Warning: Some spoilers for The OA season 2 are ahead.
The beginning of Season 2 of The OA immediately answers one of the show’s most burning questions from Season 1: What the hell are The OA's dimensions and how do they even work? The first season focus on Prairie Johnson — aka, The OA, or Original Angel — telling a story to her new friends about how she was discovering movements to travel through this dimensions after experience Near Death Experiences (NDEs). But, for all the talking Prairie was doing, we weren't actually seeing it happen, which led both the characters on the show, and us, to wonder if she was simply spinning a fabricated tale for everyone.
Season 2 shows us the truth: Prairie was right, the dimensions are real, and the movements are way more powerful than you think. But, like the dimensions themselves, not everything is revealed right away and even at the end of Season 2, things about them are still really confusing. However, thankfully we’re gifted with a new character in the show, Elodie (Irène Jacob), who hangs around to basically break down really complicated things about dimensions. Honestly, her only purpose on the show seems to be explaining dimensions, which makes you wonder who she really is and what is she even doing here and does she have ulterior motives? Between what Elodie says, an what we see, it all sort of makes sense in the end. Sort of.
How do dimensions work?
That’s the big question. The long and the short of it is this: When you die in one dimension, your conscious/soul is transported to the same identical body in a different dimension closely to exactly the same moment. Elodie refers to jumping into someone new as a “body in motion.”
But, don’t go thinking this will just happen to anyone. You still need the motions in order to travel to another dimension.
You also don’t always need five people to travel
You still need five things, but they don't have to be people, as Elodie shows us. Instead of surrounding herself with a tribe, Elodie uses little robots to do the motions. Yes, really. She’s got a bag of them and when she realizes Hap is going to kill her, she starts the robots. They whizz and creak back and forth, and when the motions are complete, and Elodie collapses, they retreat back to their boxes. (However, it is never explained how Elodie came to have these boxes in every dimension she’s traveled to, let alone how she discovered the movements herself.)
Hap then makes these same boxes, begging the question how much time has passed since he learned about Elodie’s robots and then made giant robot boxes outside the Treasure Island clinic. But that’s neither here nor there. With these giant movement robots, it eliminates the need for five individuals.
Side effects of travel
We only see this happen with Hap, but it’s possible it’s occurred with others, too — Elodie claims it’s happened to her, too. When Hap traveled from the last dimension into this one, his ears started to ring like crazy. Following this, he’s left with a case of tinnitus. When Hap comes to in the third dimension, his ears ring again. Clearly, this condition is now traveling with him, from new body to new body.
Oh boy. Like yelling into a canyon and having your voice bounce back, the same echo is happening across dimensions for Prairie, Hap, and Homer. They are connected together — for greater reasons we don’t exactly know yet — and it sounds like going into Season 3 (Netflix has allegedly planned five seasons), Prairie is going to try and break their connection and escape from Hap once and for all.
In Episode 7, Elodie meets Prairie (even though we... we saw her die in a previous episode and she shouldn’t be in this dimension anymore... ? Honestly, Elodie might be working at her own speed through dimensions, which is something to think about). Elodie explains that she gave some knowledge to Hap, so she’s going to do the same for Prairie. When they start talking about this “echo” through dimensions, and how the three of them are connected, Elodie says:
“[You] exist across many dimensions, like a cosmic family. You belong within the same constellation, you travel together. The events in one dimension affect the other dimensions around it. They echo. When people meet and the story around them is strong, it echos in other dimensions.”
Prairie wants to escape this echo and get away from Hap, but Elodie cautions that if she escapes it, she could find herself “in a life completely unrecognizable,” where she’s not connected to Homer either. Elodie also calls Hap Prairie’s “shadow.”
Throughout the entire season, Prairie’s had trouble accessing Nina’s mind. Elodie has an answer to that, and explains that the two must be integrated together because “You share the same beginning” and in order to be one, Prairie’s got to “get back to the time before your paths split.” This means drowning herself in her bath, something Prairie does. While it’s a drastic measure, it works, because Prairie now knows Nina.
Hap, more than likely, is never able to access the memories of his prior body and fumbles when asked questions about his past. Homer, though, eventually manages to integrate and says that he is both Homer and Dr. Roberts. It’ll be interesting to see what memories they’ve retained and can integrate come Season 3.