Netflix’s breakout sci-fi philosophy rabbit hole The OA is back for part II, and there are more questions than ever. However, beyond the mysteries of BBA’s (Phyllis Smith) multidimensional powers and whatever the hell is going on with that octopus, one puzzle looms the largest here: What is beyond the rose window in Nob Hill’s most terrifying home?
By the close of part II’s finale, “Overview,” the answer to that question has been answered in the most reality-bending, body-jumping, OA way possible. At the least the resolution ties together all three of the new season’s biggest conundrums.
Early in “Overview,” the OA (series co-creator Brit Marling) — formerly known as Prairie Johnson, currently sharing a consciousness with Nina Azarova — debates the purpose of the rose window with tormentor Hunter Aloysius “Hap” Percy (John Isaacs). As viewers learn over the prior seven episodes, everyone who has gone looking for the window has either perished, suffered a mental breakdown, gone comatose, or possibly disappeared from existence. At first it seems as though missing teen Michelle Vu (Ian Alexander) fell into the latter category. Yet, seventh episode “Nina Azarova” confirms Michelle is actually in a coma.
Prairie surmises the window is simply a “portal” to witnessing the overwhelming reality of other dimensions. “To open the rose window is to see the truth,” she continues. “It’s just that most people can’t get to it, or can’t stand to see what’s on the other side.” The “other side” is endless worlds with endless possibilities, all bewilderingly different from whatever reality its observer is used to. No matter what, it's a revelation packed with the worst kind of existential dread.
While that conclusion is true, Hap explains it’s just the beginning of the Nob Hill mansion’s metaphysical capabilities. Throughout part II, The OA explains the house, created in the 1910s by an engineer and a medium, is built on a spring producing mercury sulfide vapors. Way back when, the indigenous Ohlone tribe used the spring to induce “prophetic trances.” Now, Hap is experimenting on the dead teens who enter the home as gameplayers in a rose window mystery-cracking conspiracy. Every person who exits the house has a literal flower growing out of their ear. A major question of part II is what Hap is hiding about this already strange experiment behind a huge door.
The second half of “Overview” connects the enigma of the rose window, Michelle’s disappearance, and Hap’s ominous laboratory secret. Hap’s brain flowers aren’t there just to haunt your nightmares. Instead, as we learn along with OA-Nina, Hap has coaxed all the brain flowers out of the Nob Hill victims’ corpses and then tossed those bodies into a pool. That horror show is what’s behind the door. “These flowers offer a glimpse into other dimensions,” Hap says, explaining the growth pattern of the flowers plots a crude map of the multiverse. Each flower is a destination somewhere in that array of options.
Essentially, the mansion is a factory for all things dimension jumping, from the vapors to the unavoidable brain flowers to the trees that talk to OA in “The Medium & The Engineer.” The rose window is merely a very specific way to visualize the multiverse that all these metaphysical signifiers are already pointing towards.
That is why, when OA newbie and detective Karim Washington (Kingsley Ben-Adir), reaches the window and looks through, he glimpses OA and Hap traveling to a third dimension. Once the duo's journey is complete, Karim then sees into that new dimension — which we’ll call Dimension 3 — and spots the missing Michelle, who looks much closer to her OG Buck identity. It seems likely Michelle, upon opening the rose window weeks earlier, fell through the portal and ended up in Dimension 3. She is only able to return to her home dimension, which we’ll call Dimension 2, when Karim pulls her back through the window. Seconds later, the Michelle of Dimension 2 wakes up from her coma across town. What happened to her Dimension 3 body? We may never know, as The OA is more interested in asking the big questions than answering the small ones.
But at least we can all walk away from the OA's latest adventure sure the rose window isn’t merely a looking glass into other realities — it’s a pit that could swallow you whole.