TV: Undone (Season 2)

The fast and furious rush of new content is dying down finally, but there are still so many new, interesting shows being released that it’s easy to lose track of the old ones. It took me a while to get around to the second season of Undone, but it’s a worthy sequel, striking and heartfelt fantasy from the creators of BoJack Horseman.

Undone follows the adventures of Alma (Rosa Salazar), a woman with the ability to travel through time. Alma’s strange abilities afford her the opportunity to try to rewrite her past in an attempt to fix her troubled life. In season one, Alma used her time travel to investigate the mysterious death of her father, Jacob (Bob Odenkirk), whose loss shattered Alma and her family. It turns out, though, that superpowers run in the genes: Jacob, a theoretical physicist, has actually propelled himself into an alternate reality. Season two begins with Alma finding her way into Jacob’s new timeline, where Jacob is still with Alma’s mother Camila (Constance Marie), and everything is right with the world. Or, actually, no it isn’t: in this reality, there’s ongoing marital strife between Jacob and Camila. As usual, Alma wants to figure out what’s causing the problems and solve them. To this end, she enlists the help of her sister Becca (Angelique Cabral), who discovers a genetic superpower of her own: the ability to see into other people’s memories. Between Alma’s temporal powers and Becca’s mind voyeurism, the family digs into the past to uncover the psychological scars that have disrupted the family’s harmony.

The dominant asset of Undone is its surreal look, which uses rotoscope animation to add a trippy gloss to its live-action performers—a technique that enables the production to make the most of its characters’ reality-bending talents. But the show also benefits from sure-handed management of science fictional tropes, which it uses in a subdued, earnest way to chronicle the struggles of an interracial family across generations. At times, Undone’s story feels surfacey and distancing, but the snappy pace and short season lengths work in its favor, preventing the mind-bending story beats from overstaying their welcome. Overall, season two isn’t quite as innovative or refreshing as the first. But given the challenges of structuring a show so reliant of temporal loops and cosmic mysteries, it’s a commendable sophomore session that uses genre conventions to comment thoughtfully on the pitfalls and challenges of confronting our inner demons.

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