The show ditches the sarcastic wit of earlier episodes and attempts something more heartfelt with mixed results. A slightly wayward digression, the repetitive narrative style is slowly wearing thin.
This recap of Netflix’s Russian Doll season 2, episode 5, “Exquisite Corpse,” does not contain any significant spoilers.
The rules of season two thus far state that by taking a specific underground train you are sent back in time to inhabit the body of a relative. Nadia returns to the eighties as her mother Lenora, whilst Alan went back to sixties Berlin as his grandmother Agnes. The writers added in a further twist at the end of episode four, “Station to Station”, with Nadia transported back even further in time to the forties. “Exquisite Corpse” starts with the headline: Budapest 1944, where the majority of episode five is set. This chapter asks the all-important question whether Nadia can rewrite her family’s history by delving further back in time.
Russian Doll season 2, episode 5 recap
Exiting the train, she wanders over to the nearest mirror and inspects her reflection. She’s now occupying the body of a much younger Vera Peschauer (her grandmother). Nadia wastes no time at all, she’s now on a blinkered mission with that famous rigid determination of hers in overdrive. She heads over to a soldier and asks for the whereabouts of Captain Marton Halasz, whose signature was on the Nazi receipt. A friend of Vera’s pulls her away as soon as she reveals her name. This friend states that you never give your real name, you are Erzebet from now on. Nadia heads straight to her grandmother’s home for answers. It all plays out like an elaborate Escape Room set in forties Hungary, where Nadia hunts for clues in an intricate game, jumping from one informant to the next. This being one of the more complex digressions of Russian Doll with mixed results.
At the abandoned home Nadia meets Delia, a friend of Vera’s, who we were first introduced to in the eighties timeline. This family friend explains how the prized possessions will be found in a warehouse, where the immigrant’s items are being auctioned off. So Nadia heads there next, continuing this repetitive narrative style. Nadia finds the family heirlooms stowed away in a crate. These include shiny ornaments and a beautiful painting. It’s quite an emotional scene as Nadia lays eyes on the items for the first time, having succeeded in the first part of her mission. She hides the items in a tunnel, which explains the season’s very opening scene. The determined individual then creates a map to locate these hidden treasures. Smart thinking from Nadia, who is desperate to alter the past.
Back on the time travelling train and she reverts back to the sixties. Delia looks smug as she holds a bag of items. Vera inspects the items and jumps for joy in celebration. The plan worked, the items have returned to their rightful owners. Nadia dances, seeing her grandmother reflected in the subway windows. This celebration is short lived though, as Nadia discovers that Alan’s condescension rings true, you can’t change the past.
The fifth episode in the series explores the hazards of time travel in Russian Doll’s complex style. The whimsy and snide commentary is downplayed more and more with each passing episode, with the filmmakers trying to elicit more of an emotional response in the second season. It may not quite be hitting the right note, but hopefully the final instalments will deliver the desired pay-off.
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