A show about life, death and the afterlife that also involves dance (though that term itself is a bit reductive), Netflix‘s “The OA” is certainly one of the most ambitious sci-fi/fantasy shows (again, it fits those boxes but also expands beyond them) to arrive in quite some time. If the secretive nature of its production and launch started the buzz, the series finale has truly got people talking. For some, it ripped the carpet out from under the show as a whole, but for me, it played exactly into one of the overarching themes of “The OA,” about the nature of storytelling, and the tales we choose to belief to make peace with our pain.
In the final episode, “Invisible Self,” a school shooting arrives out of nowhere, placing The OA’s small group of friends — Jesse, Steve, Buck, French, and Betty — in danger. (Some have criticized this plot twist as a crude deus ex machina, but I counter: school shootings are horrific precisely because they are unpredictable, often occurring in the kind of tony neighborhoods “The OA” is set in, where “something like this could never happen,” and where the problems facing the characters in the show, are often kept behind closed doors). Trapped in a school cafeteria, with the gunman stalking the spaces between the tables, the five suddenly stand up and start performing The Movements that The OA (aka the Original Angel) has taught them, believing it can open the door to another dimension and/or at the very least, stop mortal harm from coming to anybody in the school. It proves to be a distraction that allows the shooter to be taken down, but not before he fires a shot that goes through a window and into the chest of The OA herself, who has just arrived sensing something awful was unfolding.
It’s a go for broke ending that didn’t work for many, and you really have to roll with it, but if you found yourself laughing at five people breaking into choreographed dance moves, director Zal Batmanglij says that’s okay too.
“But I think people laughing at it and stuff, that’s good. That’s part of it. I think if aliens came to Earth, we would laugh. If there was an alien technology, we would laugh. I think anything truly different, it doesn’t just cause awe, and I think a lot of people feel awe when they see the movements — but probably just as many people feel the giggle inside of them and I think that’s OK. I don’t think there’s any specific way to feel,” he told The Hollywood Reporter.
However, Batmanglij also sees gender coming into play in the finale, with a reading that’s very interesting, and adds another dimension to the show.
“I think if there’s anything 2016 has taught me, it’s that we have a real hard time with women in our society, we have a hard time with the feminine. And so what are the Movements other than a more feminine thing? It’s really hard for us. We don’t like it. We don’t think it’s serious, and that’s a larger conversation to have. But I feel great and there shouldn’t be any prescribed reaction. People can have any reaction they want to it,” the director said.
“What is the finale other than hypermasculinity meets hyperfemininity? And it causes us to laugh because we never think the feminine can stand a chance against the normalized masculine,” he adds. “It’s a ludicrous idea for us as a society. That’s just my interpretation. My interpretation is just one of many, this is something in the world now. People can react to it any way they want. When I read a visceral reaction that’s so violent a reaction, I think, ‘Ah, interesting, something’s happening here.’ ”
There’s certainly a lot of discuss. Let us know what you thought of “The OA” finale below.