Are The Subjects In The OA Scared To Die?

Photo: Courtesy of Netflix.
Brit Marling's Netflix series The OA has raised more questions than it answers, which is frustrating for some and endlessly fascinating for others. We count ourselves among the latter category, if only because we love to speculate and debate about television shows. This morning, one coworker brought me a particularly delightful treat: a plot hole. It came to her in the shower, as all the best thoughts do. (Reddit has an entire thread dedicated to such brilliant brain babies.)

Why, she asked me, do the OA and Homer seem so scared of the sheriff's gun in the final episode? For background, the OA (Marling) and Homer (Emory Cohen) are about to touch each other for the first time after having healed Sheriff Markham's wife. The two are perilously close to touching — deliciously close to touching — before Hap (Jason Isaacs), their captor, unfurls a shotgun. Hap promptly kills Sheriff Markham (Robert Morgan) and his wife (Cynthia Mace) and brandishes the weapon at the OA and Homer.

"Get away," he hisses at his two subjects. "Don't touch him! Get away from him!"

And, lo and behold, they listen. Herein lies the question: Why are they scared of Hap's gun? The entire series subsists on the premise that these characters cannot die. Or rather, they can emerge from death relatively unscathed. Throughout the series, the OA and Homer die repeatedly. That's kind of the whole point of the show. So why would the threat of death, posed to them by Hap's handgun, be scary? If these two have died so many times, surely this time would be no different. They could just come right on back!

Of course, I may not understand the finer workings of this "NDE" stuff. Maybe, when Hap induces a Near Death Experience with his machinery, he's got special tools that allow him to pull his subjects back to the world of the living.

But the shower thought led me to this question: Are Hap's subjects scared of death? Is the OA scared of death? In the series, death is portrayed as a light-filled world with angels and stardust. (And possibly the rings of Saturn.) But is the idea of dying so inherently scary that even someone who's done it several times is still scared of it?

This is why The OA wins, despite its gaping mysteries. Because the show may be over, but I'm still sitting here, wondering if death is inherently scary. And, if you ask me, the best shows induce the best shower thoughts long after you've finished them.
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