I finally got the chance to watch the final two episodes of The OA yesterday. After its Netflix debut on December 16, and following only a brief mysterious trailer the week before announcing its impending arrival, I managed to watch the first six episodes in quick succession just before Christmas. Real life then took over and it’s only now that I’ve been able to find the time to finish it. I’ll try not to give too much away other than what Netflix themselves tell you in their synopsis for the show, or what other general snippets of information tell you in other reviews online, but for me it was one of those shows that really leaves a lasting impression and I wanted to at least describe my feelings about that. However vague they might be.
The synopsis you’ll most probably have already read is that Prairie Johnson is a young woman who returns home having been missing for the last seven years. She claims to have mysterious new abilities and begins recruiting five local people to help her with a secret mission.
The first episode pretty much covers all of the above, without really divulging the extent of these mysterious abilities. However, one of the big revelations early on is that Prairie was blind when she first disappeared, having lost her sight as a young girl, and now she can see again. I’ve got to be honest, for most of the first episode it wasn’t really grabbing me. A lot of misfit characters were introduced, none of who seemed particular interesting or relevant, and the story meandered along, pulling all of these characters together for reasons we weren’t yet quite sure of. I almost gave up on the show but it was about 15 minutes before the end of the episode, when Prairie eventually gets her five recruits together to begin telling them (and us) her story that something clicked for me. I had a grin on my face, excited at the prospect of what was to come and where we could be headed, and I was immediately hooked. I would definitely urge anyone to stick with this show for at least the first two episodes in order to give it a chance.
Prairies story continues for pretty much the majority of the remaining episodes in the season, beginning when she was a little girl as we discover what caused her to become initially become blind, and then detailing her seven missing years before she returned. Those seven years are our main focus, and a lot happens during that time despite the majority of events occurring in just one place. The group all gather at night to hear her story, told over a number of weeks and only occasionally and briefly detracting in order to follow the daily, troubled lives of our five recruits, not to mention the difficult rehabilitation of Prairie back into ‘normal’ life with her parents.
It’s the storytelling that gripped me so strongly with The OA – wonderful, detailed, beautiful storytelling. Each episode flew by as I found myself caught up in the mystery, wonder and suspense of it all and it was just one of those shows where you felt so involved in the story, the characters, and the direction it seemed to be heading in, that it was extremely difficult to leave the show and not think about it. You just had to come back and find out more.
You may have read online about the closing minutes of The OA finale and the mixed reactions it has received, with many people hating it. It’s true that the finale is frustrating, with the build up of our story continuing and then stalling, only for it to quickly build up again and then seemingly go nowhere. But I neither loved or hated the ending and despite it probably being a 3 star episode, it didn’t affect my overall love for the show. The closing minutes are open to A LOT of interpretation, which is probably what people hate about it, and is one of those endings which would work well if the show were never to return again. However, it also works very well if the show does return. I hope it does, and I hope that they can continue the beautiful, captivating and mysterious storytelling for at least another season if it does return.
My watch-list of movies and TV shows continues to grow, while my spare time continues to shrink. Occasionally though, I’ll manage to tick one off the list, and then try to come up with some words about it that make me sound as though I know what I’m talking about. “Once he has discovered something, he wants to be off onto the next thing, rather than spending time and elaborating” – snippet from my primary school report, confirming that I am, and always have been, easily distracted.