- The Undoing -This Unanswered ‘Undoing’ Question Might Explain The Whole Series
It wasn't until the very, very, very last act of The Undoing finale when fans began to accept that Hugh Grant's charming sociopath, Jonathan, was responsible for killing Elena Alves. Up until then, The Undoing theories ranged from protagonist Grace, to her (totally innocent and incredibly clever) best friend Sylvia, to Grace's super rich dad with the helicopter on standby. In the end, however, the killer was right in front of us the entire time (Lily Rabe's Sylvia even says, "It's always the husband") and fans got their answer. Unfortunately, there were still plenty of other unanswered questions left after The Undoing finale aired, but one was more crucial than any other according to creator David E. Kelly: what the hell was (or wasn't) happening in Ohio?
Jonathan's behavior throughout The Undoing was consistently sketchy, and his devious nature coupled with the theme of the show, which aimed to make viewers doubt undeniable truths, meant that the series ended with a lot of loose threads. For instance, he told his lawyer that he had a one-night-stand years ago before his affair with Elena. Who was this one-night-stand with? Are we really supposed to believe that was the only time he cheated? And, most importantly, is this woman still alive? (He's got a track record, after all.)
Another unresolved issue is the loan he took from his father-in-law. The revelation that Jonathan secretly asked Franklin for $500,000 is a big turning point early in the series, one that seems to temporarily convince Grace that her husband could be guilty of murder. And yet, it never comes up again. What did Jonathan do with the money? We know he didn't put it in their bank account to pretend he was still gaining a salary after he was fired (Grace specifically tells her dad that his lies had made a significant dent in their savings).
According to Kelly, this question actually has an answer. "He was paying for Miguel's scholarship at Reardon," Kelly told TVLine. "And he was probably paying for trips with Elena." Grant, however, has a different theory, telling The New York Times the money might have been "used as hush money" to Fernando, Elena's husband. (Seems a bit sus to me, but I'm willing to believe it for the sake of my own sanity.)
But the real question revolves around Ohio. In the premiere, Jonathan told his wife that he had to go to a medical conference the next day in Cleveland, a lie which conveniently provided him cover as he went on the run. But, in the finale, the murder is shown as a crime of passion, a random burst of anger. Causing some without a penchant for murder to ask: Why would you make up a cover story before actually needing a cover?
Well, it turns out that's exactly what Kelly wants us to be asking. "I am not going to answer that for fear of spoiling part of the fun of people rewatching [the series] and asking the very good question you are asking," he told TVLine when presented with this plot hole. "I'm going to plead the fifth on that one. But it's a good question."
Maybe Jonathan was planning on taking Elena away for the weekend, as he later revealed they would go to the family beach house together. Perhaps he had plans with yet another woman. But what if the reality is that he actually was planning on killing Elena that night?
Speaking with The New York Times, Kelly explained The Undoing as follows: "Our starting point was to give you the truth of Jonathan, and then dare you to discard that truth along the way." He added that one of the show's themes was the "ferocity and the willingness of people to believe in a narrative when the acts are telling you otherwise."
So, the plot hole of Jonathan's medical conference could be part of this cycle. The fact that he lied to Grace about the medical conference before killing Elena suggests premeditated murder, but the narrative of the images in the finale was that Jonathan snapped in anger. Maybe this is the final trick The Undoing is playing on the audience, it's not only Jonathan we can't trust, it's the show itself.
Image: Niko Tavernise/HBO