Russian Doll season 2, episode 3 recap – “Brain Drain”

By Adam Lock
Published: April 20, 2022
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Netflix Russian Doll season 2, episode 3 - Brain Drain


Nadia’s adventure descends into absolute madness in this smartly written third episode. Expect the downright bizarre with some inventive imagery.

This recap of Netflix’s Russian Doll season 2, episode 3, “Brain Drain,” does not contain any significant spoilers.

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Episode two ended with Nadia losing the bag containing all those precious gold coins she’d worked so hard to reclaim in the first place. “Brain Drain” opens minutes after this, with Nadia fast asleep in that very same subway train carriage, as the passengers look on in a pitying manner. This is the end of the line for Nadia physically, but maybe not symbolically. With renewed vigour Nadia continues her quest to discover the many truths from her family’s past and recover the coins that are so rightfully hers. She is set on rewriting her past in the hopes of a brighter future.

Russian Doll season 2, episode 3 recap

Directed and co-written by our daring lead, Natasha Lyonne (Orange Is the New Black), this is a cleverly written head scratcher of an episode, as Nadia descends into familiar yet decidedly psychotic territory. One theory I have been testing in the new series, which the creators might be working towards, is the idea that Lenora’s mental breakdown was actually caused by Nadia’s time travelling antics. Did Nadia inadvertently cause psychosis in her mother? Incidentally, Chloe Sevigny, who portrays Lenora (Nadia’s mother), is absolutely bad ass in this series as the chain-smoking pregnant crook.

To add to the paradoxical nature of the scenario, Ruth takes Nadia to the doctors for a pregnancy scan and check-up. In a trippy sequence, Nadia looks at herself in the womb whilst inhabiting her mother’s body, you don’t get that in most TV shows these days. The doctor talks about Nadia needing lots of rest and to remain calm throughout these last few days of the pregnancy. Ruth is worried about her friend’s erratic behaviour and the seemingly insane ramblings she keeps spouting. So Nadia is sent to stay with her Grandmother. The audience understands that Nadia is sane, just involved in an insane situation, but all that’s about to change.

At her Grandmother’s house, Nadia starts to uncover hidden documents, money and even a passport from behind the many framed photographs in the living room. In her deranged state, she bags up all these items and heads to her mother’s bedroom to swipe more books and papers. Next, Nadia pays the local library a visit and starts to research the gold train, something her Grandmother has mentioned earlier in the episode. Back at Nora’s flat, things only get stranger.

The ending

The subsequent scene ramps up the craziness as Nadia starts to unravel. There’s some seriously sinister visuals. Nadia’s hands turn black, she smashes a mirror and a creepy insect squirms out of her arm. Then Nora and Nadia separate into two people and communicate with one another, both in their disturbed ways. If you think Nadia deserves to be thrown into a straitjacket, then you’ve guessed it, that’s what follows. This seriousness to all the absurdity that proceeded it is a real shock to the system. It brings a much needed weight to the story.

Natasha Lyonne delivers a three pronged attack with “Brain Drain”, bringing her A-game to the distinct fields of acting, writing and directing. It’s an impressive feat, as the second season tumbles into the downright bizarre. There are plot threads reminiscent of season one, as everything started to fall apart in the time loops and people began to disappear. Episode three doesn’t quite carry the same impact, but there is lots still to explore in this funny and freakish series.

What did you think of Netflix’s Russian Doll season 2, episode 3? Comment below. 

You can watch this series with a subscription to Netflix.

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