The OA Season 1 Episode 6: Forking Paths Recap

TOA106Hap

Hap is spiraling out of control, as the captives’ bond grows. He’s forgotten the original premise of his experiments, and become obsessed with Khatoun’s movements. He’s as driven to find the last movements as the captives, and to understand what the movements lead to. His obsession leads him to start making mistakes.

Buck is trying to sneak out to the regular meeting at the empty house, but his parents are still downstairs. He practices the movements until he can slip out unnoticed. On his bike ride to the house, he sees flares lighting the remains of a crash on the side of the road. The others wait for him before they start, even though he’s a little late.

Over the next two years of Prairie’s captivity, Renata was given the fourth movement. Renata’s guardian told her that a potential side effect of dimensional travel is amnesia, meaning that the traveler could forget everything that had happened before. The captives invented symbols to represent the movements, then Prairie and Homer carved them into their skin. The scars could never be lost. Prairie has the 1st and 3rd movements, Homer has the 2nd and 4th movements.

TOA106PrairieScars

Buck asks why Prairie didn’t just let herself die and stay in her NDE. Prairie explains that the NDE is temporary. It doesn’t create a permanent space. There are multiple dimensions or alternate realities stacked on top of each other. The movements would allow them to travel to another dimension permanently. They could create new lives in a new world.

Jesse asks what it would look like when they open the tunnel to another dimension. Prairie says, “I don’t know. I’ve never done it. All I know is that it would be invisible. The person leaving this dimension would experience a great acceleration of events, but no break in time-space. It’s like jumping into an invisible current. It just carries you away to another realm. But we had to have all five movements, and we had to do them with perfect feeling.”

But Hap, the Angel Hunter, was receiving every movement at the same time as them. It was a race to see if they could get the movement and keep it away from Hap long enough to make their escape.

A year after Renata had been given the fourth movement, Rachel still hadn’t been given the fifth movement. Prairie was wondering if they’d ever get that movement. The captives had each other to keep themselves going. Hap was by himself. He has one man he could share his secret with.

We change perspectives here. For the first time, we see the story from Hap’s point of view, and see an extended scene that Prairie wasn’t present or nearby for. We aren’t told how Prairie knows what happened. Hap is in a hospital in a city, meeting with his mentor, a doctor named Leon Citro. He tells Leon that he’s had a dream about being a rat caught in a trap. There are some obvious metaphors here, Hap. You are a rat, as in a monster. You are also becoming a lab rat, trapped in your own experiment. Leon just tells him to lighten up. They aren’t dealing with plants.

It turns out that Leon is doing very similar experiments. He keeps his hostages in the morgue of an abandoned hospital wing. He doesn’t have the same problem with getting attached to his subjects that Hap does. He doesn’t keep each subject alive long enough to get attached. Leon makes Hap look like Mother Teresa. He tells Hap that there is no line between good and evil, only what a man can stand. He tells Hap to find a way to make a profit, destroy the evidence, and move on.

He also says that he is on the verge of a major breakthrough. He will prove the existence of an afterlife in the form of another dimension, or a greater reality. Leon asks what Hap has found in his research. Hap tells him that it seems to be multiple realities or dimensions, rather than a single place. A garden of forking paths. His subjects are working with a movement technology that allows them to travel. He has an idea of where they go, but he’s not ready to reveal anything yet. And he’s not interested in profit, he just wants to travel with them and know the truth.

Leon offers to show Hap something, and ushers hin into the body storage room. He tells Hap to open one of the bottom drawers. It’s empty, other than liquid in the bottom. When Hap turns around, Leon is pointing a gun at him. Leon orders Hap to reveal his secrets. Hap says he can’t. Leon shoots near Hap’s head. Hap and I both jump. We trusted this man. (Well, Hap did.) They fight over the gun, with Hap trying to get Leon to give up. Leon doesn’t, so Hap drowns him in the drawer. Remember, kids, you can drown in two inches of liquid. Hap wraps a scarf around his face and tips off a nurse on his way out of the hospital that there are people who need to be rescued in the abandoned morgue. No honor among thieves in Hap’s business, but he tries to prove to himself that he’s better than Leon by saving Leon’s subjects.

Hap gets home and takes Prairie straight to the death machine. He says that he thinks of them all as collaborators, but her, especially, as a partner. They are all worried about finding the fifth movement. He tells her that he will always understand her better than Homer ever could. She might be able to escape with Homer, but she’d eventually get bored. Hap wants to run away with Prairie, now, and set up a clinic using the first two movements to heal wealthy people.

Prairie asks what went wrong and how he got hurt. She asks what would happen to the other captives. He brushes aside the first question by saying he was protecting the work. He says the other subjects are a “detail” he’d take care of. They still aren’t even humans to him. Prairie tells him, in a very certain tone, that she will never go away with him.

He finishes setting up the machine. She stares at him as she dies. Prairie emerges from a puddle into someplace that looks similar to Khatoun’s star field, but not the same. There are the sounds of thunder and a high-pitched whine, like the howl of the wind. Prairie calls for Khatoun, but she doesn’t answer before Prairie is jolted out of the NDE.

TOA106CylPrairie

Hap insists that Prairie listen to sounds to try to recognize the sounds in her NDE. She’s uncooperative, but he plays them anyway. She reacts when he plays the sounds recorded from the rings of Saturn. Hap thinks that’s where they go in their NDEs. It seems strange that they would go someplace recognizable and concrete. Maybe Khatoun is messing with Hap.

Back in her cell, Prairie tells Homer what just happened. She wonders if she should give in, since it seems like Khatoun has abandoned them. Homer tries to raise her spirits. He talks about raising a garden together once they’re free in another dimension. It’ll take time for them to get the garden right, but when they do, it will be wonderful. Prairie gets the metaphor.

Hap sits upstairs with his headphones on, lost in his own head as he listens to the sounds of the rings of Jupiter. The sheriff comes in and sees him, then sees his surveillance monitors of the captives. He looks at the basement door with the lock on it and realizes what’s happening. Sheriff Markham pulls out his gun, and puts it to the back of Hap’s head.

In the present day, Buck’s father discovers that Buck has left the front door open while he’s meeting with Prairie. She said the door has to be open, because they “have to be open to me.” Mr Vu slams the door shut. That doesn’t bode well.


 

When we see Hap learning the movements from the captives and hear Prairie call him the Angel Hunter, Hap is listening to “Groping the Angel’s Face” by an existential Black Metal-ish Band called Raspberry Bulbs. In an interview with Pitchfork, the band said this about the song:

“You hear the title “Groping the Angel’s Face” and don’t exactly know what it means. That’s how I want it to be. The song is about dealing with your own mortality and constantly being confronted by the idea of dying.”

Hap knows he’s an Angel Hunter, but he’s hunting the experience of being an angel, not really the angels themselves. They are a means to an end. If he thought he could trust one of the captives to bring him back, and that he was sure to come back, he probably would try the machine. But most subjects who haven’t already had an NDE die in the death machine, and Hap hasn’t had one. That’s the whole point of his envy and longing. Leon was doing the research for the power and glory, the fun and profit, but Hap is there for the scientific knowledge and the actual exploration of a new frontier that might make the world a better place in the end. He’s a very seductive character in that way. I feel how badly he wants this, and how hard he’s worked for it. He seems sincerely sorry to have to hurt people to accomplish his goals. I almost want him to get what he wants. Almost. I wonder about his background. Did he lose someone, and he’s looking for the comfort of knowing for sure that there’s an afterlife? Was he raised in a very religious home, and he’s trying to prove or disprove those beliefs? Or is it his God complex that drives him to look for proof that he’ll never really die?

How many of the details of the story Prairie tells in the present day have been pieced together from internet research after she returned home? Was she able to keep up with the date while she was in captivity? She knew how many years have gone by, but did she know the exact date to search for something like who Hap might have killed? We saw her look up Homer’s details. She’s probably checked out as much as she could.

Rachel was never given a movement. She’s asleep the one time we see her in this episode. She seems to have faded and become a non-entity.

So many plant references in this episode. It’s a counterpoint to the death references, which were also especially abundant, with Leon telling us about his high subject turnover rate and scientists who were okay with killing.

How clearly could Khatoun see the future? Is everything still going according to her plan, or has she abandoned the captives?

Amnesia is a possible consequence of dimensional travel. When we see they others in the present, if they have traveled through dimensions, who will have amnesia? If Hap does, it would be a blessing. If the others do, Prairie will want to find a way to bring their memories back. If it’s Homer, she might be lost to despair, her unbreakable determination finally broken.

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