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JoJo Whilden/Netflix
JoJo Whilden/Netflix

6 Things We Know About The OA Season 2

JoJo Whilden/Netflix
JoJo Whilden/Netflix

Yesterday, Netflix announced that it was renewing Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij’s controversial show The OA for a second season, and released a teaser trailer that has glimpses of the Golden Gate Bridge and the word survived in Braille: 

It’s an appropriately mysterious peek at a show that left viewers guessing about whether or not the tale Prairie (Marling) told—which included near-death experiences, being held captive against her will, movements that open a door to another dimension, and angels—was even real. Will we see Homer again, find out if there’s an FBI conspiracy, or learn more movements in season two? Most importantly, will mental_floss make another cameo? So far, Marling and Batmanglij aren’t saying much. Here's what we do know.

1. IT’S CALLED “PART TWO.”

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Batmanglij explained that The OA’s unusual format—which features episodes of varying lengths—was inspired by novels. “We wanted to take what we love about a novel and the novelistic experience and put it on the long-format series experience—not having all the characters in the first hour, not having all the chapters be the same length,” he said. “Could you imagine if the chapters of a book were all the same length? It would be funny. So we thought to ourselves about those constraints. Also, novels are often about something. They have an intention that the writer is trying to get across, and I think both Brit and I felt that we wanted to do that, too. We wanted to try to say something that we believed in.” He told Esquire that, “I think the novel analogy works really well; it's a novel, but it could easily be a series of novels. And I think it would be best as a series of novels!”

That helped guide the co-creators when they decided what to call the second season. “We always thought of [the parts of the OA] almost like books, and there could be many different volumes,” Marling said in an interview with Vulture when asked about why the new season would be called "Part Two."

2. THEY KNOW HOW THE SECOND SEASON WILL START—AND END.

Shortly after the first season of The OA debuted without warning on Netflix, Batmanglij told Esquire that, although he and Marling “wanted [season one] to be its own standalone piece,” they “didn't want to go into it without having the larger picture planned out—I think the audience can always tell that, or feel it.” As he told THR, “This is a story that’s carefully planned … When we started, Brit and I spent two or three years conceiving of a whole world before we brought it to anybody, before it ever left our bedrooms.”

Marling assured THR—and fans of the show—that “there is an answer to every riddle and nothing is done to just be sound and fury going nowhere. It all goes somewhere.”

The goal, she explained to Entertainment Weekly, was to create a show that could stand up to the scrutiny of the Internet age. “Now you can stop and start, you can watch it three times, you can screengrab and share it and be on Reddit,” she said. “So you have to have a narrative that’s robust enough to live up to that expectation. So we really tried to think about that and make sure every image and every frame was honest, and if we should get more than one season out, you could go back and watch the first season again and go, 'It was all there.'”

Which, of course, meant they had a clear picture of the second season: “There is a place that season two already begins in our minds and a place in which it ends,” she said. Hopefully this means we won’t have to wait too long for it!

3. IT WILL LIKELY EXPLORE THE FIRST SEASON’S SCIENCE FICTION ELEMENTS MORE DEEPLY.

“The first part is the story of a young woman who is traumatized and tells a group of boys this story and in so doing, allows them to face a moment of their own crisis at the end,” Marling explained to Vulture. “That is the self-contained story, but the more science fiction metaphysical threads are open-ended, so there can be a part 2 in which we can dive into those spaces.”

4. THERE WILL BE ANSWERS TO SOME OF THE SERIES’ MOST PRESSING QUESTIONS.

Marling told Marie Claire that “there are answers to all of the questions. That's the delicious thing about the gap between seasons. People watch and take it in, revel in the mystery, argue about it online. And then, if they should be so lucky, the storytellers get to meet the audience when the story continues.”

But don’t expect any hints from either Marling or Batmanglij. When asked by Rolling Stone about some of the most discussed questions left lingering from season one, Batmanglij was coy. Kahtun’s realm is “not purgatory—or maybe it is. It's supposed to be something specific … I don't think anyone's picked up on what it is just quite yet.” Was the FBI agent who randomly shows up in the Johnsons' home in the last episode planting evidence? “I'm just glad people are asking that question. I was hoping they would be, and they are. [But] I can't tell you just yet.” Are the books under Prairie’s bed an indication that she’s lying? “There are two obvious options and unlimited other options why those exist. One is, if you're traumatized by something, you might read up on it. But there's also a more cynical perspective that she was using those books to tell a story.”

Translation: You’re just going to have to tune in to find out.

5. MOST OF THE CAST DOESN'T KNOW MUCH ABOUT WHAT HAPPENS NEXT (OR IF THEY DO, THEY'RE NOT TALKING).

The cast had to sign standard seven season-long contracts, but that doesn't mean they were all necessarily clued in to what would happen after the first season. Sharon Van Etten, who plays Rachel, one of Prairie’s fellow captives, told Billboard that “I can honestly say that they haven’t told me anything. I don’t know if anything happens next or what happens next. If they do something, I would love to be a part of it. I definitely want to know what happens to my character.” Brendan Meyer, who plays Jesse, tweeted, "I actually know very little about where the story is going!"

But some of the actors have theories: Patrick Gibson, who plays Steve, told Newsweek, "I fully geeked out and became a complete nerd on this. When I watched it, I’m like: 'What does this mean?' I’ve got my own theory but I’ll keep it close to my chest.” Phyllis Smith, who plays teacher Betty Broderick-Allen, told Vulture, "Who knows what the second season will be, if we have a second season, but my stance is that [Brit Marling’s character] truly was an angel and we’ll see how it goes from there."

6. THEY HAVEN’T STARTED WORKING ON IT YET.

Netflix hasn’t announced a timeline for the release of the second season, and Batmanglij said that work on it hasn’t yet begun. But according to Jason Isaacs, who plays Hap, our parallel universe-living selves are much luckier:

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6 Times There Were Ties at the Oscars
getty images (March and Beery)/ istock (oscar)
getty images (March and Beery)/ istock (oscar)

Only six ties have ever occurred during the Academy Awards' near-90-year history. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) members vote for nominees in their corresponding categories; here are the six times they have come to a split decision.

1. BEST ACTOR // 1932

Back in 1932, at the fifth annual Oscars ceremony, the voting rules were different than they are today. If a nominee received an achievement that came within three votes of the winner, then that achievement (or person) would also receive an award. Actor Fredric March had one more vote than competitor Wallace Beery, but because the votes were so close, the Academy honored both of them. (They beat the category’s only other nominee, Alfred Lunt.) March won for his performance in horror film Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (female writer Frances Marion won Best Screenplay for the film), and Beery won for The Champ, which was remade in 1979 with Ricky Schroder and Jon Voight. Both Beery and March were previous nominees: Beery was nominated for The Big House and March for The Royal Family of Broadway. March won another Oscar in 1947 for The Best Years of Our Lives, also a Best Picture winner. Fun fact: March was the first actor to win an Oscar for a horror film.

2. BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT // 1950

By 1950, the above rule had been changed, but there was still a tie at that year's Oscars. A Chance to Live, an 18-minute movie directed by James L. Shute, tied with animated film So Much for So Little. Shute’s film was a part of Time Inc.’s "The March of Time" newsreel series and chronicles Monsignor John Patrick Carroll-Abbing putting together a Boys’ Home in Italy. Directed by Bugs Bunny’s Chuck Jones, So Much for So Little was a 10-minute animated film about America’s troubling healthcare situation. The films were up against two other movies: a French film named 1848—about the French Revolution of 1848—and a Canadian film entitled The Rising Tide.

3. BEST ACTRESS // 1969

Probably the best-known Oscars tie, this was the second and last time an acting award was split. When presenter Ingrid Bergman opened up the envelope, she discovered a tie between newcomer Barbra Streisand and two-time Oscar winner Katharine Hepburn—both received 3030 votes. Streisand, who was 26 years old, tied with the 61-year-old The Lion in Winter star, who had already been nominated 10 times in her lengthy career, and won the Best Actress Oscar the previous year for Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. Hepburn was not in attendance, so all eyes fell on Funny Girl winner Streisand, who wore a revealing, sequined bell-bottomed-pantsuit and gave an inspired speech. “Hello, gorgeous,” she famously said to the statuette, echoing her first line in Funny Girl.

A few years earlier, Babs had received a Tony nomination for her portrayal of Fanny Brice in the Broadway musical Funny Girl, but didn’t win. At this point in her career, she was a Grammy-winning singer, but Funny Girl was her movie debut (and what a debut it was). In 1974, Streisand was nominated again for The Way We Were, and won again in 1977 for her and Paul Williams’s song “Evergreen,” from A Star is Born. Four-time Oscar winner Hepburn won her final Oscar in 1982 for On Golden Pond.

4. BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE // 1987

The March 30, 1987 telecast made history with yet another documentary tie, this time for Documentary Feature. Oprah presented the awards to Brigitte Berman’s film about clarinetist Artie Shaw, Artie Shaw: Time is All You’ve Got, and to Down and Out in America, a film about widespread American poverty in the ‘80s. Former Oscar winner Lee Grant (who won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar in 1976 for Shampoo) directed Down and Out and won the award for producers Joseph Feury and Milton Justice. “This is for the people who are still down and out in America,” Grant said in her acceptance speech.

5. BEST SHORT FILM (LIVE ACTION) // 1995

More than 20 years ago—the same year Tom Hanks won for Forrest Gump—the Short Film (Live Action) category saw a tie between two disparate films: the 23-minute British comedy Franz Kafka’s It’s a Wonderful Life, and the LGBTQ youth film Trevor. Doctor Who star Peter Capaldi wrote and directed the former, which stars Richard E. Grant (Girls, Withnail & I) as Kafka. The BBC Scotland film envisions Kafka stumbling through writing The Metamorphosis.

Trevor is a dramatic film about a gay 13-year-old boy who attempts suicide. Written by James Lecesne and directed by Peggy Rajski, the film inspired the creation of The Trevor Project to help gay youths in crisis. “We made our film for anyone who’s ever felt like an outsider,” Rajski said in her acceptance speech, which came after Capaldi's. “It celebrates all those who make it through difficult times and mourns those who didn’t.” It was yet another short film ahead of its time.

6. BEST SOUND EDITING // 2013

The latest Oscar tie happened only three years ago, when Zero Dark Thirty and Skyfall beat Argo, Django Unchained, and Life of Pi in sound editing. Mark Wahlberg and his animated co-star Ted presented the award to Zero Dark Thirty’s Paul N.J. Ottosson and Skyfall’s Per Hallberg and Karen Baker Landers. “No B.S., we have a tie,” Wahlberg said to the crowd, assuring them he wasn’t kidding. Ottosson was announced first and gave his speech before Hallberg and Baker Landers found out that they were the other victors.

It wasn’t any of the winners' first trip to the rodeo: Ottosson won two in 2010 for his previous collaboration with Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker (Best Achievement in Sound Editing and Sound Mixing); Hallberg previously won an Oscar for Best Sound Effects Editing for Braveheart in 1996, and in 2008 both Hallberg and Baker Landers won Best Achievement in Sound Editing for The Bourne Ultimatum.

Ottosson told The Hollywood Reporter he possibly predicted his win: “Just before our category came up another fellow nominee sat next to me and I said, ‘What if there’s a tie, what would they do?’ and then we got a tie,” Ottosson said. Hallberg also commented to the Reporter on his win. “Any time that you get involved in some kind of history making, that would be good.”

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11 Haunting Facts About Beloved

Toni Morrison—who was born on February 18, 1931—made a name for herself with The Bluest Eye, Sula and Song of Solomon, but it wasn’t until 1987’s Beloved, about a runaway slave haunted by the death of her infant daughter, that her legacy was secured. The book won the Pulitzer Prize and was a key factor in the decision to award Morrison the Nobel Prize in 1993. All the awards aside, Beloved is a testament to the horrors of slavery, with its narrative of suffering and repressed memory and its dedication to the more than 60 million who died in bondage. Here are some notable facts about Morrison’s process and the novel’s legacy.

1. IT’S BASED ON A TRUE STORY.

While compiling research for 1974's The Black Book, Morrison came across the story of Margaret Garner, a runaway slave from Kentucky who escaped with her husband and four children to Ohio in 1856. A posse caught up with Garner, who killed her youngest daughter and attempted to do the same to her other children rather than let them return to bondage. Once apprehended, her trial transfixed the nation. "She was very calm; she said, 'I’d do it again,'" Morrison told The Paris Review. "That was more than enough to fire my imagination."

2. MORRISON CAME UP WITH THE CHARACTER BELOVED AFTER SHE STARTED WRITING.

The book was originally going to be about the haunting of Sethe by her infant daughter, who she killed (just as Garner did) rather than allow her to return to slavery. A third of the way through writing, though, Morrison realized she needed a flesh-and-blood character who could judge Sethe’s decision. She needed the daughter to come back to life in another form (some interpret it as a grief-driven case of mistaken identity). As she told the National Endowment for the Arts’ NEA Magazine: "I thought the only person who was legitimate, who could decide whether [the killing] was a good thing or not, was the dead girl."

3. SHE WROTE THE ENDING EARLY IN THE WRITING PROCESS.

Morrison has said she likes to know the ending of her books early on, and to write them down once she does. With Beloved, she wrote the ending about a quarter of the way in. "You are forced into having a certain kind of language that will keep the reader asking questions," she told author Carolyn Denard in Toni Morrison: Conversations.

4. MORRISON BECAME FASCINATED WITH SMALL HISTORICAL DETAILS.

To help readers understand the particulars of slavery, Morrison carefully researched historical documents and artifacts. One particular item she became fascinated with: the "bit" that masters would put in slaves' mouths as punishment. She couldn’t find much in the way of pictures or descriptions, but she found enough to imagine the shame slaves would feel. In Beloved, Paul D. tells Sethe that a rooster smiled at him while he wore the bit, indicating that he felt lower than a barnyard animal.

5. SHE ONLY RECENTLY READ THE BOOK HERSELF.

In an appearance on The Colbert Report last year, Morrison said she finally got around to reading Beloved after almost 30 years. Her verdict: "It’s really good!"

6. THE BOOK INSPIRED READERS TO BUILD BENCHES.

When accepting an award from the Unitarian Universalist Association in 1988, Morrison observed that there is no suitable memorial to slavery, "no small bench by the road." Inspired by this line, the Toni Morrison Society started the Bench by the Road Project to remedy the issue. Since 2006, the project has placed 15 benches in locations significant to the history of slavery and the Civil Rights movement, including Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina, which served as the point of entry for 40% of slaves brought to America.

7. WHEN BELOVED DIDN’T WIN THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD IN 1987, FELLOW WRITERS PROTESTED.

After the snub, 48 African-American writers, including Maya Angelou, John Edgar Wideman and Henry Louis Gates, Jr., signed a letter that appeared in the New York Times Book Review. "For all of America, for all of American letters," the letter addressing Morrison read, "you have advanced the moral and artistic standards by which we must measure the daring and the love of our national imagination and our collective intelligence as a people."

8. IT’S ONE OF THE MOST FREQUENTLY CHALLENGED BOOKS.

Between 2000 and 2009, Beloved ranked 26th on the American Library Association’s list of most banned/challenged books. A recent challenge in Fairfax County, Virginia, cited the novel as too intense for teenage readers, while another challenge in Michigan said the book was, incredibly, overly simplistic and pornographic. Thankfully, both challenges were denied.

9. MORRISON ALSO WROTE AN OPERA BASED ON GARNER’S LIFE.

Ten years ago, Morrison collaborated with Grammy-winning composer Richard Danielpour on Margaret Garner, an opera about the real-life inspiration behind Beloved. It opened in Detroit in 2005, and played in Charlotte, Chicago, Philadelphia and New York before closing in 2008.

10. MORRISON DID NOT WANT IT MADE INTO A MOVIE.

Although she publicly claims otherwise, according to a New York magazine story, Morrison told friends she didn’t want Beloved made into a movie. And she didn’t want Oprah Winfrey (who bought the film rights in 1988) to be in it. Nevertheless, the film came out in 1998 and was a total flop.

11. THERE'S AN ILLUSTRATED VERSION.

The Folio Society, a London-based company that creates fancy special editions of classic books, released the first-ever illustrated Beloved in 2015. Artist Joe Morse had to be personally approved by Morrison for the project. Check out a few of his hauntingly beautiful illustrations here.

This article originally appeared in 2015.

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