Happy New Year and happy new Russian Doll recap! We’re almost done! Seems like we just started it…several months ago. Anywho, let’s focus on the positive, because we’re finally learning some important story elements in Russian Doll, let’s roll into S1:E07 A Way Out and find out some more!
We open in 1991 with a young Nadia Vulvokov (Brooke Timber) waiting impatiently for her mother Lenora (Chloë Sevigny) to return from the store. Much honking brings Lenora running with two watermelons.
TWO watermelons? Who can eat TWO watermelons before they go bad?
We’re back in the present with grown Nadia (Natasha Lyonne) and fellow death-repeater Alan Zaveri (Charlie Barnett) reviewing his choices. Nadia has died a bunch of different ways, as had he, but her first death was by a car and his was suicide. So on top of dying horribly a bunch of different ways over and over and dealing with the anxiety of never knowing when or why, he feels guilty for taking his own life.
While we know that Nadia is Jewish, at this point we have to assume Alan is Catholic.
Nadia has a theory and it doesn’t involve Alan’s suicide being responsible for everything they’re going through. Last time, while revisiting an early loop, she realised that she had seen Alan the night of her first death.
That means maybe she could have stopped him killing himself and he could have been not so drunk that he was able to save her from getting hit by a car.
*There are too many words in that sentence, but you know what I mean.
They’ve found their Groundhog Day pivot point! If you haven’t seen the movie Groundhog Day with Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell, get thee to a streaming service! It’s homework, go!
Alan (totally probably Catholic) is hung up on the morality of their situation, he views their looping as punishment for their bad behaviour. Nadia disagrees.
Wait. Okay, trying to follow. Nadia cuts open a rotten orange to show the juicy inside, this symbolizes a linear timeline still in effect somewhere. They just have to get to it. Erm. How? By returning to the time when their paths crossed, fixing the “bug” in the “code” and running a unit test to see if the “bug” is triggered and they die.
Nadia’s a video game coder!
They workshop the plan as they walk down the street, Nadia stopping dead in her tracks at the sight of child self. By that I mean she has a heart attack and we’re back in the bathroom of doom, which has lost its mirror thanks to their shenanigans.
Yay! The song is back!! It’s been gone for ages! Something is wrong, there’s only one person waiting at the door and it’s neither of the people from previous incarnations. There’s all kinds of things changing, Nadia and I don’t like it. She isn’t willing to leave her best friend Maxine (Greta Lee) and pal Lizzy (Rebecca Henderson) behind to the time gods, so she makes them come straight to the deli with her via the fire escape.
Maxine – “I have a fire escape?”
Outside the young Nadia is waiting and our Nadia dies immediately. The loops are happening faster and faster, how can they get there?
The group of three makes it out without seeing the little girl, they’re off to the deli.
Back in 1991, Nadia’s mom Lenora just took my watermelon question and stomped on it with cloven hoofs. She has approximately 20 watermelons in her car now, picking more up at yet another deli in town. The deli clerk (Omar Perez) expresses concern about Nadia’s welfare, which sends Lenora into a spin.
Back in the present, Nadia and her gang make it all the way to the deli to meet with Alan but young Nadia pops up at the back of the store with a mouth full of blood and she and Alan die from internal injuries.
In 1991, we meet a young Dr. Ruth Brenner (Kate Jennings Grant) trying her best to take care of young Nadia as Lenora spirals out of control.
There’s nobody at Nadia’s birthday party when she reappears again, and no furniture or objects either, just Maxine dancing by herself in an empty apartment. Maxine is not allowed to leave.
*I’m just glad Maxine is still alive.
Nadia and Alan meet in his similarly empty apartment, she tries to explain about seeing her younger self. This was a time when things were terrible with her mom (clearly), Nadia thinks she did something awful that year. Maybe if they can fix that?
But Nadia’s mom is dead (she died at 36 just like Nadia), how do they fix it without having the person? Alan knows how, but he’s off to repair things with his ex-girlfriend Beatrice (Dascha Polanca from Orange is the New Black!!). Nadia should try to make her peace the same way.
Nadia can’t stand the thought of being alone, she begs him to stay but he needs to go.
She changed his life, and lives are very hard things to change, so thank you.
It’s a very different reception from Beatrice when Alan gets to her place; she was worried about him! Interesting. It’s beautiful and sad watching Alan excavate his soul for Beatrice, who understands and is moved. He was so miserable. Sometimes we forget that men get locked into roles that don’t fulfill them either, entire lives lived to someone else’s expectations that leaves them as hollow as a woman trapped in the gilded cage of an empty marriage.
Nadia gears up and heads to see present-day Dr. Ruth Brenner (Elizabeth Ashley), I like the cutting boards!
She’s ready to confess to abandoning her mother, which she thinks killed her. She took the easy way out, wanting to live with Ruth and not her mom. Ruth calls her a seed, an organism that wanted to live. Does she still feel that way?
Nadia cries as Ruth tells her she’s chasing death instead, then gets up to make tea.
Wait! There’s a gas leak! We’re back in 1991 with Ruth and Lenora fighting over Lenora’s behaviour in front of Nadia and then we’re in the present and nobody died from the gas leak!
Nadia used to read “Emily of New Moon” when her guardians fought over her, she grabs the copy she had stored at Ruth’s and heads out.
Alan meets Beatrice’s new boyfriend / thesis advisor Mike Kershaw (Jeremy Bobb) in a completely different way than all the other ways they met, with Mike’s child on his hip come to see if Beatrice is okay. Alan leaves as his nose starts to bleed.
Nadia heads to a restaurant to meet the daughter of her ex-boyfriend to give her “Emily Of New Moon” then dies in front of her as horrifically as possibly, pulling a shard of mirror out of her mouth covered in blood.
Is it the presence of children in general that murders our intrepid heroes?
The boyfriend’s daughter turns into young Nadia, who calmly advises the dying grown Nadia that ‘she’ is still inside her. Is she ready to let her die? Today is the day they can get free.
And we’re out. Wow.
Was this all about Nadia having to choose to live instead of dying like her mom on her 36th birthday? Is this a complicated anti-suicide message with Alan being the earnest part of her determined to atone?
I might just plunge straight into the finale because this was a very different watch and we’re so close…until then. Cheers.