Saturday, December 24, 2016

The OA - Homecoming / New Colossus

The first two episodes of the Netflix original series The OA introduce audiences to an unusual young woman named Prairie (Brit Marling). Reappearing after a seven-year absence, the oddest thing about Prairie isn't that she doesn't wish to discuss where she's been with her parents or the FBI but the fact that when she disappeared she was blind and now she can see. "Homecoming" has an awful lot of set-up as Prairie returns home, makes a few new friends in the high school bully Steve (Patrick Gibson), his teacher (Phyllis Smith), and three other lost souls who, along with Steve, come to an abandoned house to hear Prairie's story. The episode makes us wait until the final few minutes before revealing Prairie isn't her real name and the tragic accident which originally robbed her of her sight.

"New Colossus" continues Prairie's story, although we're given multiple interruptions with current storylines of the town including a reporter interested in telling Prairie's story (who it seems, like her parents and the authorities, doesn't measure up to the random standards of her five new friends who get to listen to the entire tale). The series' second episode also fills in a couple of large pieces of Prairie's life including how she ended up with Nancy (Alice Krige) and Abel (Scott Wilson) and the circumstances which led her to be locked in a cage for years by the demented Hap (Jason Isaacs) along with the scientist's other victims.

When the show stays focused on Prairie and her unusual story it works quite well. When the focus shifts to the supporting characters, her current relationship with her parents, Steve being a complete asshole, or French's (Brandon Perea) private life, the show looses steam and the tension it works so hard to slowly build. Marling, who also co-created the series, is certainly the highlight but the structure of show, to tease us with chunks of the story we want to see while dumping a large amount of less-interesting filler content, gets a little exasperating at times. While this leads to puzzling questions (what's up with needing 5 strangers, why must they leave their doors open when hearing her story, what's up with Prairie's bizarre visions, how did her sight get restored) it's also frustrating as you realize the structure of the show will only dole-out a minimal amount of answers in each episode.

No comments: