Welcome back OA fans to my weekly run down of Series 1. I’ll get straight back into it with Part 4, after being left literally on a cliff hanger, with Prairie escaping Hap the captor, only to be hit across the head with a shotgun handle.
Prairie awakes in a place unknown, ragged landscape, able to see. She couldn’t understand where she was, wasn’t able to sense pain. She remembered Homer, Scott and Rachel, but her sudden sense of loss made her realise, she was for the second time in her life, dead.
She sees a small red, wooden hut in the distance and makes her way to it, opens the round windowed door, and inside is the starry space she first visited upon her first death, when she met Khatun. There she sits looking over a pool. Prairie tells her she can see. “You could always see my child, catch your breath and join me”. Prairie tells her she’s not supposed to be there. Khatun tries to convince her to stay with her, holds her head in her hands and strokes her hair, telling her she will forget all the pain of life. Prairie says she doesn’t want to forget. Khatun tells her she’s strange but she respects it, that she wants to save her friends from their captivity. “But as things are, you’ll never escape. All your courage and planning, not enough”. She dips her hand into the pool of light and pulls out a white songbird. “This will show you to another place, a form of travel unknown to humans, without it you will stay a prisoner forever. It takes a lot of practice, but with this, you may one day fly free. If I give it to you there is a price, a fair trade”.
Prairie walks to the round window in the starry wall and through it she sees her father, walking away, she screams ‘Papa!’ he eventually turns around as if he senses her, his face covered in braille like Khatun’s. He can’t hear her. Khatun tells her that he could hear her and she could go with her father and be at peace together or she can take the bird and find out who she really is. Prairie argues that this isn’t a fair choice, Khatun tells her that to exist is to survive unfair choices. Khatun encourages her again to go with him, but Prairie is determined to get back to the others.
Khatun opens up her shawl to reveal one angel wing. “Now you know sacrifice, now you are ready for what comes with this gift”. She holds the bird in her hand towards Prairie and tells her to swallow it, it is a seed of light, if you grow it, all you need to know will be inside you, all five of you must work together as one to defeat great evil”. Prairie says that there are only four of them, but Khatun tells her she will see. Prairie asks her, “Khatun, am I like you?”. “No, you are the original – be quick, eat it,” and with that she releases the bird, Prairie catches its glowing form, stuffs it in her mouth and swallows it down. She wakes in a bed, a white feather blows over her sleeping body.
I guess we can assume then that Nina’s father really did die. But that maybe he’s lost in the wilderness. If the Voi did get to him, it appears he knew what was to come, but did he tell Nina his ‘hiding’ story just to comfort her, so that she wouldn’t think both her parents had left her or did he know there was more to Nina than meets the eye? Khatun tells her she’s the original, the Original Angel. Did her father have insight into this, and what did her mother know? Was she aware that she would give her life in childbirth for this special child? This resonates with me a little. My mother almost died whilst she was pregnant with me, from a blood clot. Whilst she was in the hospital she said she was visited in a dream by an angel, that this angel told her she would have a daughter, and she would be named Laura. It’s a sweet story indeed, and I have a lot to live up to!
The braille on her father’s face is difficult to interpret from so far away. It appears to be German, and the left cheek may state ‘5 as leere jene’ which translates to ‘5 as empty ones’. This is by no means definite.
Prairie focuses her vision, and sees a camera above her, Hap sits beside her, places an icepack underneath her head and comforts her, tells her was worried he’d lost her. He admits that he hit her, she was standing on the edge of a mine and hit her only to stop her from running off the edge. He tells her that she’s been gone without a pulse for 7 minutes, it’s the only non-scientific death he’s ever had, he was worried about her. He’s been carrying out this study for years, she is the only subject whose ever challenged him, or tried to escape. He hunted the others down but she was a happy accident. So Hap lives by a mine. Just like Nina did as a child – it makes you wonder who Hap really is.
Back in her glass box the others look distraught that she didn’t get away. The bird she swallowed starts to take shape, in the form of movements, hand gestures, like dance moves. Her head is bleeding badly. Homer is just glad she is alive. She tells them that she died, she saw Khatun again like she did when she was a little girl. But she’s sussed it now, instead of being lab rats not knowing what they need to do to save themselves, they need to become an intellectual part of the experiment, that’s their way out.
“We are not unloved or unlucky, we are angels”. Rachel questions her on why they are angels, “because you protected me from knowing about August’s death before I was ready,” she says looking at Rachel. “Because I hear you whispering to your plants at night to help them grow without sunlight,” she glances at Scott. “Because your eyes are green and clear, as honest as you are,” she looks straight at Homer. She can see.
Back at the abandoned house Mrs Broderick-Allen gasps and tells The OA she wishes she’d known her sooner so that she could have met her brother. Steve and Jesse walk her to her car, and she listens to more cell phone messages from her brother’s estate. After The OA’s revelations this evening she decides to go and finally sort this matter out. She tells the young lawyer that Theo was her twin and that it’s true they did have a connection. He tells her that even after the fees are paid there’s still a tidy sum of money going her way. She feels guilty that she turned him in to the police, who forced him into rehab and now he’s dead. She did not read his will. He left her everything, £50k.
Jesse arrives home. His world appears to be parentless, the house is trashed, empty food boxes everywhere. His older sister, Ali, watches TV, stoned. He takes a hit of the bong and asks her if she believes in angels if she thinks that their mom could have been an angel. Ali replies that angels don’t commit suicide.
Steve and Jesse take their teacher to collect her brother’s personal belongings from the rehab facility. She looks over old photos and the boys mess around to his heavy rock music. She finds an old collage Theo made about Mr Limpit, his favourite movie from when they were kids. Jesse sits and talks to her about him, tells her that his mother is dead and his father left. Steve gets dressed up in Theo’s skiing clothes, this brings her to tears. He calls her BBA, and like The OA, this is how she will be known from now on.
Prairie meets with the FBI Psychologist, taken there by Abel. He tells her that he originally started working as an Agent to help catch the bad guys but as time went on he realised he was helping the wrong people, it was the victims, the women and children that needed him more. The Psychologist appears to understand her plight, that she wants to save the others who are held captive but that she’s scared if she tells them what happened it will get her friends killed. She tells him that if she told him anything near the truth it would get her locked up. This guy, there’s something, it is like he knows more, he says he understands more than she’ll know. Was he a subject once? He tells her to take her time to recover, but she says she cannot do that.
The OA explains on night five to the Crestwood 5 that Khatun had given her a gift, she could feel it in her muscles. Hap takes her upstairs, you can see that it hurts every part of Homer’s body that he can’t stop him from taking her away. Hap fits some electrodes to her and asks her to answer some questions about her recent NDE. She cannot explain to him what happened so he asks her a series of questions. Interestingly one of his questions is “Is there a lot of blue?” to which she replies no. She’s not lying, I suppose this is something he has had the answer ‘yes’ to a lot otherwise he wouldn’t have asked? but it’s purple that The OA sees, or at least variations of. Hap is ecstatic to learn that she wasn’t alone there, that she chose to come back, to step away from the peace she found herself in, that she saw her father, who for the first time she admits out loud, is dead. He was exactly as she remembered him, it was her that had changed.
From Hap’s questions, The OA knows that he is nowhere near figuring anything out and that’s not a good thing. The less he knows, the longer they will be there. They hatch a plan for Homer and Scott to breathe in the gas from her glass box when it comes so that she is still awake when Hap takes her. Scott really does not want to be part of this plan, he is worried about taking in too much of the gas into his lungs, as he is very ill. He lifts his shirt to reveal sores, quite probably Kaposi’s Sarcoma, a complication from AIDS. Whilst this is not specifically stated it is likely considering his drug addiction and the fact that he is becoming progressively ill as time goes on. Would he have survived down there in those conditions and without medication for so long? Maybe not, but we all know these four people are special.
Rachel thinks he can be healed like Prairie’s sight came back but Scott is not convinced. So Homer steps up to the task. Rachel and Prairie agree to breathe in the gas meant for him so that he can find out what Hap’s experiment entails. But things didn’t work out quite as they had hoped. It was a month before Hap came for Homer with the gas. Prairie and Rachel did their best to suck it away from his cell, but it took them out, quickly and took out Homer too. All Scott could do was watch. Hap takes Homer away, he doesn’t appear to notice Prairie and Rachel passed out. Rachel had fallen quite badly off her bed and was out cold. Prairie peeps at Scott, he thinks she’s giving him grief, blaming him for not taking this on, but actually they struck gold. It soon becomes clear that the gas does not knock them out, but it makes them compliant. He can order Prairie to stand up, lie down, suck her thumb and she will do it.
It takes them three years to finally get this plan perfectly poised. The girls take the gas, wrapped in blankets and positioned perfectly not to fall. Homer pretends to be compliant under the gas. Hap straps him into a mechanism, lubricates his head, pulls a neck brace over him and then a glass tank over his head. But every time the tank gets filled with water he cannot help but panic. This last time he tries though the others scream and shout from downstairs and disturb Hap whilst he is strapping Homer in. Whilst Hap is gone Homer takes the opportunity to run into Hap’s recording area and watch some videos he has made documenting his work and his discoveries about death. Homer finds a set of CD recordings for each of the four captives and listens to the most recent of his own. The sounds he hears of his own NDE we can assume, with a male voice asking him who he is. He says that he is Homer, but the other voice tells him he is not. So if he’s not Homer, who is he?
“He was killing us, over and over again. He was recording the soundscapes of our NDE’s, trying to map out what it is people call the other side. He did it for proof, he thought it would liberate people to know that death is not an end”.
Hap took Homer time and time again, and he got closer and closer but he never made it through the drowning, Hap always sensed his fear and gassed him directly. But Homer never gave up, and Prairie felt that sometimes he was doing it just for her, sometimes to spite Hap, sometimes just for himself.
He never gave up on his mission, and then one day he finally succeeded. He finds himself out of his body, crawling through a ceiling space of an unknown building, an arm grasps at him, then a spider crawls ahead. He drops through into the bathroom below, the urinals overflow. He gets up and runs around the corridors, someone is chasing him. He finds a room, a pentagonal aquarium is situated. He knows what to do, as the voices chasing him get louder he dives his hand in and takes out a sea creature and swallows it down. Upon his return to this life, he tells Prairie of his time whilst dead. He thought he was following a light, but it wasn’t, it was an actual place. He says that he doesn’t feel different like she did.
As she explains how the bird feels inside her like it’s waiting for him to find her, she tells him she has a name truer than Prairie, or Nina, that it sounds like ‘Away’ he repeats this with a smile, then she thinks more that it sounds like O A. Just saying this out loud puts Homer to sleep, but the movement has been awoken in him, his hands start shaking and his arms outstretched. They have learned the second movement.
What or how these movements will help them escape is anyone’s guess at this point, but they are on the right track, and we assume now that the four (five if Khatun is correct) of them will need to find their own movement from within their own NDE to defeat the evil.
Why was Homer’s NDE so different from Prairies? Hers was beautiful and peaceful, Homer’s was scary, and earthly, being hunted. Is this because he is not an angel like Prairie or because of the way he died was forced? Not a true death? Did swallowing the creature from within the aquarium have anything to do with him learning the movement or was it purely the OA’s whispered name that awoke it inside him? He had died so many times before, it could have been waiting, dormant inside him for years. He didn’t get the chance to choose whether to come back or not, he was yanked out of his death by Hap.
Of course, the aquarium must be a clue. Nina dreamed of them before her first death, she drowned and lost her sight inside an aquarium-like bus wreck. The aquarium Homer sees in his NDA is five-sided, just like the glass boxes they are kept in at Hap’s place. The fact that they all die by drowning in Hap’s experiment, a forced death by water — is this why Prairie chose to jump off the bridge in the first-ever scene? Why is the water so special, when her non-watery death brought her movement to her? We may discover more next week. Until then keep wondering.