with her.
Was Prairie's story true or a fabrication? Did the movements really work, or did the season end with Prairie's death? The fact that the show is back for Season 2 implies that there was at least some truth to Prairie's story, but there are still plenty of questions left to be answered. Dive back into the mystery when the episodes drop on Netflix on Friday, March 22.