Welcome back to my weekly re-cap and analysis of The OA. This week, Brandon Perea who plays French tweeted that you should watch The OA with subtitles, you might learn some more – very interesting! Typically I have not done this so far in this series, but I suspect some of the things to watch out for are radio/TV segments playing in the background. In Episode 1 in the Johnson’s kitchen whilst Abel and Nancy speak to Prairie, the news tells a story of a woman named Elizabeth Smart who had been abducted, and that it is usually a family member found to be kidnapper, but in her case was not. Does this hint at the fact that Hap is a family member of The OA? Maybe even her father?
No he looks nothing like the Russian version of him that we saw, but he did tell her he was going to hide until it was safe. That he would recognise the sound of her playing violin in just 3 notes, which he did. Could her father be hiding in another body? Is this what he’s been working on all this time? Finding a way to protect his daughter by keeping her soul inside another human host body? Maybe inside a completely different universe?
Let’s crack on with Episode 5 to see if my theory holds any weight.
Hap arrives in Cuba, he has left Prairie and her ‘housemates’ to themselves. The mesmerizing sounds of Cuban guitar ring out in the air. Hap is on a mission, here to find the source of this melody, and take her back with him. For surely a sound this beautiful can only be made by an angel, even if he doesn’t know that. He watches her play in a bar. Renata, a white-suited beauty. Hap needs to have her.
Back at Hap’s home, underground, Prairie and Homer practice the movements that they have both learned during their recent NDE’s. Scott is starting to lose his mind knowing that Hap has gone, not knowing if he’s coming back, are they all going to starve to death there in front of each other? Rachel is sound asleep, doesn’t stir despite Scott trying to smash his way through the glass with his washtub. She’s been taken recently by Hap, Scott thinks he’s making the gas stronger and wonders if Rachel is storing a movement inside her too whilst she slumbers. Rachel continues to be the only one to wear black clothes where the others all wear purples, lilacs and greys. The plants in her cell are dead, unlike all the others. She really is apart from them but what this means I’m not sure. Could it be that Rachel is already dead? Already using a body that was not originally hers? Or she just isn’t an angel? If not, what is she?
Scott is not convinced about the movements, thinks they are just hallucinations, but he’ll learn the truth to that better than anyone. He tells Prairie that he liked her better when she was blind.
In Cuba Hap attends a party on a rooftop, waiting for his new prey. Renata approaches him, asks him something in Spanish, which is not translated with subtitles on. He tells her he does not speak Spanish, but he appears to understand and offers her a cigar, which he cuts and lights for her. She asks him if he’s a feminist, he replies that he likes symmetry. She tells him she noticed him at her concert, he’s surprised that she noticed anyone and she tells him that she only notices at the end, ‘like sleeping with a stranger, and asking their name on the way out’. To validate the intimacy. Or to invalidate it. There is definitely sexual chemistry between these two, but is Hap playing on this? Can he read people so well now that he knows exactly what their weakness is, what will draw them in, in Renata’s case, sex? He takes no time in telling her that he is aware of her father’s work, that he’s a scientist and that he’s acutely aware that her genius-level of guitar playing is nothing short of miraculous, and that he studies people just like her. It’s a simple scientific connection, explained by their travels through death. Hap tries his best to lure her to America with him, she wants to leave Cuba, she’s never left the island before, but she is not interested in taking part in his study. She wants to remain unknown, even to herself. His plan has failed this time for he’s not what she’s looking for, she prefers her men a lot younger than him.
Hap returns home and listens to the radio at his kitchen sink. Time to try out the subtitles:
Brian Greene: “We have found that what we have long thought to be everything is only a small part of a grander whole, only one piece of a much wider cosmos. And to really kind of communicate that idea we’ve introduced this new terminology that our universe is just one of many universes, populating, possibly, a grander multiverse”.
Terry Gross: “Then you’re on the verge of a scientific revolution”.
Brian Greene: “This would be, of course, a huge revolution. It’s a revolution in a way that would complete a meta-revolution that’s been in the making for five centuries. You know, a long time ago, we all know that we thought that the Earth was at the centre of everything. Then Copernicus comes along and we learn that, no the Earth is going around the Sun and then later we learn that the sun is one of many stars in our galaxy, one of hundreds of billions of stars in our galaxy. Then we learn that our galaxy is….”
So, if Brandon is to believed then what we hear may be of importance. Is this what NDE’s are? The soul travelling to other universes, and plonking itself inside a host body in the perfect hiding place?
Whilst Hap listens, he also notices his monitor screen of the cells in the cave below. The four captives are, in his eyes, doing some strange dance, he is intrigued. He asks them what they are doing, they say exercising. He knows that they’re not and threatens to find out in the only way he can, by gassing them. They begin to toy with him now, for once they have the power and it makes him visibly uneasy. Prairie starts to whistle, and the others join in. Hap circles their glass boxes, but it’s like he is the one caged now, he is the pacing lion and they are ogling him.
Rachel runs screaming up against her glass wall, banging for her life. She’s noticed someone on the CCTV monitor is at the front door. A lawman, the others all join in the yelling. Hap immediately puts on extremely loud heavy metal music to drown out their calls for help. He’s got it all planned out.
Hap answers the door to Stan the Sheriff who apologizes for just turning up there but there was no way to contact him by phone. We learn that Hap’s place is an old Mine, another hint to at least a link to Prairie’s father maybe. Hap is definitely panicked. There are a few things going on outside of his control, the Sheriff nosing around and his captives have a secret. But he catches a break. Stan reveals the reason why he’s there. His wife Evelyn has ALS. She’s completely trapped in her own body like she’s living in a cage. He shows Hap a picture of her on his cell phone. He wants Hap to help him, give him some hope.
Prairie and Homer are getting closer, they touch fingers through the glass. True love is forming and Hap does not like it at all. Is this jealousy because he wants Prairie for himself, or is it more like fatherly overprotection, not wanting his daughter to get with the high school jock, a guy that he thinks is a bit of a loser? A plan starts to form – he wants Renata as part of his study, Renata wants a young man to sleep with. He might just have the perfect person for that role.
Prairie arrives home after telling her story at the house. Nancy stands at the kitchen window, washing dishes. She’s upset. I’m guessing because she doesn’t understand her daughters need to leave her every night.
Mrs Broderick-Allen (BBA) listens to the radio – and this may be of significance. The news reporter tells that “Police say seven people were killed after a shooter opened fire inside a shopping mall on Tuesday evening. Authorities are searching for the suspected shooter, whom they say left the scene before the police arrived. He was last seen walking towards….” and then it becomes incoherent. Not so strange to hear this kind of news story on the radio in America sadly, but this being the OA there is a reason for it, why do we need to know? What is it setting us up for?
BBA looks at herself in the mirror post-shower. She sighs whilst pushing the excess skin of her chin back and then the movement, it comes to her, she reaches her arm out then notices her porcelain angel ornament with a smile. The OA is having an effect on them for sure, but is this another reason why they have all been chosen, because they are all so vulnerable? They all need something to have faith in, to stop them feeling so very alone, is The OA really helping them or using them? Some may say she’s like a cult leader.
At school the Crestwood Five eat lunch and discuss the previous night’s events and ponder what will happen next, to Homer. French still appears to be the least believing of the five of them, thinking that when Homer’s story comes to an end, so will the OA’s. The other’s seem disappointed at what this could mean in reality, they don’t want this story to end, they are part of something now. The Principal watches the group from afar, wondering why BBA is making time for these kids. He suspicious nature makes him someone to be suspicious of. Why does he care if one of his teachers is trying to help the misfits? Surely that’s a good thing?
The OA meets with the FBI Psychologist. They discuss her training herself mentally for her mission. He wants to know why the FBI can’t help her with it, to find the other captives. She tells them that they are gone, he asks if she means passed, and she says no. Off the board. So this multi-universe theory might be coming into play here. Where does she think Homer and her friends really are? Where does she think she is now? It seems that she is very aware of what has happened to her or what has happened to them and the movements are part of that puzzle. She wants to be off the board too. But yet she worries that she imagined it all. The evidence is there from her dental records, the copper in the scars on her back. that she did not, but that only proves she was held captive, or she hid herself well. The psychologist is reassuring her but can he be trusted? Does he have a bigger game plan too?
It’s French’s scholarship dinner, and Buck gets to be the lead singer in the choir now, it seems that Steven punching the original soloist in the throat accidentally benefitted his new friend. Buck sings ‘Better Man’ the Pearl Jam song, the words again, “She dreams in colour, she dreams in red, can’t find a better man” ring out in a room of chattering, laughing old boys. They big up French but he’s not really interested in their conversation. He’s worried about where his mother has gone. He finds her outside drinking and smoking with another pupils father. Her behaviour is not appropriate for an event of such high importance for her son’s future. They argue and she tells him she had dreams like his, that she lived in Paris but now she’s here with him as if that’s the worst fate she could imagine, it’s not easy for French to hear. But whilst she is in some ways cruel, she actually comes out with the most compassionate advice, that he doesn’t need the ‘medal’ of a scholarship to be the man that he is and will be.
Buck and French deliver his drunken mother home and make their way to the abandoned house, discussing Hap on the way there. French wonders when Hap became the man that he is now, that he was a teenager like them once, could they turn out to be someone like Hap? French looks up at the apartment windows beside him and seems to notice, it’s like they are duplicates of each other, bathed in a lilac light. Like mirror dimensions.
Hap has taken Homer now, on his plane heading for Cuba. Homer awakes mid-flight and finds the sunlight after all these years in the dark hard to bear. Hap tells him he has a job for him and warns him that if he does anything his friends still held captive will die of starvation. He also has a microphone sewn into his shirt. Homer sobs in the shower, the horror and despair of still being hostage but out in the real world. Not knowing what to do, can he alert anyone? Where would he tell them his friends are? Also, the joy of feeling a real hot shower after all this time but knowing his friends are not receiving the same treatment. He smashes his head against the shower tile a few times, but cannot go further with his self-harming attempt, his head is cut open now. He decides to make a run for it, whilst Hap is at his desk he sneaks out, unthreads the microphone from his shirt hem, and runs through the corridors of the hotel. It is very much like his last NDE, the feeling of being chased. In the hotel lobby, everyone stares at him as he runs, wet and half-dressed. He asks the receptionist for help, to call the police but it looks like Hap has everything set up should he try to escape. Security arrives and the other guests look on. This scene reminds me of the film, ‘The Game’ with Michael Douglas, at the end where it turns out everyone he’d met was playing an acting part in this dreadful trick.
He leaves the hotel but only gets halfway down the street before Hap accosts him. He had told the hotel staff that Homer was his son, the golden boy with brain damage from a football injury. Hap is back in control. They eat a meal at the same place Hap visited before. Renata joins the stage, Homer is mesmerised and she notices him way before the end of her performance.
Hap’s plan is set in motion. Renata likes handsome young men, Homer barely needed to do anything at all to get her back to his room. She asks his age, he doesn’t know the answer. She touches his shoulder and its the first human touch he has felt in many years, he can barely handle the sensation. He tells her she should go, but she’s intrigued now. They kiss, Hap creeps into the room, a mask in his hand hissing quietly with gas. He sees the look on Homer’s face and decides to leave them to it. Was this an act of kindness towards Homer? To allow him to feel human touch, to feel pleasure and passion that he must have longed for, for so long, not even having privacy to dream alone. Longed for with Prairie right next to him but a world apart. The microphone picks up the sounds of their passion. In an act of true cruelty, Hap plays the sounds into the cells where Prairie is exercising. She drops to the ground with devastation. She hears him tell Renata she’s an angel. But all Prairie cares about is that he’s alive. It must have hurt so bad, but she was wise enough to know that this was Hap’s doing. The playing of the sounds was an attempt by Hap to break the bond between them, the stop the threat against him, to drive a wedge, to hurt her, to make her love him even.
French is appalled that Homer could do this to OA, but she makes him understand that captivity is so much more than just not being able to see the ocean. Hap succeeded in kidnapping Renata and bringing her back to his home. She, of course, blames Homer for partaking in this terrible scheme. Hap broke them all. Homer obviously feels overwhelmingly guilty for doing this to her knowing that he’s putting her in the awful place he’s been for years, both physically and mentally. OA finds it hard at first totally forgives Homer, which is probably more proof than anything that she is an actual angel, for to be held captive now with the woman who the man you love just had wildly passionate sex with and lured her into the same misery as them is pretty damn unforgivable. But she understands, nothing is as black and white as it seems. Rachel helps her see that this is not Homer’s fault.
The gas starts to pour into Scott’s cell, but the tube is broken. He tells the others that next time Hap comes for him, he’s not coming back, he’s too sick. Hap does take him and Scott is scared. Really scared of this death being his last. He is cowardly yes, as he sells out his friends to Hap, telling him he has information. Scott chooses to stay awake this time, no gas. Hap lubes him up and Scott tells him that Homer and Prairie are practising movements all night long, that will open a celestial door, a portal to escape through. She thinks they are angels. Hap doesn’t seem that interested.
The glass cylinder closes over his head, he begs to be let out but Hap isn’t having any of it. The water floods in, and in a panic Scott tells him the biggest secret of all. Prairie can see. Scott tells him that just because she doesn’t love Homer it doesn’t mean that she’ll ever love a monster like him. Hap feels very betrayed, and he knows that Scott is right. “You know what she calls you!” Scott shrieks, “The angel hunter!” Hap is aggravated and presses the button shooting spokes into the ears of Scott’s water immersed head. They go in too far, his eardrums pop. Scott is dead.
Scott’s NDE is like a display of beautiful golden and purple fireworks, but they drift away. Did he choose to stay in the better place this time? Hap delivers his bloody body back to his cell, dumps him on the floor and tells OA that this is her fault for lying to him. Scott’s body looks like Christ nailed to the cross. Wrapped in a loincloth, his dreadlocked hair like a crown of thorns, legs bent, palms outstretched. She could have rolled over and died herself at this point, but no, she finds an inner strength, that beautiful bird inside her chirps and begins the movements. She knows what they are for now. Homer joins in, much to her surprise and anger at first. The movements are like a language, a hissing argument, he begs his forgiveness, she shows him how upset she is, but then it changes, into a rhythmic dance of togetherness. A violet light covers them all until they are in pitch black. Rachel and Renata watch on, but with little hope.
Hap has not broken them after all, true love is stronger than that. They do this dance for hours and hours through the night with no letup. Morning comes and a miracle happens. Scott’s blood starts to travel back in time, back inside his bleeding ears. He takes a huge gasp of breath. He’s resurrected. “You were right!” he laughs at OA, “there are movements, five of them and you need five people, at least, the movements, they do things that we can’t imagine. Five movements open a tunnel to another dimension. Our freedom. I have the third movement”.
Back at the house, OA tells the Crestwood Five that this is what they are there for. To learn the movements and save her friends. “We’re going to open a tunnel to another dimension, I will travel there and rescue them”.
So now we know right? It’s all pretty straight forward as far as dimension-hopping goes, or is it? Scott was dead for a long time. He spent a long time learning in his NDE, enough time to discover his movement, the reason for them all to be played out together. Individually the movements must have a smaller power, the two known by OA and Homer were enough to bring someone back from the dead.
Hap is obviously overjoyed that this has happened during his study and of course with the gas he can whittle the truth out of them all, but what will he do with that information? His aim now surely will be for Rachel and Renata to find their movements, so they are in for a rough time ahead. The five can’t possibly keep the truth from him now can they? Scott smiles up at Hap when he sees him. There’s a definite look of ‘fuck you’ about it, but also a sense of thanks. Without Hap killing him, without his emotions getting in the way, Scott wouldn’t have learned the third movement. If Scott hadn’t died OA and Homer would not have bonded in such an extraordinary manner. Their love is strong, they may not be able to touch, they may be kept apart by a screen which may as well make them a million miles apart but it’s real, and she will do whatever it takes to save him.