The first season of Russian Doll was a stellar season of television, with excellent acting, tight writing, and a concept that hooked viewers almost immediately, it was hard not to love the Netflix series. Unfortunately, the second season of Russian Doll seems to lose its footing early on, stumbling to craft a second season as strong as its predecessor. While still enjoyable and carried by strong performances by series leads Natasha Lyonne and Charlie Barnett, Russian Doll Season 2 spends more time crafting questions than it does providing answers.
Season 2 of Russian Doll picks up a year after the events of Season 1. Nadia (Lyonne) is approaching her 40th birthday, and things seem to be back on track with Alan, the two are still a mess together — with Nadia continuing to be more carefree and reckless than Alan. Unfortunately, though, rather than try to give viewers answers from Season 1 – including why they’re able to come back repeatedly – the series takes the duo in a completely different direction, one that can be incredibly frustrating at times.
Lyonne shines more than ever in Season 2. She is absolutely dynamite every moment she is on screen. While the writing is still good, without Lyonne’s magnificent acting, it’s hard to believe the story being told in Season 2 would work. Every poor choice, every moment of shock and awe, and the emotional bits tossed here and there? She sells each moment with ease. And while Barnett doesn’t get as much screen time as he does in the first season, the moments he gets on screen are memorable. More importantly, though, their on-screen chemistry remains electric — they play off of one another perfectly, it’s hard to imagine any other actors in these roles.
As for the story, it’s not as strong as the first season, which isn’t entirely surprising. It’s normal for sophomore seasons to hit a bit of a slump. Thankfully, though, Russian Doll still manages to tell a tightly wound story that is a heck of an adventure if viewers are willing to stick through the slow moments. There are moments that are chaotic that seem to move too fast to truly allow viewers to catch up, but once they do? It’s a ride that is ultimately worth the trip.
The most interesting thing about Season 2, however, is that it opens up the possibilities for future stories. In a series that isn’t afraid to take risks, it is hard to grasp what the creators might have planned for future installments. The ending of Season 2 allows for a new tale to be weaved with endless possibilities. One can only hope, though, that future seasons will provide more answers than questions.
Season 2 of Russian Doll is a slowburn, but when it comes together in the end, it’s a hell of a ride you’ll be thankful to have taken.