I really like it when a show decides to go off the beaten path and have some deep conversations about family structures, loneliness and time warps. Combine this with some stunning visuals and you have “Undone” (on Amazon Prime, sorry Netflixers)
Undone centers on Alma, played by Rosa Salazar (Alita: Battle Angel), a 28-year old going through the motions with her boyfriend Sam (Siddharth Dhananjay). Alma starts becoming restless about her boring, seemingly predetermined future when her sister Becca (Angelique Cabral) gets engaged. After a blowout fight with Becca, which once again circles back to the untimely death of their father Jacob (Bob Odenkirk), Alma gets into a serious car accident. When she awakes, Alma finds herself not only with the ability to communicate with Jacob, but with the power to move through space and time in nonlinear fashion. If that sounds hard to understand, then you’re in the same boat as Alma, who struggles with being able to experience her life and memories repeatedly, out of order, or from a new perspective.
— I can’t do this. I can’t keep. Ending up places and seeing stuff and missing things.
No, you can do this, all right? I know that you can because you will, because in a way, you already have. Because time is a limited form of experience, you know what I mean?
No, I don’t.
I don’t understand any of this.
Just like Bojack, Raphael Bob-Waksberg and Kate Purdy’s writing packs a wallop. Purdy mines personal experiences with mental illness and her interest in mysticism to give Alma’s journey emotional weight and intrigue. Alma fears settling down with Sam because she knows her paternal grandmother suffered from schizophrenia, which was exasperated after she had children. Alma is afraid that she’ll suffer the same fate, however, Jacob suggests that his mother’s condition and its qualities were no different than the characteristics that make shamans and mystics valued members of their indigenous communities. Alma has to determine whether she’s tapping into special, mystic abilities or whether she’s suffering from a mental breakdown.
Dad,what if it’s not safe for me to be like this? What if someone gets hurt?
What if everything in the universe is predetermined, and people should take a chill pill ’cause they don’t actually control anything?
What I really liked about the show was the humour. When Alma’s mom asks her to bleach her upper lip ahead of a dinner celebrating Becca’s engagement to her mayonnaise-bland but rich boyfriend, Reed Hollingsworth, Alma instead pencils a curly mustache on her lip. She often goes on political rants, and she out calls people around her on their hypocrisy with a contemptuousness that makes her feel like a hybrid between BoJack and Aubrey Plaza. But the tenderness Alma lets herself show when calming down a rambunctious kid at daycare or genuinely apologising to Becca gives her a relatable, sympathetic quality that BoJack typically lacks.
I liked how they made the priest the buffer character – between the strong will of the mother looking out for her child and Alma’s desire for control in her own life when so much has been chosen for her due to her disability. The speech the priest gives in the church scene in episode 6 draws to attention that while we’re broken people, we still have hope.
“May the light of Christ, rising in glory, banish all darkness from our hearts and our minds.”
So you see, the risen Christ is symbolic for the human condition.
We have fragile bodies, yet we’re powerful. We’re wounded, yet hopeful. And our suffering is not in vain.
Because underneath our hurt is something truly wonderful, the opportunity for new life.
God bless you.
The focus on mental illness relies on Alma’s PTSD medication which she refuses to take. Her mother wants her to take them, her boyfriend casually asks if she would at least try them to see if they have any effects as he starts doubting her sanity too. Her obsession with her missing father, her eccentric dad videos burning sage in his bedroom while chanting rituals – I think that would be enough to make anyone suspicious of their special others.
I don’t think it’s the best idea to go meet up with some creepy dude who you think killed your dad.
-I just want you to be okay.
Alma definitely is suffering from early childhood trauma, caused by her dad abandoning her on Halloween. Memory, trauma and mental health. Unresolved family issues.
Can’t wait to see Season 2.