So here we are at the end of Series 1. We left off last week with Steve almost being incarcerated in his own version of hell, saved by BBA. Hap, and his prisoners we did not see in Episode 7, so we were still waiting to find out whether he’s about to go down. The Sheriff’s gun is still pointing at his head.
Of course, Hap is fully aware of Stan the Sheriff’s weakness. His wife, dying a slow, painful death of ALS, a prisoner in her own body. He offers him her saviour. His subjects can restore her back to health. Hap repeats the words of his now dead mentor, Leon, “You know as well as I do that there’s no such thing as good and evil, black and white, there’s only grey. There’s only what a man can stand”.
This appears to have convinced Stan, that and the true love for his wife. He takes Evelyn back to Hap’s place from his house. At gunpoint he is led to down to the Captives, who at this sight are understandably overjoyed, they think their freedom is here. But alas no, Hap leads Stan to Homer and The OA tells them that their services are required to save his wife’s life.
They are led to the twisted body of Evelyn lying in a bed. Hap locks them in the room with her, ordering them to save her. This is the first time Homer and The OA have been in the same breathing space, the first time they can touch and taste each other, after years of being in love, so close but a world apart, perhaps the greatest torment of all.
Homer hatches a plan, to pretend that they are doing the movements, but do it not quite right. He thinks that if it doesn’t work the Sheriff will get annoyed with Hap and take him in. It is the humanity of Evelyn that convinces them otherwise. She sneezes, her pitiful contoured face stabs their hearts. What sort of angels would they be if they didn’t help the sick, but chose their own saviour?
They begin the movements. They still haven’t touched, the electricity between them is saved for Evelyn. The lights begin to flicker, it’s working. As they get deeper into the movements, Evelyn suddenly slaps her hand into the OA’s. “You’re here, you’re finally here” she gasps. “I need to tell you a story about when I was a little girl, I was out swimming in the waves and I got lost, they were too big and I felt myself go under and it got so dark and black and cold and then suddenly I was outside of my body, and there was a small white light, and I moved towards it, and at the centre of that light was a little girl, and the little girl said, ‘one day you will help two captive angels. It will be very hard, it will be very painful, but you must stay alive and give this to them’ and a white moth flew from her mouth into mine. I swallowed it, I have held it inside me waiting for you to come. Would you like to know what it is? Come closer”
Evelyn reveals the fifth movement to them. Stan in his shock of her moving runs off to the room, leaving his pistol behind. Hap has cocked the gun and the fifth movement though. Homer and The OA embrace for the first time, Stan enters and embraces his wife, a room full of love. The love of Stan and Evelyn is snuffed out with one shot. One bullet kills them both. Together in the afterlife at least.
The OA and Homer were given a prize for helping Evelyn; if they hadn’t chosen her life over theirs they wouldn’t have received the fifth movement, but now there is another obstacle in their path: Hap. He points the gun at Homer and tells her to move away from him, to not touch him. She flees to save his life. No sooner were they together, they were ripped apart again. She passes out and finds herself waking in the back of a car.
Hap stops at the side of the road and drags her out of the car onto the grass. She feels a knife against her throat. Hap tells her he has Homer and the fifth movement, he doesn’t need her. He’s bitter that she doesn’t love him, that she chose the boy Homer, the wolf, over the mad scientist. His delusions of grandeur now overtake everything. He might have the answers the world wants to know but he can’t have her. So he will reject her. Hap leaves her, alone, helpless. She chases after his car but cannot keep up. She knows now that he will take the others away, to another dimension. She will lose her love once again.
As she tells the story to the Crestwood Five, their faces full of emotion and heartbreak for her. There is a rumbling. In come the parents of the tribe. Nancy covers the OA with a coat and leads her away. She appears devastated; she’s lost them right at the end. It’s almost as if the strength to carry on, get over another obstacle is just too much.
The Johnsons try to make peace with the other parents but are banished away from their homes. French does reach out to them however. Tells them that he is going to help their daughter, that he believes her story. Nancy is upset that her daughter chose to tell him, a stranger, over them.
The Johnsons leave their home amongst a scramble of reporters. Abel and Nancy take their daughter to the City. They stay at a hotel. Abel is devastated; this kind of stress is not good nor expected at his age. The OA feels their pain now and begins to tell them what happened to her. It’s all they wanted to know. Nancy is so relieved at knowing that she admits to her husband that Prairie did leave a note. She didn’t tell Abel because the typed note, from when she couldn’t see, read that she was going to search for her father. Nancy hadn’t wanted him to get upset about that, as he was her father, but Abel is understandably horrified that she knew all along and didn’t tell him. That all this time she had purposely run away and was quite possibly safe. Even though she had been abducted, she had intended to leave. Nancy argues that if she had told the police she left a note they wouldn’t have looked for her, which may be true; she was an adult when she left, but she was also blind. They would surely have had a duty of care to a blind woman making her own way to New York and she would have been pretty easy to spot. Abel is hurt by her deception, that he wasn’t able to be a part of the decision-making process.
Nancy tells Abel that she feels this was all her fault because she chose Prairie over the little boy at the whorehouse that day. She thought because she was blind, she would need her forever.
Whilst her parents are gone from the hotel room, The OA attempts to call her friends back in Crestwood but realises that she knows very little about them so cannot tell the operator enough to get hold of them. She is alone and with little hope again. At school French and Steven research further, looking for evidence, a way to find the remaining captives. They try the ALS society looking for Evelyn, and find a Scott Browning but not the right one. Steve googles ‘anesthesiologist pilot’ and the first listing is interesting. ‘Airplane Amnesia’ a novel about the perils of a plane crew caught in the Bermuda Triangle with no memory of how they got there. The shot of the screen lingers long enough on the return results that there must be something of importance here. Nothing we see in the OA is without good reason.
Then French does it. He searches for something on YouTube and finds Prairie, playing her violin in the New York subway. They know she’s telling the truth now. But who was watching and filming her? Maybe just a tourist; the video posted has Japanese titles.
French jogs through the neighbourhood at night and notices the Johnson’s house and decides then to climb in through the window, looking for something more. He knows the family aren’t there. He searches The OA’s room, through her dolls, sees her violin, and then notices the lilac arm of the wolf hoodie underneath her bed. He pulls it out and finds a box of books, recently bought. The first is ‘Oligarchs’, second, ‘Encyclopaedia of Near-Death Experiences, then ‘The Book of Angels’ and lastly, ‘The Iliad’ by the author, Homer. French is mortified. He believes that she now made everything up. That this was all stuff she read in books and made into some fantasy tale for them all. She is insane, or a liar, or both. He needs water, to deal with the panic. He looks at his reflection in the bathroom mirror and the face staring back at him is Homer’s.
Is this the realisation that he has been a prop, that he was her imagining of Homer all along? He paws the cut on his head from his fight with Steve, realising that Homer’s head wound from his trip to Cuba would’ve been in the same place. Did she just make it all up as she went along, taking from what she saw in real life and applying it to her story? He tries to leave the house but is stopped, curiously, by Rahim, the FBI psychologist. What is he doing there?
The two talk, figure out who each other are. Rahim knows that he is one of the boys she talks about to him, but it is clear he knows nothing about the mine, about Hap, any of the NDE’s. This convinces French that it’s all lie. Rahim tells him that he did a good job, that they took on her trauma, secondhand and it helped her survive. Rahim consoles French, lets him believe that it was all lies. Was it? Does Rahim believe it’s all a fantasy too? Or can he not be trusted?
Let’s look at this. The books found under her bed, did she really put them there? Would she really have hidden them in her precious hoodie, the one that reminded her of Homer and made her smile for the first time in years? She never told Rahim her story, but what if he already knew? The ‘Rachel’ braille on the wall, a clue that perhaps Rahim already knows – did Rachel escape earlier and tell the tale? Is Rahim in on the whole thing with Hap? Is the government in on the whole thing?
French breaks the news to the others that this was all just made up. Shows them the books. They are devastated, feel that they have been played for fools.
A short time passes, Prairie/The OA lives back home with Abel and Nancy. She plants pretty lilac flowers in the garden, a hint that she is still perhaps believing of her story, even if no-one else is. She is medicated again and she wears an electronic tag around her ankle. BBA has lost her job. Principal Gilchrist monitors her whilst she packs up her stuff. You notice now just how much purple there is everywhere, in her classroom, throughout the school. She’s ok, she seems quite happy to be leaving, that she’s going to leave the town completely.
We are starting to sense now that something is happening, somewhere, tension starts to build. French makes his way to the school cafeteria, a huge glass building with purple painted windows, an angels wings displayed for those outside to see clearly. This is the place in The OA’s premonition surely, the glass, the sound of cutlery jostling. French notices the wind rustling in the trees ahead of him, he senses something is happening too.
The Crestwood Five aren’t buddies anymore, what brought them together also tore them apart. They have gone back to their old friends. French with the Jocks, Jesse with the Stoners. They sit apart in the canteen. Steve is with Angie now, the girl he met his match with and they are happy; it is good to see. Buck sits amongst friends, studiously, but looking out of place and uncomfortable.
The OA falls asleep in the tub, the water milky white. She dreams again, her nose bleeds. She awakes with a gasp; she knows what she has to do. She dons the wolf hoodie and runs. Runs and runs as fast as she can, Abel lets her pass; he has faith in her vision.
In the canteen, Jesse’s stoner buddy notices someone coming in the distance outside. His face glitches a little as we focus on the fear overcoming him. Like there’s a ripple in the dimensions almost. What does this glitch mean, if anything? Is the same thing happening at the same time in another dimension right next to ours? Are the paths forking, even crossing over one another?
A young brown-haired lad walks towards them, wearing a bulletproof vest, armoured up with an assault rifle. Shots start to ring out. Chaos ensues as the school kids panic and try to take cover under the food tables or run away.
Principal Gilchrist ushers some kids out of the school, comes across BBA in the hallway and asks her to leave with him, he’s leaving his pupils behind to fend for themselves in amongst a school shooting. Betty cannot do that, in one of the most heart-wrenching moments of the series, Betty drops her possessions, exclaims, “Oh my god no, my boys!” and she runs towards the danger, to help her tribe.
The gunman enters the cafeteria, the screams of students ring out. The four boys, all taking cover on the floor clock each other, and Betty’s arrival in the hall. They know what they have to do. Their bond is not broken. With a nod they leap to their feet as the gunman approaches, they begin the movements. I’m not ashamed to say I cried. It’s a cheesy and a bit ridiculous, yes, but powerful moment. The OA arrives outside, she watches through the glass. Their dance may have done nothing but baffle the gunman, but it works. It occupies him long enough for a male kitchen staff member (who looks a lot like Hap but isn’t Hap) to run at him and knock him to the floor. Shots ring out, but he gunman has been diffused. They did it. They saved so many lives.
The wind rustles through the trees outside. The five notice The OA outside, she’s clutching at her heart but with a look of relief on her face. She has been shot. The glass has cracked in a star shape, the bullet will have torn through the wolf head she bears on her chest, and into her heart. As she’s stretchered away, she tells her friends, “You did it, don’t you see? I have the will. Can’t you feel it?”
Steve hears it, the whooshing sound of her soul leaving her body. She’s gone. She’s gone to find Homer. Steve chases after the ambulance, he knows what’s happening and calls out, ‘Angel, take me with you!”
The final words are OA’s. “They said it would be invisible. Like jumping into an invisible current that just… carries you away”. She wakes up in a white room. “Homer?”
So it worked? And she was telling the truth? There is a lot of mystery left to unravel. We don’t know where she woke up, in our world or somewhere new. We don’t even know for sure that Hap got the others to move to another dimension. She may be looking in the wrong place, but wherever she is she may have found her man.
Rahim’s part in all this is suspect. I believe he planted the books to put the Crestwood Five off the scent, but it didn’t work, their bond was stronger than he could ever have imagined. What will happen to them now? Will they search for her, Steve wants to chase after her, will he be the hero of Series 2?
Season 2 is being filmed now. We don’t know a release date yet but we do have a trailer. It’s only a few seconds long but it tells a little. The braille reads, ‘Survive’ and the tagline for the series is ‘Something Always Survives’, so we can guess that The OA made it to another dimension. There are shots of a bridge, then the bridge upside down, and then two close together. Considering she started Season 1 by jumping off a bridge, it makes me wonder how many times she has done this?
The world that we have watched, with the Crestwood Five in, is this just one of many trips she has already made in the search for Homer? It’s a fair assumption to make that to travel through that dimensional river you have to die, and it’s from within that NDE that the crossing is made. We also know that travelling this way can cause amnesia. Has she forgotten she’s done this already? Will the next story start with another leap of faith? She never forgets what her mission is: to find Homer. She loves him so much she would travel through dimensions to find him, a love so strong it’s worth fighting for. Why should they be kept apart? Is there more to Hap’s desperate need for them not to touch than jealousy and bitterness? What does he hear in their NDE’s we don’t know about?
I look forward to catching up with you all again when The OA returns later this year, with some more analysis. Until then, may the angels watch over you.