Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The OA, Season One, Episode Two: New Colossus

Image result for the oa

Little Prairie is now in an elite school for the blind, having been smuggled out of Russia by her father. Every Sunday night, Prairie plays the violin for her father and he listens in on the phone. It all comes to a halt when Prairie is called to the headmistresses office and informed that her father has died. Aunt Nina is there to take her away, not having the money to keep her in the school. Prairie however is certain that her father is actually in hiding and not dead but she is taken away anyway. Prairie now begins experiencing her blindness like a prison inside of the child mill that her Aunt Nina is running. The Johnsons show up to buy a baby from Aunt Nina and Nancy meets Prairie for the first time when she excuses herself to use the washroom. Nancy follows the sound of a crying baby and spies Prairie trying to calm the child down. Nancy wants to adopt an infant and Prairie as well and offers to pay. Nina suggests that it would be better if they take the baby, while Abel is stunned by Nancy's request. In the end, Nancy and Abel decide to adopt Prairie and promise to change her name and make her an American girl. 

They bring Prairie home and it seems that she bonds with Abel right away.  Abel helps Prairie learn to climb a tree. At night, Nancy and Abel awake to find Prairie walking around her room speaking in Russian.  Abel is adamant that Prairie needs a doctor.  Nancy is forced to rush to Prairie's side when she picks up a knife.  

The doctor tells the Johnsons that Prairie believes her father is alive and is sending her messages in her dreams and that the Russian mafia are after her. The doctor says that Prairie is showing signs of mental illness and that she needs a mix of medication. Nancy argues that what Prairie needs is love but the doctor is adamant that they are dealing with a psychosis. What the adults don't realise is that little Prairie is listening at the door. Okay, hold on a second. This doctor needs to be fired.  A child is simply informed one day that her father is dead and she's never been given any closure so tries to find a way to hold onto him and that makes her mentally ill?
bill nye sense no sense

Later, Nancy is giving Prairie a bath and Prairie has a flashback to almost drowning. Nancy is quick to hand over one of the pills that the doctor prescribed. Later, the little family poses for a photo and Prairie is clearly drugged right out of her gourd. Prairie tells the group that she was medicated for 13 years and though she felt numb, it didn't stop her premonitions.  Prairie dreams of seeing her father again at the Statue of Liberty of all places but when she reaches out to him, he steps away.

Prairie is now all grown up and Nancy is still playing nursemaid to her, infantalising her, doling out medicine, which Prairie dutifully takes.  Prairie is convinced that the dreams are messages from her father calling out to her. Prairie relates that the premonitions are powerful because she can see in them. On her twenty-first birthday, Prairie leaves the Johnsons and heads to the Statue of Liberty. Prairie sits quietly with her violin but of course her father does not show up. Finally, Prairie is the last one there and is told by security that she needs to get on the ferry. 

A dejected Prairie takes the ferry back and ends up in the subway.  In the present Prairie admits that she should have gone home but was heart broken and ashamed. Prairie decides to play her violin in the subway until her father steps off a train and finds her. Clearly, this means that Prairie doesn't have the sense of a concussed penguin.  The man who finds her isn't her father, but he will change her life nonetheless.

It's morning now, and Prairie's little crew head out and go their separate ways. French runs through the woods to his home.

It seems that while Prairie was telling her story, Nancy and Abel were getting busy. A happy Nancy offers Abel breakfast in bed.  When Nancy gets up, she sees Prairie making her way back home. Later that morning, Prairie says that she went for a walk and that she needs to be alone sometimes. Nancy is quick to point out that the last time Prairie went out alone she came back with dog bites. For good measure, Nancy also brings up the incident with Steve's teacher. Prairie makes it clear that she cannot live cooped up in the house all of the time. Nancy makes the jump to Prairie needing to be hospitalized. Prairie apologises in an attempt to forestall being hospitalized and Nancy agrees to wait as long she goes to see a psychologist fromm the FBI. It's Able who steps up to support Prairie, saying that she can have an hour alone. 

At home, French gets his younger siblings ready for school.  He sends his siblings off to dress and then snorts some drugs, before leaving himself. At school, French gets a text about the bus accident that Prairie was in. French is then called to the principal's office, where he is informed that he's won a scholarship. French is told that he has to abide by the character clause and carry a full course load. 

In the cafeteria, Steve, and Jesse sit together trying to verify Prairie's story and they are joined by Buck.  They pause for a moment to note that Betty is chatting with Mr. Gilchrist.  Steve is quick to disavow the idea that the Betty is trying to get him out of military school. They are joined by French, who is not happy about receiving the text in the morning.  Steve is quick to say that French is a dick if he doesn't return. 

At home, French tells mother the good news about the scholarship. She's not full of praise and wonders if he is done with Harvard, claiming to want the best for him.  French's mother is certain that they can make it without him, though she is quick to blame her condition for not participating in the lives of his younger siblings.  Finally, French's mother tells him that she is proud of him and sends him out to pick up milk for her tea in the morning.

Buck runs into French at the store, and French isn't exactly excited to see him. Buck brings up French's worry that being in the house will screw up his scholarship. Buck admits that his parents want him to be like French. It's worth pausing to deal with the fact that Buck's parents admit that at first they wanted him to be Christine Yee.  Is this a confirmation that Buck is a trans* character? French is concerned that if he's caught up in a house known for drug deals that this will bring an end to the scholarship.  Buck questions if French is curious as to how this ends because he believes Prairie picked them for some reason. French however is adamant that he doesn't need help and does everything on his own. French hops in his car and Buck starts to walk away but before Buck can get far, French calls him back and offers him a ride.

It's time for the second meet up and Buck makes it clear that if they are going to keep doing this then Steve can no longer deal out of this house.  Steve is not at all impressed and makes it clear that Buck and Steve will be cut off and this includes the testosterone. Yep, this means that Buck is indeed Trans*. Giving up testosterone to be there means that Buck is paying a huge price which the others don't seem to have to do to listen to Prairie. It's also worth noting that the fact that Buck has to get testosterone from Steve speaks to the lack of support he receives. 

Prairie only has one hour to tell her story now thanks to her parents controlling ways.  Doctor Hunter Hap gets off the train and pauses when he hears Prairie playing the violin.  Hap pushes his way through the crowd to get to Prairie. Hap approaches Prairie, clearly transfixed by her performance. Finished playing, Prairie starts to pack away her violin and Hap questions if her music is Russian. As Prairie starts to walk away Hap asks if Prairie always played that well, or if something happened to her to make her play like that.  Prairie keeps walking until Hap asks if she has a NDE (near death experience) and this is what finally makes Prairie stop.

Hap takes Prairie to a restaurant and introduces her to oysters which aren't a hit and so he orders her some fries instead. Hap explains that he wants to know what consciousness is and where it goes after this place.  Hap is filled with questions about Prairie's NDE, despite not having had one himself. Hap was an anesthesiologist in the ER and believes that he heard a soul leave a patient's body and the same sound when it returned to the body. Hap explains that he has spent the rest of his life studying NDE survivors.  Prairie is enthralled with the idea that he knows people like her, especially when Hap talks about all of the gifts they came back with. 

Hap pulls out a machine and hands Prairie a set of earphones.  The machine allows Prairie to hear all of the heartbeats in the restaurant. Hap then points the machine at Prairie allowing her to hear her own heartbeat.  Prairie turns the machine on Hap and listens to his heartbeat. This is enough for Prairie to ask Hap to take her with him and to study her.

When next we see Prairie and Hap they are flying on a small plane together and Hap is acting as the pilot. When they arrive at Hap's, he tells her that there's a bed downstairs in the lab.  The first thing that Prairie realises is that it's quiet which means there are no roads near by. Hap offers Prairie the opportunity to call home and she calls but there's no answer and so she hangs up.  Hap assures Prairie that she can call again tomorrow and offers to show her downstairs. Hap takes Prairie's bag and guides her down stairs, and she has to cross a small natural spring. Hap expresses his luck to be able to work with Prairie and helps Prairie to the bed before locking her in.  The sound of the door locking confuses Prairie and so feels around and discovers for herself that she's locked in. A frantic Prairie stumbles around and a voice tells Prairie that she's not dreaming this and that it is indeed happening. The voice warns Prairie that it will be while before Hap comes for her and that when she thinks about it, her ending up here is no one's fault but her own. The voice warns Prairie that her thoughts will try to take her down but that she'll find her freedom in her dreams. The voice belongs to Homer. 

In the present, Prairie grabs her bag and rushes out of the drug house. When we see her again she is in the fetal position on bed back at home.  Cue music to bring tension.

I suppose this is the beginning of Prairie's confinement.  The way that The OA is written, it makes it hard not to blame the victim because Prairie wasn't just stupid, she's incredibly stupid. A seven year old wouldn't have been lured away with candy, as easily as Hap talked Prairie into coming with him.  Prairie's kidnapping to me is an example of bad writing. Did they just give up on how to get Hap and Prairie together and decide to throw some shit against the wall and hope viewers accept it?

On one hand, it seems perfectly acceptable to me that Prairie would have complete faith in her dreams, given that she dreamed that she would die in a lot water and that's actually what happened in the bus accident. That being said, thinking that her father was sending her a message to meet at the statue of liberty is just ridiculous.  To then compound that silliness, she then get captivated by some guy who buys her a plate of fries and allows her to hear her own heartbeat. Prairie needs to get some common sense and fast.

Hap is an element in this story that feels ridiculous to me.  He actually rushes through a crowded subway because he hears someone playing the violin. It's a big leap for him to think for a moment that it was being played by someone who had had an NDE, particularly given the high population of musicians living New York. It seems more likely that he would of heard a virtuoso than someone he could potentially study.

Nancy continues to work my last nerve and make my damn eye twitch.  Prairie cannot even breathe without Nancy trying to tell her how to do it.  She doesn't want to acknowledge that Prairie is grown and can make her own decisions.  Nancy seems to want to put herself in the middle of everything and make everything about her.  Nancy's initial reaction to the doctor when Prairie was a child was absolutely right and yet later, we see that she's all too happy to drug Prairie.  It quickly moves from a mother's concern to a way to control Prairie and keep her absolutely dependent and docile. Nancy is the perfect example of when caregivers don't respect their charges and instead seek to dominate them. For his part Abel is not much better.