Warning: The following article contains major spoilers about the ending of Netflix’s The OA.
It was the scene that altered everything “the five” had come to believe about Prairie (Brit Marling) and her fantastical account of being held captive by a mad scientist. While he was searching for evidence to confirm Prairie’s story, Alfonso/French (Brandon Perea) found a box containing four books. All of the books he discovered under Prairie’s bed dealt with aspects of the convoluted and elaborate tale Prairie had shared with “the five.”
So what is the story behind those books? Are they real books? If so, what are they about, how could they play into the ending of The OA, and how it can be explained? Below is a rundown on all the books from under Prairie’s bed and the clues they potentially provide for The OA’s ending.
The Oligarchs: Wealth and Power in the New Russia by David E. Hoffman
This is the first book French picks out of the box. The Oligarchs: Wealth and Power in the New Russia is a real book. According to its official description on Amazon, the book heavily featured on The OA covers the following.
“In this saga of brilliant triumphs and magnificent failures, David E. Hoffman, the former Moscow bureau chief for the Washington Post, sheds light on the hidden lives of Russia’s most feared power brokers: the oligarchs. Focusing on six of these ruthless men— Alexander Smolensky, Yuri Luzhkov, Anatoly Chubais, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Boris Berezovsky, and Vladimir Gusinsky—Hoffman shows how a rapacious, unruly capitalism was born out of the ashes of Soviet communism.”
What is interesting is that the book chronicles the lives of six men. If you count Prairie and “the five” she recruits, The OA follows six characters. This book’s inclusion hints that Prairie’s backstory as the daughter to a Russian oligarch is fiction. However, viewers know for certain that Prairie is from Russia. The Johnsons confirmed they adopted her and that she is of Russian origin. She spoke Russian in the videos her adoptive father, Abel (Scott Wilson), made of her sleepwalking as a child.
Encyclopedia of Near-Death Experiences by Dr. Kevin Chang
This is the second book that French pulls out of the box. The Encyclopedia of Near-Death Experiences is a fake book. No such book exists, nor does the author’s name come up in a Google search as having authored a similar one. According to IMDb, Kevin Chang is the name of the first assistant accountant on The OA.
The Book of Angels by Audrey Ebbs
The third book French picks up is also a fake book. According to the cover, Audrey Ebbs wrote The Book of Angels. She is also credited on the book cover with writing another fake tome, Celestial Details and Meanings. In a tidbit that is probably not coincidental, IMDb lists Audrey Ebbs as one of The OA’s associate producers.
Unlike The Encyclopedia of Near-Death Experiences, there is a real book that bears the title The Book of Angels. It was written by Todd Jordan and illustrated by Ruth Thompson and L.A. Williams. That book was released in 2012, and as you can see on their website, it is available on Amazon, the place Prairie supposedly ordered her books from.
In an unrelated but interesting note, Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij’s movie Sound of My Voice received its theatrical release in 2012. As previously reported by the Inquisitr, there are some striking similarities between The OA and Sound of My Voice.
One thing that is more tangibly telling is that out of the four books Buck (Ian Alexander) chooses to keep The Book of Angels. Buck is also the only one of “the five” who keeps one of Prairie’s books. Is it significant that none of the other books from the box were kept, but this one was?
The Iliad by Homer
The fourth and final book French brings out of the box is Homer’s classic The Iliad. As you likely know, it is a real book. While the implication is that The Iliad was Prairie’s inspiration for Homer’s name, it is possible its inclusion hints at something else as well. While The Iliad has been transcribed, it is believed to have originated as an “oral tradition.” It’s a belief the website New English Review points out was started and championed by scholar Milman Parry.
Like The Iliad, the story Prairie shares on The OA is an oral tradition. It is a story that originates from her lips and she passes on to “the five.” As is the case with Prairie’s story, the historical accuracy of Homer’s account has been open to debate, as you can see in this article on National Geographic’s website. Does Praire’s story include truth mixed with fiction?
Given their themes, the reason the books above were chosen to be the ones under Prairie’s bed is pretty self-explanatory. Besides the issue of how the books got under the bed, another one is whether the order in which they are found by French provides any clues or insights into The OA’s ending.
The first book French finds is real, the middle books are fake, and the last book is real. Is this a clue about the accuracy of Prairie’s story? Is the beginning chapter of her story (her life in Russia) true, the middle (being kidnapped by a mad scientist and experimented on) fake, and the final chapter, about her being set free by her captor, true? The OA is currently available to stream on Netflix.
[Featured Image by JoJo Whilden/Netflix]