Prairie Tales: An Odyssey (Series Review: “The OA”)

Image result for the oaA blind woman, missing for seven years, returns as mysteriously as she disappeared, bringing with her a strange tale that entangles five strangers into a complex secret pact. Meet The OA.


SnapShot Plot

This confounding, cosmic, sublime and transcendent 8-part series may first come across as a ‘typical’ sci-fi trope about long missing abductees returned to the world but transformed in some strange way from the people they were before . . . a kind of creepy catch-and-release sub-genre if you will. In The OA, there is certainly a story of abduction, but it’s embedded into a larger theme of Near Death Experience (NDE for short). According to some, there is anecdotal evidence of NDE imbuing people with musical, mathematical or linguistic talent who have never exhibited any such skill in their lifetimes.

This is the central hook in the series which was written/created by, and stars the ever-interesting Brit Marling (you may remember her from another NSP favorite, the Civil War-era feminist drama, The Keeping Room). She and her longtime friend and collaborator, Zal Batmangliij (The East) have created a central figure who carries the entire series on her slim shoulders, a kind of modern day Scheherazade character who galvanizes a small group of misunderstood neighborhood types to not only believe her winding and amazing tale but to join her on a dimension-bending mission of rescue. Her present name is Prairie Johnson, although she began as someone distinctly different from the Midwestern roots in which she was raised, and as she’s come to discover her true identity – her true purpose really – she knows herself only as the OA.



Parting Shot

Few original series have perplexed audiences as has The OA. And admittedly, there were moments that defied plausibility as well as some that challenged common sense. But all was forgiven for the pure, distilled essence at the heart of the story. The uncompromising message of Love, of Family, of Sacrifice in the face of unbelievable suffering . . . this is what propels Prairie’s story and what kept me on the edge of my seat. I’ve heard that the last episode of this first season had many people scratching their heads. Personally, I found it among the most emotional television I’ve ever seen. The magical and mysterious ties that bind the group are finally, beautifully demonstrated. And the rescue mission takes on its own new dimension, reverberating through past & present and continuing – we hope – into the future.

Season 1 of The OA is presently streaming on Netflix.

YouTube Trailer:


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