Full Disclosure: I labelled this a partial review as I am only 3 episodes into the series. Christmas time will do that to a man’s binging abilities.
I first caught wind of Brit Marling in the 2011 sci-fi drama Another Earth, which she starred in as well as co-wrote with director Mike Cahill. The film’s pacing is a slow burn, but the simple and immediate pay off of the film’s finale is so effective and impactful that you can forgive all prior sins it might have committed. I found the same to be true with her other 2011 sci-fi film, Sound of My Voice, (this one written with Zal Batmanglij). Also a slow burn, but this time I was ready for it. Again, simple yet impactful wrap-up that made the movie for me.
The other film she co-wrote with Batmanglij, The East, was a departure from sci-fi, and more political/thriller focused that was also an engaging story.
It was with these experiences that upon seeing her name, as well as Batmanglij’s attached to the new Netflix series The OA (pronounced Oh-Ay, not like the Green Lantern’s HQ), I immediately set aside the first hour to get started. I wasn’t concerned with what it might be about because as soon as I saw she was involved, I was in.
The OA begins when Prairie, a blind girl who has been missing for the previous 7 years, randomly shows up on a bridge miraculously with her sight. She returns home to parents’ house, and while her mother and father want to help her get back to normal, that is the furthest thing from Prairie’s mind.
What I can say so far is that the slow-burn style that Brit and her co-writers have used previously is much better suited for this type of format. This way frees them up to character and world build the way their kind of writing demands. They can still hit the cliffhangers and impacting moments every time they hit the hour mark, but they aren’t confined to the space the way they are with feature films.
So far, I’m really enjoying how the story is playing out. Each episode contains its own twists and turns that, for me at least, still have me guessing as to what the hell is actually going on.
So far, and I don’t see this changing over the next 5 episodes, it is a high recommend from me. It’s on par with Netflix’s earlier hit, Stranger things as far as the mystery/thriller aspects go. Furthermore, if you want an idea of how the show will go, but don’t want to commit the full 8 hours yet, I would suggest trying out Another Earth and Sound of My Voice because besides being great films, the tone and pacing of those are almost identical to this show.
All 8 episodes of The OA are currently streaming on Netflix. Check it out.