The OA – Season 2

Rating:

Move it or lose it

Main Cast: Brit Marling, Jason Isaacs

Creators: Brit Marling, Zac Batmanglij

First things first – if you haven’t watched the first season of The OA, absolutely do not jump into season two. You’ll be hopelessly lost. That’s true of a lot of shows, but this one in particular needs to be started from the beginning. Also, it has been over two years since that first season, so do avail yourself of the helpful season one recap that you can find with the trailers on Netflix (after all the episodes).

So on we go! Hopefully you’re here because you loved the first season of The OA and want to know if season two lives up to its predecessor. The quick answer is absolutely. But I’m obviously not going to stop with the quick answer. Don’t worry, I won’t spoil anything.

We pick up more or less where we left off in season one. Or rather in the aftermath of where we left off. BBA and the boys are local heroes for thwarting the shooter and OA has traveled. But where has she gone? Is she with Homer and the others? Have they traveled as well? Was any of it real? You’ll find out. You’ll also meet some new characters. Karim Washington (Kingsley Ben-Adir) joins the show as a private investigator in San Francisco hired by a desperate grandmother hoping to find her missing granddaughter. He definitely gets a lot more than he bargained for with this case.

The biggest question, I suppose, is how well Marling and Batmanglij stay true to the ethereal tone of the first season, and if they are able to carry the magic through to a new set of circumstances. The answers? Ridiculously well and yes, very much so. Though we’re out of Hap’s dungeon, Marling as Prairie/OA is still a brilliant combination of vulnerability and strength.  She is, of course, the thread that ties everything together and she handles the rigors of that task with the agility only someone absolutely invested in this world can bring to a performance. She said long ago that season two would only come out when they got it right, and she was not lying. If anything, this season strengthens the narrative and tightens up our understanding of who OA is and how everything is connected.

The episodes in this season go back and forth between the Karim storyline and the BBA/teenagers storyline. They are engaging individually and the back and forth works very well as the stories careen towards intersection. This is not really a show for people afraid of the weird and supernatural, so don’t expect to understand every little thing right away – give it some time.

The performances in season to of The OA are uniformly strong with some stand-outs. Brit Marling is fantastic, but so is Kingsley Ben-Adir, stepping in with established cast members and carving out an authoritative space. Emory Cohen has an interesting challenge with Homer this time around, and manages to make it work. Jason Isaacs’ Hap doesn’t veer to far from what we saw last season in terms of persona, and does the same terrific work. I was as impressed with Phyllis Smith and all the teenagers as I was last season – she’s really wonderful in the role of BBA. A long running role on a popular sitcom can typecast anyone and she manages to distance herself effectively from Phyllis on The Office. I like the way they chose to develop her character without losing the sadness and insecurity that drew her to OA in season one.

The shining star of this entire series is the incredibly creative world created by Marling and Batmanglij. They are fearless in their writing and their world is wildly imaginative and strange. I’m absolutely captivated by this vision. I recognize that The OA is not going to be for everyone – it’s odd and filled with the paranormal. If that isn’t your thing, you probably won’t make it through two episodes, forget two seasons. For those of you out there who have been waiting for this, however, your patience is about to be richly rewarded. I savored this season one episode per night, but it is eminently binge-able.  Enjoy!

Both seasons of The OA (8 episodes per season) are streaming on Netflix.

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