Just how does the Multiverse work in The OA season 2? The first season of Netflix's trippiest show ended with everything up in the air. Had Prairie been telling the truth when she claimed that Near-Death Experiences were a way of transcending the dimensional barriers - or was she simply insane? The cliffhanger ending left it impossible to say for sure, but understandably season 2 couldn't leave everything quite so ambiguous.
The OA season 2 revealed that Prairie was telling the truth, and that it is indeed possible to jump between different dimensions. The first season was complex enough, with a bifurcated plot that explored the past and the present. Season 2 goes a step further, with a trifurcated plot that transcends the dimensions themselves. Showrunners Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij have put together an absolutely head-spinning plot that rejoices in taking the most unexpected twists and turns.
Related: What Does The OA Actually Stand For?
While there are still unanswered questions, though, The OA season 2 has at least pinned down its mythology. Season 1 had refused to define what Prairie meant when she referred to other dimensions; the mystical experiences she went through during her NDEs could well have been glimpses of the afterlife. But it turns out she wasn't seeing Heaven at all - she was gaining access to the Multiverse.
- This Page: How The Multiverse Works In The OA
- Page 2: The Cliffhanger Ending Of The OA Season 2
The Multiverse and the Human Mind in The OA
The Multiverse is a concept that turns up a lot in science-fiction, and particularly in comic books. In its simplest terms, the idea is that every decision creates alternate timelines in which events ran slightly differently. So, for example, in this reality your parents sent you to one school; in another reality, they chose a different school. Naturally, every single divergence creates more branches, and more alternate universes. Meanwhile, the more important the decision, the greater the divergence between the dimensions. Thus, in this reality, the Nazis lost the Second World War; in another alternate timeline, Nazi military leaders didn't make the same tactical errors, and the Nazis won.
The OA season 2 embraces the concept of the Multiverse, revealing that the human mind is innately attuned to it. It's possible to access an astral plane known as "the garden of forking paths," with each fork in the road being an alternate universe. Near-Death Experiences (NDEs) are glimpses across time and space, with the subjects experiencing another universe. Dreams, too, can tap into the Multiverse, even hinting at the future. The OA talked of some people who had dreamed of rivers of blood before the First and Second World War broke out. This is presumably the explanation for the phenomenon known as deja vu, where you have a strange feeling something has happened before; it happened to another version of you, in another dimension.
How Does A Human Mind Jump Between The Dimensions?
Most of the human mind's interaction with the Multiverse is subconscious, but according to Hap only one thing is needed to make it conscious: faith. Thus, because she believed she was going to be with Homer, Prairie's dying mind was able to jump across the dimensions and take over the body of another version of herself. It turned out she'd actually managed to home in on Homer's mind; he, too, had traveled to this same dimension along with the rest of Prairie's fellow prisoners and, unfortunately, Hap. In this new reality, Hap was the chief psychiatrist running an asylum, and most of the former prisoners were his inmates.
The Movements - the strange interpretative dance routine that Prairie and her friends had learned back in The OA season 1 - appear to be linked to the fabric of the Multiverse itself, allowing people to manipulate it. In part this seems to be because they induce a trance-like state in the performers, but there's clearly more to it than that. Hap was able to create mechanical devices to perform the Movements on his behalf, and they seemed pretty effective.
What Happens If You Possess Another Body?
If a dying human mind can jump between the dimensions and take on another body, what happens to the original consciousness in the body they inhabit? It seems there are three options:
- The new consciousness takes over completely. For Prairie, this meant taking complete possession of the new body. She learned she was now part of a timeline in which she had never been blinded as a child, never been put up for adoption by her Russian father, and thus was still known as Nina. Prairie eventually realized that the original consciousness was still there, "caged" by her own force of will.
- It's also possible, however, for the new consciousness to be the one that is "caged." That's what seems to have happened with Homer, where his soul was subsumed beneath the one that was native to this timeline. He was finally freed from the cage when he remembered Prairie after she kissed him.
- A more interesting scenario appears to involve the two personas balancing out against one another. The OA hinted that this may be what has happened with some people who suffer from Dissociative Identity Disorder; that multiple souls are possessing the same body, neither willing or able to "cage" the other. Prairie ultimately sought her own balance with Nina, but her case was slightly different, given that both women understood the concept of alternate dimensions and were willing to accept what was happening.