Russian Doll ^ Ending Explained

Starring Natasha Lyonne, well known for playing Nicky Nichols, the redhead on Orange is the new black , Russian Doll is an experimental comedy that plays with dramatic and metaphysical elements in a very innovative way. Mazal Tov, Netflix.

But what exactly was happening to Nadia Vulvokov? Why did she has to repeat the same day over and over again? What does the final scene mean? Do you wanna know what you really watched on Russia Doll? No more preambles. Let’s analyze what this new Netflix Original is about.

1 ^ Does Russian Doll have a post-credits scene?

A post-credits scene in a tv series? What are you talking about? some of you maybe be asking, but remember that since Disney put those short scenes at the end of their films, everyone wants to do the same and even television series like Disenchantment have one.

But no, Russian Doll does not have post-credits scenes, so when you see the final credits in the eighth episode, you have fulfilled the task of watching the first season of the series.

2 ^ Why is the series called Russian Doll? What does it have to do with the story anyway?

Two factors, actually:

1 ^ Nadia Vulvokov (Lyonne) is a Russian-American jewish woman. It has become abundantly clear that her maternal grandmother is jewish, so we assume that the Vulvokov is Russian by her paternal grandfather, because Nadia’s father just was not in the picture.

That leads us to believe Nadia’s grandparents, parents of that crazy woman her mother was, met in South Africa. She was jewish running from the european nightmare and he, a russian entrepreneur looking a cheap and stable western country to start over, with the threat of communism posing on Eastern Europe. So we can state that the title is a personal reference to the lead character’s heritage.

2 ^ Russian Doll also refers to a very traditional kind of doll in Russia, The Matryoshka. The Matryoshka is a wooden doll, which can be opened to find another identical but smaller inside, and then another and then another, until the latter is so small that its size makes impossible to keep the the game going. (Take note of this).

And the plot of the series implies that Nadia, like the Matryoshka, has to reveal herself, layer by layer, to discover her essence, the smallest doll, the spiritual marrow she holds inside. So the title is also a reference for the premise and the symbolism of the series.

3 ^ What is happening to Nadia Vulvokov in Russian Doll?

What is happening is that she is dying the same day of her birthday. But instead of going to hell, to the elysian fields, or to the grave, Nadia begins to relive the same day, until by some event she dies again, which causes the day to repeat itself over and over again.

Nadia, who is a software programmer, analyzes the problem and dedicates herself to analyze associated factors to identify and find a way out, and after several failed tracks she finds her first real clue, Alan Zaveri (Charlie Barnett).

4 ^ What’s the deal with Nadia’s hair? Who’s her hairdresser? Edward Scissorhands?

Well, Nadia’s hair, in addition to serving very effectively as a visual hook to highlight the protagonist in the photography of the series, is a reminder of how important is the memory of her mother Lenora, for her. In one scene we see how Lenora tells Nadia, as a child, that she has beautiful hair, and apparently Nadia took it very seriously because she leaves her hair completely natural. You might have another opinion about the aesthetics of that hair, though …

5 ^ What is the connection between Nadia and Alan? Why are they stuck in that time loop?

Apparently, some kind of supernatural force does not want neither Nadia nor Alan to die, and for both, their own erroneous decisions contributed to their demises on the same night and at the same time.

Thing is that something or someone is not satisfied with that result, and it does not like that Nadia has not intervened to help Alan, because she decided it was more important to deal with some Wall Street jackass, and that Alan has not been available and sober to help Nadia to look for her lost cat, saving her from being hit by a car.

For both, the time loop involves answering the question of why they both felt so downhearted that they wanted to die, one explicitly and the other implicitly. And for that they must expose their essence. Their smallest doll.

6 ^ Why are fishes and people just disappearing? Why is the fruit rotting?

If you look closely the Matryoshka, you realize that while the bigger doll is full of details on every side, due to its relatively large size, the smaller ones are much simpler, simply because there is no room for so much trimming.

Likewise the reality in which Nadia and Alan are trapped, dying and reviving the same day, loses their properties in each iteration. First we saw it with the fishes, they began to disappear and it is not only that they have disappeared but that nobody remembers that they even existed, as if they had never been there, they simply do not make part of the equation.

The fruits in each interaction look more and more damaged and those around it do not seem to notice or care, simply the energy that feeds the cycle, is not enough to keep all the elements of that reality and it is fading with each iteration, to the point that even objects begin to disappear, until …

7 ^ Why were Nadia and Alan dying spontaneously near the end?

In the end reality itself collapses, and Maxine clearly indicates it when she tells Nadia that she can no longer join her out of the apartment. There is no energy to keep sustaining the reality and that same energy is what keeps Nadia and Alan alive.

When the energy is over and reality collapses for good, both Nadia and Alan must identify the reason why they did not help each other, it is the lesson they must learn. In the case of Alan, he is simply learning to overcome his emotional dependence on Beatrice (Dascha Polanco) and other people to learn to value himself for what he is. But in the case of Nadia it is a little bit more complicated.

8 ^ Why is Nadia seeing herself as a creepy ghost?

Nadia is a very pragmatic woman. She does not admit paranormal or mystical explanations on what happens to her, and above all she is totally closed to review the matter of her mother, the watermelon yahoo (Chloë Sevigny), she needed a push and the vision of herself as a girl helped her to remember.

Nadia grew up with the feeling of not deserving to be alive, that she should have shared the fate of her mother Lenora, and that maybe, if she had not left her behind, she would still be alive. But the little girl reminded her the kind of person her mother was. Feeding her only with watermelons, using her to take revenge on innocent people, and preventing people like Ruth from taking proper care of her.

There is something even more frightening in all of this, and it is the matter of the broken glass in Nadia’s mouth. Was Lenora evil enough to feed Nadia with broken glass? Or was Lenora the one who committed suicide using that method? In either case, that woman deserved to be locked in an asylum.

But in the end, the point is that Nadia could finally accept what her mother really was, she could forgive her and forgive herself and thus restore her natural instinct and desire to keep alive.

9 ^ Why were there two Nadias and two Alans at the end?

What is going in the end? Why the universe did not completely collapse and took Nadia and Alan to the dark void of oblivion? Well, because the point of the iterations was no other than handing Nadia and Alan the tools so their tragedies would not happen.

But it would not make much sense that both simply agreed to stay together that night, the universe or whatever is behind this scam, made it tough, it handed them the tools, but in two parallel realities.

In the first reality, the aware Nadia, wearing Maxine’s blouse, runs into the drunken Alan who has just finished with his girlfriend. In the second reality the aware and sober Alan with Lizzy’s scarf on is dealing with the irreverent and self-destructive Nadia that does not know what can happen to her.

Thus, aware Nadia must prevent drunken Alan from throwing himself from the roof of his building, and the aware Alan must prevent self-destructive Nadia from sleeping with Mike and the get hit by a car.

The final scene shows us two realities in parallel. In one Nadia managed to save Alan, and in the other Alan managed to save Nadia and in both realities they end up together entering a tunnel where there is a some kind of artistic parade.

10 ^ What does the final scene of Russian Doll mean?

But something even more interesting happens later, the realities merge, and Nadia with Maxine’s blouse, and Alan with Lizzy’s scarf, are finally together in an unique and real universe. Both learned from their mistakes, and something even more interesting is that their connection is not one of codependence, but one of solidarity and reciprocity. Each one is independent, but they learn from each other by being close.

11 ^ The universes in which Nadia and Alan died are real? Or are they imaginary?

Tricky questions. Nadia and Alan die in at least two dozen realities, and in one of them Nadia is startled by the idea that this reality does not die with her and with Alan, but goes ahead, and that the people who remain must suffer their deaths. But are these universes really just moving on? are they real? Or are they just in the minds of Alan and Nadia?

The point is that these realities are really complex, and they follow all the rules of physics, so they are not in anyone’s imagination, whatever is feeding the issue, it is recreating these universes, but as we saw these universes work with a kind of limited energy, since they are derivations.

So yes, most likely in the first iterations, the remaining people, Maxine, Lizzy, Beatrice, Ruth, do have to suffer for the deaths of Alan and Nadia, but soon the energy will be exhausted and that reality will simply disappear. It will not last forever or extend to infinity.

The last iterations have so little energy that they simply disappear minutes or seconds after the deaths of Nadia and Alan.

12 ^ What is the message of Russian Doll?

The premise of Russian Doll is that to be happy we must first recognize that internal demon that devours us, that primogenesis that is at the core of our personality, those inscrutable and unmentionable secrets that made us what we are today. Then forgive, victims and victimizers, to leave that moment in the past and overcome and start again with peace.

Only in this way will we distance the phantom of self-destruction, death, dependence, and we will sow the seed of self-love and inner harmony.

Now, a little comment. Did you realize that Nadia and Alan died in the way each other were more afraid to do it. Nadia was self-destructive, and well the thing with her mother, made her dismiss the idea of suicide in favor of a slow death on alcohol and drugs. She hated it, but in a emotional collapse would she do it?

And Alan was an extremely careful and organized man, leaving nothing to luck, he was afraid of being hurt, emotionally or physically, that’s why he needed control. She hated chance and luck. But in an emotional collapse, would he just be careless and jump to the streets?

I think that by saving each other, they realized that her lifestyle was killing them, and that was what allowed them to save each other.

13 ^ A second season of Russian Doll is on the way?

Well, Netflix has not said anything yet, not like when they launched Titans posting in advance that they were attached with second season, but it’s not Classic Netflix to order seasons before testing the product with the viewers first.

But in the case of Russian Doll, there are many elements in favor, the series is cheap, innovative, intriguing; and in addition we have the fact that the entire series is 184 minutes long, that’s even less than what movies like The Schindler’s List, Titanic or The Return of the King take on screen.

In addition creators, Natasha Lyonne, Amy Pohler and Leslye Headland have said they have a 3 acts story in mind [1] that is, they already have in mind what are the next steps in the story of Nadia. Nadia has already overcome 3 of the stages of the loss cycle: Denial, Anxiety and Negotiation, but she still has two more to work on. Is that the plan of the creators?

14 ^ Does Oatmeal have anything to do with the whole issue of Nadia and Alan?

Oh, oh. We better do not answer this question. Oatmeal is not the right one to pick a fight with…

Questions? Annotations? Doubts? Insults? The comments section is open just below this post. See you in another post of Ending Explained, here on SabaneroX


[1] ‘Russian Doll’ Is Natasha Lyonne’s «Autobiography Wrapped in a Mind-Bending Concept». The Hollywood Reporter –

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