Roger Ebert Home

Undone Seeks Answers and Closure in Sublime Second Season

It might seem strange that “Undone,” Prime Video's animated series about timeline altering and mental illness, received a second season. Not because the first season wasn't good—quite the opposite, actually. However, it appeared somewhat self-contained, content with leaving the fate of Alma Winograd-Diaz (Rosa Salazar) and her quest to align two different timelines unknown. Given how great the first season was, the risk of souring this concept was high.

Luckily, these fears have been unfounded. The second season of “Undone,” premiering in its entirety on April 29th, builds upon the story of the Winograd-Diaz family in a tragic yet still hopeful way. It picks up immediately where the first season left off; Alma has not yet come to terms with the truth behind the death of her father, Jacob (Bob Odenkirk). Instead, she has fled to Mexico, hoping that her merging of timelines will result in him being alive again. After an intervention with her sister Becca (Angelique Cabral), something mysterious happens. Alma then learns even more secrets that alter her perception of both her family and her sense of reality.

The second season of “Undone” builds on the idea of intergenerational trauma. Instead of figuring out whether Jacob's theories of alternate timelines were real or a product of his mother's schizophrenia, viewers get a glimpse into the secrets of Alma's mother Camila (Constance Marie). Much like how Jacob's secrets affected Alma's life, Camila's are just as impactful, reverberating through space and time. “Undone” continues to approach the concept of trauma as an inherited trait with care and precision.

On a technical level, the show is still an absolute marvel. Despite occasional dips into uncanny valley territory, the vast majority of the rotoscoping animation by Submarine Amsterdam continues to impress. This success is partly due to the team making minor changes to the animation process that further blur the lines between animation and live-action. Character movement, including facial expressions, carry more fluidity in the second season, more accurately imitating the actors that animators are tracing over. Not only that, but the characters also change their clothes more frequently, although Alma still primarily walks around in her standard dark blue top and jeans. These are not drastic changes by any means. However, they are still significantly appreciated improvements that help visualize just how intertwined Alma's reality is with other realities. 

Even outside of the rotoscoping, the animation by Submarine is visually arresting. This new season continues to dive into the idea of entering the memories of characters through something only known as The Fog. This time, these instances are accompanied by stunning transitions between the present and the past, the two melding into each other as the season progresses. Specifically, the sixth episode entitled "Rectify" features arguably the most detailed and complex designs the show has ever tackled to striking success. On a purely visual level, “Undone” continues to be unlike any other show currently streaming, whether animated or live-action. 

That isn't to say that the other aspects of the show aren't stellar as well. Salazar, who has also taken up executive producing duties this season, is still delightful and engrossing as Alma. Camila's expanded role allows Marie to portray a tragic and sympathetic character, while Odenkirk continues to be a welcome presence in even the tensest of scenes.

However, if there's one performance that both elevates their character and the show itself, it is Cabral's. No longer relegated to her marriage storyline, Becca quickly becomes "Undone""s shining star after discovering abilities she never knew were possible. While Alma embraced her powers in the first season, her sister is far more vulnerable and even fearful of what she's able to do. From hope to fear to anger at Alma and herself for what they get themselves into, Cabral gives one of the best voice-over performances of the year thus far.

Just when it felt like “Undone” could not top its first season, its second has it firing on all cylinders. It is a tragic but poignant story of how to live with past guilts, pains, and scars from generation to generation. While a life where you don't have to live with the traumas forced onto you by fate seems better, true happiness can still come from how you process and heal from that trauma. When you begin to heal on a personal level, the rest of the world will feel like it's healing as well.

Whole season screened for review.

Latest blog posts

Latest reviews

Montana Story
The Essex Serpent
Firestarter
On the Count of Three
Pleasure
Monstrous

Comments

comments powered by Disqus