Thursday, April 21, 2022

REVIEW: 'Russian Doll' - Nadia's Actions in the Past Create More Danger for Her and Alan in the Present in 'Matryoshka'

Netflix's Russian Doll - Episode 2.07 "Matryoshka"

On Nadia's birthday, she and Alan reunite in a familiar place. But they clash over how to handle the future (and the past).

"Matryoshka" was written by Natasha Lyonne & Alice Ju and directed by Natasha Lyonne

Nadia and Alan broke time, again. The season even ultimately plays with the same visual and audio clues that were so relevant the first time around. Of course, the scope is much more ambitious. That's the show following the path that so many sequels do after breakout success with their first release. The creative team has to maintain the same formula that worked so well. It also has to go bigger and better because the audience is trained for what to expect. This season visited many different time periods and locations. Early on, Nadia was horrified upon living in her mother's body in 1982. She proclaimed how the universe found a fate worse than death. She still saw it as an opportunity to change things. Everything she knows about time travel is the ability to alter the past to correct a mistake. In this instance, it was ensuring the Krugerrands stayed in the family. However, they were always destined to be forever lost to time. This new reality isn't meant to offer the chance at reinvention. It's to allow Nadia and Alan to live. They survived their first encounter with time loops. They feared the cycle starting all over again. And yes, the season does build to a place where Nadia and Alan's standing in time may be erased entirely. However, it's strikingly different because it's about them each finding peace with the journeys they have been on. They were never meant to change anything. They were simply asked to step into the shoes of the generations before them so they could understand the sacrifices and trauma that led to this moment. It's shameful for them to be doing nothing with their lives. It's not an existential crisis brought on by Nadia's pending 40th birthday or the likelihood Ruth could die soon. Instead, it's merely to highlight the value of life. Nadia and Alan were given this chance. The metaphysical happens once more. They grabbed ahold of it eagerly. Alan certainly had a different reaction. He knew it was dangerous to change anything. He also didn't know what he was suppose to do. He had no understanding of this event with his grandmother before now. It was completely lost to time. It was a story never told. The love central to it was never built to last. It was always a precious yet fleeting moment. It was still worth savoring even if no answers could ultimately be provided. Alan wanted to save Lenny. Their love could shine brightly if they simply made different decisions. Nadia had a lot of fun manipulating time to her benefit. And yet, that was the way the story was always meant to happen. The universe works in mysterious ways. It's not healthy to question it.

Nadia would love to snatch herself away from the family that raised her. She would be better off with a complete different set of circumstances. Her connection with Ruth has outlasted everyone else that was suppose to offer value and substance. Her mother died a long time ago. Nadia has outlived her. She still blames Nora for messing her up. Ruth could only fix so much of the damage. That's Nadia's own thought process as well. She is forever damaged. As such, she is careless with her body and the decisions she makes. It makes no sense for her to potentially raise herself as a baby. She robs her from the timeline anyway. That forces all of this structure to fall apart. At the end of the day, it's all about surrendering to the power and connection of the universe. So much is revealed. So much is learned. Nadia's family survived the Holocaust. As a result, Vera put her money in gold. The family could be prepared for anything. Nora made countless bad decisions fueled by her mental illness. People couldn't provide her with the help she needed. Nadia experienced it all firsthand. She saw what it was like to not trust the voices in her own head as Nora. She also endured the determination to survive and plan for everything always evident in Vera. That didn't make them the best parents. Ruth was never fully accepted by the family either. These connections are so complicated. Nadia's life seems relatively easy in comparison. She has to go searching for these answers. She must provide resolution to produce a better outcome for the people who struggled just in order for her to survive. She risked losing Ruth and everyone else of value in her life. That's not the fate she deserves. She is merely meant to receive a glimpse into the trauma of the generations leading up to her creation. This history is storied on her mother's side. Everything is typical regarding the other half of her parentage. These mysteries must be known. Nadia has had an impact across time. She has been active in the development of her family. She was present in 1944 just like she is in 2022. Her life continues. It may move forward in a more linear way now. Of course, that requires her to accept the things she cannot change. She can't choose who her mother is going to be. She simply must welcome what was. It's all about preserving this precious life. Alan was always told he resembled his grandmother. It wasn't until now that he understood what that meant. His storyline is more tangential and diminished than Nadia's. That's unfortunate. Crucial plot points that build its effectiveness aren't present. That doesn't derail the overall message or the power it develops. It's simply noticeable because it's hard to recapture the magic of what made the first season so great. This year played around with time to a much broader extent. The metaphors had to be more blunt. The characterizations were more extreme. But it still provides peace for Nadia and Alan. Hopefully, they can apply these lessons to their lives to ensure they don't miss out on anything meaningful even though they are always on the lookout for the universe messing with them. They can't forever be chasing those adventures when their loved ones need them to be present right now.