The OA takes a break from…the OA in this episode, in order to revisit the home dimension and check in with Betty and the boys. Rachel leads the way on a transformative road trip whose purpose hasn’t become fully clear yet, but with this show, it’s best not to rush things.
Distorted images of the OA’s drawings of Betty and the boys decorate the opening credits. They fade to show Prairie’s body in her coffin, ready for her funeral. When OA jumped to another dimension, the body she left behind, now without its soul and gravely wounded, died.
Steve drives Jesse down a country road, as fast as he can manage without losing control, way over the speed limit. A cop pulls them over, but lets them go when he realizes that they’re the kids who stopped the school shooting and that they’re coming from Prairie’s funeral. He even tells them they’re brave and to get home safely. They don’t know what to do with authority figures who are nice to them.
Buck’s parents didn’t let him go to the funeral. They are moving the family out of the neighborhood to a safer place for their kids. His mom tells him that the movers are coming the next day, so he should tag anything he wants to keep. Buck does some combination of ignoring her and giving her the silent treatment, which is probably 80% ignoring.
This is a continuation of the scene that ended episode 2. Buck is sitting on his bed and hears a hum from his mirror. He goes to check it, but is interrupted when Steve texts him to come to Angie’s house and bring French. Steve says he has a plan.
Once everyone is at the house, Steve tells them that he’s taught Angie the movements. He thinks they’re in a bad dimension, but they can leave. They can all do the movements and get out, right now.
Everyone else is a bit blindsided by this sudden development. French tries to convince Steve that Prairie is dead, but Steve insists she traveled. They argue over whether Prairie’s story was true or she was mentally ill, and whether there was any meaning to the whole adventure.
Steve believes, absolutely, in the literal truth. Buck has been thinking about the coincidences involved and the metaphysical meanings. Angie defends Steve. Jesse silently observes. French hasn’t changed his mind since finding the books convinced him that her whole story was a lie. No evidence can sway him.
Steve and French get into an argument, as is typical for the two alphas. The insults fly, until French jumps on Steve. After that, everyone leaves. Without Prairie and Betty, they’re missing important elements of the group dynamic.
Steve decides to make a recruitment video similar to the one OA made in Part 1, but Angie doesn’t think it’s safe. Some people think the shooter should have shot the boys and Betty the minute they stood up to do the movements, and want an opportunity to finish the job. Angie doesn’t want to recruit strangers unless they go through a metal detector. Steve understands her fear.
Betty is asleep in a hotel room, having a dream while Wheel of Fortune plays on the TV. In the dream, she’s looking at a diner menu when her brother Theo appears behind her and asks for help. Betty wakes up with a nosebleed, which means it was a prophetic dream.
Back at Buck’s house, he’s woken up by more humming in the mirror and gets up to investigate. This time, he catches a glimpse of Rachel in the mirror. He turns to look behind him, but she’s not there. When he looks back at the mirror, she’s gone, but his own face is reflected multiple times, and one reflection looks a lot like Jessie to me.
Buck kept Prairie’s book about angels from the box under her bed, and statues of angels can be seen in his bedroom. Besides the kinship he and Rachel share in their life stories, Buck is probably the most open to supernatural phenomenon.
These look a little odd because I lightened the exposure to make Rachel more visible.
Buck rushes to Angie’s house to tell Steve what he saw. He bursts in on Angie and Steve in bed. Steve is angry until he hears why Buck is there. Buck tells Steve that Rachel sang a little. (I didn’t notice it.)
Steve stares at the mirror, but Rachel doesn’t reappear. He asks for every detail of her appearance and wonders why she didn’t choose him. The bottom line is, Buck’s door was open, so Rachel came in.
French works on a social media profile picture while he waits to met with Abel Johnson, in the public library, which is surrounded by beautiful trees. When Abel arrives, they discuss the funeral and French’s attempts to prove that Prairie’s story is true.
He tells Abel about the box of books. Abel chuckles, and says that he wondered where those books had gone. Prairie’s counselor suggested them for her. The counselor thought that it might help Prairie for the family to accept her story and discuss it with her openly.
French thinks that means that the counselor thought that Prairie lied, because either the story is true or it’s not. There’s no room for gray in Alfonso’s world. Abel becomes indignant, because he doesn’t think she lied. He tells French that Prairie had begun telling the boys the story before the Johnsons ordered the books.
French’s world is turned upside down. Before he can recover, Buck calls him to come over.
Jesse walks home from school while listening to a meditation tape.
“It does not matter what you have experienced over the course of the last 18 hours or so. This meditation is a place for you to release everything that weighs you down. Chance occurrences…”
He unplugs as he reaches Buck’s house and joins the others on mirror watch.
Except Buck didn’t tag the mirror, so his mom sent it to Goodwill. Once they’re done being upset that they’ve inadvertently lost Rachel already, they organize a trip to the thrift store to find the mirror.
But first, French has to compare Buck’s Rachel sighting to his stress hallucination of Homer in Prairie’s mirror in Part 1. Buck doesn’t let him get away with it. He tells French, “You thought that she’d made up Homer’s head wound because she’d been staring at yours all night. So you saw him. It was a trick of the brain. That was different. I was… visited. I’m not asking you to believe in OA. I’m asking you to believe in me. Something happened through that mirror.”
We should all be as wise as Buck.
Mrs Vu isn’t going looking for the mirror when she CLEARLY told Buck to tag it. French offers to drive Angie’s parents’ station wagon so they can check for the mirror before the store closes for the day. They get there just in time, but their local store passed on the mirror and sent it to the Goodwill in Gary, Indiana.
Gary is a two hour drive from Crestwood. The grumbling starts up again, then Jesse asks what Rachel sang to Buck. She sang tones, rather than words. Buck hasn’t thought about what they were: the notes B,B,A. Everyone is back on board to visit Betty Broderick Allen.
BBA is a little overwhelmed, since she lost her job the last time she got involved with the gang. She’s preparing for a trip out west to visit her Uncle Carl, who’s dying. She already has her train tickets. Steve convinces her that they can all drive to Gary together, then drop her off in Chicago so she can catch the train from there.
They find the mirror in the Gary Goodwill. Rachel doesn’t appear immediately, so they assume they’ll have to wait until dark. BBA will have to change her train tickets again. They wonder if they can stay in the Goodwill all day, and have what sounds like one of their first whole group conversations about what happened that day in the cafeteria.
Steve: “When the sun goes down, Rachel will be back. I know it.”
Buck: “She might even say something.”
Betty: “Hmmm. I guess I can wait. I’ll have to call Amtrak about getting the next train. And you’ll have to call your parents, all of you.”
Steve: “Yeah. No problem. Whatever.”
Betty: “Don’t whatever me, Steven. I won’t go through all that with your parents again.”
Angie: “Just screw his parents. We almost died. Everything’s different now.”
Betty: “Well, I’m not sure everyone sees it that way, Angie.”
Angie: “Well, who cares how everyone sees it? We were there. When Steve stood up, or when you all did, and then the gun went off… I thought…”
Alfonso: “It is weird. That she was right there in that exact spot.”
Betty: “Almost like she drew the bullet into herself.”
Buck: “And away from us.”
Steve: “Look, we call our parents, and we wait for dark. It’s that simple.”
They are approached by one of the Goodwill workers, so Buck asks if they can stay in the store until dark. The worker, Sonja, offers to let the whole gang stay with her and her dad in the church where her dad is youth pastor. She recognizes them, and would be honored to host them. They buy the vanity, and remove the mirror for transport, strapping it to the top of BBA’s car.
On the drive, Angie proves that Steve has great taste in women, and that she’s every bit the truth teller that the OA is.
Angie, looking at a church: “Do you see all of those little, like, peaks, over the windows and doorways? Early churches stole that sh– from the pagans, but they didn’t realize that stuff was to remind you of a vag. So every church in the f–king country, like every church door, is just, like, open vages, just like welcoming folks home.”
Betty: “That’s blasphemous, Angie.”
Angie: “Well, only if you think God didn’t create vaginas.”
Sonja says they can sleep in the sanctuary and eat whatever they want from the kitchen. Sonja’s dad says the sanctuary is for any pilgrims of faith who might be passing through. She asks if they’re pilgrims of faith and they don’t know what to say.
They may not be pilgrims of the Christian faith, but they are certainly pursuing the great mysteries which transcend religion, based on their faith.
Steve and Buck set the mirror up near the altar and light some candles, then wait for dark. They all stare at the mirror for hours, but nothing happens.
Alfonso gets tired of waiting, and goes outside to scroll through his Grindr account. He chooses a guy in his 40s, who picks Alfonso up within a few minutes. They go to the guy’s apartment and get into the hook up without much ado. I doubt it was Alfonso’s first time doing this, but it didn’t seem like he’d done it many times, either.
Meanwhile, Jesse breaks into the church’s collection box and steals the cash, then uses it to buy oxycontin from a local dealer. He tells the dealer that he can’t sleep because he has too much on his mind and has nightmares all the time. Jesse asks the dealer what Oxycontin will do. The dealer says he’ll just float, but to start with only one pill. He dry swallows the pill as the dealer leaves.
Jesse is always quiet, but he’s been exceptionally quiet during this episode. He was the only one who didn’t add anything to the conversation about the shooting. It sounds like he’s still dealing with trauma from the incident, and he’s dealing with it alone.
Handley, Alfonso’s hook up, makes milkshakes for them when they’re done in bed, because why wouldn’t you make milkshakes while naked? Alfonso starts to get dressed, feeling nervous now that the sex is over, but Handley encourages him to stay for a while.
They chat over the shakes, and French ends up telling a condensed version of OA, the shooting and the mirror. I think Handley is the first nonthreatening, impartial person that French has been able to talk to about this, and it helps him clear his head. He still doesn’t know what the truth of the situation was, but he doesn’t seem as stressed about it.
“I don’t know if she was an angel or a liar or a schizophrenic. And now she’s dead. She’s dead, and we almost died with her. My friends, they think that she’s trying to send us some sort of sign. Through a mirror. A message.”
Handley is open to the idea of a message from the beyond, and suggests they visit his Aunt Lily, a famous medium who just moved from Gary to Nebraska. He promises she’ll be worth the 500 mile drive.
When French returns to the church and gets ready to bed down in the sanctuary, the mirror is humming again. One of the church’s stained glass windows is reflecting in the mirror. It looks like a man and a blonde woman are hugging. Is Rachel sending a message about OA and Homer? This reflection is only there for certain characters’ points of view, which makes sense, but it’s framed too perfectly to be an accident.
French gets up for a minute, but the mirror acts normal. When he sits down again, the meaningful reflection is back, plus gasping, heavy breathing and sobbing can be heard. Rachel doesn’t want to talk to the skeptic.
Maybe she’s waiting for some time alone with Buck again, or with some preferred combination of the group.
In the morning, French shows Aunt Lily’s website to Steve, suggesting they give her a try. He figures if they exhaust every possibility for communicating with Rachel, Buck will be satisfied and let it go. French tells Steve she comes highly recommended. Steve is impressed, if amused, by her 4 stars on Yelp.
Steve looks at French and tries to figure out what changed his mood so drastically overnight. He jokingly asks if French got laid, then realizes he’s right. Steve guesses it was Sonja, and is jealous French managed to have sex in the church, because he’s suffering.
French says, “It wasn’t Sonja. It, um…it wasn’t a girl.”
Dramatic pause while Steve processes this new information and follows the implications until the end of the line…
“You’re totally into me.”
Yup. All of those arguments were just sexual tension. If you haven’t written the fan fiction yet, you were just given permission. Personally, I’m sticking with shipping Buck and French, although French does need to relax and learn to accept the angels. And, after watching him with Handley, I think he might have a thing for older guys.
They laugh and tease each other. French looks up the route to Nebraska and realizes it’s 500 more miles away. They confess that neither has called their moms.
The organ plays the BBA pattern by itself, over and over.
They get on the road again, settling in for a long drive. It’s uneventful until it’s not. When it’s his turn to drive, Steve hits an animal in the road, and slams on the brakes. The mirror to slides forward off the car, onto the pavement, and shatters. Buck is beside himself and thinks they’ve lost Rachel, but the others think they should still wrap up the broken mirror and take it to Aunt Lily.
Jesse is the only one who pays attention to the injured armadillo behind the car. He picks up a heavy rock, and, steeling himself, hurls it down on the animal to kill it quickly and end its suffering. Angie watches him from a distance. No one else notices or thinks about how hard that must have been for Jessie.
Since none of the kids have called home and they’ve been gone overnight, the parents report them missing. Buck/Michelle is now a missing child in two dimensions. His mother blames the “cult” he’s part of for kidnapping him.
The gang makes it to Aunt Lily’s house. There’s a momentary stand-off, as they try to make sense of each other, since this is such an unusual situation. Lily thinks it’s especially odd that someone who has passed, and came from another dimension, would make contact with someone they don’t know. She suggests one of them might be a medium, and not know it yet.
I suspect both Buck and Betty are.
Steve pulls out the broken mirror to show Lily how Rachel made contact. Turns out broken mirrors are bad luck in the world of mediums, and not just in popular superstition. She tells them to cover the broken mirror and every mirror in her house, quickly. Rachel’s spirit will be looking for a new home, and if she chooses one of Lily’s mirrors she’ll be trapped in the house. Lily doesn’t want that.
After a few minutes of drama, with Lily insisting they leave after the mirrors are covered and the gang begging her to help them, Lily relents and agrees to help, but she’ll have to charge for the deluxe package. Lily is a shrewd business woman.
The deluxe package includes a séance and a blank photographic plate. The spirit can write on the plate, then Lily will interpret the markings. They sit around a table, holding hands, in the light of a lamp with a red bulb. Lily warns them that it could take hours, but they can all feel something happening.
Buck, who is most sensitive to Rachel, gets up from the table and follows her pull into the TV room. Rachel turns the TV on and skims through channels, looking for what she needs to create her message. This will be more elaborate than a scratch on a plate.
Images repeat and forms patterns. They figure out that Rachel is showing them a blind woman coming out of a bunker, then going into another dimension. The meaning is clear: OA survived the jump.
Next Rachel trims the clips into words and letters, until it says “Only safe for BBA to go.” Rachel repeats the message on the TV a few times. The kids read it each time, until it becomes a chant. BBA stares at the TV, wondering what it means. The last word on Lily’s TV screen is “mystery”. Then the image changes to the rose stained glass window from the green puzzle house.
This moment is the reason for this episode’s existence.
BBA is drawn, slowly, to the image of the rose window that Rachel has sent for her. In the other dimension, this window was one of the three essential elements that all of the dreamers saw. There is something profound about it.
Betty approaches the screen as if in a trance. Her nose is bleeding, universal scifi sign for a woman using immense power. Everyone else in the room is also transfixed, but Steve asks, “What’s happening?” He senses that there’s something powerful going on, beyond Rachel’s simple message.
In the background, Lily yells, “Betty, look away! Stop! Betty! Betty!” She tries to get Betty to turn back, right up until the moment when Betty touches the screen. It shatters in a spider web pattern and turns black.”
Did Betty just undergo a transformation?
This is the most detailed look we’ve had yet of the rose window. It can be seen to be a garden of red flowers in these images. Plant imagery has already told us that flowers are important. Liam came out of the house with the rose window with a plant growing out of his ear and rants about having 47 selves. The Garden of Forking Paths?
And the window garden is red, signaling spiritual development.The entire sequence was lit in red, which means that everyone present made spiritual progress. Betty touched the symbolic window, so her change was the deepest.
This dimension’s arc has fairy tale qualities to it, just like Karim’s. The Twelve Wild Swans is what’s coming to my mind the most, with a dash of Hansel and Gretel for the dangerous enemies and distracting indulgences, such as sex, drugs and fighting. Both have a sister who rescues her brother(s). This is definitely a story about siblings who need to save each other, and, as in The Twelve Wild Swans in particular, the burden seems to be on Betty, the lone sister.
[I should have mentioned it earlier, but Nina Azarova (not OA) is quite clearly Rapunzel in her locked, guarded penthouse.]
[In episode 2, Hap tries to frame himself and Prairie as Hansel and Gretel, alone in the dark and dangerous woods, seeking a way to navigate and find food/the best dimension. He says to her that when he traveled, he jumped into the darkness, where he could have landed in a version of himself who was brain-damaged or worse. He begs for her to save him from whatever terrible dangers may be out there in the forest/spaces between and within dimensions.
Though Hap is a liar, everything he says here is truthful. But she’s not his sister, and owes him no loyalty, unless we’re doing a different fairy tale which includes jealous step sisters. It does make me wonder. What if it were Hap who lost his memory, and he became the apparently charismatic and lovable Dr Percy? Could the captives be friends with him?]
With Buck’s mom reporting them to the police, Betty and the boys are on the run again. At the end of the episode, Betty was given power. The dream she had early in the episode gave her the task of saving the boys. Rachel wants her to go to the other dimension, to stop Hap, but I don’t think Betty will leave anyone behind in D1, after the loss of her brother, Theo.
The TV is the Magic Mirror, a metaphor for the show and real life. Rachel either knew about or was responsible for Betty’s prophetic dream in the hotel, early in the episode, and added to the Wheel of Fortune motif to her message accordingly. Or Betty has already begun having true prophetic dreams, and Rachel was tapping into symbols she knew would mean something to Betty.
It could be that the movements don’t just open up the mind for interdimensional travel, which is, after all, a psychic ability. They could open up the mind to whatever latent psychic talents the individual has. Maybe extensive practice of the movements acts to develop psychic abilities, as well.
Taken as a whole, this episode had many ritualistic elements. There was an animal sacrifice, chanting, the singing of the BBA note sequence, Betty meditating while listening to the organ plays her notes, some sex magic, candles, food and drink. Betty swam as her ritual bath, various activities with mirrors, and then the séance.
After she’d been prepared for a day or so, Betty accepted that she was the chosen one and walked toward the rose window. She had no idea what it meant. But Rachel has the power to travel through dimensions at will and the TV had its own power. The life and power of the TV was the final sacrifice of the episode. The screen cracked the same way the cafeteria window did, when OA was shot.
The energy from the séance, the movement on the TV and the death of the TV may have been enough to send Betty to the other dimension, with a nudge from Rachel, but she didn’t want to go, or at least wasn’t ready to go alone. So she’ll stay here in D1 for now, with whatever new power she just acquired.
I’m certain she took some form of power into herself, and since she didn’t use it to travel, it will open her mind to the other dimensions. I think this season OA’s tribesman need to reach the state of angel and be able to travel with her. BBA fulfilled that portion, through her suffering, bravery, empathy and wisdom.
This episode continues the quest motif begun in the previous two episodes. The boys and Betty are on their own journey, with their own spirit guide (Rachel) and helpers who arrive at the right time to provide them with what they need, whatever form that may take.
Circumstances conspire to get them on the road, with nudges from Buck’s mom and the Crestwood Goodwill guy; then Sonja offers them a place to stay, in a spiritual haven, no less; Handley acts as a personal guide for French and points the group toward Aunt Lily the medium; and Aunt Lily helps them open up to Rachel’s message.
Rachel is a spirit guide, but she seems like an unsanctioned ghost, rather than a strong presence like Khatoun. Maybe it’s that she’s newly dead, and hasn’t gathered much power in the new realm, or maybe Hap has grown that much stronger. Either way, she’s attempting to give Betty a mission, but hasn’t been able to fully explain it with her limited abilities. It seems like she carried D2 Rachel’s aphasia into the afterlife, which is unexpected.
Aunt Lily is obviously a real medium, and is probably right that at least one, and maybe more, of the gang are also mediums. They all have some sense of other dimensions from doing the movements that probably made it easier for Rachel to come to them, and there’s been a link between Buck and Rachel since he saw her accident in Part 1. But what Rachel did with the TV signal took strength far beyond what she’d been able to do so far or the psychic expected. Betty and Buck seem to have a sensitivity to Rachel. Steve is very sensitive too, but he has a hard time focusing.
How did I never realize how much Betty and Homer have in common? Betty is never going to be to the boys what OA was to the captives. She’s closer to Homer, the heart and moral compass who doesn’t have the authority of an enforcer.They’re both almost too nice for this world and get taken advantage of because of it, but they’re so warm and lovable that you have to forgive them when they dither and backtrack. I think that heart and sensitivity will eventually lead to something important for both of them.
The other dimension added Karim as a major character, and this dimension added Angie as a regular. Does that mean that Angie and Karim are a matched pair? They are both independent and empathic but blunt and truthful, but otherwise we still hardly know Angie.
Where will Rachel’s spirit go, now that she’s delivered her message and transformed Betty? Will she continue to guide them, find a body in this or another dimension, or move on to another plane of existence? Do spirits of the dead have the ability to be reborn as infants/reincarnated, I wonder?
It was poignant to see the late Scott Wilson one more time. I didn’t think he’d be in this season. He’ll be missed.
Between the humming, OA’s ears ringing, and the dimension hopping, this is starting to feel like Castle Rock.
It seemed like every screencap I made for this episode was dark and blurry, so much so that they couldn’t be corrected. I think D1 isn’t doing well without OA. It might be a dying dimension.
The cracks are getting more complex. More people involved, more dimensions and layers to the mystery.
Images courtesy of Netflix.