By James Lindorf
In the fall of 2019, Amazon Prime Video released “Undone,” their first original adult animated series and the first to be created with rotoscoping. For those unfamiliar with rotoscoping, it is the technique of taking footage and painting over it to make a lifelike image that can also be hyperreal or otherworldly. The most famous example is probably the 2006 Richard Linklater movie “A Scanner Darkly,” but the technology has been around for over 100 years. Despite earning Rotten Tomatoes scores north of 90% from both fans and critics, the fanfare around the reality-bending series never seemed to reach a fevered pitch that typically accompanies such high marks. That may all change this week when Prime Video finally brings us the second season after two and a half years, with all eight episodes releasing on April 29th.
Directed by Hisko Hulsing and co-created by Raphael Bob-Waksberg and Kate Purdy, who also serve as executive producers on the show. “Undone” is a drama series that is one part psychological and one part mystical. The series’ central character is 28-year-old Alma Winograd-Diaz (Rosa Salazar). Her life was dramatically altered after a nearly fatal car accident left her with the ability to move through time and space. In the first season, Alma used her new ability to investigate the defining moment in her life, the death of her father, Jacob (Bob Odenkirk). Questioning her choices and sanity along the way was her boyfriend Sam (Siddharth Dhananjay), her younger sister Becca (Angelique Cabral), and her mother Camila (Constance Marie).
While every character has a moment to shine, the first season is a story squarely focused on Alma and Jacob. It is a dark emotional examination of their relationship and what could have been. While there is plenty of drama, her sharp but abrasive wit makes Alma a great source of comedy. This time around, the family’s powers are growing, and the focus and point of view are expanding.
After the events of season 1, life is supposed to be perfect for Alma, but as the excitement wears off, she notices that something still isn’t right in her family. Alma’s demands to explore the deep mysteries in her family’s past fall on deaf ears as no one else seems interested in discussing what is going on.
Becca is blissfully unaware of the trouble brewing around her. Jacob prefers living in denial, refusing to dredge up thoughts and feelings that could lead him back down that dangerous road. The one capable of providing answers is Camila, who is at the center of the drama. However, she is unwilling to share her troubles, and when the girls confront her demanding to know the truth, she flees to Mexico. Becca and Alma must work together to unravel a complex network of memories and motivations in their quest for answers. What starts as a life-altering problem turns out to be the tip of the iceberg, and if they find the source of this trauma, it will impact the family for generations.
The second season of “Undone” doesn’t quite reach the highs of the first, but it is still a great bit of television. I preferred the more centralized approach and the brooding and darkly comedic elements Alma provided. However, their expanded roles allow Cabral and Marie to shine and evolve their characters in substantial ways. Like those characters in the time between seasons, the animation quality also got an upgrade. The look of the characters is much more detailed, a fact most easily seen in Becca’s freckles. The difference is so significant I went back to last season to see if she had them.
While the new season is overstuffed with characters and storylines, it does one critical thing better than its predecessor. The themes of generational trauma and the importance of honesty and listening to everyone no matter how old or young they may be are incredibly important and better realized than the first season’s themes. “Undone” season two is perfect for people who hate musicals and those who want to experience another story like “Encanto.” In 2019 it took Amazon two months to announce a follow-up season. Hopefully, they will not keep us in suspense that long before agreeing to produce the third season Purdy and Bob-Waksberg hint at in the closing moments of episode 8. “Undone” season 1 was a perfect 5 out of 5 for me. That is a demanding standard to live up to, but season two comes close, earning a 4.5 out of 5. If they gave me a little more Alma and Sam, it could have been two perfect scores in a row.
Angelique Cabral & Constance Marie
Raphael Bob-Waksberg & Kate Purdy
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