HBO’s latest must-watch miniseries, The Undoing is a psychological thriller-mystery with a strong female lead and based on the Jean Hanff Korelitz 2014 novel You Should Have Known. It’s a twisted story about a seemingly picture-perfect upper-class family whose world gets upended when the husband is accused of murder.
Following reveals of a torrid affair, lies, deceit, and mystery, the plot thickens every week. Debuting on October 25, 2020, there are just five episodes in the series. It’s all set to come to an end on Sunday, November 29.
At the center of the story is a classic whodunit. Did Jonathan really kill Elena? Or is he innocent as he claims? Every moment in every episode casts suspicion on another character. But who is most likely to have committed the heinous crime?
It’s highly unlikely that young Miguel, a private school student and cancer survivor, killed his own mother. He is the one who found her bludgeoned, bloody body on the floor of her studio. And he seems genuinely torn up about losing his mother.
The fact that he went to the studio instead of jumping on the bus to head to school as his father instructed suggests that he knew something was up. Only a sadistic child could beat his own mother to death, then return to the scene the next morning and completely feign terror. Miguel didn’t do it.
The one person that little to no suspicion has been placed upon is Robert, the head of the private school Miguel and Henry attend. While he seems to be doing the best he can to deal with the controversy of the case and the children of both the victim and alleged murderer going to the school, he also comes across as self-serving.
Is it possible he killed Elena? There’s no known motive as to why he might do it, so chances are slim to none that he is the perpetrator.
8 Detective Joe Mendoza
Since the case began, Detective Mendoza has been laser-focused on both Jonathan and his wife Grace. Does he know something viewers don’t yet? Is he spending all of his energy on them because he truly believes one of them did it and he’s just doing his job, or is he a master at the art of deflection?
It’s entirely possible that Mendoza is some sort of deranged serial killer. Or maybe he was also in a romantic relationship with Elena, got angry when he found out about her affair with Jonathan and framed the wealthy and respected doctor. Mendoza would be able to pull it off given his position, knowledge of crime scenes, and access.
Some crazy theories circulating on Reddit suggest that Grace actually sees people who aren’t there, one of whom being Sylvia. And another theory is that Sylvia is very real but that she was also having an affair with Jonathan.
It would explain why her words and actions to her good friend are always very practical as opposed to emotional. Perhaps she has a darker side no one has seen yet and orchestrated framing Jonathan in order to save herself from a moment of rage when she killed “the other woman.”
Through the series to date, there have been hints that Elena lives with some kind of mental illness for which she was being treated. Is it possible that she bludgeoned herself? It would take some serious talent but might not be impossible.
More interestingly, is it possible that she isn’t dead at all? The trial showed photos of the crime scene noting that she was unrecognizable. Is it possible it wasn’t even her body, but she has run away, waiting for Jonathan to join her?
Another Reddit theory is that Franklin, played by the incomparable Donald Sutherland, died long ago and he doesn’t really exist. Rather, he’s a manifestation of Grace. When Detective Mendoza goes to see him, he’s actually talking to Grace. When Grace confides in her dad, she’s actually thinking out loud.
That said, if he is real and as powerful a society man as he seems, it’s very possible he found out about the affair and had Elena killed, then framed Jonathan. Franklin’s threatening conversation with Robert when the school wanted to revoke Henry’s admission demonstrated that he is not someone you want to mess with. He can make things happen.
So, if Franklin found out his son-in-law was cheating on his daughter, and/or that he was a psychopath, he would certainly have the means to kill the woman and send suspicion Jonathan’s way in retaliation.
Despite being the most likable character on the show, there’s clearly something off with Grace, played by Nicole Kidman in yet another impressive performance in a complex role. There’s clearly more to Grace and her story than viewers understand so far.
She takes long walks to clear her mind. Is it possible she blacks out while doing so and does things she doesn’t recall? Is she living with severe mental illness that she has managed to hide from others all this time?
She was near the crime scene, seemed to have sexual tension with Elena, and may very well have known about the affair already. It’s entirely possible that she did this in order to break free from a marriage she knew was a sham all along.
A lot of fingers from the defense are being pointed at Fernando, Elena’s husband. He clearly knew something was wrong with her, and it’s possible something is wrong with him, too. When the defense lawyer asked him point-blank whether he and/or Elena were being treated for something, he refused to answer, accusing her of trying to set him up. If the answer was no, however, it would have been an easy one to give.
Fernando’s alibi of being with his kids not far from the studio isn’t airtight. It would have been simple for him to sneak out, kill his wife, then sneak back in while both kids were still fast asleep. And he certainly had motive to do so. What’s more, Miguel’s suspicions that something was wrong that led him to go check on his mother had to be driven by something. Does he know something about his father and his parents’ relationship that viewers don’t?
The penultimate episode pointed the finger at Henry, played by Noah Jupe, one of the most talented child actors of late. When Grace went to put his violin away, she discovered the murder weapon hidden in its case. It could easily be assumed that someone else put it there, but Henry woke up at that moment and his face suggested that he already knew it was there.
It’s evident that Henry worships his father so it’s entirely possible Jonathan somehow convinced him to hide the weapon for him. Or maybe Henry was legitimately surprised, though it seems like an obvious place for the murder weapon. But as a child, maybe Henry put it there thinking no one else would look there but him.
Hugh Grant hits it out of the park again with this multi-layered role as a respected pediatric doctor and presumed family man with a secret life. There’s just too much evidence pointing to Jonathan having done it. Yes, all of the case evidence is circumstantial. But the clincher was when Grace finally had the chance to speak with Jonathan’s estranged mother who all but confirmed that her son is suspected to be a psychopath.
There could, of course, be a massive twist that reveals it’s his mother who is actually the psychopath, or another family member. Or maybe that video call was contrived in Grace’s mind and she has created this entire delusion when she’s actually the real killer. Nonetheless, most signs point to Jonathan being the guilty party. It’s the easiest answer but also the likeliest.
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