The OA: What Really Happened In That Finale?


Brit Marling | The OA

If you’re still recovering from binge-watching 
The OA on Netflix, you’re like us in that you’re wondering if what we’ve seen over the course of eight episodes is true.

One of the reasons I never fully believed the OA’s story is that, besides being too fantastical and Life of Pi-ish in its PTSD/fairytale way, there were plenty of pieces of evidence she was lying early on (her parents kept her heavily medicated for most of her life, probably due to delusions, for example.) But there is just as much – if not more – proof of her innocence. 

Here, in chronological order are the 17 pieces of evidence from the finale that point to Prairie’s/The OA’s story being real. (An 18th piece of evidence could be the title – “Invisible Self” – but we have no ideas on that one either way.)


#1: The Experiments on the NDEs Actually Worked

Early in the finale, Hap describes one of the NDEs as rising like “Lazarus from the dead.” It’s a stretch but not much of one to tie this remark to divine prophecy. After all, the OA related this dialogue in her story before she sacrifices herself like Christ for all of our sins, thus going a long way toward proving her argument that the NDEs were at least somewhat important in the scheme of humankind.

#2: The Cop’s Wife

It’s a minor issue but a sticking point for many, so let’s get this out of the way: If the OA’s story is true, the criticism goes, why didn’t Homer and the OA refuse to help until the police (you know, more police) were called? Then, of course, they could’ve immediately worked to cure Evelyn and save her from all that sneezing (and ALS too.)

But Prairie and Homer are suffering from Stockholm Syndrome – we know this because, back in the real world, we see Prairie defend her captor and downplay the ordeal as if she had free will the whole time and joined up willingly. Besides, after seven years as captives, they would not have the mental and physical power to truly stand their ground in the face of Hap and a gun-toting cop.


#3: The Sheriff Proves The OA Could’ve Known Other Details

Online critics point out that Prairie wouldn’t have known about Hap’s adventures in the morgue and friendship with the cop. But the cop and his wife meet all five NDEs, thus allowing the OA to infer certain past details about Hap’s relationship to him, among other possibilities. It’s also possible that, because she earlier speculated that Hap murdered someone, she just took a stab (so to speak) at the rest of the morgue story or that the morgue story is a guess but that the rest of her story is factual.

#4: The OA Was Missing For Seven Years

By the time Hap leaves her at the side of the road, she’s definitely been missing for seven years. Who’s to say, based on any of this, that the story we’ve seen so far isn’t true? She may be an unreliable narrator but she’s still the only narrator we have…

#5: The “Cages” In the Basement

As she starts confessing the details to her parents, the OA confirms, again, much of the details about her imprisonment, although she doesn’t call the boy Homer. She confirms there are at least two cages and that she didn’t touch another person’s skin for seven years, which partly offsets the theory that Prairie made up the Movements and other fantastical details as a distraction from the horrors of rape and other brutality – but maybe doesn’t completely invalidate those speculations.


#6: Prairie Is No Longer Blind

No more fantastical piece of her story exists – and this one we know is true. (Unless you’re a conspiracy theorist who doesn’t believe Prairie was ever blind, and somehow fooled everyone for decades, including teachers at a school for blind children and her eagle-eyed parents.)

#7: Prairie’s Note

In her original note, she tells her parents that she’s leaving to find her father. While Prairie may have been mentally ill and imaging her own backstory before her disappearance, the beginning of her story and motivations do seem to check out at this point. That also helps counter assertions that Prairie made up her background by stealing details from her books, which brings us to…


#8: The Books Could Explain the Fraud or…

…they might be research to figure out her own past, to confirm it was real. The point is: we don’t know where the books came from, if they’ve been read to fictionalize her narrative or for The OA to confirm that her narrative is true. Hell, she might even be testing Alfonso’s faith – and the audiences – by leaving the damn things around. We don’t know because Alfonso doesn’t flip to the one marked section of the Russian Oligarchs section that would say something damning (“There were no survivors of the Great Russian Bus Crash”) or convincing (“The blind girl and her father went missing, pursued by the Mob.”) The prosecution doesn’t prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt, which is exactly what the writers want: no definitive truths.

Emory Cohen | The OA

 #9: Homer In the Mirror

A counterargument has it that Alfonso understands that Prairie has turned him into her imaginary friend “Homer” and that he realizes it when he sees a vision of Homer in the mirror. But the mirror reflection is only what Alfonso imagines – it doesn’t mean his interpretation of the box of books is the right one. In the OA’s view, yes, she does seem him as a kind of replacement Homer already – which is why she’s picked him as one of the five people to come and hear her story.


#10: The FBI Agent Theory

The theory goes that the FBI Agent planted the books. Now, internet conspiracy fiends, please tell me… why in the hell would he do that? Because he thought someone might find them and, what, not believe a story he hasn’t even heard yet? Remember, we have seen her repeatedly avoid telling the agent anything.

But that doesn’t explain away the fact of the agent’s presence in the house. What is he doing there when no one’s around if not meddling in some way? After all, he runs into Alfonoso and is pretty accusatory, yet offers no answers of his own.  

Riz Ahmed | The OA

#11: The FBI Agent Deflects

When Alfonso snaps (“They were lies”) at the FBI Agent, the Agent doesn’t agree with them. He looks wounded, then tells Alfonso that Alfonso took “someone else’s pain” for them so they can “survive.” In other words, he’s saying, we don’t know what if any details are true, so the best you can be is just a damn good listener.

#12: Not Telling The Authorities What Really Happened

Some viewers couldn’t get over the fact that Prairie never tells the cops details that would help them either verify the story or at least find the other NDEs. (I’ll admit, that’s how I came to the conclusion, early on, that she was at least making something up.) But the safest way to protect the remaining NDEs, in her mind, is for the OA to get back to that last Movement and join or perhaps rescue the others. The FBI kicking down some professor’s door could just end in more deaths – much like the last time a cop came by to visit. Plus, she’s on a motherlode of drugs.

Brandon Perea (far right) | The OA

#13: Alfonso (And An Extra) Have Premonitions

When Alfonso plugs his phone into the charger and turns to the forest, he seems to be able to see perfectly without his glasses (an issue raised earlier in a seemingly innocuous moment.) Not only that, by what he sees is the top of rustling trees, almost like something enormous is headed toward the school. (We also see the rustling trees, in focus, behind Steve as he completes the final Movement – no coincidence.)

Jesse’s friend has a kind of premonition – the whole image gets fuzzy, in fact – and turns toward the shooter just as he arrives at the school. Betty, the teacher, has an opportunity to flee but, without hearing any details, says “Oh my God” and immediately runs to the cafeteria to help the kids.

How would any of this be possible if at least the supernatural, or spiritual, elements of The OA’s story were factual?

Riz Ahmed (left) and Brit Marling (right) | The OA

#14: Prairie Knows The School Shooting Is Going to Happen

Same with this one…

The OA had a dream with guns and silverware clattering and some other elements we’ll later see in the school shooting sequence – then she has the dream again in the bathtub and wakes up with a nosebleed. She tells her adoptive father she knows what’s going to happen, races to the school on foot and is there to complete the Movements and take the bullet for them.

Brit Marling | The OA

#15: Prairie Is In the Perfect Position

Also not a coincidence: how and where Prairie is standing as she takes a bullet. (There are five lines in the crack in the glass, all leading like a spider web to the hole itself.) As previously mentioned, she’s folding her hands over her chest in a way that could be Christ-like.

 You could make a really good case for the veracity of her story simply based on this one image – a woman no one believed proving that everything she’s done lead conclusively to this moment in which she proves her importance by becoming a martyr for her cause.

#16: The “Whoosh”

 “I have the will,” The OA tells Steve as she’s loaded into the ambulance. “Can’t you feel it?” In the next moment, there is a “whoosh” moment, like the one she described to him early in the series – or is that just an F-16 passing at that exact moment? Either way, Steve’s suddenly back on board (“It’s happening”) and chases after the ambulance, screaming for the lifeless Prairie to “take me with you.”

Brit Marling | The OA

#17: The OA’s Last NDE

Is that a near-death experience or an actual death… she experiences at the end? Is she in a (mental) hospital, dressed in ill-fitting, angelic-white linens calling out to Homer (who is actually, maybe, an orderly)? The only way we’ll ever know is if there’s a season two…


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