Warning: Spoilers for The OA season 2 are ahead.
There are already a lot of surprises in Netflix’s The OA, but one of the biggest surprises happens during the first episode of the second season. After what is sure to be a doubletake from many viewers, yes — surprise! — that’s national treasure Zendaya. In a totally shocking and clearly insanely secretive casting movie, Zendaya landed a role in The OA Season 2. And since she’s a totally butterfly when it come to her roles, Zendaya is playing someone we’ve never seen her tackle before: A puzzle enthusiast in another dimension who is being summoned to a mysterious house in hopes of figuring out the meaning of life.
If you’re hoping that Zendaya’s character, Fola, takes center stage throughout the season, the bad news is that she’s only a supporting character for Season 2. But, she does offer some helpful advice to new series star Karim (Kingsley Ben-Adir), and seems to pop up at all the right moments to help him out. It’s then Karim who helps Zendaya out when he rescues her from the shady Nob House, but we’re already getting ahead of ourselves. Here’s what you need to know about Zendaya’s brand new OA character.
Who is Zendaya playing?
Zendaya is playing Fola. Not much is actually known about her character, even after her introduction into the show. Karim meets her as he’s searching for the missing girl, Michelle Vu, and stumbles upon Fola in a rundown house with a few other teenagers. They’re holed up there playing CURI’s augmented reality game, Symphony, and Fola is the only one willing — and almost eager – to talk to Karim.
So Fola is in the entire series?
Not exactly. She appears in the first, fifth, and seventh episode of The OA.
Warning: Spoilers get serious from here on out.
What’s Fola got to do with the puzzle?
When we first meet Fola, she’s sitting in front of some giant sculpture, that looks like it was made out of K’NEX toys (you know exactly the toy I’m talking about from the ‘90s). Upon a closer look, it’s a mockup of the curved, double sided stairs located inside the Nob House. Fola gives a big speech to Karim about the beauty of making a puzzle, and the connection a puzzle maker has between the puzzle and the solver — there is no winner or loser when it comes to puzzles, there’s only someone who succeeds in figuring it out, and someone who gets stuck trying to solve it. It’s incredibly heavy handed, and clearly alludes to the greater overall mystery of this season.
Fola is deep into the CURI game herself, and stars Karim on it. She takes him to a tiled staircase in San Francisco and shows him how the game works, helping him solve the first clue.
When do we see Fola again?
One of the storylines for Season 2 of The OA is about this mysterious house on Nob Hill, and the CURI game is supposed to prepare players to enter into it. So, Fola has clearly been preparing to enter into the house, and eventually she does.
During Episode 5, when Karim is trapped in the house himself, he comes across Fola sitting in the middle of an endless mirror infinity room. But, this isn’t the Fola we’ve seen before as she’s aged like, 80 years. She asks Karim where he’s been, and then suggests he “go deeper” into the house/puzzle. Karim, though, has different ideas and instead smashes through one of the mirror and he and Fola escape.
Man, such a bummer that Zendaya is now like 80 in the series
Not so fast! Once outside, Fola is splashed by a passing car and magically transforms back into her younger self. Maybe it was the water that did it (it’s unclearly if that’s the trigger, since it’s never outright explained, but this is what Hap’s doing with others), but the water definitely activates the “seed” inside her brain as it starts to emerge out of her ear before retreating back in. Karim takes her to the hospital where where she’s bedridden to recover, and Karim basically forbids her from entering the house again. Fola doesn’t take gently to this, and tells Karim that she’s eventually going back inside to figure it out.
Will Zendaya be in Season 3 of The OA?
The last time we see Fola she’s in the hospital, and she doesn’t appear in the season finale. By the end of that episode, we’ve already jumped to another dimension — but it doesn’t appear that Karim has left the current dimension. The Nob Hill house is more than likely going to continue to play a role in The OA going forward (since it’s, in the simplest terms possible, a viewing spot to see other dimensions... maybe), and since Fola has a connected to the house she could show up again.
It’s highly likely that Fola will return, since Zendaya is actually a huge fan of the show. According to Twitter, way back when the first season of the show dropped, Zendaya talked about her love for the show on her app. Let’s hope her enthusiasm for the show, and everyone’s reaction to Fola, brings her back for more.