Natasha Lyonne’s Chaotic & Satisfying Return

The first season of Russian doll showed life in a loop. Nadia (natasha lyonne) began each cycle at his 36th birthday party, inside a bathroom, while Harry Nilsson‘Gotta Get Up’ was playing at full volume. Nadia for the most part knew what to expect: once she came out of the bathroom, her friend Maxine (greta lee) would be there to greet her with a birthday chicken and a joint laced with ketamine, and from there, the choice was hers. Nadia could party, she could go downstairs (she would probably fall to her death), she could go down the fire escape and live a few days before dying and restart the cycle all over again. In that first season, Nadia and eventually Alan (charlie barnet), who was experiencing the same time-loop phenomenon, knew that if things didn’t work out, there was another chance to try again and start over.

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But life is not so easy. Living is careless and difficult. We make a choice, that choice is set in stone. The ramifications of that decision can stretch across decades and generations. Our history is not only ours, it is linked to all those who preceded us and all those who will come after us. Season 2 of Russian doll embrace this carelessness, this disorder of life, the confusing butterfly effect that our choices have to which we are all tied. Time is not a flat circle. The weather is a mess.

The second season of Russian doll— released over three years since the Season 1 debut — finds Nadia a few days before her fortieth birthday, usually the same one we last remember her for. She is trying to quit smoking, as her lungs are “two shriveled Nick Caves”, and she spends more time checking on Ruth (Elizabeth Ashley), whose trips to the hospital are becoming worrying.



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Image via Netflix

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After a ride on the New York City subway, Nadia finds herself in 1982, and when she looks in the mirror, she sees her mother, Lenora (Chloe Sevigny). Nadia discovers that she is experiencing the events of her mother’s life when Lenora was pregnant with her and decides to try to right her mother’s past mistakes. But as season 1 showed us, fixing the past isn’t as easy as it seems, especially when Nadia’s subway rides take her back and forth in time, continually throwing her into unexpected times, places, and situations.

Season 1 ran like clockwork, with a compact and brilliant story told over the course of eight episodes that made it seem like a second season wasn’t necessary. Season 2 is intentionally hairy by comparison, as this story twists past and present into one gigantic narrative tangle. Season 2 is not trying to keep the same strict structure of the first season, but rather, Russian doll is trying to create controlled chaos. If the first season explored how the choices we make inform the world around us, season 2 zooms out to show how long ago it informs who we become, a much more daunting and daunting task to try to accomplish effectively. Still Russian doll makes this exploration of the past in conjunction with the present work beautifully.


To tell this story, Season 2 clings to the few loose ends left behind in Season 1, primarily Nadia’s fear of her past and her troubled relationship with her mother. Season 2 has Nadia mainly looking for the golden Krugerrands her mother lost, which were to be Nadia’s inheritance, but this is just a MacGuffin for Nadia to take into account her past and the problems her mother had at an older age. early. By literally walking in her mother’s footsteps, Nadia is able to understand the relationship she and her mother had with much more depth and compassion.


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Image via Netflix

But part of this reflection on the past also includes seeing how important Ruth has been to both Lenora and Nadia, as Ruth has been the person who didn’t have to be there, but always was because of her love for these two women. Because of this, Russian doll Season 2 is fundamentally a story about mothers, both those of us who don’t have a choice and the women who raise us to be who we are.


This immersion in Nadia’s past gives Lyonne the opportunity to show all her strengths as an actress. Confronting her past and her mother’s past provides some truly poignant moments throughout this season as Nadia tries to come to terms with the things she can’t change. The most difficult moments of season 1 found Nadia coming face to face with the past that she had tried too hard to avoid, and in succumbing to that past in this new season, the emotional reward is even greater. But as always, Nadia remains a hilarious and unpredictable character, always ready with a charming aside or a great line made to quote. Lyonne, who also wrote or co-wrote four of this season’s seven episodes and directed three episodes, has expanded on who this character is in remarkable and magnificent ways.

Russian doll Season 2 is also a feat of writing, a ball of tangled threads that somehow come together in masterful fashion. The writers of season 2 know that the audience and these characters have seen many time travel stories, which allows them to have fun in defiance of expectations. Is there anything that everyone agrees shouldn’t be done in a time travel story? Well then Russian doll it’s going to. But the series, for the most part, also handles time with a pretty simple and universal truth of these kinds of stories, in that the past can’t be changed, but exploring the past can help you learn. more about yourself and make you a better person.


russian doll season 2 netflix
Image via Netflix

Fortunately, this season’s writing allows for more opportunities for the supporting cast to shine. A journey in search of answers brings Nadia and Maxine together for one of the best episodes of the season, while Alan returns to his own series of adventures, which plays on the same basic ideas as Nadia’s story, but also tells a equally fascinating story about accepting the unknowable and not being afraid to make the wrong move. Season 2 also offers a lot of time with Ruth, both in the present day and in the 1980s. Ruth and her adoration for Nadia and Lenora is key to this season and the show in general, so it’s great that this season allows for a lot of time with Russian dollThe most underrated character.

Russian dollThe second season of is a truly wild ride, even when compared to the first season of the circuit, but it’s the looseness and seamless exploration of the past that makes this season so remarkable. By untying this season from a specific pattern, Russian doll it can go into much more open territory and expand this world in a way that would have been impossible with the first season. With its second season, Russian doll creates a narrative that is much more confused and less structured than the first, and while it may not always work, the result is a much more layered, emotionally satisfying, and enthralling season than the pristine nature of the first season. Time travel, what a concept!

Classification: AN-

Russian doll Season 2 arrives on Netflix on April 20.


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