Thursday, June 29, 2017

The OA, Season One, Episode Seven: Empire of Light

Image result for the oa

Prairie has another one of her nightmares and for this means that something bad is coming. It's Able who goes to Prairie's bedside to comfort her.  Prairie asks Able if he is mad at her and when he says no, she explains that she thought the note that she left behind would be comforting.  It seems that when Prairie left to go and find her father, she left behind a note saying that she would only be gone for a few days but as we know, that was not the case because she was kidnapped. Able clearly has no idea what the hell Prairie is talking about but he covers by claiming that he forgot about the note. 

Able and Nancy wait outside of Rahim's office for Prairie to be finished with her counselling session. They joke around a little bit and then Able brings up the note. Nancy says that she doesn't know what he's talking about, but it's clear that she lying. In the counselling session, Prairie discusses the vivid dreams that she's been having.  Rahim suggests that what we think of as psychic could be our brains way of processing all of the information that we take in. Rahim even suggests that what really Prairie really needs is a way to deal with all of the pain and loss that she's suffered.  Prairie however is not sold and is certain that there's something significant that she's missing and that she needs to put the pieces of the puzzle together before it's too late. Nancy who cannot seem to stop trying to control Rahim, asks to speak to him alone but he decides that it wouldn't be appropriate. Nancy then brings up Prairie's dreams and points out that when Prairie was a child that the doctor medicated her and while it didn't fix everything, it seemed to help. Rahim's big suggestion is that Prairie head out to dinner with her parents and establish a sort of regular family routine.

The dinner stars out fine, with the family joking about Prairie's former boyfriend. Things go off the rails on a perfect stranger pops by the table and asks to take a picture with Prairie. Before Prairie can even respond it's selfie time much to Nancy's dismay. Before leaving the stranger comments about how brave she thinks that Prairie is for surviving being kidnapped, raped and beaten. This sets Nancy off.  Able, tries to keep the dinner peaceable but Nancy won't listen. When the waiter comes over because Nancy is making a fuss, it turns out to be French, who's shocked to see the OA out with her parents.  French goes off to bring water to the table as Nancy begins to forth at the mouth about what the stranger is going to do with the photo she took of Prairie. Nancy is horrified that the stranger will write things about Prairie that aren't true. Nancy finally works her way into admitting that she doesn't know the first thing that happened to Prairie while she was in confinement and demands to know how Prairie got the scars on her back. Perhaps in an effort to calm Nancy down, Prairie says that she is the Original Angel and that she made the scars on her back herself. Predictably, Nancy reacts badly and slaps Prairie across the face.  

Fortunately for Prairie, French is quick to return to the table and guide her out of the restaurant.  As they sit in the car together, French talks about being astounded to see that Prairie actually has a family and that while she told them all about Homer and the experiments, she didn't mention that she had living parents. French surmises that what Prairie really needs to is focus on her family because they may be what she's been searching for. Really French? It turns out that the Johnsons and French are about to become the least of Prairie's worries.

Earlier in the day, Steve returned home from one of his exercise sessions with Prairie to find his father upset. It seems that Gilchrist dropped a dime on Steve about injuring another student earlier in the year and now Mr. Winchell is rightfully steaming mad.  Steve asks for time to clear his thoughts in a shower and promises that when he comes back downstairs they can talk about what happened.  Upstairs in the shower, Steve starts to work through his feelings and to figure out the best way to take responsibility for his actions.  Unfortunately for Steve, it's a little too late because when he arrives downstairs, there are two large men waiting to take him to reform school. Steve tries to fight them off but he's no match for them. Steve is dragged outside and placed in a waiting van.  Luckily for Steve, BBA just happens to drive by on her way home from the meeting with OA and she decides to follow the van. 

BBA follows the van and talks to the principal on the phone, admonishing him for informing Steve's parents about his actions.  So ardent is BBA in her defense of Steve that she slips up when saying that he's changed now and even brings up the meeting at the house. Realising that she's gone to far, BBA quickly gets off the phone. The van stops at a convenience store and Steve is sent to pick out a drink while one of his escorts tries to chat up the cashier.  BBA approaches Steve and promises to get him out of this no matter what.  BBA tells Steve that when they leave the store he has to ask to go to the bathroom. It seems that BBA has put an out of order sign on the door which will force the escorts to take Steve to the side of the building. BBA tells Steve that no matter how embarrassed he is, he has to scream that he is being molested and that she will back him up. 

Steve follows through the first half of the plan and is taken to the side of the store.  BBA approaches and starts screaming, calling Steve's escorts molesters. Of course the plan backfires and the men escorting Steve simply write BBA off as "crazy", pack Steve up and start to leave. With no options left, BBA gets in front of the van and says that she has something they might want.  BBA pulls out the insurance check she got from her brother's passing and offers it to the men if they will release Steve.  A thankful Steve is told to get out of the van and BBA hands over the check.

When BBA and Steve arrive at the house for another of Prairie's weird yoga sessions, Steve is keyed right up.  When Prairie walks in, he immediately goes on the attack and claims that Prairie doesn't care about him and is only using him so that she can get back to her boyfriend.  Prairie tries to reach out to Steve but he pushes her away. Steve screams about his parents ignoring him as the escorts brutalised him and his fear that no one cares for him.  Prairie finally manages to get her arms around Steve but he responds by grabbing a pencil and stabbing her in the leg with it.  When Prairie doesn't release her hold, Steve finally relaxes and tears role down Steve's face. Steve questions how it is that Prairie survived all of that time in captivity. 

From the very beginning Steve has been cast as a kid who's simply misunderstood. Prairie even theorized that the reason Steve is so violent is because he feels things to deeply. Once again, I am going to call bullshit. Steve punched a kid in the throat because of jealousy, he set his dog on Prairie, has bullied both French and Buck and now he's stabbed Prairie in the leg. Only in our racist, patriarchal, homophobic, cissexist world could writers attempt to create sympathy for a character like Steve.  Steve is a horrible person and he's proved it time and time again. 

Nancy's controlling ways are getting on my last damn nerve. There's no way Nancy didn't have something to do with the note disappearing.  At this point I'm not even convinced that she wanted a child for anything other than to have another being over which she could exercise control. Just look at the way that Nancy talks to Able and the way she's tried to get Rahim to tell her what he talks to Prairie about in sessions.  Nancy may be feeling pain because Prairie was kidnapped but she seems to ignore the fact that the person it happened to is Prairie and not her.  Nancy is actually making Prairie's kidnapping all about her.

Empire of Light is actually the penultimate episode of this season.  We now know what OA stands for but what we don't know is exactly how it is that Prairie ended up on the bridge and what happened to the others. From almost the beginning, Prairie has had her little cult performing fake yoga moves but even she doesn't know what it will lead to.  We need some answers. What happens when people perform the moves with perfect intention? How the hell did she get away from Hap?