This review contains spoilers for episode two of The Undoing.
With a second lockdown looming, it might be time to start thinking about stocking up on the essentials – don’t forget bog roll, beans and a vital dose of sumptuous, compelling drama, courtesy of The Undoing on Sky Atlantic.
The second episode of the latest series from Big Little Lies creator David E Kelley sees the life of Nicole Kidman’s high flying therapist Grace Fraser plunged deeper and deeper into disarray.
Where the first scene-setting episode was more focused on satirising Manhattan’s most privileged, episode two shifts into full-on whodunnit mystery mode, with a string of juicy revelations.
We learn a great deal more about husband Jonathan (Hugh Grant), whose facade as a grumpy but good-hearted children’s doctor is shattered. As well as lying about being out of town to attend a conference in Cleveland, Grace finds out he’s not been working at his children’s hospital for three months following disciplinary action.
More importantly, we also find out he’s been having an affair with Elena, who became obsessive with him and Grace in the weeks before her death – something Jonathan is insistent he had nothing to do with.
Grant barely features at all in person, but his presence hangs over the episode like a duplicitous cloud. The actor has developed a knack over recent years for harnessing charm and slime, picking up where he left off in A Very English Scandal and Paddington 2. He’s equally grubby and grandiose here – just like the show’s world as a whole.
It’s Kidman who is most impressive, though. She has already delivered one of the best performances of her career in the first two episodes of The Undoing, with Kelley’s material clearly getting the most out of her once again.
The camera is glued to her for almost every minute of episode two, with every small gesture and movement in her porcelain face highlighted in close-up, subtly conveying the chaos mounting under the surface.
The show might treat the characters in Grace’s Manhattan inner circles with disdain, but there’s a lot of love for the city itself on show.
If the characters aren’t making fraught phone calls in front of shimmering New York skylines, they’re perched on benches in the city’s resplendent art galleries, or being captured in expansive drone shots by the windows of 40-storey skyscrapers. It all makes for rather plush, purposeful telly.
- Excellent turns from a starry cast once again. Kidman is at the top of her game and Grant’s late career renaissance is a joy to behold.
- If the series can keep the tension up throughout the rest of the run, this will be an exhausting watch.
- The cinematography is stunning. New York never fails to captivate on screen and looks particularly entrancing here.
The series already looks to be benefiting from its relatively short six-episode run, with all fat trimmed. It’s transportive stuff, made for lockdown viewing. When TV is as good as this, who needs to go outside.
The Undoing airs weekly on Mondays at 9pm on Sky Atlantic & NOW TV