The biggest mistake I made was believing that if I cast a beautiful net, I’d catch only beautiful things.”
—The OA, New Colossus
The OA, previously Prairie Johnson and Nina Azarova, is a woman who tells her tale of being the Original Angel to her newfound friends in hopes of them opening a door to another dimension together.
The OA was born as Nina Azarova to Russian oligarch Roman Azarov and his wife in Moscow. Her mother died in childbirth and she was left to be raised by her father.
Dreams of drowning
Nina would have recurring nightmares where she could use all her senses. These dreams would cause her to wake up with a nosebleed.
Once after having a dream about being trapped in an aquarium, she ran to her father, who rescheduled his plans so he could help her overcome her fear. He took her to a frozen lake and reminded her that the only way to conquer the cold was to become colder than it. She then stood in a hole he had made in the ice and she never dreamt of the aquarium again.
First near-death experience (NDE)
Nina would take a private bus to school, where she was the first one to be picked up, then all the other children in the neighbourhood. One day the route was sabotaged by The Voi so that the driver became unresponsive in the middle of a bridge. The bus plunged into the water and Nina managed to escape the bus through the cracked window but didn't manage to make it to the surface.
Nina was transported to Khatun, who told her that she could return Nina back to her world but would have to take her sight to shield her from the horrors that would come. Nina agreed and she woke up to her father holding her and her sight gone.
Life in America
Nina's father was worried about anyone finding out that she was alive, so he sent her to a boarding school for the blind in America. She got to speak to her father on the phone every Sunday night, where she would play him the song she perfected after her NDE on violin. He told her that she should stop speaking Russian to keep their cover, and that he will meet her once he's escaped The Voi.
Living with her aunt
One day Nina is called in by the headmistress and told that her father got into an accident and that she will be living with her maternal aunt, Zoya. Nina was tasked to take care of the babies that her aunt and the other ladies who lived there would take in and then give for adoption.
When Nancy and Abel Johnson came to Zoya's house to adopt a baby boy, Nancy came across Nina and decided they had to adopt her. They took her home and named her Prairie because her blue eyes reminded Nancy of prairie skies.
Nancy and Abel raised her the best they could, giving her braille books, a computer that read text out loud, and a bedroom full of textures that Prairie could enjoy.
A problem arose when Prairie began sleepwalking where she would film things and talk in Russian. Nancy and Abel took a video of this so they could take to a doctor, who then gave her medication to help with what he thought was psychosis. He was concerned about Prairie believing that her father was still alive and that the Russian mafia was after her, and thought that giving her medication to dull these feelings would help.
Her parents kept her on this medication for 13 years which only numbed her without taking away the premonitions. One night she had a dream she was climbing the face of a giantesse to find her father who held 21 wax candles. This dream repeated for years and she thought the only thing it could mean was that her father would be waiting for her on her 21st birthday at the Statue of Liberty.
A classmate of hers was going to Chicago so Prairie asked her to drive her to Greyhound Station so she could go to Liberty Island. She waited all day but her father never showed up. She was then told by a security guard that they were closed and she had to return back on the ferry. She asked him to read the sign about the Statue of Liberty and then she returned to the subway station.
Being found by Hap
Prairie sat in the subway station playing her violin hoping that her father would hear her and come to her. Instead, a man named Dr. Hunter Aloysius Percy, known as Hap, heard her playing and came up to her asking if she had ever had a near-death experience which caused her to play so beautifully.
Hap took her to a restaurant and told her about his studies about the continuation of consciousness after death. He shows her a machine that allows her to hear people's heartbeats at a distance. She asks to be part of his study so he flies her to his home in his helicopter. When she attempts to call her parents but no one picks up.
Hap takes her downstairs to where he says is a bed in the lab, he takes her bag and leads her to what she thinks is her room until he locks her in. She then realises that it's a cage he was placed in the basement to contain her and the other people in his study.
Meeting the other captives
Scott Brown and Homer are the first to welcome her. Scott with a pessimistic mindset and Homer with an attempt to be comforting. Next time Hap comes down he offers her braille books but she tells him that because of her blindness she won't be able to survive without sunlight and fresh air. She later meets Rachel who calls for August.
A little while after living in the cage, Hap takes her upstairs to feel the sunlight. Prairie finds a knife but instead of trying to harm Hap, she makes him a sandwich from the fresh bread to gain his trust while Hap watches in confusion and awe. He offers her half but she doesn't want to eat when the others can't, so he lets her make the rest of the captives sandwiches.
Homer tells her about his son and his son's mother and that she needs to find his ring that he stashed in the medicine cabinet. He says that with that and a bill he can send the money to his son to show he cares. She is sceptical of his plan and thinks her priority should be to call for help if she gets up there again.
Having Hap's trust
Prairie became like Hap's housekeeper because he trusted her since she couldn't see his work. She finds out that he keeps sleeping pills in the cabinet and began creating a plan. When she was vacuuming she left the vacuum in a corner and took a sleeping pill out of the cabinet, then hid it in a mints container in the pantry. She did this many times, crushing them into the mints container.
She asks Hap to order the ingredients for a stew her father taught her how to make. She sends him to go get parsley and while he's gone she takes out the crushed sleeping pills and dumps them into the soup. She made him a bowl for him to eat but he got a bowl for her as well so they can eat together. He senses her worry but takes a few spoonfuls anyway before realising that she's not eating. She finds out that he's having an allergic reaction to the tomato paste and she rushes to get the epi-pen after Hap warns her that the captives would starve without him monitoring them. She finds Homer's ring and a bill as well as August in the tub.
When Hap goes out to burry August the next morning they all write a note for the police to come save them but they lose it in the stream. Homer helps her cope by helping her do jumping jacks and gives everyone an encouraging pep talk. They all talk about what they would do if they do if they escape and Prairie tells them she would love to swim.
One day when Prairie is helping Hap in the kitchen she distracts him by asking what happened to August and what the gas does, then pushes him down the stairs. She grabs a frying pan and uses it to break a window and jump out. She then runs as far as she can but reaches a cliff, where Hap finds her and hits her on the back of the head and she died instantly.
Prairie finds herself in an open field with a door which she soon realises is the afterlife. She can now see all around her and meets Khatun again who tells her she could always see. Khatun tells her that if she stays she will forget all her struggles and the way things are she will never escape. She reaches in a puddle and pulls out a bird telling her that this gift is unknown by humankind and although it takes a lot of practice she will one day be free. Khatun shows Prairie her father through a window and says she can either join him or return to her life. Prairie chooses to get back to the others and swallow the bird which will be a seed that will grow in her stomach which she can use with 4 others to avert a great evil.
Returning back to life
Prairie asks Khatun if she is like her and Khatun tells her that Prairie is the original. Prairie then eats the bird and wakes up being able to see. Hap greets her and tells her he's impressed by her but he can't let her go.
When Prairie wakes up back downstairs, Homer is glad to see she's alive. She tells everyone about her journey and that they need to take control of Hap's experiment. She tells them they're angels and when they don't believe her, she told them that she can now see. She chooses to not let Hap, who she believes is the Angel Hunter, that she can see. He interrogates her about her NDE.
Formation of a plan
The OA, Homer, and Rachel all decided that the only way to find out what Hap was doing to them in the experiments was to not be under the influence of the gas when it happened. Scott didn't want any part of it so Homer decided he would be the one to go awake and The OA and Rachel would suck out the gas from his cell. A month later Hap came for Homer and they acted on their plan but instead of working, all three passed out from the gas.
Scott was left the only awake one with The OA and Rachel passed out from the gas. He then found out that it made them complacent, something later identified by Alfonso Sosa as scopolamine or "devil's breath." It took them almost a year to perfect the system of removing the gas from Homer's cell and for Homer to pretend to be under the influence.
Homer failed in convincing Hap and they tried for three more years, thinking of new plans before they found out that Hap was doing was recording the sounds of their NDE's so he can have concrete proof of an afterlife. They continued trying for years before Homer managed to die awake. He managed to eat a fish but didn't receive another movement until he fell asleep while they were talking and learned it.
- She likes swimming because she finds comfort in being surrounded by something other than darkness.
- Her favourite food is pretzels.
- In a flashback, before she was kidnapped, she stated that she just turned 21. She was missing for 7 years before returning to the town.