This review contains major spoilers for episode six of The Undoing
Most miniseries come and go in the blink of an eye in 2020 – binged in an afternoon before being cast aside by voracious viewers in search of another telly fix. But not The Undoing.
The most compelling series of the year has made a bigger impact, distracting us in the grips of a worldwide crisis and providing endless water cooler moments (if ‘water cooler moments’ were still a thing in this day and age, that is, and we weren’t all currently working from home in our dressing gowns).
That’s largely down to the uniformly excellent performances. Hugh Grant has offered crumpled charm by the bucketload and Nicole’s serene presence amid life-shattering turmoil have proved two of the finest performances of the year.
They’re both on top form again as things reach a gripping, if slightly maddening climax in episode six.
First off, we discover that Henry (Noah Jupe) found the murder weapon at the beach house, and hid it to protect his father – helpfully running it through the dishwasher (twice) to remove any DNA evidence. Jonathan accuses Henry of being the murderer out of desperation, as his well-polished act finally begins to unravel.
It’s Nicole, though, who proves the beating heart of the episode once again. She has had less to do over recent episodes, reduced to a simpering observer in the courtroom, but she finally got the payoff she deserved in the finale. Last week, we were left questioning why Grace had decided to stick by Jonathan’s side for so long. We called for her to ditch him and protect herself and Henry – a wish which came true in emphatic style.
With the help of Sylvia Steineitz (Lily Rabe), Grace slips prosecutor Catherine Stamper (Sofie Gråbøl) her diagnosis that Jonathan has a ‘narcissistic personality disorder’ and a total ‘lack of empathy’. It’s that revelation which does for Jonathan in the eyes of the judge. His past, and the lack of trauma over the death of his sister, is dragged through the courtroom kicking and screaming. It’s delectable viewing, and a much-needed moment of revenge for Grace.
Sensing his end is near, Jonathan takes Henry ‘for a drive’, launching a police manhunt. It’s on that drive that we finally discover it was Jonathan who killed Elena. He tells Henry it ‘wasn’t the dad you know’ that did it, before his sentiments are soon drowned out the sound of sirens and helicopters overhead.
Jonathan’s narcissistic shortcomings are laid bare, madly rambling about his ‘legacy’ as the police have him surrounded. We finally see the gruesome events of Elena’s death played out on screen. We discover that Jonathan murderer her after warning her not to get involved with his family. As Jonathan is taken into police custody and Nicole flies away with Henry to safety, he’ll need more than disarming charm to get out of this one.
So, Jonathan is the killer. After six hours of glorious TV, it’s the number one suspect one who did it all along. The prosecutors were right to place Jonathan as their only suspect from day one.
The result will likely come as a disappointment for fans who’ve been cooking up wild theories since episode one (was it Henry? Was it Donald Sutherland’s Svengali-like Franklin Reinhardt? Grace herself, perhaps?). In the end, it was nothing so adventurous.
It’s not a let down by any stretch, but the reveal certainly isn’t perfect. The final chase sequence feels a little too obvious and overblown for a show that thrives in subtlety. It feels like it was added for a cathartic adrenaline rush, rather than to serve much dramatic function. It would have been just as satisfying to see Jonathan’s downfall come in the courtroom, rather than on the ledge of a suspension bridge.
In many ways it’s the most straightforward of endings, which will likely leave some viewers unfulfilled. We don’t blame them. The complexity of the writing and narrative development had suggested a glorious plot twist could have been on the cards. It stings, not because the climax isn’t satisfying, but because it’s galling to know we were being deceived by Jonathan for just as long as Grace was. Thankfully, she saw the light before it was too late.
- For a moment, we suspected son Henry might have been the mastermind behind the murder after he’s seen hiding the murder weapon.
- Nicole has her moment of revenge after slipping information to the prosecution, condemning Jonathan.
- Nicole and Henry escape the clutches of Jonathan as his fate is decided in the final scenes.
It’s essential viewing – the glorious series shows what great minds can achieve with the format. Time works in mysterious ways during lockdown, and the past six weeks with the HBO drama in our lives have felt more like six months. We’ve been drip fed the best TV series of the year in a time when we’ve need distracting more than ever, and it’s been endlessly compelling. The only question that remains is what we’ll do now it’s over.
Credit: Original article published here.