The penultimate episode of Undone’s second season may be the strongest of the series so far with “Rectify”. We were introduced to Geraldine (Holley Fain) this season, and this episode offers a devastating payoff for her character and where she’s come from. This entire series has addressed family history and how it reverberates through the generations.
This series has always had Jewish representation through Jacob (Bob Odenkirk). This element of the characters takes center stage in this episode. Beginning with Geraldine/Rochel’s family being steeped in Jewish mystic tradition, all the way to the episode’s final moments, incorporating Jewish ritual to honor a life.
The handling of the Holocaust in this episode is incredibly jarring and yet is handled with such sensitivity. In a series that has always centered the concept of memory and how the past impacts the present in tangible ways. This was such a heartbreaking venue to explore that concept, in addition to how generational trauma actually works and gets passed down through each subsequent generation.
After Geraldine gave her opinion about adoption, this was explored in more detail here. This episode did a fantastic job of illustrating the fact that no matter what the circumstances, adoption involves trauma. Even if it’s necessary and the biological parents are no longer living, there is always immense grief, loss and disconnection that comes with the process. It’s a bold statement that still both stigmatizes and idolizes the process of adoption.
Relatedly, this episode also did a fantastic job of capturing the trauma of the immigration process. Even if the process was ultimately for the best, there’s a tremendous amount of loss through the journey. The way this was presented in this episode, with a veneer of hope and optimism which is later dashed, was stunning and so true to life. Rochel’s experience, of leaving her home and coming to America as a child on her own, was nothing less than heartbreaking. It’s a prompt to remember so many children who have found themselves in similarly precarious situations through the generations.
Jacob’s journey this episode was just as emotional to watch. In many ways, this character has been the most difficult to relate to through this entire series. His motivations are often questionable, and he’s not always the most relatable. In this episode, however, seeing him jump into action to try to heal the wounds of the past at the expense of his own health and life was nothing less than aspirational. His acknowledgement of the scope of the damage of intergenerational trauma was a topical message for all.
Ultimately, this entire episode was a meditation on how keeping the wounds of childhood deep and hidden causes very real damage that has reverberating consequences. Trauma being repressed and hidden only results in future generations having to contend with it. The healing that occurs when this intergenerational trauma is addressed is shown in such a poignant way in this episode.
With one episode left in this season of Undone, it’s hard to see how they can top the work that was done in this episode. While there are obviously so many more possibilities to explore within this universe with these characters, it would be really nice to think that everyone could have the happy ending that’s shown here, with trauma being processed and healed. As this series has always shown, only time will tell.
Undone is available to stream on Prime Video.