In its second season, The OA responded to audiences who were equally mesmerized and bemused by the series’ heavy use of interpretive dance to drive its story forward. The show managed to get even weirder and bolder as it continued to flesh out its world in which jumping between dimensions is possible...if you know the right moves.
As part of its season two plot that finds Prairie trapped in an alternate dimension where she’s inhabiting the body of Nina Azarova, an alternate version of herself, The OA introduces a kind of society of other people aware of the multiverse’s existence. And Nina is a member. As Prairie attempts to piece together the full picture of what Nina’s life is like, she ends up becoming the guest of honor in a bizarre ritual involving Old Night, a (tactile) telepathic octopus that wraps itself around her body in order to verbally communicate with the entire audience.
The entire scene is alarming to watch because of the sheer terror actress and The OA co-creator Brit Marling brings to her performance as Prairie/Nina. You know that a living cephalopod isn’t pressing its tentacles up against her flesh, but she damn sure looks like she’s freaking the hell out, and you respond in kind.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that another part of what really makes the scene shine are the real dancers who performed with Marling in the scene as Old Night’s limbs. Marling’s reacting to the dancers’ touch and, together with a detailed VFX octopus from Method Studio added in post, the scene ends up teetering just on the edge of uncanniness in a way that works for the series’ tone.
It makes all the sense in the world that The OA would find a way to make sure that octopus-inspired interpretive dance factored into its story at some point, and if nothing else, it’s fascinating to see just how much of the show’s weird sci-fi elements really are grounded in people wriggling about. What’s funny, though, is that menacing, telepathic octopuses aren’t even the weirdest thing to pop up in The OA’s second season, which you can watch now on Netflix if you haven’t already.
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