We Demand Justice for Old Knight, The OA's Telepathic Octopus
[Warning the following contains spoilers for The OA: Part II. Read at your own risk!]
It doesn’t matter if you’re talking to someone who loves The OA or someone who hates it, both people will tell you that the Netflix thriller is insane. But Part II of the enigmatic series created by Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij takes the word insane to the next level as OA (Marling) continues her journey across dimensions to reunite with her soulmate, Homer (Emory Cohen). In fact, nothing encapsulates that word more than a character who debuts in the fourth episode of the new season: a telepathic octopus named Old Knight. This is not a joke. The OA: Part II features a giant octopus that can communicate directly with OA when his tentacles are pressed to her arms. It is the coolest thing you will see on television this year.
OA encounters Old Knight as she and her new private detective friend, Karim (Kingsley Ben-Adir), make their way to an underground club to find out more about OA’s second-dimension alter ego, Nina Azarova. While only the other dimension-travelers can tell the difference between OA and Nina, Old Knight proves his wisdom immediately by sensing that OA is not who she is pretending to be. In fact, that introductory conversation reveals that Old Knight knows a lot more about OA, jumping dimensions, and the secret behind her ability to survive so many near-death experiences than she does. He is a telepathic octopus who knows all of the answers. Well, he was.
To help show OA the next step in her path, he has to strangle her — with her permission — to trigger her near-death experience vision. But OA was the only one who could hear Old Knight’s conversation in her head, so those watching her interact with this giant octopus, including Karim, had no idea that he wasn’t a threat. When Old Knight wrapped his tentacle around OA’s throat, Karim rushed the stage and killed him in order to save OA.
The OA introduced an all-knowing telepathic octopus and then killed him after one scene before the audience ever got the chance to fully appreciate him. While this is definitely not the most controversial choice of the second season, it definitely is a huge missed opportunity. What makes Old Knight’s short time on screen even more infuriating is that OA ends up getting answers from another all-knowing being. The next episode finds her hanging out with a giant, lit-up tree, which is visually stunning but does not incite nearly the amount of intrigue that Old Knight did. We get it, the tree is a symbol for the tree of life, but does it also have the secrets of the deep blue sea hidden in the depths of its giant pulsating brain?!
While Karim had the best intentions when he severed Old Knight’s tentacles, we can’t help but feel robbed of valuable time we could have had with the most batsh–, ridiculously cool character this show has ever conceived of (which is saying a lot). Old Knight was out there just trying to do what everyone else on the show is trying to do — help OA along her path to her true power — and he was killed for it. He frankly deserved a lot better. It’s ridiculous that the tree will get the credit for the knowledge Old Knight was ready to impart to our hero before he was unjustly murdered.
So let’s pour one out for Old Knight, whom we will never be able to get a beer with or interrogate about the secrets to life, but who absolutely deserves his own spin-off when this is all over with. If The OA Part II hadn’t concluded with the most meta ending ever, we’d demand his rebirth in Part III.
Rest in peace, Old Knight. You knew so much and were gone too soon.
The OA Part II is now streaming on Netflix.