After six long weeks, The Undoing, the latest installment in HBO’s Rich White People Doing Crimes Cinematic Universe, has come to a close. For the first few weeks of the show, it didn’t feel like many people were watching, but by the time the finale rolled around, memes about Nicole Kidman’s luxurious coats and Donald Sutherland’s weird “cocksucker” monologue were basically all I was seeing on social media. I’m not sure if we actually liked this show, or if we all just desperately needed something to look forward to, but either way, last night’s finale felt like one of the most anticipated events of the year. Major spoilers ahead, so if you haven’t watched the finale yet, turn back now.
So did the finale deliver? Honestly, I liked it! While most of us were focusing our energy on puzzling out which seemingly innocent side character could have conceivably killed Elena, the show went a different direction. Ultimately, Jonathan was the most obvious choice, but with that nail-biting chase sequence (and those chic AF helicopters), the writers found a way to raise the stakes without adding a forced plot twist. But just because I was mostly okay with the ending doesn’t mean I don’t have a million questions that went unanswered.
The Undoing was billed as a limited series, and given the way it ended, the chances of a surprise second season seem slim, which is probably a good thing (though I do have some great ideas for Part 2: The Redoing if HBO wants to cut me a check). But since we won’t be seeing any more of Nicole in that wig (one of her best wigs, tbh), here are some issues that I would’ve liked to see resolved in the finale.
At the end of the penultimate episode, Grace found the hammer (aka the murder weapon) in Henry’s violin case, and it was a truly shocking moment that threw a wrench into everyone’s final predictions about who killed Elena. In the finale, we got more clarity about the hammer—mainly that Henry found it after the fact, and wasn’t the killer—but I’m left with one specific question that I can’t figure out. When discussing the discovery with his family and his attorney, Jonathan seemed excited at the prospect of DNA testing the hammer, as if it would magically exonerate him. Likewise, he seemed as annoyed as everyone else when Henry told them he’d run the hammer through the dishwasher twice.
But like… now that we know Jonathan did it, why the f*ck would he want the hammer to be DNA tested? Wouldn’t that be the last thing he wanted? And wouldn’t he be relieved to find out his son had flushed away any possibility of the murder weapon holding up in court? Obviously Jonathan made a lot of questionable decisions, but his whole reaction to the discovery of the murder weapon was confusing.
I love Lily Rabe, but throughout the show, it seemed a little odd how much time we were spending with Grace’s best friend Sylvia, who also happened to be an attorney. For the most part, the show stayed laser-focused on the murder and the surrounding fallout, so Sylvia’s scenes always felt a little random. For this reason, I noticed a decent amount of speculation that she could have been somehow involved in the murder. This always seemed a little far-fetched to me, and clearly it didn’t end up happening, so why did we spend so much time with Sylvia?
In the finale, she played a key role in Grace’s masterful takedown of Jonathan by slipping some key info to the prosecutor, but I still thought her scenes were building up to a bigger final moment. If there’s any kind of spinoff I’d like to see from this show, it would be centered on Sylvia, because I have a feeling she also has some secrets up her sleeve.
The Family Sister
One of the more shocking revelations earlier in the series was that when he was a teenager, Jonathan’s little sister died while he was supposed to be watching her. Jonathan’s admission that he “killed the family sister” felt off-putting from the start, and I still don’t feel like I got enough closure in terms of his mental state. Of course, Grace’s creepy phone call with her mother-in-law ended up being key to her testimony, but the idea that Jonathan was a sociopath, or had narcissistic personality disorder, seemed to come up only when it was helpful in advancing the plot. By all accounts, Jonathan actually loved Elena, and it seems like his relationships with Grace and Henry were pretty solid before all of this mess started. If Grace, a clinical psychologist, was married to this man for 15 years, wouldn’t some alarm bells have gone off before he was on trial for murder?
Okay, so this is more of a petty thing that just felt off to me. In the climactic final scene, Grace and her father join the chase for Jonathan and Henry via helicopter, just in case you forgot how rich they are. Ultimately, they land the chopper in the middle of the bridge, which I just can’t imagine is actually allowed. I’m not an expert on helicopter regulations, but I feel like one of the many police officers in the vicinity would have at least written them a ticket. And then, after Grace rescues Henry, they just immediately hop back in the ‘copter and fly away. I’m sorry, but the police 100% would’ve made Henry stay there and at least answer some questions. I don’t know how being rich works, but there’s no way you could get kidnapped by your fugitive father, and then almost get killed by a truck, and then almost fall off a bridge, and the cops don’t even detain you for a quick chat. But on a less nitpicky note, I absolutely want to rent a Blade so I can reenact this scene.
Elena’s Locker Room Scene
After watching the first episode of The Undoing, I was really unsure of whether I liked it, mostly because I found Elena’s energy kind of unpleasant. As we know, she didn’t last long, and honestly I started enjoying the show more once she was gone. But I still want more answers about her behavior in those last couple days before she died. In the finale, we saw a flashback of her telling Jonathan about how she was getting closer to Grace, which he clearly didn’t like. But while attending committee meetings together and talking at parties is one thing, I really need to know what the f*ck was up with that scene at the locker room, where Elena was fully naked while talking to Grace for like, five minutes. Grace was clearly uncomfortable (same), and for a while, I thought the show was going to be more focused on Elena being a creepy stalker. That never materialized (probably because Jonathan smashed her face with a hammer), but looking back, that first episode feels weirdly disconnected from the rest of the show.
Amid all the plot twists later in the season, I almost forgot about one of The Undoing’s biggest red herrings: Grace’s late-night walk right past Elena’s studio. The security camera footage of her right by the crime scene cast doubt on Jonathan’s guilt, and was really the only reason it ever seemed like Grace could’ve been the killer. But this line of thinking never went anywhere, and Grace’s “I just went for a walk” explanation feels like a weak resolution for a plot twist that was so clearly contrived to make us think she was involved.
Overall, I enjoyed The Undoing, but I think they maybe tried to do a little too much in six episodes, and we were left with a lot of loose threads that never got tied up. But if anyone at HBO is reading this, that doesn’t mean we need a second season—some things are better off being left alone.
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We’re now in the final months of 2020, and let’s face it, this year still sucks. In the spring, we were all focused on finding new hobbies to cure our boredom while we were stuck inside (RIP my needlepoint kit), but now, most of us have settled into our couches and just need something new to watch. Luckily, the stars have aligned to bring us a lot of exciting TV this fall, even after lengthy shutdowns for much of this year. Some of your favorite shows are finally coming back for new seasons, but we’re also getting a whole bunch of exciting new shows and miniseries. Basically, there’s a lot to look forward to, even if the real world is still a f*cking disaster.
‘Unsolved Mysteries Vol. 2’ – 10/19
Our latest true crime obsession, The Vow, is drawing to a close this week, but Netflix has conveniently scheduled a new season of Unsolved Mysteries to make sure that we don’t go hungry. Volume 2 of the hit show unpacks six new mysteries that remain—you guessed it—unsolved. The trailer for the new season is creepy AF, which, in the world of true crime, is all we could possibly ask for. Can’t wait.
‘The Queen’s Gambit’ – 10/23
Rising star Anya Taylor-Joy stars in this six-part adaptation of the hit novel. She plays an orphaned chess prodigy who has to deal with addiction and other demons in her quest to be the best chess player in the world. The trailer is full of brooding drama and 1960s vibes, so I have a feeling I’ll be watching this in one sitting.
‘The Undoing’ – 10/25
As a bona fide Nicole Kidman stan, I was thrilled when I found out that she’s coming back to HBO after making me cry for two full seasons of Big Little Lies. This miniseries, adapted from the thriller novel You Should Have Known, stars Kidman and Hugh Grant as a couple who have to deal with the fallout from a “violent death.” It’s also produced by David E. Kelley, the mastermind behind Big Little Lies. Yup, this sounds like exactly what we all need right now.
‘This Is Us’ Season 5 – 10/27
Who’s in the mood to cry??? Due to COVID, the new season of This Is Us was originally pushed to November, but NBC saw how much y’all were struggling and moved it up to late October. It’s the little things. Season 5 kicks off with a two-hour premiere episode, which means you’ll probably need two full boxes of tissues at the ready—you’ve been warned. It’ll be interesting to see how they handle all the flashbacks and future scenes this season, considering that none of us even know what year it is anymore. 2015? Sure, sounds close enough to me.
‘The Mandalorian’ Season 2 – 10/30
The reason your boyfriend won’t let you cancel the Disney+ subscription is back! But actually, our favorite power couple the Mandalorian and Baby Yoda are back for a second season, and with that, hopefully there will be another round of fire Baby Yoda memes. He has some cute moments in the trailer, so it seems promising. But overall, the season looks intense, so maybe I’ll make an effort to watch it this year.
‘Industry’ – 11/9
I don’t know how HBO still has new shows ready to go eight months into a pandemic that brought production to a halt around the world, but I’m certainly not complaining. This new British series follows a group of young associates competing for permanent positions at a high-stakes investment bank in London, and it basically looks like Euphoria, but set in the world of finance. This might not be the one to watch if you have trouble with your anxiety, but personally, I’m very excited. Also, Lena Dunham is an executive producer, so make of that what you will.
‘A Teacher’ – 11/10
FX’s new partnership with Hulu this year is already producing good results, and their latest collab is this miniseries about a teacher who has an illegal affair with one of her students. It’s a story we’ve all heard before, but this looks like it’s going to be a thrilling take on it. With stars Kate Mara (House of Cards) and Nick Robinson (Love, Simon), I have a good feeling about this one.
‘The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City’ – 11/11
Last fall, when Bravo announced that the next destination in the Real Housewives franchise would be Salt Lake City, the main reaction was “huh?” Turns out, this wintry spot in the mountains has everything you need for an A+ reality show. The women are rich, glamorous, and most importantly, ridiculous. I got a chance to check out the premiere episode early, and it does not disappoint. And even better, RHOSLC is one of the most diverse Housewives casts ever. You love to see it.
‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Season 17 – 11/12
After season 16 was cut short in the spring due to the you-know-what, Meredith Grey & Co. are finally returning for their 17th season. Yes, it’s a lot of seasons, but if you’re still on the Grey’s Anatomy train, there’s no getting off now. Lucky for you, the season premiere will be a crossover episode with Station 19, which means it’s a two-hour episode. It’s really what we deserve after waiting so long.
‘The Crown’ Season 4 – 11/15
One of Netflix’s top prestige dramas returns for its fourth season, and to quote Chris Harrison, this really might be the most dramatic season ever. As the timeline moves into the 1980s, we’ll see the introduction of Lady Diana Spencer, and in the trailer we see glimpses of her wedding, as well as her tumultuous relationship with Prince Charles. This season’s other top new player is Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, played by The X-Files’ Gillian Anderson. And of course, we still have Olivia Colman and Helena Bonham Carter killing it as Elizabeth and Margaret, respectively. This season looks like it’s going to be wild, in the most refined way.
‘Big Sky’ – 11/17
Big Little Lies creator David E. Kelley has two new shows this fall, and the second is Big Sky, a drama coming to ABC. This one looks worth it for the gorgeous scenery alone, but there’s also a gripping thriller plot to seal the deal. Two private detectives (one played by Ryan Phillippe, swoon) team up with an ex-cop to investigate the disappearance of two teenage girls. They soon find out that other girls have gone missing in the area, and it becomes a hunt to stop more kidnappings from happening. Looks creepy, I’m in.
‘Saved by the Bell’ – 11/25
The reboot trend is officially not over—sorry if you’re sick of them. This might be the thing that finally forces you to get a Peacock account, because the nostalgia is out of control. In this latest reboot, Zack Morris is the Governor of California, while A.C. Slater is teaching P.E. at Bayside. The old cast is obviously here, but much of the series focuses on a new group of kids at Bayside, who are a mix of wealthy and low-income students. Should be interesting, but let’s be honest, it can’t be worse than last year’s dreadful 90210 reboot.
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