Episode 1 “Homecoming”
What is The OA? A better question is who? Netflix’s new original show promises a sci-fi and fantasy mix that should appeal to fans of The Returned or Stranger Things. The OA pulses with a quiet intensity, which may not be for everyone. An unidentified woman (Brit Marling) is caught on a cell phone jumping off a bridge. She later wakes in a hospital, and is identified as the missing girl, Prairie Johnson. Seven years after her disappearance, she has a strange scar on her back, mysterious powers, and isn’t blind anymore.
She refuses to tell anyone where she was, or how she got her sight back. So, her homecoming is difficult. Her parents, played by Alice Krige and Scott Wilson, struggle with connecting to and protecting their daughter. Was this alien abduction, a cult, or a rift in the time-space continuum? Prairie says she wasn’t kidnapped; she just left home one day, and was picked up by some woman. She says her jump off the bridge was an attempt to find the people who she was with. Oh yeah, she also doesn’t call herself Prairie anymore, she now goes by, The OA.
OA talks vaguely of this dimension’s sickness and being true to your invisible self. Which seems mysterious for the sake of it. While referring to yourself as an entity is a little annoying, Marling is assured and not overly delicate. Thankfully, The OA doesn’t dwell in the mystery of the premise too long. As soon as she meets the local teenage bully/sociopath-in-training Steve (Patrick Gibson), she recruits him, and four other people, to help her find someone named Homer Roberts. But first, she tells a story.
OA was not born Prairie Johnson. She was born the scion of a Russian miner. When she was seven, she, and her other rich classmates, almost drowned in a bus accident. She was saved by a woman who exists, possibly, in another dimension. In exchange for going back, the woman took young OA’s sight. Who was this woman? Who is Homer Roberts? How did young OA become Prairie Johnson?
Brit Marling, one half the show’s creator, writer, and producer, is an assured lead. And doesn’t act with any contrived fragility, kind of like a grown-up Eleven. Looking forward to uncovering the mysteries.