The Undoing recap: Nicole Kidman discovers some big (not-so-little) lies
HBO Nicole Kidman really can't catch a break, huh?
After her Big Little Lies character Celeste was put through the wringer with a cheating, abusive husband who was murdered by her and her friends, Kidman's The Undoing character Grace is facing the revelation that her cheating husband might also be a murdering husband. It's good drama but damn does that take an emotional toll.
And "The Missing" picks back up in the middle of Grace's frantic search for Jonathan at the end of episode 1. Unsuccessful in tracking him down, she goes to check on Henry, who says his dad came in to say goodbye that morning before leaving. Grace finds that odd since it was 5 a.m., while Henry finds her behavior odd. He's clearly more of a daddy's boy as he attempts to defend Jonathan, even when someone calls Jonathan's phone and hangs up when Grace answers. Internet issues! Wrong numbers! This little kid has got so many possible excuses for pops.
The next morning Grace takes Henry to school, which is surrounded by press. And Grace is quickly surrounded by the other moms. One asks for possible coping techniques for her daughter since it's their "first school murder." Another mom says Elena's husband Fernando turned himself in. "Of course it was the husband," declares Queen Sylvia. "It's always the f---ing husband." Grace doesn't seem interested in any of this but is drawn to the presence of Det. Mendoza, who seems rather drawn to her as well. With Henry dropped off, Grace once again counsels the infidelity couple from last week (which surely hits home even more now) and then takes her search for Jonathan to his hospital. Or, should I say, his old hospital. Jonathan's colleague knows nothing about a conference and says he can't talk to Grace because of "strict terms."
Once Grace picks up Henry, they head to the very fancy home of her very rich father, Franklin. Unwanted guests Det. Mendoza and O'Rourke also arrive, asking Grace to come to the precinct. "Are you arresting me," she responds, to which Mendoza laughs and says, "Why would we be arresting you?" Against Franklin's wishes, Grace goes by herself, believing this is the best way to learn more. From the start, this isn't a friendly chat, as they cut straight to the point, wanting to know where her husband is. Mendoza reveals that Jonathan was terminated three months ago following multiple disciplinary actions. "I want this to stop," declares a confused and overwhelmed Grace. A disciplinary hearing alleged inappropriate contact with a family member of a patient. “My husband is a warm, warm man," she contends, suggesting he maybe touched or hugged someone because he cares. "He’s not some asshole who walks into a room and pronounces that your child is going to die and then walks out the door." Knowing exactly what he's doing here, Mendoza says he’s going to tell her the name of the patient. She doesn’t want to hear it, but because both she and us know where this is going: Miguel Alves, the son of Elena. Mendoza is done playing games and doesn’t want to hear about a “f---ing medical conference in f---ing Cleveland and that he forgot his f---ing phone.” Tired of being treated like a suspect, Grace stays strong and demands to be arrested or let go.
They release her onto the streets of New York City, which she's aimlessly walking as her world spins and she pictures Jonathan consoling and kissing Elena. Returning home to pack a few things to bring to her dad's, Grace riffles through Jonathan's office and finds a scarf and perfume. She sprays it on her wrist and has a flashback to being close to Elena in the elevator. Meanwhile, no one wants to be close to Grace when she and Henry arrive again at school. Fernando's whereabouts have been accounted for, and the focus is now solely on Jonathan.
Following some whispers from the other moms and the headmaster suggesting Grace shouldn't be there, Sylvia whisks her off to dinner to chat. She reveals that Jonathan hired her as his lawyer for a disciplinary hearing. There was more than enough to fire him, but he called her back and said the accusations had been dropped. “Once they find Jonathan, this story will explode," says Sylvia, advising Grace to distance herself from him. "You need to be somewhere else when that happens.” Tears stream down Grace's face as they hold hands. I knew I liked Sylvia! And the times may be tough for Kidman here but I'm just glad she found herself a new Reese Witherspoon.
"Your husband is the lead suspect in a murder investigation," Franklin tells his daughter during a weirdly-timed trip to a museum. Grace realizes this the hard way when she comes home to find Mendoza and company going through her apartment and taking everything from Jonathan's cell phone to his hairbrush. “I think you want to help us," says Mendoza. "I think that at this point you’re more angry at him than you are at us — and you’re right to be.” Grace responds: “Please don’t f---ing patronize me.” Her head is spinning again, and will be even more so after Mendoza admits that they need the hairbrush for DNA, both for the crime scene and paternity, considering Fernando no longer believes himself to be the father of Elena's baby.
Haunted by that possibility and a vision of Elena pleading for her life just before she’s smashed in the head with a blunt object, Grace takes Henry to their beach house. And the Big Little Lies vibes continue with Nicole Kidman staring out at the water and thinking about what her husband has done to her. Back inside, as Grace and Henry eat downstairs, the camera catches a quick glimpse of someone watching from above. Neither of them looks up in time.
Unable to sleep that night, Grace sits quietly out on the porch, until the door behind her opens and Jonathan rushes out to cover her mouth. "I did not kill her," he declares while admitting to the infidelity. He then takes his hand away and asks her to give him two minutes before she calls the police. “I gave you my whole life," she cries. Jonathan explains that Elena became obsessed with him, his life, and Grace. He helped Miguel get into Reardon, but that only made things worse. "She was f---ing possessed," he argues, citing her attempts to get closer to Grace by joining her committee and gym. After the fundraiser, he went to confront her and they argued, fought, and had sex. He says he then left, walked the streets, went to a bar, only to return to confront her again and find her dead. She rightfully calls him out for coming home after that to their bed and having sex with her. Henry soon emerges and shares an emotional hug with his father. Meanwhile, Grace calls the police, telling them, “I’m f---ing terrified.”
As Queen Sylvia likes to say, "It's always the f---ing husband."