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Everything You Need to Remember About The OA Season 1

Return to the first dimension before Part II

Amanda Bell

Warning: This post contains spoilers for the first season of The OA.

Even the biggest fans of Netflix's The OA can be forgiven for forgetting what happened in the first season. After all, it's been more than two years since the world was first introduced to Nina-slash-Prairie-slash-OA, and the show was wild and often hard to track even when it was new.

With The OA Part IIheading for its streaming debut this month, though, we revisited the first eight episodes of the series to create this refresher rundown to either (a) save you the streaming hours or (b) encourage your own re-binge.

Whatever you choose to do with it, here's what you need to remember about The OA Season 1.

Story time: Much of the first season centers on Prairie Johnson (Brit Marling) convincing her audience of five -- Steve (Patrick Gibson), French (Brandon Perea), Buck (Ian Alexander), Jesse (Brendan Meyer) and BBA a.k.a. Mrs. Betty Broderick-Allen (Phyllis Smith) -- and us at home that she is more than just your ordinary kidnapping victim-come-home. She is the OA, the Original Angel. They all join her cause for individual reasons, from bribery to boredom to sheer fascination with her weirdness, but Prairie's first task is to get them to invite her into their lives (hence, the open doors) and meet up with her at an abandoned old house to hear about her history ... and future plans. As outlandish as her stories are, these new pals need to believe her with every bone in their bodies for any of it to work.

The OA

The OA

Myles Aronowitz/Netflix

An inauspicious start: Prairie regales her new crew with her tale of being born to a Russian oligarch and becoming the target of a mafia assassination alongside her tiny school mates. After dying and choosing to return to this realm from Khatun's (Hiam Abbass) celestial hideaway, she loses her eyesight and is sent away to hide out in an American boarding school until her "Papa" (Nikolai Nikolaeff) can return to her. Then he also dies -- allegedly -- and she is adopted from her brothel-running, baby-trafficking aunt by her current parents, Abel (the late Scott Wilson) and Nancy (Alice Krige). As a teen, she remains convinced that "Papa" is simply in hiding, though, so she sneaks away to New York to try and attract his ear with her very signature violin skills in a busy subway -- only to catch the attention of a very different man altogether.

The evil genius: Hap (Jason Isaacs) is a former anesthesiologist who swears he once heard a patient's soul leave and return to its body and has dropped everything to study near-death experiences in his own remote lab. He promises Prairie she can be part of something special thanks to her own NDE, but once she arrives and hears the clink of the iron lock from her glass casing, she learns that she's made a grave mistake. She, alongside Homer (Emory Cohen), Scott (Will Brill), Rachel (Sharon Van Etten) and eventually Renata (Paz Vega), are all mere subjects in Hap's pursuit of the great beyond. For years, they are repeatedly gassed and drowned as the doc tries to gather hard evidence of their souls' adventures, no matter the cost.

The dance: OA and Homer slowly -- as in, over the course of several years -- fall in love and try to gain control over Hap's experiments. OA gains her sight back after one particularly violent death, and once they are able to face Hap's death induction process without that memory-wiping gas, OA and Homer learn five critical body motions that can be used to travel between dimensions in the multiverse. The moves are basically modern dance run amok, but they both take the stuff so very seriously, even if audiences at home can't help but chuckle. Before they can use the moves to escape, though, Hap throws OA to the side of the road, which is how she ends up back in her small town with the adoptive parents she doesn't really seem to love. OA is convinced that by teaching her five new friends to do the movies, she can dimension-hop her way back to Homer.

Hap's backup plan: After OA's rejection, Hap decides to use Homer as his new sidekick so that he can heal people for boatloads of cash the way his old mentor Leon would've and/or commit the dance to memory so that he, too, can travel to another parallel dimension. We don't know what path he chooses or what that means for Scott, Rachel and Renata. But considering how often he has reminded us that they'll starve without him, things look grim for the three left behind in the tank.

The OA

The OA

JoJo Whilden/Netflix

The big question mark: Prairie's fab five ultimately choose to believe in her, but they are certainly given cause not to. After their meetings of the midnight society are broken up by their concerned parents, they struggle to find proof of her story or the people within them. Meanwhile, Prairie's FBI counselor (Riz Ahmed) calls it all illusions of grandeur brought on by childhood trauma and further exacerbated by her captivity -- although he does have some 'splaining to do as to why he was lurking around her folks' home the night that French discovered those books about Russian history and whatnot. As an audience, we, too, are called to question her story. Did she simply regain her sight due to blunt trauma to the head, or is her more mystical explanation legit? We don't find out the answer, so, like the other five, we're asked to take a leap of faith in the OA.

Character parallels: There's a scene in The OA's first season when French begins to surrender to his doubts about the veracity of OA's story, and he looks in the mirror to see Homer staring back at him. They're both the most gentle, attentive and family-oriented members of their bunches, so the comparison makes sense. He's not the only one with shared traits with someone below, either. Jesse is well on his way to becoming a burn-out like Scott, BBA has deep regrets about what became of her brother just like Rachel, and Buck feels stuck in a society that doesn't quite understand him just like Renata. OA told the new five that she chose them each for a reason, and their similarities to her missing friends from the lab might be it.

A premonition: OA's subconscious premonitions are always revelatory of a major event in her life. (Remember how her post-dream nosebleeds invited a cavalcade of comparisons to Eleven from Stranger Things? Fun times.) The first is of the bus crash that claims her life; the second is of the subway initials near where she meets Hap and is taken to his house of horrors. The third, which pops up in real time, turns out to be of a school shooting that again kills her -- only this time, her pals have all gathered to do the dance just in time to send her into that other dimension at last. Or so it seems.

No exit: Although all of OA's new pals are eventually sold on her inter-dimensional travel plans, Steve seems the most invested in joining her. BBA is fine to trot off to California and connect with an old cousin. French still has his scholarship plans, and Buck is no slouch in the college prep department, either. And Jesse is ... well, Jesse is Jesse. Steve seems to be acclimating to his post-Asheville return to school and has a new girlfriend, but when OA is transported by the EMS after the cafeteria attack, he runs with everything he has to beg her to help him wash away, too. We don't know if that effort is successful, but OA once told us that a fellow traveler would have to be all-in to go with her, and, well, it looks like he is. TBD.

The OA: Part II drops on Netflix Friday March 22.

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The OA

The OA

JoJo Whilden/Netflix