7 Things We Know About The OA Season 2
It's been two years since Netflix announced that it was renewing Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij’s controversial show The OA for a second season. At the time, they released a teaser trailer that had glimpses of the Golden Gate Bridge and the word survived in Braille. Today, they dropped a trailer for the second season, which will debut March 22. The tagline? "No one survives alone."
It's an appropriately mysterious trailer for a show that left viewers guessing about whether or not the tale Prairie (Marling) told—which included near-death experiences, being held captive against her will, movements that open a door to another dimension, and angels—was even real. Here's what we do know about The OA's second season.
1. The second season is titled The OA: Part II.
In a 2016 interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Batmanglij explained that The OA’s unusual format—which features episodes of varying lengths—was inspired by novels. “We wanted to take what we love about a novel and the novelistic experience and put it on the long-format series experience—not having all the characters in the first hour, not having all the chapters be the same length,” he said. “Could you imagine if the chapters of a book were all the same length? It would be funny. So we thought to ourselves about those constraints. Also, novels are often about something. They have an intention that the writer is trying to get across, and I think both Brit and I felt that we wanted to do that, too. We wanted to try to say something that we believed in.” He told Esquire that, “I think the novel analogy works really well; it's a novel, but it could easily be a series of novels. And I think it would be best as a series of novels!”
That helped guide the co-creators when they decided what to call the second season. “We always thought of [the parts of the OA] almost like books, and there could be many different volumes,” Marling said in an interview with Vulture when asked about why the new season would be called "Part II."
2. Part of The OA: Part II takes place in a different dimension than the first.
In the trailer above, Prairie—who claimed she could open another dimension—awakens in the hospital to find herself in a parallel universe. According to Entertainment Weekly, Prairie has "successfully transported her consciousness into an alternate-universe version of herself"—a rich Russian heiress who was never a captive and was never experimented on. (Although, according to the official synopsis, she does "once again [find] herself as Hap’s captive.")
"It was really delicious to dive back into a realm you had been intimate with and land in the body of someone who had not been through all the experiences we watch Prairie go through in Part I,” Marling told Entertainment Weekly. Prairie's friends, meanwhile, are back in the dimension she left behind.
3. The OA: Part II was "carefully planned."
Shortly after the first season of The OA debuted without warning on Netflix, Batmanglij told Esquire that, although he and Marling “wanted [season one] to be its own standalone piece,” they “didn't want to go into it without having the larger picture planned out—I think the audience can always tell that, or feel it.” As he told The Hollywood Reporter, “This is a story that’s carefully planned … When we started, Brit and I spent two or three years conceiving of a whole world before we brought it to anybody, before it ever left our bedrooms.”
Marling assured THR—and fans of the show—that “there is an answer to every riddle and nothing is done to just be sound and fury going nowhere. It all goes somewhere.”
The goal, she explained to Entertainment Weekly in 2017, was to create a show that could stand up to the scrutiny of the internet age. “Now you can stop and start, you can watch it three times, you can screengrab and share it and be on Reddit,” she said. “So you have to have a narrative that’s robust enough to live up to that expectation. So we really tried to think about that and make sure every image and every frame was honest, and if we should get more than one season out, you could go back and watch the first season again and go, 'It was all there.'”
Which, of course, meant they had a clear picture of the second season: “There is a place that season two already begins in our minds and a place in which it ends,” she said. Hopefully this means we won’t have to wait too long for it!
4. The OA: Part II explores the first season's sci-fi roots more deeply.
“The first part is the story of a young woman who is traumatized and tells a group of boys this story and in so doing, allows them to face a moment of their own crisis at the end,” Marling explained to Vulture in 2017. “That is the self-contained story, but the more science fiction metaphysical threads are open-ended, so there can be a part 2 in which we can dive into those spaces.”
5. The OA: Part II involves a missing teenager—and a mysterious house.
The original cast is back, but The OA: Part II also adds Kingsley Ben-Adir (Peaky Blinders, Vera) as private investigator Karim Washington, who is looking for a missing teenager named Michelle Vu who was playing some kind of online game when she vanished. According to the synopsis, "His path crosses with OA, as they try to solve the mystery of Michelle’s whereabouts and a house on Nob Hill connected to the disappearance of several teenagers." In the trailer, the house is described as a place where everyone "either comes up cracked up or doesn't come out at all."
6. The OA: Part II found inspiration in film noir.
As Batmanglij told Entertainment Weekly, “We think of Part II as very much a noir. We wanted to come in through the character of a cynical detective. Films like The Big Sleep didn’t seem antiquated [when they came out]. They were very modern. That’s why we thought, ‘What better place than San Francisco and the tech world to set a noir today?’”
7. There will be answers to some of The OA's most pressing questions.
Marling told Marie Claire in 2016 that “there are answers to all of the questions. That's the delicious thing about the gap between seasons. People watch and take it in, revel in the mystery, argue about it online. And then, if they should be so lucky, the storytellers get to meet the audience when the story continues.”
But neither Marling or Batmanglij gave any hints. In 2016, when asked by Rolling Stone about some of the most discussed questions left lingering from season one, Batmanglij was coy. Kahtun’s realm is “not purgatory—or maybe it is. It's supposed to be something specific … I don't think anyone's picked up on what it is just quite yet.” Was the FBI agent who randomly shows up in the Johnsons' home in the last episode of the first season planting evidence? “I'm just glad people are asking that question. I was hoping they would be, and they are. [But] I can't tell you just yet.” Are the books under Prairie’s bed an indication that she’s lying? “There are two obvious options and unlimited other options why those exist. One is, if you're traumatized by something, you might read up on it. But there's also a more cynical perspective that she was using those books to tell a story.”
Translation: You’re just going to have to tune in to find out. To see what happens, watch The OA: Part II on Netflix on March 22.
A version of this story ran in 2017.