Fans and viewers of The OA are still lamenting it's premature and unfair cancellation by Netflix, and if the quality of this unique and utterly singular show is anything to go by then the mourning over The OA will last for quite a while after the end of the series. There are a lot of things within the series that made it feel like a show that no one had ever seen before or would ever see again.
The OA was not a series that cared very much about grounding itself in reality, and it liked to ask a lot of philosophical questions of its characters and audience. It's very hard to watch the show without being haunted by what it makes you think, makes you feel, or by what its characters say and experience. So here are ten quotes from The OA that we are still contemplating.
10 "The biggest mistake I made was believing that if I cast a beautiful net I’d catch only beautiful things."
Prairie's ability to keep hope alive even in the most hopeless of circumstances is obviously one of her greatest strengths as a person, but her unfailing optimism was undoubtedly a double-edged sword in her life.
Her thirst for love and family is what inadvertently led Hap to find her in the first place but ironically it was Hap's decision to abduct and imprison her that led her to the people she would love the most in the world.
Prairie's transformation into OA was driven by enormous suffering but ultimately she did wind up catching many beautiful things with her beautiful net, even if she captured monstrous things too.
9 "Lab rats are only powerless because they don’t understand that they’re in an experiment."
The OA was a unique and incredible show in a lot of different ways but the most compelling element of the series is pretty perfectly summed up in this particular quote from OA herself.
The introduction into OA's story is baffling and incomprehensible, and the mystery behind why OA, Homer, and the rest of the crew have been imprisoned by Hap was a fascinating story.
The revelation of what Hap's true goal was and what the purpose of the rest of his prisoners was didn't disappoint, and the way that OA and Homer work their way through Hap's experiment was absolutely gripping to watch.
8 "You lose your freedom many times before you finally believe it."
Obviously, when Prairie speaks on her loss of freedom she's really speaking in the most literal and complete terms possible. It's hard to imagine how anyone could lose as much freedom as OA and the rest of Hap's lab rats have, but this particular quote is the kind of philosophical idea that can be applied to a lot of different people in a lot of different circumstances.
And once someone has lived with sincere freedom, it's very difficult for their mentality to be transformed into that of a slave. OA and the rest of the squad demonstrate that perfectly too since even after years of captivity they weren't willing to give in to their captors.
7 "To exist is to survive unfair choices."
Seeing as Khatun is a literal spirit guide, it's fair to expect that she'd be dropping these little thought gems on Prairie more often than not. And she's certainly right, especially when it comes to Prairie's experiences.
She has managed to survive against the worst of odds, but she has also had to make the most unfair choices that anyone could possibly have to make. However, she's certainly not alone in that either. She may have had a rough go of it, but so has almost everyone else she knows, and so has everyone else in the world in some way or another.
6 "It’s not really a measure of mental health to be well-adjusted in a society that’s very sick."
The OA is a TV show that clearly likes to operate on a more metaphysical and philosophical plane than your average series, and it makes a lot of sense that Prairie sees the world in the way that she does. After being removed from the world that everyone else lives in for so long, it's easy for her to see the bigger picture.
And her insight about Steve's behavior and the way in which society treats him is pretty on point. Yes, he's an absolute mess, but not being able to function in a dysfunctional world seems like it should be a good sign instead of a bad one.
5 "People who want power will always try to control those who truly possess it."
No one on earth understands this reality better than Hap's prisoners. It's an interesting dynamic between Hap, OA, and the rest of the underground angel crew, because although it's the angels who truly hold all of the power, Hap is the only one who actually knows that they do, at least at the start of things.
But regardless of how intensely Hap tried to control them all, he couldn't do it. And that's kind of the key to this classic quote from The OA, that people who want power will always try to control those who possess it, but they'll rarely succeed.
4 "Captivity is a mentality. It’s a thing you carry with you."
Although the fictional world of The OA is a very fantastical one, the experiences of its characters often time have very deep roots in reality.
As far as we know no one has ever abducted a group of people who have had near-death experiences so that they can force them to die over and over again, however, the trauma that the OA angels experience still shares a lot in common with run of the mill trauma many people have faced every day. And Prairie's comment about how once you've become a real captive it's not something you can just leave behind the moment that you're free is a very accurate insight into the typical trauma experience.
3 "Knowledge is a rumor until it lives in the body."
Something that The OA always excelled at was being able to take a pretty relatable or universal experience and look at it from a new and unique angle. And such is the case with this little tidbit.
It's kind of a strange sensation to try to put into words, but "knowledge is a rumor until it lives in the body" is a pretty good way of summing up the difference between knowing something and really knowing something. Everyone knows how it feels to know or understand something intellectually versus that feeling where you just fully know and feel something in your bones.
2 "You'll find your freedom. In your thoughts, in your dreams."
Most people in Homer's situation would succumb to complete hopelessness. Honestly, considering how torturous that kind of isolation is, it's pretty surprising that none of the angels trapped in Hap's prison cellar tried to end their own lives. But Homer's ability to find his own versions of freedom undoubtedly kept him, OA, and many of the other angels going when they really had no reason to want to.
It's an interesting idea to put words to, because while no one watching the show would ever experience what the characters experienced the fact that things like thoughts and dreams are something that can never truly be controlled by someone else is certainly a universal experience.
1 "He was an explorer, and death was his frontier."
Although OA and Homer are kind of the stars of the whole dimensional travel through death storyline, everyone who Hap has imprisoned has their own part to play in the saga.
For Homer, understanding what it is that will help them all escape as well as experiencing what OA has already discovered in her NDE's is in large part what keeps him alive and going forward.
Life and death is something that has been covered a thousand times over in every form of media, but the idea of seeing death as just another frontier of experience that has yet to be explored is a fascinating take on such a classic subject.