Russian Doll Season 2 Review: Natasha Lyonne’s Metaphysical Comedy Continues to Screw With Time

But the new season is sticky enough to keep you chasing what it actually is until the final shot

Russian Doll Season 2 Review

The Pitch: Nearly four years after the Birthday That Just Kept Killing Them, Nadia Vulvokov (Natasha Lyonne) and Alan Zaveri (Charlie Barnett) are still free of the cosmic death wishes that tied their fates together in the first place. Well, mostly. While neither seems in imminent danger of falling down a flight of stairs or getting walloped by an errant taxi, neither do they seem to have particularly warmed to the idea of being alive in a world that deals people such uneven hands.

This means that as yet another of Nadia’s birthdays is approaching — and not just any birthday, but her milestone 40th — they are neither of them surprised when the universe decides to step in and screw with their experience of time once more.

In Nadia’s case, this screwery takes the form of a No. 6 train that inexplicably spits her out in 1982 — which, you do the math. How she’s perceived in eighties New York is one of the key elements of the new season, so no spoilers on that front, but suffice it to say: After the lifetime of deadly looping birthdays she went through in 2018, she’s hardly fazed to find herself suddenly dropped into the year she was born. In fact, she’s not just unfazed when she walks into Mayor Koch’s New York, but decidedly open to every experience (read: drugs and dick) that crosses her path.

The ways in which this newest metaphysical twist screws with Alan are, as one might expect, similar, but as in the first season, they aren’t revealed until the fourth episode in. By then, Nadia has more or less determined what it is she thinks the universe is asking of her — and by extension, she’d probably argue if she stopped to think about him for more than a few seconds, Alan — and has started making plans to act on those requests.

Some of those plans involve Budapest (which scenes the series shot on location); some, treasure maps; some, the madcap idea to just straight up break time. As for how those plans play out? Well, just ask Nadia’s godmother Ruthie (Elizabeth Ashley) what God does when anyone tries to make plans…

Russian Doll (Netflix)

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