Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The OA, Season One, Episode Six: Forking Paths

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If ever there was a doubt that Hap is horrible person, for me this episode absolutely cements this.  It's not that he does anything that he hasn't done before, it's just the absolute self involved nature of his thoughts. Sure, it's supposedly about the work but when Prairie finally calls Hap it, it becomes clear what Hap really is. 

Everyone gathers at the abandoned house to listen to Prairie tell her story once again.  She explains that there are actually several dimensions and that each decision creates a fork in the path and opens yet another dimension.  It's the hope of the captives that when they collect all five movements that they will be able to leave their captivity behind and start over in another dimension.  Of course, the listeners want to know what it looks like when a new dimension is accessed but Prairie can only speculate because she's never actually seen it happen; she's working entirely on faith. At this point, Prairie's little crew is all in and no one actually calls her out on this which personally, I find absolutely stunning. 

In captivity, they practice each new movement, now fully committed after seeing Scott return from the dead and be completely healed.  In time, during one of her NDE's (near death experiences) Renata is gifted with the fourth movement. They spend their time between being experimented on, perfecting the movements hoping for the ability to memorize them.  In fear of forgetting the movements, they carve symbols onto their backs so that the scars will be a permanent  reminder. Yes, those symbols are actually self inflicted.  

Hap watches everything his captives do on CCTV.  He has become a participant in their work, learning each new movement as his captives do.  Prairie and the crew are desperate to receive the fifth movement but even more desperate to keep it from Hap. Hap watches them jealously, all too aware of just how on the outside he is.  His captives have formed a family and he is certainly not welcome.

Hap does have one person to share his secrets with though - a mentor. Yes, let that sink in for a moment, there are actually two monsters.  They have been working separately with their own test subjects, hoping to come to the same conclusions and to spur each other's work along. They meet up at an abandoned morgue in a hospital to have lunch and share their results as though they aren't both responsible for kidnapping and multiple murders. As they make sandwiches and talk about their subjects, it all seems so very normal for them. 

Dr. Citro is far more detached that Hap is and he's not the least bit concerned that he's an outsider and is in fact happy to be in the one in the position to torture. Hap however feels jealous of the closeness of his captives and he talks about how they are sharing movements with each other. Dr. Citro's only goal is to be able to prove that there is life after death and then sit back and rake in the money for being first to publish.  Hap however is in it for the science and not the accolades or the potential wealth. I cannot believe I am saying this but Hap, for all of his disgusting ways is a purist.  When Hap mentions the forks in the road, Citro gets curious but Hap is not forthcoming.  

Citro takes another tact and tells Hap that he has a surprise for him on one of the embalming trays in the fridge. Of course, when Hap opens it up, it's empty. Hap stands to find Citro pointing a gun at him. Hap is actually shocked by this and doesn't think that Citro is going to kill him.  Can Hap really be this dense? Citro admitted to regularly cycling out his subjects and cremating them to avoid attachments and somehow Hap thinks a man like this wouldn't kill him? When Hap again refuses to be more forthcoming, Citro fires his gun, forcing Hap to fight for his life, Hap ends up drowning Citro in the embalming fluid before sneaking out of the hospital with a scarf wrapped around his mouth to hide his identity. Hap does however stop on his way out to give the key to the morgue to a nurse and to ask her to call the cops because there are people there who need help. 

Hap is now a monster working alone.  Unsure of what to do, Hap takes Prairie out of her cell.  After being forced to drown so many times, a defiant Prairie puts the lubricant on her head herself and does up her own straps.  Hap asks Praire to go away with him, saying that they can go to an island and heal the sick and then use the money to fund more research.  Prairie asks about the others and Hap promises to work it out. Prairie doesn't even consider Hap's offer to take her anywhere she wants to go for a New York minute and defiantly declares that she will go nowhere with Hap. 

All out of luck, Hap begins the experiment and as the tube fills with water, cutting off Prairie's oxygen, she stares coldly at Hap. Prairie manages to maintain her death glare before the trauma of being drowned finally forces her to fight back.  Of course, Prairie dies in the machine.  When Prairie heads to the other side she calls out to Khatun but this time, the angel does not appear and does not answer Prairie's calls. When Prairie returns to her body, once again, Hap is filled with questions but this time she clearly doesn't have the patience to answer them.  Hap plays different sounds for Prairie, trying to identify where Prairie went  on her NED. It's not until Hap plays a sound from the rings of Saturn that Prairie recognises it as what she heard during her NED. An excited Hap wants to talk about this latest discovery but Prairie cuts him off by pointing out that they aren't friends or family and that she is little more than his slave.  Prairie points out that Hap wants all of the answers from his captives but doesn't have the courage to get in his own damn machine and die for the answers he wants, they way he expects others to.

Prairie is placed back in her cell and she's despondent that she didn't get another movement or hear from Khatun.  Prairie begins to wonder if Khatun is refusing to give them the fifth movement in order to keep it away from Hap, who she must know is watching and listening.  It's Homer who keeps Prairie's hopes alive with his certainty that they will get the fifth movement somehow.

In the real world, Mr Vu awakes to find his front door open. Mr Vu calls out for Buck several times and when he gets no answer he closes the door.  This could be the moment when we finally found out the importance of each member of the listening group leaving their front door open before meeting with Prairie.  It cannot be an accident that this coincided with Prairie reaching the point in the story where Markham, stumbled across Hap's dark secret. 

An exhausted Hap has fallen asleep in front of his CCTV, listening to the sound of Saturn.  Haps doesn't hear Sheriff Stan Markham call out that his door is open. Getting no answer to his calls, Markham enters the home and makes his way downstairs.  Yes, Hap has finally messed up royally.  Markham moves behind Hap and pauses when he sees what's on the CCTV.  Markham then pulls the gun and places the nozzle to the back of Hap's head before calling out to Hap one more time.  And yes, The OA, actually ended this episode this way. If Amazon hadn't have released all the episodes at once, I think I would have spit my dummy out. 

Throughout the entirety of this story, Prairie has been the narrator.  What doesn't make sense to me is how she knows what happened between Hap and Citro because she wasn't there, nor did Hap seem to tell her about it. Prairie actually speculated that something must have happened to Hap given the bruises and cut on his face, as well as his desire to shift the location of this ghastly experiment, but that is all she could potentially do.  This raises the question of if Prairie is making this all up as she goes along? There's no way she could have known about Hap and yet she told her listening group all about it. 

Prairie is getting stronger with each episode and I actually really like it. At first it began with Prairie encouraging her fellow captives not to give up and then to gather the movements.  It has now blossomed into a full on rebellion which is clearly driving Hap around the bend.  The courage it must have taken for Prairie to strap herself in, knowing that Hap was going to drown her once again and then to stare Hap dead in the eye as he killed her for umpteenth time. Prairie is absolutely the heart and soul of the captive rebellion.

I found myself absolutely horrified by the fact that there were two monsters keeping people in captivity for the purposes of experimentation.  Hap and Citro really fancied themselves as men of science which is why it really didn't make sense to me that Citro in particular planned on publishing his results. How exactly could he prove his assertions without admitting that he used human subjects which he regularly killed? What reputable journal would have published this?  Citro's end game of receiving accolades and money made absolutely no sense to me. Did he learn nothing from how society views Mengle? 

In some ways, I really feel like Forking Paths is meant to show us a good side of Hap. Unlike Citro, Hap isn't cynical or in search monetary gain.  Hap's interest is purely in the science - for the discovery. Somehow his reasons juxtaposed to Citro's made him seem like lesser of a monster that is if you can get past the fact that he is a kidnapper and a murderer. Surely, the writers having Hap reveal the existence of Citro's subjects so that they wouldn't starve to death was for the audience to see Hap as a monster with a conscience because he very easily could have slipped out without saying a word to anyone.  It's a redeeming act but when placed against everything he has done, it's not nearly enough to wash the blood from his hands.  I am slightly worried after seeing this that the writers will put Hap on a redemption train which he most certainly does not deserve a ticket on.