- The first season of Netflix’s drama series “The OA” ended on a controversial and divisive note.
- The new season (“Part II”) starts out extremely strong, with three episodes that are better than anything we saw from the first season.
- But the show takes a turn into mystifying science fiction that is sure to leave people once again debating its brilliance and strangeness.
- “The OA Part II” premieres on Friday, March 22.
Late in 2016, Netflix surprised everyone by dropping a brand new series called “The OA.” With Brad Pitt on the list of producers and a mesmerizing trailer about a missing blind girl who is found with her sight fully intact, buzz quickly grew around the series.
But those who tuned into the sci-fi series often found themselves in one of two camps: Either “The OA” was one of the most profound and unexpected TV shows they’d seen in a long time, or they thought it was completely absurd and a waste of time.
After reviewing six of the eight episodes which make up “The OA Part II,” INSIDER can confidently say those feelings are bound to be exacerbated by the new storyline. The series’ risky and experimental narrative choices are both expanded upon and made more grounded on its second season.
Why you should care: “The OA” is one of the most compelling and unique Netflix original series ever made.
If only to be in on the conversation, “The OA” is worth watching. But beyond that, it has more than earned its unique place in the Netflix catalogue.
Co-creators of the series Brit Marling (who also serves as the show’s star) and Zal Batmanglij have crafted a compelling sci-fi series that defies normal expectations of a TV show. It’s a quirky indie movie and a Russian mob drama and murder mystery and kidnapping story and trippy story of angels all rolled into one. And that’s just season one.
The second season turns into a missing persons hunt combined with the exploration of inter-dimensional travel, a Silicon Valley tech startup billionaire, dream mapping, and a “haunted” house.
What’s hot: A fantastic new character and satisfying answers to questions.
The second season kicks off with the introduction of a new character named Karim Washington, a private investigator living in San Francisco. Played by Kingsley Ben-Adir, Karim is brilliant addition to the lineup of characters and a perfect conduit into the new California setting of “The OA Part II.”
From the start, new mysteries are introduced. But for each new branch of the unknown, we are given an answer to ambiguous plotlines from the first season.
The show’s internal lore and world-building expands as the season progresses, telling us more about inter-dimensional travel while also revealing a bigger (and more bizarre) picture.
With bottle episodes and new threads to follow, fans of the first season will find themselves easily sucked back into the saga of Prairie Johnson, aka the Original Angel (OA).
What’s not: The story takes a distressing turn towards over-the-top sci-fi and triggering realistic trauma.
Without getting into spoiler territory, we’ll just say that “The OA Part II” has a jarring set of events that veer into major head-scratching territory. There are times when Marling and Batmanglij are pushing our ability to be immersed in this fictional story by presenting new ideas or settings or twists that feel too far-fetched, even for a series about multiple dimensions and Near-Death Experiences (NDEs).
One of these is a new level of science fiction with an other-worldly character that came as a surprise and felt woefully under-explained.
But the other is potentially triggering for viewers.
Just as the school shooting at the end of the first season might have shocked fans, there is a subplot on season two that may bring up traumatic feelings for viewers. As the high school characters on “The OA” deal with their PTSD following the shooting, the show reaches an emotional pitch that left us distressed.
The bottom line: “The OA” is weird, endearing, magical, frustrating, and transcendent.
The swaths of brilliant writing, gorgeous direction and cinematography, and twisting puzzle-like storytelling of “The OA” remains as compelling as ever. “Part II” kicks off with the best three episodes of the entire series. Though the middle section of the season began to feel more off-the-rails, we are eager to see how the final two episodes shake down.
Marling and Batmanglij’s creative direction and supernatural world-building is certain to continue dividing viewers, and leaving us all wondering just what in the world(s) is going on inside their heads.
“The OA Part II” premieres on March 22. Watch the first full trailer here.