The Undoing Season 1 Episode 1 Review: What Happened to Elena?

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If you didn't feel uncomfortable after watching The Undoing Season 1 Episode 1, then you and I might have been watching different shows.

Hugh Grant, once known for his affable roles as the bumbling male love interest in many romantic comedies, ensured that Jonathan Fraser seemed just this side of a skeevy psychopath.

Nicole Kidman's Grace Fraser would do well to consider her own advice when it comes to her missing husband.

Jonathan on the Phone - The Undoing Season 1 Episode 1

The Undoing works hard trying to sell Grace and Jonathan as a happy, healthy married couple. It tries too hard. So when the beautiful Elena goes missing after a strange fixation on Grace, it's not tough to imagine that Jonathan might have been acquainted with the woman.

It's interesting that on two HBO shows, I've been fascinated with Nicole Kidman characters and psychological analysis.

On Big Little Lies, Kidman played a woman struggling with her part in an abusive marriage. The counseling sessions she attended were insightful and offered a lot of food for thought not only about the show, but for many women who have fallen for men with a bad boy persona.

Grace: Rebecca, I have met few people more discriminating than you. You read a hundred Yelp reviews before choosing someone to install your carpet. Am I right? You try on 20 pairs of shoes before making a choice. You do background checks on your hair colorist, you did a background check on me, no doubt. You vet everything. I mean everything. Which is fine. I mean, that's appropriate.
Rebecca: But?
Grace: But an attractive man comes along and shows an interest in you, and judgment be gone.
Rebecca: No, that is not what is happening.
Grace: I mean, the day that you met Kevin, you floated into this office. It was an appointment that was made to deal with the anguish of husband number two, only to declare that you met husband number three, so I'm saying, it's possible, that you're less of a victim of Kevin's moods than you are of your own.

In this case, Grace is a therapist, so Kidman is on a different side of the equation with the character, but the patients she has dealt with so far offer just as much to Grace as they do to her patients.

Grace Listens to a Patient - The Undoing Season 1 Episode 1

David E. Kelley knows his way around a psychoanalyst's office!

The premiere worked well within the parameters of the story as it began to unfold. Jonathan is beloved by many. He's practically heroic. He's a pediatric oncologist and doting family man, at least on paper.

But as news of Elena's death begins to swirl around the small, school-oriented community, Jonathan's over-enthusiastic approach to so much before it no longer seem charming. They almost make you cringe.

Grace: I don't know. Sometimes, I think we should move out of the city.
Jonathan: Said the most New York person I've ever met in my life.

If you're not familiar with women, then you might not know that even as we wish for a world in which breast feeding is, indeed, just feeding your child, it's still not an entirely comfortable situation to have a woman you don't know bare her breasts and feed her baby at a table of virtual strangers any more than it is to see it in a public park.

Elena Looks Around - The Undoing Season 1 Episode 1

Grace's friend, Sylvia, was eager to jump on the phone with Grace to share her thoughts on the issue. Yes, it's odd, Sylvia. It probably shouldn't be, but that's not the society we live in at the moment.

Sylvia: Tell me that wasn't odd. My God!
Grace: She was just feeding her child.
Sylvia: No. No, no, no, no, no, no, no. There was definitely something more going on.

What would Sylvia think of the ultra odd encounter from the gym when Elena, oozing compliments for Grace, was doing it standing naked with her private parts the focal point of Grace's gaze.

Unless you're in an '80s horror flick, women don't just dance around a locker room nude. Sadly, in this body-conscious society, nudity, even among your own sex, isn't easy. You fear judgment.

Elena, though, is used to receiving attention for her body. That was apparent with the gentlemen at the benefit. Even talking about that made Grace uncomfortable, calling it the special kind of attention a man might give a woman. Try to imagine her thoughts in the gym.

Elena Looking in the Mirror - The Undoing Season 1 Episode 1

Elena, although desperately unhappy for reasons we don't know, was very confident in her own skin. She even locked lips with Grace on the night she was killed.

That kiss took on special meaning in light of Grace's earlier discussion about it with Jonathan. The way he teased her about being turned on by Elena's nudity could have been cute banter, but it wasn't. He didn't recognize she was genuinely uncomfortable with it, and that's problematic.

Grace: [sighs] She was just standing there. Naked. I'm all for women being comfortable with their bodies, but it was weird.
Jonathan: Good weird? Were you a little bit aroused?

You could see Grace considering the comment when Elena kissed her in the elevator.

What does it mean? Who knows. But when Grace learned Elena was dead, she seemed clearly shocked and didn't believe she had anything to add to the investigation when two intrusive cops arrived at her door to talk about it.

Grace Fixes Jonathan's Tie - The Undoing Season 1 Episode 1

On a show that is dripping with innuendo, the detectives were leading the charge.

They honed in on Grace with what seemed like an agenda. And when they wanted to know where Jonathan was, their line of questioning immediately made it seem like they knew more than they were willing to reveal. Such as, where the hell is Jonathan Fraser?

That doting, loving family man and doctor slips into the night without his cell phone? That is not normal. A doctor cannot be without his phone.

Grace is going to begin questioning everything, and if her conversations with her patients are any indication, she's going to realize that what she saw isn't what she got with her husband.

I'm not blaming you. I'm just saying that there's a particular type of person that you want to be with, and maybe you're a little too quick to see that person in the men that you meet instead of seeing what's actually there.

Grace

Sylvia Shares News - The Undoing Season 1 Episode 1

If we're to assess that Jonathan had a relationship with Elena, then Grace's conversation with the married men will come into play. Why people cheat often can get complicated.

With the way Elena fixated on Grace, I imagine she had an affair with Jonathan, and when rebuffed, she found a way to get close to Grace to see if she could understand why.

How Elena's husband fits into the narrative? Who knows. But he was barely an afterthought. Yes, there is something fishy going on in New York City, and it has nothing to do with Coronavirus. Thank God.

Delving into the complexities of relationships is one of my favorite things to do, so I hope you'll be around to parse this one out as the details unfold and we discover how, if at all, Jonathan is connected to Elena's death.

Party Cropped - The Undoing Season 1 Episode 1

What did you think of the premiere?

Do you sense something is up with Jonathan, or did you buy his loving façade?

Hit the comments, and share your thoughts!

Episode 1 Review

Editor Rating: 4.5 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 3.1 / 5.0 (16 Votes)

Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.

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The Undoing Season 1 Episode 1 Quotes

I'm not blaming you. I'm just saying that there's a particular type of person that you want to be with, and maybe you're a little too quick to see that person in the men that you meet instead of seeing what's actually there.

Grace

Grace: Rebecca, I have met few people more discriminating than you. You read a hundred Yelp reviews before choosing someone to install your carpet. Am I right? You try on 20 pairs of shoes before making a choice. You do background checks on your hair colorist, you did a background check on me, no doubt. You vet everything. I mean everything. Which is fine. I mean, that's appropriate.
Rebecca: But?
Grace: But an attractive man comes along and shows an interest in you, and judgment be gone.
Rebecca: No, that is not what is happening.
Grace: I mean, the day that you met Kevin, you floated into this office. It was an appointment that was made to deal with the anguish of husband number two, only to declare that you met husband number three, so I'm saying, it's possible, that you're less of a victim of Kevin's moods than you are of your own.