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The OA *****

Brit Marling is a good fit for Netflix, the streaming channel that never saw an inter-dimensional portal it didn’t like (Stranger Things, The Good Place).  Together with her regular cinematic collaborator Zal Batmanglij, she created one of TV’s most idiosyncratic shows in The OA, a weird and often wonderful sci-fi drama about an ordinary angel. Except there’s not much ordinary about Marling’s character Prairie, who we meet when she returns home to a small community, and recovering from blindness. Flashbacks indicate that Prarie’s background is Russian, but the narrative takes in a more recent period where she and a few other unfortunates are revealed as the scientific experiment of Dr Hap Percy (Jason Isaacs). Now released, Prairie uses her skills to teach a diverse group of people what she knows, for the purpose that isn’t clear until the end of the final episode. After that bombshell, series two goes off on a wild tangent into an alternate universe San Francisco where the populace use a Pokemon-style video game to seek out clues, and a giant octopus puts on a sexual show in a nightclub. The OA takes it’s time, and the second episode closer is something of a head-scratcher, but it’s all good stuff; more Sapphire and Steel than Dr Who. Yes, there are frustrating moments, but Marling is such an original creative force as well as a compelling performer that The OA marks her successful transition from cult film-star to mainstream powerhouse.


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