‘Russian Doll’ Season 2 Episode 4 Recap: From Station to Station
Like season two of Russian doll halfway through, he turns his attention to Alan, who has been mostly absent since his appearance in the premiere. Nadia saw him on another Train 6 in Episode 2, “Coney Island Baby,” but “Station to Station” catches up with us with his time-traveling exploits, which are initially much less mission-focused than those by Nadia. We first see Alan soaking in a tub, smiling. He looks positively giddy – no, jerk is more like that. He answers the door, where a dark-haired German named Lenny teases him for being so distracted that he failed thermodynamics class. “What’s got into you, Agnes?” Lenny wonders before kissing Alan. Agnes? Who is Agnes? Is she the charming bespectacled woman Alan sees in the mirror, smiling shyly as they eat a German pastry? (She is.)
It turns out that Alan spent some quality time as his grandmother Agnes, a graduate student from Ghana who studied for a time at the Berlin Institute of Technology (or a substitute). He tells Nadia that he didn’t know much about Agnès before becoming her (or taking control of her body, All of me–style) but it is magnet this. Alan isn’t worried about learning a lesson or righting past wrongs: “Maybe it’s not about righting anything. You know, like you said, we’ve made progress. Maybe we’re just meant to like, I don’t know, enjoy the ride.
And for once, Alan is determined to have fun – taking thermodynamics class (I guess?), eating delicious cakes, and hanging out with adorable Lenny. He relishes the attention he receives as Agnes, who regularly gets called out by German guards at the train station. Instead of going on dates set by his mother in 2022, he hides in the past, where he’s effortlessly charming and things seem just… effortless.
There’s something really lovely about Alan not questioning all of that, including the attraction to Lenny (though maybe that’s how we find out about Alan’s fag?). He was such a bundle of nerves in the first season, but when he finds himself in a recently divided Germany (the Berlin Wall was erected in 1961), he skips around town enough. This could be a sign that Agnes’ consciousness, like Nora’s, is still somewhat present even when Alan’s spirit wanders through her body (also All of me-style); Agnès is perhaps more naturally posed than her grandson.
Or maybe Alan is just relieved that he’s not himself. “It’s nice not having to worry about what people think when they see me,” he tells Nadia about their game of chess, which makes me wonder what the four were like. last years for him. He lives up to the “being there for others” commitment that unofficially came out of the first season, but he doesn’t seem to have established any new relationships, romantic or otherwise. His mother still worries about him, though she isn’t alarmed by his sudden questions, let alone insider knowledge, about his grandmother.
Forget the last four years – we don’t know much about Alan, period. We don’t know what he does for a living, though in season one we saw his mother (who is a doctor) express concern about him “missing work again.” We know he has a good friend in Ferran, but is that it? And like I said in my recap of the premiere, they’re friendly but, despite what they’ve been through, don’t seem particularly close. Neither did the Zaveri family: Alan’s mother told him that Agnes liked to remind him of how difficult it was to raise a child on your own.
Season two has one less episode than season one, so the storytelling needs to be even more economical. But by glossing over Alan’s past (and his present, when he’s not visiting the past), Russian doll leaves the audience without the same “silver thread that ties us” to Alan’s reality,” as the “Hungarian god” Kristof might say, that Nadia’s story possesses. Why is he so worried about what people think of him that he prefers to hide in the past? Besides, why does Alan skip his mother and go straight to his grandmother, someone he knows little about? He observes that his experience as a Ghanaian immigrant in Berlin “must have been so lonely”, a feeling he can certainly relate to, but if that’s the connection, it still seems tenuous at the end of the episode. .
But Russian doll has three generations of Vulvokov women (née Peschauer) to face this season (not to mention two Ruths), and Nadia is much more prepared than Alan to play with the past and the rules of time travel (whatever they may be). ). Although not on the train of the six to the past, Nadia still plans space-time diversions. After talking to Ruth, who grows more melancholy with each scene, she changes course and heads for Budapest with Maxine, who is leading a tour of Kiss, marry, kill whom Nadia finds just as deranged and outspoken.
I hopped on a German energy drink called Hell (which is actually a thing), Nadia reunites with Kristof, the grandson of Marton Halász, the Nazi guard who issued the receipt for the Peschauer family assets in 1944. When she and Max reunite at one of Kristof’s meetings (in this that looks like a factory), Nadia rummages through her belongings, hoping to find something that will help her undo the past. But Kristof only has his own story of trauma and regret – “I grew up with a father who hated the very foundation of his existence and was never able to make sense of it” – and also LSD.
In the requisite hallucination scene, which is sleek and trippy as hell, Alan and Nora appear, as does Lenny, in one way or another. Maybe it speaks to Alan and Nadia’s connection, that she could see Lenny so clearly? Or maybe their stories are starting to blend again. This season has plenty of rebirth and/or resurrection imagery, starting with Nadia spending her day to the sound of “Personal Jesus.” When we get our first extended look at Alan alone in these new episodes, he dips his head underwater and then emerges revitalized (dare I say reborn?). Nadia’s acid trip shows her falling in and out of water and ends with her waking up next to Maxine in a cemetery, where they find the grave of a Hungarian priest (Kiss László) whose epitaph includes this very famous quote from John 3:16 on “eternal life.”
Could Nadia actually be on the right path to creating a new life for herself, her mother, and her grandmother? She still believes that going far enough back in time will fix things, which is probably how she finds herself in Budapest once again at the end of “Station to Station”. But she may just be chasing another dead end. As Ruth told her upon learning that the trip to Budapest had been a failure, “We always think that closure is something we can find out there in the world, as if we could find it in another person or a confession or an apology.” Ultimately, however, “nothing can absolve us except ourselves”.
It seems Ruth is plotting an alternate path for Nadia to come to terms with the past and move on with the present, but it’s both too simple and too complicated for Nadia. Although Nadia acknowledges for the first time that Nora “should have been in the hospital” after going through what her mother went through – not just seeing it but going through it herself – she is committed to doing something something to prevent that from happening.
In the first season, Nadia had to face things head-on, a lesson she really seems to have taken to heart. But she becomes obsessed, which creates a sort of tunnel vision. And his newfound resolve affects Ruth, even though Nadia can’t see it. Ruth is now mired in regrets and smokes menthols: ‘Lately I’ve been wishing I could tell your mum I’m sorry,’ she tells Nadia before inviting her over for backgammon and Bogart movies in the evening next. Nadia agrees, then immediately boards a train bound for 1982, only to wake up in 1944. We don’t know how much time has passed since Nadia started this quest or if the time she has spent in the past directly corresponds to the amount of time that passes in the present. But I wouldn’t be surprised if Nadia missed more than a movie night.
• Russian doll doesn’t quite fit the genre of body-swapping film that was popular enough in the ’80s to warrant half a dozen admissions, but it does share the “two minds, one body” premise of the 1984 comedy fantasy All of mewith Steve Martin and Lily Tomlin.
• This episode had several nods to the first season, including an intro scene in the bathroom, another chainmail look and blue eye makeup for Max, and Nadia saying “What a concept” and “fuck pile” again. But the latter feels more obligatory than deliberate.
• Greta Lee really makes the most of her screen time; Maxine is disgusted “They’re not supposed to be!” in response to Nadia saying her nudes are “tasteful”, this is one of the best line-readings of this entire show.
• Nadia says “Yum, yum” while browsing Peter Falk’s Wikipedia page. Like Nadia, Falk’s father was of Russian descent, while her mother was part Hungarian.
• An incredulous Nadia: “Alan, the only reason to go to the past is to change shit. I mean, have you ever seen a movie? A slightly exasperated Alan: “Every time travel movie says don’t change things.” That’s why I need more of these two together!