WARNING, THIS CONTAINS SPOILERS.
The OA is one of the secret gems from Netflix this year. Bringing a little originality to the otherwise drug and crime-centric show and film scheduling.
The shows basis is simple, Prarie, a blind 21 year old, goes missing, and comes back 7 years later, with her sight. The entire season is the unraveling of her story, in all it’s impossibility and her quest to find Homer, the captive she fell in love with whilst discovering her true identity as The Original Angel (which although poignant, still feels a little cheesy.)
Half of each episode in the first five are taken up by flashbacks, which, at the beginning, had me groaning internally. Like with anime fillers, I didn’t want the entire story to be dragged out over 8 episodes when it could be explained in one. However by episode 5 I was less interested in the current day than those flashbacks, as the amazing visual story telling of Zal Batmanglij, paced to perfection instilled just the right amount of angst, rage, frustration, fear and most importantly belief in his viewers. But the current day story was still enticing, the story of 5 modern day teenagers, struggling with life while finding solace is the seemingly fantastical stories of Prarie, having lost her sight due to an incident with the Russian mob and a near death experience that will blow your mind, her being in hiding in America, losing her father while convinced he was still alive, being adopted and then medicated, until she ran away from home at 21 years old.
Then we reach the most unbelievable yet totally plausible part of the story when she’s kidnapped by a scientist investigating near death experiences, and stored in the most beautifully modern basement, with clear reinforced cubes, carved into a shale stone cave like structure. It is here that she regains her sight and she discovers her angel status and uses movements that remind me of a cross between Voguing and Finger Tutting, to bring a fellow angel back from the dead.
What annoys me about this show is it’s parallels to and earlier project by Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij called Sound of my voice, so this, for me, felt like Brit and Zal testing the waters with an evolution of a previous film in order to see if writing for television is a direction they want to go, spurred on my the fact that Netflix releases all of it’s episodes at once, so it’s almost like a 5-6 hour film.
I won’t spoil the ending for you but it did leave me feeling three things simultaneously. First, sad that it was over, second, respect for giving me an ending I couldn’t see coming from the beginning of the season (which is no small feat), and lastly, desperate (for a season two)
you should check it out.