The OA Episode 4 Theories and Explanations

The OA Episode 4 Season 1 Theories and Explanations

Oh sweet baby Moses on a motorbike was this an awesome episode. So good. This isn’t a television show – this is a 8 hour movie. So fantastic. Everything I assumed was coming and more. Can’t wait can’t wait to talk you through and talk about the possibilities of what is coming next. Because, this thing? This thing is going to the moon!

Alright, so let’s recap the first 3 episodes so far of the The OA real fast so we know where we all are. (And if you haven’t read my first three, then please, join us at the beginning. BACK OF THE LINE SIR! BACK OF THE LINE! Sorry, been listening to a LOT of The Dollop podcast and that was 100% Gareth inspired. If you listen, you are laughing now. Sorry to everyone else. Especially you Mom and Dad, who, are still the only ones to read every single one of my blogposts even though 98% of what I talk about is inscrutable to them. Love you Mom and Dad.)

The OA Recap Episodes 1-3

So far, Nina, grew up as the daughter of a wealthy mob boss in Russia. Opponents of her father, “The Voi”, trying to get to her father, attack Nina’s school bus killing everyone onboard. Including Nina. But somehow, Nina comes back to life, but loses her eyesight in the attack. Fearing reprisal, Nina’s father – Roman Asmerov – sends Nina to live with her maternal aunt in America. When Nina’s father is killed, Nina’s aunt can’t afford to care for her anymore and she sells Nina to Nancy and Abel Johnson.

The couple name her Prairie and begin trying to get her help from the incessant dreams she is having and the troubled psyche that she obviously has. 7 years of psychotherapy and mood altering drugs later, Prairie runs away from home because she believed that her father was trying to communicate with her through her dreams. But instead of meeting up with her father, she falls in the Dr. Hap, who abducts her.

Prairie finds herself with three other abductees who are being experimented on like lab rats in as Hap is intent on learning as much about death as physically possible. And we learn all this because Prairie eventually escapes, and then attempts suicide in order to flatline and see Homer again. She is reunited with her adoptive parents. And then, Prairie assembles the five people that Khatun (the woman she saw after dying) told her to assemble, in order to tell them the story of her abduction in the attic of an abandoned house in the neighborhood nearby. And yes we have two timelines moving forward and a black hole in between that we are still learning a lot more about… and that is what brings us now to episode 4 of The OA! Which I am so excited about.

The OA Episode 4 Overview

Sweetness. Let’s kick this episode of with…… some really really terrible terrible green screen. Could someone tell me what happened there? Ok, so greenscreening aside, we see Prairie surrounded by a surreal pink and purple British Downs sort of look going on. And my first thought immediately was this, “SHE’S DEAD!”, finally she has been flatlined by Dr. Hap. No way! And sure enough, I was right. “For the second time in my life, I was dead.”

So if Prairie is dead, how? What happened? But right now Prairie has bigger fish to fry. Like, oh, I don’t know, maybe surviving? And as she heads into the shack in the middle of the grassy plan she begins talking with the Khatun. Who says something that I found instantly interesting in response to Prairie’s worry for her friends that were abducted, “As things are, you don’t escape. All your courage and planning? Not enough.” But we know already that Prairie survives the encounter, whatever that encounter was. We know that she makes the choice to leave death, and return back to help her fellow abductees, particularly Homer.

And that is when Khatun gives her the choice, you can either go with your father, and take this bird as your spirit guide onward. Or you can choose to go back and suffer. And Prairie’s response is, “That isn’t a fair choice.” And Khatun says to her a fairly insightful tid bit of advice – “Ah , but to exist is to survive unfair choices.” Which is true isn’t it? Life? It’s a myriad of unfair choices. Some our own doing, and some are unfair choices inflicted on us by others. And then comes some dialogue that I think is so important I want to quote it here for you:

Prairie – “How do I get back to the others?”

Khatun – “All five of you must work together to avert a great evil.”

Prairie – “There are only 4 of them.”

Khatun – “You will see…”

Throughout the Bible there are many many conversations like this. Someone will walk up to a prophet or to Jesus, and ask a simple question. And because the prophet is seeing outside of time they answer multiple questions at once, or a different timeline reality entirely. If that makes sense? And that is what Khatun is doing here. Prairie is asking, hey, how do I not die. How do I bet back to Dr. Hap’s basement? And Khatun responds with, something more in effect like, “In order to find Homer again, you will need the help of five people.” Which, doesn’t answer her question, but it answers ours. And it will eventually answer her bigger question. Right?

Then she swallows the spirit guide bird and wakes up again back in Dr. Hap’s basement.

Apparently when Hap smacked her in the head with the butt of his gun (I thought it was a pan) he killed her for seven minutes. And Prairie starts to lie to Dr. Hap about her eyesight, and conceals the fact that she can see again from him. And now, instead of searching for ways to break out, Prairie was convinced that they needed to start looking for ways in. To subvert the doctor’s experiments from the inside out. Which, when she said that I  realized that this might be a portal as opposed to a wall. But I’ll talk more about that in the theories section.

“That’s the way out. We aren’t lab rats or captives, we aren’t unloved or unlucky. We are angels.”

And when we get back to The Five we learn more about Jesse’s mom. That she committed suicide. We also learn that their father left the as a result. We also start to see that Betty Allen (the teacher) has decided to go and settle her brother’s will. But she feels guilty for turning in her brother, and for his dying. And we also see that Prairie has started going to an FBI counselor that is trying to help her through the survivor’s guilt that she has, as well as help her deal with her desire to help the other abductees left behind. Which, is really what this entire show is really about…

Can Prairie save the 3 others left behind at Dr. Hap’s lab?

But probably the most important clue that we get in this episode about Prairie and about the direction of the show is when Allen starts talking about her brother’s favorite show which was The Incredible Mr. Limpett. Which, if you’ve seen the movie you’ll know is important the moment you hear it brought up in a show like this one. The details of the movie are unimportant, but the basic concept is that a guy trips across the divide and becomes a fish. A human thinking fish. He enters the pond and can now swim and do things he was incapable of before. And in this context, is this a metaphor for Prairie and her bird? The ability to cross the divide and have abilities she didn’t have before?

The OA Has a Plan

And here’s where this show gets real. Prairie has the idea that if they everyone but Homer sucks down the smoke Homer will be able to figure out what Dr. Hap has been up to during his experiments. Fast forward to several years later and we now know that the smoke forces the effected to do what Hap wants and that he is killing them over and over again and bringing them back to life again.

But every time Homer gets close to the drowning portion of their plan his heart rate goes up and then Dr. Hap gases the poor guy and he has to try again in a month. (Which basically means everyone is dying once a month? And he kills someone once a week? Is my math relatively on target here?) Eventually though, Homer dies sans gas and he is in a hallway of light and he’s being chased. And eventually eats some sea anemone a Prairie takes that to mean that Homer has also gotten his spirit guide similar to how she got hers.

We Learn What The OA Means

And it is then that Prairie is talking about this place on the other side of life… across this death threshold… that she comes across a name that is truer than Prairie. It is “The Away” but that isn’t right. Doesn’t sound right. It’s more ephemeral than Away. More like the OA. And now we know the meaning of Nina’s/Prairie’s third name. The Away. Or, The OA. (And it was staring us in the face of the shows title to boot!!!! Gah.)

Current Theories and Explanations for The OA

What a great episode 4 was. But can I just say – that I am a complete and utter idiot? I seriously am. I couldn’t figure out how I knew Brit Marling. I just couldn’t place her in my mind. And normally I just look it up, but I just didn’t. Gah. Idiot. And it just hit me while I was putting an image on this page of her… she was in THE SOUND OF MY VOICE! Holy cow. If you’ve seen that, it’s basically a slightly more grounded The OA. Only slightly though. But very very similar feel from beginning to end. Very spiritual. And god oriented affair. Sorry. I highly recommend you check out The Sound of My Voice if you are enjoying The OA any at all. It is Brit Marling after all. Ok, back to our regularly scheduled broadcast. So yeah, normally at this point in an episode review I start digging into my current working theories:

The Portal Permutation of the Flatliner Theory

Can I just say that when Prairie woke up from dying for 7 minutes, and she realized the way out wasn’t out, but rather in, was when I had the idea that the show maybe going towards a portal approach to death. By that I mean, that instead of seeing death as an end (which we heard prairie say as much from Homer’s rummaging through the office files) maybe we are being shown that it is actually some sort of portal or gateway instead. That it could be that by getting back to the other side of death Prairie will be able to see things and do things that other humans are incapable of. We know she already thinks that flatlining will allow her to get back to Homer somehow. But what if it also allowed a level of clarity and insight that isn’t normally given. Khatun has already guided Prairie, so we know that that much is true anyway. I guess this portal theory just takes the flatliners idea and dials it up to eleven and empowers the traveler with insight and powers usually not given to humans? We shall have to wait and see.

Death Isn’t Death Theory

One of the things that Homer learns while ransacking Hap’s (can I ask what the heck is up with that name?) laboratory is that Hap is trying to figure out when death really occurs and what it is. He is pontificating about the history of science and the concept of death. Breathing. Heartbeat. Brain activity. Etc. And that there seemed to be something else, some other barrier that is the definition of death. Which sort of feels like an important detail to just overlook. I think the show will posit that death really isn’t death at all, but more a transition through a corridor or meeting place that is a more real experience than life? Something like that. But I’m still hopeful that the portal idea will play out somehow. But dang am I excited to see the flatlining happening finally!

Overall thoughts of Episode 4

We are now officially into the meat of this show. And it’s stupid exciting in my humble opinion. And I promise you – I will be hitting play the moment I hit submit on this blog post. I mean, how can I not?!? But now? We know for a fact he’s drowning them. Now we know that the reason the five have been called is to get The OA back to Homer. So good.


Interested in reading all of my OA episode recaps so far?
Episode 1 – The Homecoming
Episode 2 – New Colossus
Episode 3 – Champion
Episode 4 – Away
Episode 5 – Paradise
Episode 6 – Forking Paths
Episode 7 – Empire of Light
Episode 8 – Invisible Self
OA Season 1 Theories & Season 2 Conjecture