Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The OA, Season One, Episode Three: Champion

Image result for the oa
Nancy is approached by Patricia, who is a journalist interested in writing Prairie's story. At first, Nancy isn't at all interested in the publicity but when Patricia starts talking about the money this story could make for her family, suddenly Nancy isn't so resistant. Patricia suggests that given what she has been through, Prairie may never be able to work.  Rather than this being about what's best for Prairie, I really think that Nancy sees this as giving her a tool to keep Prairie dependent upon her and a chance to hear what Prairie has gone through.

The family meets with Patricia over dinner and she tells them about the last story she wrote about a boy who was abducted. Patricia stresses the healing factor of sharing your story with the world because it allows the survivor to not only claim their own story but proclaim it finished.  This is when Prairie decides that she's out because apparently her story is far from finished. I suppose this has something to do with the clandestine meetings she's holding in the unfinished subdivision in her neighbourhood.

Prairie returns to her little group and starts talking about the early days of her captivity. Prairie talks about the difficulty of not having a true sense of time. For Prairie, each morning she would awaken and feel as though she were free for the first few moments before remembering her captivity. Though she is not the only captive, it's clear that despite being in the same situation, Prairie, Scott, Homer and Rachel have nothing to say to each other.

The little crew of captives don't actually speak to each other until Prairie somehow convinces Hap that her blindness means that she needs light and fresh air more than the others.  For some reason, Hap takes Prairie upstairs and she amazes him by making him a chicken sandwich. I know that Prairie is blind but Hap is standing so damn close, why didn't she use that big ass butcher knife as a weapon? Hap, feeling all full of himself for his generosity, offers Prairie the other half of the sandwich and allows her to make one for each of the other captives when she refuses to eat. This is the catalyst which starts the group finally talking.

We learn that Homer agreed to be part of Hap's NDE (near death experience) study group to earn five hundred dollars to support his unborn child.  Homer quickly felt that something wasn't right with Hap and so stashed his championship football ring in the medicine cabinet. Homer still has the five hundred dollars and he's desperate to get the money to his kid. Now that Hap trusts Prairie, Homer wants her to steal a bill so that they can use to send out the money to his child and a note.  Homer is adamant that they use this opportunity so that his son will know that he didn't abandon him. Prairie however has another plan that she wants to work on. We learn then that Hap gasses the foursome before removing one of them for experimentation.

Perhaps its because she's blind but Hap decides to let Prairie out of her cage to prepare meals for him. It's through her work as Hap's servant that she learns that he has to take sleeping pills.  Despite Homer's plan to send for help through the mail, Prairie decides to follow her own inclinations and starts slowly stealing pills from Hap. I'm not sure why exactly why Hap is drawn to Prairie other than the fact that her blindness means that he can trust her in ways that he cannot with others. The fact that Hap seeks out Prairie's aid, suggests that Hap is truly a lonely man but then you would have to be when you have four people locked in your basement.

When Prairie has squirreled away enough pills, she decides to make a special broscht using a recipe from when she was a child. Prairie is clearly nervous as she prepares the stew but Hap remains clueless that he's about to consume a bowl of poison. Hap seeks to calm Prairie by asking her to sup with him.  Hap begins shoveling the food in his mouth and Prairie is forced to take a bite when he notices that she isn't eating.  It doesn't like long for Hap to realise something is wrong and this happens much faster than Prairie thought it would because it's not the sleeping pills in the soup that is affecting Hap but the fact that he is allergic to the kind of tomato paste she used.  Hap makes his way to a drawer and pulls out an EPI pen but its empty.  Hap then sends Prairie to get him another from the bathroom and she searches fiercely. When she finds the pen however, Prairie is slow to hand it over because she finds a dead woman in the bathtub. The woman is August, and she died before Prairie was taken captive.  Hap crawls into the bathroom and snatches the new Epi pen from Prairie and quickly injects himself. This is why at the very beginning of the meeting, Prairie told her little group that it's really hard to allow a man to die. I don't really understand this given that Prairie has proof that Hap is a murderer and she's been taken hostage by him. The only way out is for Hap to die.

Now that Prairie's plan has failed, it's time to move onto Homer's which seems even less likely to work. How exactly are they supposed to mail the letter once they write it? While in the bathroom, Prairie grabbed a Horizon bill and Homer's ring. They decide to compose a letter filled with information about who they are, who needs to know about them and to their best understanding where they are. The plan is to mix the letter in with outgoing mail and hope that the class ring does not alert Hap as to its contents. Unfortunately for the captives, they never get that far because while passing the now completed letter to Prairie, it slips out of her hand and floats along their shared little stream out of their reach.

Hap is still clueless when it comes to Prairie's true intentions of willingly working as his house slave. At this point, I actually think that Hap believes that he has built a relationship with Prairie. Even though both attempts that Prairie has made to escape have failed, Homer encourages Prairie to keep going and not give up. It also serves to bring the group closer and Rachel reveals how she became one of Hap's captives.  It's clear the captives are now becoming bonded by their shared circumstances and nothing cements that like Rachel displaying the perfect pitch she attained after her NDE.

Prairie takes Homer's words to heart because when she gets a chance, she throws Hap down a flight of stairs. There's a certain satisfaction when she does this. Prairie frantically races through the house and uses a frying pan to smash a window and escape.  Being blind puts Prairie at a distinct disadvantage because she's in a heavily wooded area and cannot see where she is going. Prairie keeps running until she comes to a cliff and is hit from behind.  The only person this can be is Hap, and the fact that she made a run for it probably means that Prairie has lost the chance to attempt an escape anytime soon because she's revealed to Hap that Stockholm Syndrome hasn't set in enough for her to be happy serving him.

Prairie's merry band of listeners don't feature too largely in this episode.  There is a fight between Steve and French when French comes across an upset Prairie. Prairie and Steve were having a nice conversation until he tried to touch her arm. After so many years in near isolation without human touch, Prairie still isn't good with contact, even if she needs Steve for some mysterious reason.  Given that on their first meeting Steve set his dog on Prairie and the fact that he's an all around bully, it makes sense that French would immediately suspect him of something nefarious. The two fight and French quickly gets the upper hand but declines to punch Steve back. I gotta say that not only was I rooting for French, I was super disappointed that he didn't give Steve the punch that he sorely needs. I'm not buying the poor misunderstood rich, het, able bodied, cis white guy routine the writers have chosen to go with when it comes to Steve.

Betty is still deeply in mourning brother which was alluded to on her initial meeting with Prairie.  Betty listens to a message from the executor of her brother's estate but she refuses to respond and instead plays the last message her brother left her on her phone.  I'm not sure yet how Betty's mourning connects her to the others, unless it's the fact that they are all hurting and isolated in some way.

It's episode three and we still don't know what OA stands for or what the hell Prairie is trying to accomplish by telling her story to the merry band of misfits. I really need the story to pick up some steam because at this point, I really feel like it is just dragging on and going nowhere.

This episode confirmed that Hap is a creepy fucker but then, that's pretty obvious because he's keeping four people locked in his basement for the purposes of experimenting on them based on the fact that he heard a sound during a surgery.  At this point, we still don't know what these experiments are comprised of but we do know is that they are dangerous because Hap has a dead girl floating in his bathtub,

I still don't quite understand why it is that Prairie feels that Hap was difficult to kill or rather allow to die.  He's thus far shown zero redeeming qualities and given the fact that he's had captives in his basement for years, it's clear that nothing short of his death is going to free them.  The only way to escape is to kill him. I did however like that Prairie was smart enough to gain his trust and then poison him.  It shows that she has some real world smarts despite the fact that she went to the Statue of Liberty to meet her long dead father and so easily went off with Hap in the first place. I think that Prairie's original plan made a lot more sense than Homer's, particularly because Homer seems more interested in getting into contact with his son than actually escaping.

A disabled protagonist is a rare thing.  I know that Prairie eventually regains her sight, which irks me to no end, but at least at this point they haven't turned her into a super crip.  What Prairie is doing, is using her disability to gain trust based in Hap's belief that she is dependent and not an actual threat.  Though Prairie's three escape attempts didn't actually work, the fact that she kept trying in the face of defeat and didn't believe that her disability served as a barrier really makes me like Prairie just a little bit more.