Written by David E. Kelley
Directed by Susanne Bier
Original Air Date: 8th November 2020
Without a doubt, the final scene of this episode of The Undoing will ensure that the audience will come back for more next week. It asks a lot of questions, and there will surely be answers, but it leaves us on such a lurch for a week it means that the theorizing will be sure to begin as soon as the credits roll.
After being absent for most of last week’s episode, there’s more of Hugh Grant as Jonathan this hour as ‘Do No Harm’ begins with his arrest and then drives his character further into a hellish abyss of courtroom dates and prison visits where, in a more serious echo of Arrested Development, any physical contact is met with a shout of ‘no touching’.
Given that a large part of his filmography is made up of some of the most popular romantic comedies of all time, there is something strangely surreal about seeing the actor playing a character being imprisoned after a court hearing, sitting amongst a sea of extras in prison overalls and playing most of his scenes in a prison visiting room. That isn’t even mentioning the grisly image of him getting into a fight with another prisoner and nearly biting a finger off in one of the series’ most grisliest moments which is as far as from Four Weddings and a Funeral and Notting Hill as you can get.
On an even more subversive front, we’re also treated to an episode of television that sees David E. Kelley casting aside the idealism and romantic escapism of his network television days when he was very busy crafting crusading law shows such as The Practice, Ally McBeal and Boston Legal with a more embittered and cynical depiction of a criminal defence attorney.
Noma Dumezweni makes an instant impression as Jonathan’s lawyer Haley Fitzgerald and her dialogue with Grace sees the lawyer basically explain to Grace that she is essentially going to have to make ‘muck’ of the prosecutor’s case.
She works in a slick wood panelled office that looks like the type of place that many a Kelley lawyer from previous shows would work in, but instead the portrayal is less idealistic and more cynical and real. Her words of caution to Grace that she is a not fix-all solution to all of Grace’s problems and even if Jonathan is acquitted that there is still his lies hanging around the air is a highlight in an episode that is full of them.
That Kelley, who more often than not depicted innocent clients being exonerated of serious charges in network television plotlines by audience friendly liberal crusaders for a good decade, is twisting and turning that sense of idealism once again shows how well he has adapted to this type of HBO drama. Big Little Lies touched upon the courtroom in its second season, but did so in a way that we were still rooting for it characters.
Truthfully at this stage we don’ t know if Jonathan is innocent or not. The Undoing has the feel of a series that could go either way in that regard. We might want Jonathan to be innocent of murder, and a lot of that will come down to how the audience feels about Grant and all those nice guys he has played over the years, but this is one of those shows were a twist always feels like it’s just around the corner and the possibility of Jonathan being a murderer hangs over proceedings.
That’s also not to forget that this is still a character who has cheated on his wife with the mother of a patient and was fired from his job as a result, lying for months afterwards. Then to top it all off, there’s the final scene which throws a new spanner in the works.
Throughout The Undoing so far, the detectives at the centre of the case have been a thorn in the side of Grace and since we’ve been following events from her point of view throughout the entire run so far, the detectives (Edgar Ramirez and Michael Devine) have felt like a considerable antagonistic presence. The reveal of CCTV footage depicting Grace out for a walk during the time of the murder give us an understanding of why they’ve been behaving in the manner that they have done and they aren’t just merely being antagonistic cops because they’re trying to make the evidence fit a theory that they have that Grace is involved.
Grace reads them the riot act for how they’ve been treating her and we’re inclined to sympathise with her stance, not least when Nicole Kidman is delivering the dialogue in such a brilliant manner. What the final scene reveals is a key piece of information that has been kept from the audience and with its reveal rises the possibly that our sympathetic central character might not be who we think she is either.
The Undoing airs on HBO on Sunday nights in the U.S and on Sky Atlantic in the U.K on Monday nights.