The OA Season 1 Episode 5: Paradise Recap


What is Paradise? It’s subjective, in the end. Growing up in one of the snowiest cities in the country, with a depressed, Rust Belt economy, paradise always sounded like a warm tropical island to me. But warm tropical islands have depressed economies and natural disasters of their own, making the people who live there want to find a different sort of paradise just as much. This episode looks at the expectations we have for escape, for each other, for paradise, for whatever we think should be perfect in our lives.

Hap is in a bar in Cuba to listen to a woman who plays flamenco guitar. After the performance, he approaches her on the patio. They chat, and he steers the conversation toward his study. She is an NDE survivor, and only took up the guitar after her experience. Hap makes her his usual offer, and includes helping her escape from Cuba. But she’s not as young or desperate as his other subjects. She rejects him, even though she wants to get off the island. He looks shocked, like it’s the first time this has ever happened. She dances away with a much younger man.

Prairie and Homer are exercising and sorting out their movements from Khatoun. Rachel is still passed out from Hap’s last experiment. Scott is going stir crazy. He yells, throws his plant at the glass, and argues with Homer and Prairie. He is hopeless, and wants to spread his misery.

Hap returns home to regroup. As he’s considering, he notices the captives practicing the Khatoun movements together. They refuse to talk to him about what they’re doing, other than to say they made the movements up. The sheriff arrives to talk to Hap about a personal matter, and Hap has to race to the door so that the captives aren’t discovered.

The sheriff’s wife has ALS and she’s reached the point where she can’t even speak any more. It’s made both of their lives unbearable. He’s looking for Hap to give him some hope. Hap tells him that the disease is incurable, but he’ll look into new research.

Hap sits alone upstairs and watches the captives like they’re TV. He has no life of his own. Homer and Prairie grow closer, and Hap grows jealous.

In the present day, Prairie’s new team hang out together during lunch in the cafeteria and discuss what they know so far, and what might come next. Then Alfonso has to leave for Lacrosse practice. The Principal has been watching them eat lunch together, and asks Alfonso what brings that group together. Alfonso deflects.

Prairie meets with her FBI therapist again. She asks him about guiding other people. She’s thinking about her mission to save the other captives, which they discuss. She says the FBI can’t help with them because they’re gone, as in off the board. She wants the same thing to happen to her. She doesn’t seem to mean that they’re dead. The therapist is patient, and wants to help, but he’s confused, just like everyone else.


Buck sings lead in the choir at Alfonso’s scholarship dinner. The VIPs at Alfonso’s table are impressed by Alfonso. He goes to find his mother, Claudelle, who has wandered outside to drink and flirt with married men. He tries to bring her back inside so she doesn’t embarrass him. She delivers a long rant about how he ruined her life by tying her down in this Midwestern town, he doesn’t know anything about real life yet, and he’ll be who he’s going to be, whether he gets the scholarship or not. She’s an addict who blames her problems on her kids and doesn’t care how she hurts them. But we already knew that. However, a kid who’s had to raise himself and his younger siblings by himself most certainly has learned some things about life. Starting with not trusting his parents, ever.

Alfonso and Buck bring Claudelle home, then go to meet Prairie. Alfonso wonders if they are good people, and if they’ll stay that way. He thinks about his mother, and Hap, and how they were both young once. Alfonso and Buck seem to be developing a connection.

Prairie tells the group that Hap knew he had to break up the power that the captives were developing. He didn’t understand it, but he knew it was dangerous. Homer was the heart of the group, so he was the way to break them. She tells them that this next part of the story is hard to hear. It’s difficult to comprehend freedom when you’ve been held prisoner for so many years. The psychology of a long-term hostage is not the same as someone who is used to self-determination.

Hap figures out a way to trap the Cuban guitar player. Prairie wakes up one morning and Homer isn’t in his cell. Hap has Homer in his private plane, bound for Cuba. He tells Homer that if anything happens to Hap, the other captives will starve. Homer still figures out a way to escape, once they’re at a hotel. He runs to the front desk and asks them to call the police for him, but he’s so overwhelmed and overstimulated they think he’s crazy. Plus, Hap has warned them about his brain-damaged son. Homer runs outside and down the street, but Hap catches him. He convinces Homer that no one will ever find where he’s keeping the captives, and the US government won’t come for Homer since they’re in Cuba. With no passport, money, or idea of how to get help, Homer gives up.

Hap takes Homer to the guitar player, Renata’s, performance. Hap wants Homer to bring Renata back to his room so that Hap can kidnap her. Homer successfully lures her there, but he’s withdrawn, so Renata’s confused. Homer tries to get her to leave, because he doesn’t want to be a part of Hap’s crime, but she’s drawn to Homer. Once they start kissing, Homer can’t stop. He has to be incredibly touch starved, after living behind glass walls for years, only being touched when Hap takes him to experiment on him.

Hap has mics in Homer’s clothing and room, and listens in as they have sex. He’s watching the captives at home at the same time, and decides to broadcast the sound from Homer’s room to the captives. Prairie is relieved that Homer’s alive, but the fact that he helped kidnap Renata makes the others hate him at first. Prairie is devastated that he had sex with someone else. The others all question if they can be angels who have what it takes for the plan when they are such flawed humans.

The gas sounds start, but the dispenser is broken. It was meant for Scott. He knows that he’s sick enough that he’ll stay dead this time. He begs Hap to spare him in exchange for information, exposing all of the group’s secrets. Hap leaves him awake as he drowns Scott anyway. As the cylinder is filling, Scott tells Hap that Prairie can see. Hap is stunned. By the time Hap realizes he should reverse the process and question Scott, he’s dead.

Hap takes Scott’s body back to his cell and drops it on the floor. He looks at Prairie and blames her. Scott is still bleeding out of his ears from where something ruptured. Prairie stands and begins her Khatoun movement. Homer joins her. Prairie’s movement becomes hissing and angry. Homer’s becomes sad, begging for forgiveness. They sense each others emotions and are reunited. They do the movements in unison all night long. In the morning, Scott’s blood flows back into his body. His injuries and the wounds from his illness heal. Then he begins breathing again and wakes up.

He laughs, and tells the other captives that there are five movements, and he has the third movement. The five movements together open a tunnel to another dimension of freedom.

Hap has been watching, as usual. He runs downstairs to see for himself, looking overjoyed. The others look at him with hatred.

Prairie tells her present day team that she will teach them the five movements so they can open a portal, then she will go through and rescue the other four captives.



There was a lot of talk about freedom in this episode, and the mentality of imprisonment. Claudelle is imprisoned by her own issues and can’t see any escape, just as much as Homer was imprisoned by his inability to see a way to get help when he was in Cuba. Prairie is free, no matter where she is, because she retains the ability to think and make decisions for herself.

Hap has got some kind of weird psychology of his own going, where he identifies more and more with his subjects, and tells himself that they are collaborators on a great experiment. He wants to be accepted into that group very badly at times, while at others he knows he is the scientist who is a separate observer. He really does think of Homer as a son who overstepped and competed for Prairie’s affections.

Where, exactly, are the other captives in the present day? Prairie says they are off the board, that they need to use the movements to save them, that the FBI can’t help, and she jumped off the bridge in the first episode, then asked if she’d flatlined. Are the others stuck in another dimension? Did they get proficient enough at the movements to escape into some other plane of existence, but only Prairie was able to get back into our world? Did she want to flatline to communicate with them?

When Scott dies, and Hap drops his body on the floor of the cell, it’s purposely arranged to look like Jesus’ body is often pictured when he’s just been taken off the cross. Scott’s wearing only soiled white underwear, is bearded, has long, lean limbs, and is bloodied and bent. His journey is about surrendering and becoming open to the others and to healing. Before he dies, he confesses the group sins to Hap, getting all of the secrets out in the open. Then he dies quickly.

He’s resurrected by Prairie and Homer, and healed of his illness as well. He comes back seeming lighter and happier, with knowledge of the plan and his own movement that seems to rival Prairie’s, at least. When he drops the body, Hap almost literally says that Scott died for their sins. He’s resurrected to help save them from Hap, who is the devil in this scenario, but thinks he’s God. When Scott comes back to life, Hap sees it from his surveillance equipment upstairs and runs down to see Scott with his own eyes. But he can only see Scott from the outside looking in. Hap desperately wants to be part of this miracle. He thinks he’s done something to make it happen. He’s still only the evil that brought the captives together and forced them to find these things within themselves. It’s their strength, their wisdom, their forgiveness, that brought Scott back.

Hap is given signs that he’s not the center of the universe in this episode. When he notices the captives practicing Khatoun’s movements, he’s listening to a science lecture, and the speaker is discussing the discoveries that the earth isn’t the center of the universe, then that the sun isn’t the center, then that the galaxy isn’t. Renata rejects him in favor of two younger men the first time we see her, then she chooses Homer the second time. He’s told that Prairie has been able to fool him about her sightedness for years. And Prairie chooses Homer over Hap as well, then chooses him again, despite Hap’s scheming. The message seems to be that Prairie and Homer are the center, and he can’t change that.