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I like a TV series to have a good mystery. Present me with some tantalising unanswered questions in the first episode and I'm probably hooked until the end (unless it gets really dumb and I give up and eventually get the answers from Wikipedia. Looking at you, Lost).
The OA (new to Netflix) is full of mystery. A young woman (Brit Marling) reappears and returns to her family after having been missing for seven years, with inexplicable new abilities and strange scars. Refusing to be called by her given name, she insists her name is now "the OA''. Mysteries abound. Where has she been all this time? Why has she returned now? What does ``OA'' stand for, if it's not Overeaters Anonymous as suggested to one character by Google?
Unable or unwilling to discuss her ordeal with authorities, and not content to rest at home and convalesce, the OA has come back with a mission. The welfare of others is at stake, although it is unclear whom she intends to rescue or how. Having recruited a breakfast club of local teenagers and one lonely teacher, the OA begins to tell her story, which by the end of the first episode has already got pretty weird.
Marling's performance is excellent, and the storyline is compelling and addictive. I have some reservations about "reality''-based fiction that includes supernatural elements, as I sometimes find it a difficult balance to hold my suspension of disbelief, but having got about halfway through, I'll certainly follow The OA to the end of its first series. I also think it noteworthy that co-creator (along with Marling) and director of the series Zal Batmanglij has "Batman'' in his actual name, making him a clear contender for Coolest Name Ever. What a great show.
I'm late to the party on this one, but I also watched the first series of Vikings this week (seasons 1-3 available on Netflix, season 4 on Lightbox). I always thought of Vikings as big Scandinavian guys with horns who lived a long time ago, worshipped an array of formidable and exotic gods through ritual sacrifice, and made their living by sailing to neighbouring countries to rape and pillage at will.
This is clearly a common understanding because that is pretty much the plot of Vikings. Except they mostly don't wear horns. Created in a clear attempt to get on the Game of Thrones-led vaguely historical violent drama bandwagon, Vikings feels similar to Game of Thrones but with no dragons, zombies or Jon Snow, which is to say, less interesting. I don't think I could be bothered following the story week to week, but it makes a good binge watch.
-by C. Tilley and H. Turner