Warning: this article contains spoilers for episode six of The Undoing.
There certainly wasn’t anything wrong with the ending – as a standalone episode, it was incredibly gripping, and every single member of the cast was brilliant (Hugh Grant’s performance as Jonathan in those closing scenes was nothing short of terrifying) – but when the show spent so much of its time teasing all kinds of possibilities and leaving every sudden glance and flick of an eyebrow up for interpretation, it’s likely many people will be disappointed to be confronted with the most obvious killer of all: Jonathan, the one who was on trial for the crime in the first place.
However, just because we find out who killed Elena, doesn’t mean episode six of The Undoing ties everything up neatly. The episode kicks off with the family dealing with the aftermath of Grace’s discovery at the end of episode five, when she uncovers the murder weapon in Henry’s violin case.
Unlike many people opted to believe on Twitter, this discovery was not a sign that Henry was the true murderer or that he was covering for Miguel after a tragic accident – instead, he found the weapon at the family’s beach house and hid it to protect his Dad from conviction.
Of course, Jonathan knows that murder weapon belongs to him (we see him using it to kill Elena in a flashback later on in the episode), but instead of confessing to Grace or simply pretending he doesn’t know where it came from, he actually tries to accuse Henry, a decision which (understandably) leaves Grace absolutely furious.
Fast forward to the courtroom, and after Jonathan takes his turn on the stand, Haley calls on Elena’s son, Miguel, who reveals that his parents fought regularly. This is, of course, an attempt by Haley to further bring into question Elena’s husband, Fernando – and while it seems to work pretty well in Jonathan’s favour, it doesn’t take long for things to ‘undo’ again. See what I did there?
After a late-night conversation with her best friend, Sylvia, and a conversation with her father in which she insists she will “fix” the situation with Jonathan, Grace insists on taking to the stand in what she says is a move to strengthen his case. It all starts off pretty well – as a psychologist, Grace uses her qualifications to vouch for Jonathan’s character and moral persuasion – but things start to go South when the prosecution lawyer steps up and begins to ask increasingly probing questions.
Although we don’t ever see the conversation happening, it’s implied that Sylvia has given the prosecution a tip-off about Grace’s earlier conversation with Jonathan’s mother, where she tells Grace that her son has narcissistic tendencies and has never shown empathy for the death of his younger sister. We’re led to believe that this is what Grace spoke to Sylvia about during their late-night conversation – in order to rid herself of Jonathan and the mess he is creating for their family, Grace leads the prosecution towards a line of questioning that is sure to get Jonathan convicted.
The problem? Although she tries her hardest to make it seem as if the prosecution lawyer’s line of questioning has come out of nowhere, Jonathan sees right through Grace, quickly realising that she’s set him up in agreeing to testify.
With this scene having played out, it’s clear that Jonathan’s conviction is pretty much a done deal – all that’s left to do is return to court to see him sentenced. However, that’s not what happens.
Instead, Jonathan goes on the run – and takes Henry with him. As Henry tries to convince his Dad to turn around or pull over, we see flashbacks of Jonathan’s memory from the night of Elena’s murder.
If one thing’s for sure, it definitely wasn’t an accident – after a violent confrontation with Elena in which he smashes her head against a wall and tells her he’s leaving her, Jonathan gets up to leave. Then, when Elena comes after him with her sculpting hammer in a fit of rage, he yanks it out of her hand and hits her around the head with it, before beating her to death. It’s a horrific scene – and when paired with the contrast of Jonathan singing with his son in the car, it’s absolutely terrifying.
The episode comes to an end as Jonathan becomes increasingly unhinged, driving dangerously to evade the police before bringing the car to a stop on a bridge, where he threatens to jump. It’s only when Grace – who has been following the chase in her Dad’s private helicopter (convenient) – comes running across the bridge screaming Jonathan’s name that he decides to get down, and the police are able to arrest him. The end!
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Although it’s kind of frustrating to find out that Jonathan is the killer after six gripping episodes, it’s also interesting to see a show opt for the ‘obvious’ answer in a show which is so much about the divide between what we show the world and what we don’t.
Perhaps leading us to make so many foregone conclusions – despite the fact that the killer was staring us in the face the whole time – was The Undoing’s true intention. In leading us to consider possibilities other than Jonathan’s guilt, the show demonstrates how easy it is to be manipulated by someone like him – indeed, even after we were confronted with substantiated evidence of his lies and lack of empathy, many of us were still reluctant to concede to the facts staring us in the face.
No matter how you feel about the finale, it’s safe to say that the true terror of The Undoing isn’t just the brutality of Elena’s death – it’s also our inability to identify the monster sitting right in front of us.
The Undoing episode six airs tonight on Sky Atlantic at 9 pm. It is also available to watch now on-demand on NOW TV and Sky Go.
As Stylist’s digital writer, Lauren Geall writes on topics including mental health, wellbeing and work. She’s also a big fan of houseplants and likes to dabble in film and TV from time-to-time.
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