The Undoing season 1, episode 3 recap – “Do No Harm”

November 9, 2020
Jonathon Wilson 0
HBO, TV Recaps


The plot thickens in “Do No Harm” as both Grace and Jonathan are forced to deal with their current predicaments as a much more complicated mystery lingers in the margins.

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The plot thickens in “Do No Harm” as both Grace and Jonathan are forced to deal with their current predicaments as a much more complicated mystery lingers in the margins.

This recap of The Undoing season 1, episode 3, “Do No Harm”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.

Picking things up from where we left them, “Do No Harm” sees Grace tearfully call the police on her husband, Jonathan, and direct them to their beach house where she and Henry had retreated for safety. We see Jonathan being taken away on a police chopper while looking back, sadly, at Grace and Henry peeping through the windows.

Henry, needless to say, doesn’t take this development all that well and retreats into his violin while the police ask Grace some questions about the encounter — questions she’s none too happy about being asked, especially once Detective Mendoza informs her that Elena’s daughter is Jonathan’s.

With that blow delivered, we join Grace and Henry — he’s watching news reports of the murder which suggest Elena’s sculpting hammer might have been the murder weapon — with Grace’s father, Franklin. Jonathan has been assigned a public defender since he hasn’t been working and is broke, but he did manage to drain the shared bank accounts a good deal before his apprehension. Henry, meanwhile, yanks the clothes out of his closet and eventually stares misty-eyed at a photo of his father — I’ve said it before, but I just don’t trust this kid, folks.

Grace’s finances might be an issue since, as Sylvia cautions her, she’s going to need to hire her own lawyer to stave off any accusations of aiding and abetting or harboring a fugitive or other such charges. Sylvia’s at the courthouse spying on Jonathan’s representation, who happens to be Robert Adelman (Douglas Hodge), aka “The Badger”, a good but not great attorney who tends to gnaw at the issue.

“Do No Harm” is then, suddenly, a legal drama, as Jonathan is walked out into a baying courtroom. He’s pleading “Not Guilty” to all charges, which seems a little ambitious, but he’s got the tattered shreds of a reputation to maintain, at the end of the day. We don’t stay here long, but there’s enough enthusiasm in the scene to suggest that we might be returning to the docks sometime soon for a much meatier trial.

In the meantime, we get to chill with Jonathan in prison, an environment that Hugh Grant is so comically unsuited to that the whole thing plays a bit like a joke at the expense of his most marketable persona. The Badger insists he talks to nobody in there, despite protestations of his innocence: “Innocence is good, but saying nothing is better.” The Badger isn’t particularly concerned about Jonathan’s innocence; he actually prefers his clients to be guilty to take the pressure off him, and he lets Jonathan know that an innocent person couldn’t make themselves look more guilty than he does right now, even if they tried to. I’d even describe the Badger as actively hostile, which unfortunately isn’t something Jonathan can do much about.

He’s nicer to Grace. Jonathan was convinced she’d vouch for his innocence, but she won’t — or perhaps more accurately can’t. The Badger diagnoses her as having PTB — post-traumatic betrayal. He wants her opinion of Jonathan prior to that; did he seem like someone capable of murder? Of course, she wouldn’t have married him if he did. The Badger, to his credit, thinks that Jonathan seems like “a bit of a d*ck”, but not a killer, which has to count for something considering that reading people is, apparently, his specialty.

After a night being woken up by a tearful Henry creepily standing in the doorway, Grace goes to see Jonathan in The Undoing season 1, episode 3, against her father’s wishes. He once again protests his innocence and begs for Grace’s help, who apparently “knows his heart”. Kidman is so great here, saying little but emoting plenty, while Grant’s classic toff charmer shtick is turned on its head a bit as he resorts to pathetic, desperate begging. By design, these two can’t interact all that often, but every time they do it’s a moment to cherish.

After a conversation with a former colleague of Jonathan’s, Grace believes she can diagnose his relationship with Elena — hero worship. She fell in love with the doctor who saved her son’s life, and took it to an extreme: “Crazy people do crazy things,” she says to Franklin, who is still adamant that Jonathan is guilty and seems more concerned about her and her husband getting back together than who actually committed murder. He also reveals that Jonathan came to him for money to finance Henry’s latest term at Reardon. He gave him half a million dollars. Sutherland is also excellent here at selling his shame, his implicit desire to help his daughter, who he knows would never ask for his aid, and guilt over Elena’s death having inadvertently financed Jonathan’s activities.

In light of this, Grace takes Henry to visit his father in prison, which I’m not sure is a decision that most parents would make. It certainly gets a wide-eyed response from the young lad, and he doesn’t seem thrilled to see Jonathan either, asking him outright if he killed Elena, declaring he was f*cking her, and assuming that means he doesn’t love Grace anymore. Kid logic is pure, but it makes a degree of sense. Jonathan attempts to explain himself, and “Do No Harm” allows him to, giving him several long stretches of uninterrupted monologue in moderate close-up. Grant sells this whole scene with admirable effectiveness, and Noah Jupe gives a strong turn in response, letting his distraught reaction and the odd pithy response do all his talking for him.

While he’s banged up, Jonathan is set upon by a fellow inmate, and they end up fighting — it’s a brief tussle, but he manages to clamp his teeth on the guy’s finger, messily spitting his blood everywhere once they’re pulled apart. It hardly seems like the behavior of a pacifistic man, but perhaps it’s the behavior of someone desperate and fearful. More on this as it develops, I suppose.

In the meantime, Franklin arranges Grace a meeting with Haley Fitzgerald (Noma Dumezweni), asking her to take a look at the case, for the benefit, she claims, of Henry more than anyone. Haley insists she doesn’t have a magic wand — she can’t make him innocent or faithful if he wasn’t those things, and we already know that he wasn’t at least one of them, but Grace has more realistic expectations for the arrangement, and she seems happy with the promise of “muck” that she can provide.

Elsewhere, Detective Mendoza speaks with Franklin to tell him that he feels Grace is hiding something, intimating that on some level he believes her to be an accomplice in one way or another. Sutherland responds by instantly turning on smug old-school lawyer mode, which sees Mendoza off until such time as he can return with a warrant. The old boy still has it.

In the street, Grace is cornered by Fernando Alves (Ismael Cruz Cordova), Elena’s husband who is pushing around her and Jonathan’s baby girl. It’s a testy exchange, but it’s clearly intended to bear fruit further down the line. Here in “Do No Harm” it mostly excuses a tearful Grace imagining Fernando discovering his wife and Jonathan together. Grace nonetheless reports Fernando’s actions to the police, claiming he has been stalking her. The police are typically dismissive of her concerns and insist that there’s no reason to consider Fernando a suspect. She presses the issue, asking about CCTV footage from close to the scene of the crime around the time Elena was murdered. There’s only one person of relevance that was captured by that camera — Grace herself. And the plot thickens!

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