Angel of Death
The Medium & The Engineer
I’ll be the first to admit, I wasn’t 100% sold on the first season of The OA. With numerous questions left unanswered and an incredulous ending many felt was jarring and out of place, The OA’s first season felt anticlimactic and a little disappointing. Following its cliffhanger ending, The OA returns with more questions answered, addressing a lot of the plot points from the first season, while aligning all the pieces a little clearer than before. With solid writing and a much better pacing this time out, at least in the first half, The OA manages to improve substantially over its first season.
The story here begins with a pretty long prologue involving a new protagonist, Karim Washington. After experiencing a strange, lucid dream, he begins investigating a case about a missing girl named Michelle. This leads him to discover a strange new puzzle game on mobiles that transcends the boundaries of the digital world and spills over into the real world.
This leads us nicely up to scratch with The OA, who has successfully jumped dimensions and everything has been turned upside down. As she struggles to make sense of it all, new layers of the game unfold as the investigation into finding Michelle eventually leads Karim and Prairie to team up and try to solve the game. Of course, things aren’t as simple as they first appear and a menacing face from the past returns, going by the name of Dr. Percy. For spoiler purposes we won’t reveal who it is but suffice to say this inclusion is certainly a welcome one and raises the stakes substantially.
Meanwhile, the kids and Betty try to track down The OA’s movements, leading them to a clinic out west where everything converges into one singular dance number and yet another cliffhanger ending.
While The OA continues to weave its layers of mystery, this time around there’s a real conscious effort to address a lot of the questions raised the first time. It actually gives the series much more leniency to dive deeper down the rabbit hole, as the shooting at the school, Prairie’s books and dimensional travel are all explained here in much more detail than before.
It’s worth noting too that The OA suffers the same problem a lot of other Netflix originals do. It does feel slightly overlong and with each episode at differing lengths, it’s ironically the shorter episodes that actually suffer. Early on, as questions are answered and new mysteries discovered, there’s a real ebb and flow to proceedings and the three separate story lines are interesting and progress forward at a decent pace. The final two penultimate episodes do feel a tad overlong though and especially the sixth, things screech to a halt, offsetting the pacing.
The OA has always had strong themes running through its series, which was my favourite part about it, and this time is no exception. Strong ideas around death, space, time and good and evil are explored, with this spilling over to more physical manifestations too. Some are obvious – water commonly used to show the depth of emotion a character is feeling – while others are a little more subtle. Some of this including colour of clothing and symbology.
If you were put off by the first season’s frustrating lack of closure, The OA Season 2 probably won’t scratch that itch. There’s certainly moments here that match the same incredulous, eyebrow raising moments as last year’s finale too. Seeing a physic octopus on stage being the most obvious example of this. While the second part does make a conscious effort to answer a lot of the questions it raised the first time around, it leaves things hanging on another cliffhanger and arguably more questions than before. With decent acting and strong themes throughout, The OA continues to be one of the most unusual and fascinating Netflix Originals and one that’s much improved this time around.