Biggest Questions After The Season 1 Finale


The HBO Max whodunnit The Undoing identifies the killer in the season 1 finale, but questions surrounding the main characters linger.

The HBO Max mystery mini-series The Undoing resolves its main plotline but leaves many other questions unanswered. The Undoing is a small-screen adaptation of Jean Hanff Koreliz’s 2014 novel. You Should Have Known. The series stars Nicole Kidman as Dr. Grace Fraser, an affluent psychotherapist whose life unravels following the grisly murder of a parent at her son’s exclusive private school. The series, created and written by David E. Kelley (Big Little Lies), follows Grace as she’s drawn into a murder investigation, which centers around her husband Jonathan (Hugh Grant).

Grace Fraser appears to have it all. Her husband Jonathan is a charming, witty, charismatic oncologist, and they live together with their son Henry (Noah Jupe) in an upper-class Manhattan neighborhood. Henry attends The Reardon School, where a year’s tuition exceeds what many people earn in a year. While planning a fundraiser, Grace meets Elena Alves (Matilda De Angelis), the beautiful but troubled mother of one of Reardon’s scholarship students. After Elena is found brutally bludgeoned to death, Grace learns her husband was having an affair with Elena, and he is charged with her murder. As disturbing revelations about her husband continually blindside Grace, and the evidence against him mounts, Grace struggles to come to terms with the fact that her idyllic life has been a lie.

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The Undoing provides enough viable suspects with motivation for wanting Elena dead that it isn’t a foregone conclusion until the finale (unless you’ve read the book) who murdered her. One-time Doctor Who consideration Hugh Grant does a convincing job of playing a man who, while flawed, seems incapable of such a heinous act, and Elena’s behavior supports his assertion that she was emotionally unstable and obsessed. Grace’s mental state is repeatedly called into question. Her actions both the night of Elena’s murder and in the weeks following cause the audience to question if she’s as clueless about the events unfolding as she appears to be. The Undoing’s most unsettling moments are when Grace is repeatedly shocked to learn that everyone she loves, from her husband to her father to her son, harbor secrets that have her questioning her own judgment. In the finale, Jonathan is brought to justice, but the series fails to address some interesting questions raised throughout the show.

What Happens To Elena And Jonathan’s Daughter?

Ismael Cruz Cordova and Edan Alexander in The Undoing on HBO

Following Elena’s death, Grace is shocked to learn that Jonathan is the father of Elena’s baby.¬†Jonathan shows almost no interest in the child he conceived with Elena other than to use her as a possible bargaining chip with Fernando Alves (Ismael Cruz Cordova), who in turn is rarely seen without the baby, which makes the efforts to paint him as the killer less and less plausible. A grieving Fernando appears determined to raise the child because he loved her mother, but he admits it’s already beginning to feel like a burden. The HBO Max series examines how Grace’s compassion and empathy blind her to others’ faults, and she struggles to quell her curiosity regarding Henry’s half-sibling. For a time, it feels inevitable Grace will take Jonathan back, and she has to consider how to factor this child into their lives. Presumably, any interest Grace has in the baby wanes following Jonathan’s conviction. Fernando, who may be the only truly righteous character in the series, will be the one most likely to deal with the consequences of his wife’s infidelity.

Is Grace’s Father Capable Of Murder?

The Undoing Franklin

The similarities between FranklinReinhardt (Donald Sutherland) and Jonathan are staggering. Both are charismatic but calculating, and they use love as a justification for doing terrible things. At first, Franklin seems like a doting father and grandfather who thinks his daughter settled and takes no satisfaction when he finds out he’s right. However, after Franklin threatens not just Jonathan but the headmaster of Henry’s school, it’s evident that, like Jonathan, Franklin keeps his dark side hidden from Grace.

Grace learns she’s idealized her father in the same way she has her husband and is almost infuriatingly clueless when it comes to separating her perception of things from reality. Franklin’s disdain for Jonathan stems from the fact that he sees so much of himself in his son-in-law. Both are adept at manipulating Grace into second-guessing her choices and undermining her confidence. It’s almost impossible to ascertain when or if they’re ever entirely truthful or genuine. If Franklin was convinced that personal experience gave him the foresight to know Jonathan would cheat on Grace, what fuels his certainty that Jonathan is a cold-blooded killer? When Franklin calmly tells Jonathan he will kill him; there isn’t any doubt he means it. Does the prospect of violence come so easily to him all the time or only when he feels he’s protecting his family?

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Was Grace Telling The Truth About Why She Was In Elena’s Neighborhood?

the undoing grace and henry

When confronted with the video footage of herself in Elena’s neighborhood around the time of the woman’s murder, Grace is genuinely surprised. She claims to have no idea that Elena lived nearby. The fact that Grace made her way to Harlem on the same night she found out that’s where Elena lived is a huge plot point that isn’t resolved satisfactorily. Grace is seen constantly walking both with purpose and without. However, she never seems to stray far from home. So, how and why did she travel by foot alone at night and coincidentally make herself a suspect completely by accident? When Jonathan asks Grace if she was following him that night, she becomes upset, but she never definitively says yes or no. Jonathan successfully sows seeds of doubt regarding his guilt by using the incriminating actions of Grace. It’s a misdirect and an effective one, but it no longer makes sense when the truth about Jonathan is confirmed.

Did Jonathan Kill His Sister?

the undoing jonathan

Hugh Grant’s killer almost gets away with murdering Elena, but his deceased sister, Katie, proves to be his undoing. Not only does he fail to share this story with his wife until he’s on trial for murder, but his grief-stricken retelling turns out to be a complete ruse: a plausible means to gain sympathy and portray himself as a victim. It’s only after Jonathan’s mother reveals her son’s utter lack of guilt or remorse regarding his sister’s death does Grace understands she’s married to a monster.

The circumstances surrounding Katie’s death are vague. Instead of watching over his sister, Jonathan allows Katie to wander out of the house and into oncoming traffic. Maybe it’s the truth, but the only other person who knows what happened is dead. As Jonathan spins out of control in the aftermath of Grace’s betrayal, and the events of the night of Elena’s death finally come to light, it’s hard not to consider the possibility that Katie’s death may not have been an accident. Jonathan takes Elena’s life with such ease, even for a doctor who deals with life and death every day, he seems too unaffected. As if, perhaps, this isn’t the first time.

Is Henry A Sociopath?

The Undoing: Biggest Questions After The Season 1 Finale Henry Fraser

The Undoing foreshadows the possibility of Henry being the killer when he confesses to Grace that he saw Jonathan with Elena. When Grace finds the murder weapon in his violin case, Jonathan’s suspicions that his son murdered Elena mimic what viewers are thinking. This plot twist forces the audience to reconsider everything Henry has done and how he’s reacted to situations up to that pivotal moment (even more so upon a second viewing). He knows his father is guilty, but he still pushes his parents to reconcile, convinced that Jonathan will go free and their problems can be solved by getting a dog. He shows more empathy towards the murderer than the victim or her family. Henry lies, he tampers with evidence with an adeptness that should allude someone so young, and he’s one step ahead of his mother throughout most of the series.

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Updated: December 6, 2020 — 5:51 pm

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