Where We Left Off With The OA, Netflix's Most Mysterious Show

Photo: Courtesy of Netflix.
Much like the OA (Brit Marling) herself, Netflix’s The OA is returning after a painfully long absence. The winding drama dominated the streaming discourse when it arrived, without notice, in December 2016. Then, it disappeared for over two years.
At last, the dimension-hopping sci-fi show will premiere its heavily hyped part II — rather than season 2 — on Friday, March 21. At face value, The OA, about a formerly blind woman who was held captive and experimented on for over seven years, is a show that creates a lot of baffling questions. When you add in the fact that most OA fans haven’t watched the series in years, the idea of keeping all those twists and turns straight for part II sounds impossible.
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Finale episode “Invisible Self” alone tossed out a time jump, a shocking school shooting, and a possible series-altering death.
We're going to make your imminent OA binge as east to understand as possible. Here is a full rundown of the biggest questions you’ll have during part II and their very comprehensive answers. You'll remember everything about the OA's journey, including the true meaning of those mysterious movements to the last known whereabouts of fan-favorite Homer Roberts (Emory Cohen).
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What’s going on with Prairie? Why does she go by "The OA"? Who is Nina? Are they all the same person?

Technically, these three names all belong to the same woman. But, due to a few major life events, Nina-Prairie-OA’s name changes. Let’s go through each persona.

Nina Azarov: The birth name of The OA’s main character. Nina was the only daughter of a wealthy Russian oligarch. A shadowy organization orchestrated a bus crash, which was meant to eliminate Nina and her school friends, who were also the children of rich Russians. Nina was the sole survivor of the attack, but lost her sight in the tragedy. Her father Roman (Nikolai Nikolaeff) sent the now-blind girl to America for her protection.

Prairie Johnson: Nina attended a posh American school for the blind, but was taken out of the program when her father allegedly died. Nina was then forced to live with her aunt, who ran a brothel out of her Brooklyn home. There, Nancy (Alice Krige) and Abel Johnson (Scott Wilson) found Nina and adopted her. Because Nina had eyes as “blue as the prairie sky,” as Nancy said, the Johnsons renamed their daughter Prairie and brought her home to Crestwood, MI.

The Johnsons tried to give Prairie the best life they could. However, during childhood, a doctor said Prairie had the early symptoms of serious mental illness. So, Prairie, who was prone to alleged premonitions and subsequent nosebleeds, was medicated for well over a decade.

The OA: Prairie ran away from home on her 21st birthday because she believed her biological father was waiting for her in New York. Instead, a doctor named Hunter Aloysius “Hap” Percy (Jason Isaacs) found Prairie and abducted her. In a nefarious study of near death experiences and the afterlife, Hap held Prairie captive, killing her and bringing her back to life countless times. There were four other individuals in the study, including Homer, with whom Prairie fell in love.

Once, Prairie attempted to escape Hap's prison and he hit her in the head, killing her. When Prairie came back to life, she had regained her sight.

During a death years later, Prairie was told she is “The OA,” or Original Angel. Her fellow captives are also angels who can use five cosmic movements to create portals and save lives. Prairie decided to let go of her former Midwestern persona in favor of this massive cosmic destiny and name.
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Who are the other captives, and where are they now?

OA’s final four fellow captives were Homer, a football star; Scott Brown (Will Brill), a man battling drug addiction; Rachel (Sharon Van Etten), whom many fans believe is in the FBI; and Renata (Paz Vega), a Cuban musician. Towards the end of the group’s time in captivity, they learn there are those aforementioned five cosmic movements. The five decide the movements will open a portal for escape. Unfortunately, Hap also learns these movements because he is monitoring the prison-basement.

Once Prairie and Homer learn the fifth movement from a dying woman, Hap gets rid of Prairie, leaving her on the side of the road. Then, he returns to his home to force the remaining four to do the movements with him, finally solving the mystery of their movements.

Because Prairie was set free by Hap, she has no idea where the five went. But, it is suggested they have entered another dimension.
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What are the movements? What is the most understandable theory about them?

In seventh episode “Forking Paths,” OA gives the best explanation possible of the movements’ purpose. She begins by revealing there are endless realities and dimensions existing on top of each other. “Every time you make a choice, a decision, it forks off into a new possibility,” OA tells her followers (more on them in a bit). Or, as Hap tells his co-conspirator Leon Citro (Michael Cumpsty) later in the episode, “Imagine a garden of forking paths.”

While all those alternate realities exist, they are “inaccessible” to the average human, according to OA. Near-death experiences are a way to travel through them for a few seconds (the scientific reason for this is unclear, but go with The OA here). “The movements would allow us to travel to a dimension permanently,” OA explains.

Here is a handy guide to completing the movements yourself. Khatun (Succession's Hiam Abbass) would approve.
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Who are Prairie’s followers?

We learn Prairie’s winding complicated tale through her nightly meetings with her five followers, whom she hopes will help her open the same movements-created portal. That way, she can find Homer. Let’s go through the quintet.

Steve Winchell (Patrick Gibson): A buff high school student trying to overcome the throes of toxic masculinity. While Steve definitely behaves like a bully, he’s working on kindness and emotional intelligence in private. Unfortunately, Steve's parents aren't privy to all of this internal growth, and try to send him to a boot camp called Asheville.

By the end of The OA part I, Steve has a girlfriend named Angie (Chloë Levine).

Betty Broderick-Allen, aka BBA (Phyllis Smith): A teacher at Crestwood High School (CHS) whose brother recently died. Betty starts going by BBA after joining OA’s group. BBA gave Asheville employees $50,000 to let Steve escape the program.

Buck Vu (Ian Alexander): A quiet boy at CHS who is transgender. Although Buck’s mother understands her son’s new identity, his father is publicly very resistant to his son’s coming out.

Jesse (Brendan Meyer): Steve’s friend whose mother is dead. Jesse’s father also abandoned the family.

Alfonso “French” Sosa (Brandon Perea): The one member of the group who seems to have it all figured out from the outside. French is a star athlete and student hiding a drug problem and his mother’s own addiction issues. French gets a college scholarship during part I, but it is unclear if his affiliation with OA put that opportunity in jeopardy.
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Should the five trust Prairie?

Great question. In finale “Invisible Self,” French finds a set of books that could easily be the real basis for Prairie’s nearly unbelievable stories. Homer’s The Iliad and nonfiction books on near-death experiences, Russian oligarchs, and angels are all in the set. Originaly, French and the three other teens in the group take the revelation as proof OA is lying.

Yet, when the school shooting occurs in the finale’s last scene, everyone is forced to reexamine their decision…
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What happened in the school shooting?

“Invisible Self” ends with an unexpected school shooting. OA has a premonition of the violence and runs to Crestwood High to stop it, which suggests she really can see the future. Inside of the school, her group chooses to face the mostly unseen gunman with the five movements, proving they are true believers. It is unclear if the group actually tapped into cosmic energy to fight the gunman, since a cook takes him down amid the modern dance-ish distraction.

However, OA is shot while the shooter is neutralized. In the ambulance, she seems to believe the group opened the portal with the movements, and she will find Homer now. Steve runs after OA’s ambulance, desperate to follow her into whatever dimension is next.

Also, it’s worth noting that a shooter who killed seven people in a shopping mall is mentioned in a local news report during fifth episode “Paradise.” At that point in The OA, the shooter is still on the loose.
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What are the final words of The OA part I?

“They said it would be… invisible. Like jumping into an invisible current that just... carries you away,” as OA says in voiceover as the sound of rushing water plays. This hints that OA did find the current, and has slipped into the next dimension — wherever that is.
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