Just when things were finally starting to make sense, most of what we thought we knew about The Undoing’s characters has been cast into doubt. Warning: this article contains spoilers for episode three of The Undoing.
Just when we thought The Undoing had settled upon its (slightly obvious) prime suspect, the rug has undoubtedly been pulled out from beneath our feet.
Episode three – which marks the midpoint in the series – starts with Jonathan (Hugh Grant) being taken into police custody because Grace (Nicole Kidman) has reported him following his swift disappearance in the aftermath of Elena Alves’ murder.
All eyes are, understandably, on him – not only did he lose his job at the hospital because of his affair with Alves, but we now know that Alves’ baby daughter is his own. Add to that the fact that he says Alves was becoming “obsessed” with him and that he was worried for his family, and, as Jonathan’s public defender tells him: “It would be difficult for an innocent man to present more guilty.”
However, as the episode continues, there are signs that Jonathan’s claims of innocence may not be as outlandish as we first thought.
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First things first, Grace’s dad Franklin is acting proper shifty. It’s great to see Donald Sutherland involved in the plot beyond supportive-but-slightly-creepy father figure; besides admitting that he lent Jonathan $500,000 to pay for Henry’s school and feels responsible for Elena’s death because he didn’t tell Grace about it (dramatic, but OK), we later see him lurking outside Elena’s old apartment, watching her husband Fernando with their baby daughter (you know, the one that’s actually Jonathan’s).
But Franklin isn’t the only character acting suspiciously. In what could be explained as ‘I’m angry your husband killed my wife’ energy, Fernando begins to follow Grace as she walks around the city, eventually confronting her and asking her to talk. It’s unclear what his motive is here – the conversation descends into the pair trading insults about their partners and Grace pushing Fernando for more information from Elena’s past.
And then, of course, there’s Grace herself. After she visits the police to tell them that Fernando has been following her and demands to see CCTV evidence from the night of the murder, the police present her with a tape which was recorded one block away from the scene. The only relevant image from the night of the murder? Grace, wandering casually across the street.
It’s the twist we’ve all been (hopefully) waiting for: the reliable narrator we’ve been depending upon to make sense of what’s going on has turned out to be not-so-reliable, and every possibility is back on the cards.
If episode three of The Undoing has left you with more questions than answers, you’re definitely not the only. But don’t fear – Stylist’s Lauren Geall is here to try and unpick them all.
Why is Grace so quick to return to New York?
In episode two, Henry and Grace moved out to the family’s beach house to ride out the wave of publicity which came with Jonathan’s position as the prime suspect, and Grace told her son they wouldn’t be moving back to New York until the cameras went away from the family’s home and Henry’s school.
However, despite none of those things happening, the pair head back to the city soon after Jonathan is arrested.
Is Grace happy to return to the city because she feels like all the attention is on Jonathan? Was her decision to move out to the beach house fuelled by the fact that the detectives were asking her too many questions?
Why is Franklin so against Grace visiting Jonathan?
When Grace suggests that she might go and visit Jonathan in prison, Franklin’s response is pretty clear cut: “I wouldn’t go anywhere near that son of a bitch.”
Although it’s understandable that Franklin would be angry at Jonathan – after all, he did cheat on and lie to his daughter for months on end – it also feels like a response triggered by something more than anger.
I might be clutching at straws here, but I do think Franklin had something to do with the Alves family at some point – and his reluctance for Grace to visit his husband could come from a fear that Jonathan will either a) unveil the truth (because he knows about what’s been going on) or b) convince Grace he’s innocent, leaving her to dig deeper into what’s going on around her.
Why does Franklin know where the Alves’ apartment is? And what is he doing there?
After Franklin admits to Grace that he lent Jonathan the money, we see him stood outside Elena’s apartment, watching Fernando with what we now know is Jonathan’s baby girl.
The first big question here is how he knows where their apartment is in the first place. Elena was murdered in her art studio, so it’s not like he could work out Fernando’s location by simply visiting the scene of the crime. He also happens to know exactly what floor and window to look at, which is a very specific detail to know if he didn’t have anything to do with the couple.
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Secondly, there’s the question of why Franklin is there in the first place. It’s not as if he was just out for a walk in the neighbourhood and happened to stroll past the Alves’ apartment – we see him being dropped off by his chauffeur and crossing the street to peek into the apartment.
Is he there to threaten Fernando? Or perhaps bribe him to stay quiet? And if so, what is he trying to hide?
Is Jonathan’s yard fight a sign of the violence he’s capable of?
It seems pretty telling that Jonathan’s instinct in a fight with a fellow inmate is to sadistically bite down on his finger until his mouth is filled with blood, right?
Why is Fernando following Grace?
I know I’ve already touched on this point a little, but I wanted to explore a bit deeper. While I don’t think Fernando was involved in Elena’s death – despite Sylvia’s claims that “it’s always the fucking husband” – I do think he’s hiding something.
Although it’s possible that his decision to follow Grace comes from a desire to clear up the rumours surrounding his wife’s mental state, it feels like there’s more he’s not saying. Could he be trying to sum up the courage to tell Grace something?
Or, perhaps more interestingly, could he know something about Grace’s involvement that we don’t?
Why was Grace near Elena Alves’ apartment on the night of her murder?
This is the biggest question to come out of episode three, and one I’m not sure we’ll get an answer to until the final episode.
Grace’s decision to question the detectives about their CCTV evidence could be motive driven – she knows she was in the area on the night of the murder and wants to see whether the detectives caught her on camera – or she really has no recollection of being in the area on that night.
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This opens up the story to even more possibilities – is it possible that Grace was drugged at the fundraiser and didn’t know where she was? Or, has the footage been edited to set her up?
I guess we’ll have to wait and see – but things don’t seem to be looking good for Nicole Kidman’s character (and her iconic hair) as we head into episode four.
Episode three of The Undoing airs tonight on Sky Atlantic at 9pm. It is also available to watch on NOW TV.
As Stylist’s digital writer, Lauren Geall writes on topics including mental health, wellbeing and women’s issues. She’s also a big fan of houseplants and likes to dabble in film and TV from time-to-time. You can find her on Twitter at @laurenjanegeall.