Hold up. Henry?!
On some level, I suppose, this makes sense. Each episode of The Undoing so far has slightly focused on one character’s perspective: the first two episodes mostly on Grace, then the third and fourth episodes made space for Jonathan and Franklin. Of the core cast, that only leaves Henry without much consideration. There have been moments that made clear Henry’s desires (he believes his father to be innocent of Elena’s murder, he wants his parents to get back together) and others that aren’t so obvious (that strange altercation with Elena’s son Miguel in the Reardon courtyard, his slightly smug explanation of his behavior to the school’s principal), but anything that really cast our suspicions his way? Yes, he knew about Jonathan and Elena, but he never went to Grace with his suspicions before. He doesn’t seem to have been close to Miguel. Henry kept Jonathan’s secrets, and while I can imagine how soul-crushing those might have been, I’m not sure if they would push the tween to murder.
I repeat myself: Henry?! Do we think this kid has it in him, physically or emotionally? Was that look of shock on his face when Grace opened his violin case to reveal the sculpting hammer surprise at what he saw, or surprise at being caught? Do we know if Henry had an alibi for the night of the fundraiser? Wouldn’t the police have searched Henry’s stuff, too, when they went through the Frasers’ apartment? Wouldn’t the violin case have been part of that? Or — and this is my theory — was the hammer planted in the case by Jonathan? During those walks with Grace, it seems like he has free rein of the city while awaiting trial. He doesn’t appear to have a police escort when he goes anywhere. The detectives could be trailing him, I suppose, but maybe Jonathan gave them the slip, went to wherever he stashed the hammer, and then planted it on his son to increase confusion around the crime, and get attention off him? That is some really evil shit! But … do we really need any more convincing that Jonathan is a bad guy? He’s lied about his dead sister all these years! He’s lied about so much! I’m not sure murder seems that out of the question anymore!
Or, final option — did Franklin hire someone to find the hammer, and then he put it in the violin case to implicate Jonathan? Think of what Franklin said to Grace before the trial started, when she once again parroted that standing by her husband was for the good of her son: “The idea that this best serves Henry is absolute nonsense. Murderer or not, Jonathan must be kept as far away from your son as possible.” What would Franklin do to ensure Jonathan’s erasure from their family?
The hammer reveal is the very last scene of penultimate episode “Trial by Fury,” so let’s back up and take it from the top. As Haley meets with the Frasers to plan Jonathan’s defense, the tension between the couple is palpable (I snorted at Haley’s “I’m not feeling it” when she asked Grace and Jonathan to clasp hands and perform their united front), but they decide on a defense tactic. To take attention off Jonathan, they need to put forth another suspect. Maybe Fernando killed his wife after he learned of her affair with Jonathan. Maybe Grace killed her after she learned of her affair with Jonathan. With no murder weapon in hand at that point, and with Jonathan so passionately defending himself and moaning his devastation over his dead lover, shifting blame to somebody else is the only way to go.
The Undoing then heads to court, and I must admit to you that I miss Law & Order very much, so this trial really hit the spot! Prosecutor Catherine Stamper (Sofie Gråbøl) is not messing around; remember Haley’s preoccupation with the word “muck”? Catherine has a similar fondness for the word “mush,” using it over and over again to describe what Elena looked like when her body was found; that crime-scene image was horribly effective precisely because of how unexpected it was. (Excuse me, I did not anticipate Possessor Uncut content in my rich-people-problems HBO show!) Was Jonathan capable of that — of hitting Elena 11 times with that heavy hammer? Catherine certainly thinks so, and she leads Detective Mendoza along that path, too. But Haley shows why she’s worth however many hundreds of dollars she charges per hour by catching Detective Mendoza not exactly in a lie, but in an explanation of the biases he bought into, and the narratives he stuck with, while investigating Jonathan. Grace was never really treated like a suspect. Fernando was never really treated like a suspect. But Mendoza never let up on Jonathan, and if that isn’t in opposition to “innocent until proven guilty,” what is? “Our only pursuit was the truth,” Mendoza insists, but at this point, I think whatever comes out about who did this crime will be totally outside the work Detectives Mendoza and O’Rourke did to try and find Elena’s killer.
It seems like Haley is doing her best, and by that I mean I was infuriated by everything she did in court, even if I knew it’s exactly that dirty crap that could help her win this case. How often she kept asking Fernando about whether he was receiving psychiatric help, and how she slipped in fear of “inciting his rage,” was summarily awful. And yet! Not to be outdone is Henry, who disrespects Grace during their family meal when he keeps pushing her to take Jonathan back; his “See? See!” when Jonathan claimed he would never cheat again made my stomach turn. (If only you knew about the “sad fuck,” kid.) And somehow that wasn’t worse than the reveal about Jonathan’s younger sister Katie, who died when he was a teenager. She was home sick, he was responsible for looking after her, and while he was making himself a snack, the 4-year-old wandered outside, was hit by a car, and died. Grant is exceptional in this scene because of how fully he sells the manipulation of a lie Jonathan has clearly prepared and kept in his back pocket for years. I don’t know how Grace keeps falling for this, but all of the self-hatred in Jonathan’s admission felt rehearsed: the big breaths, the dry sobs, the stuttering gasps. Of course he went into pediatrics because of the guilt felt after his sister’s death. Of course he’s never opened up to Grace about it because he shoulders the guilt alone. Of course he’s a good man, because bad men can’t be doctors who treat children’s cancer, can they?
… Yes, they can. Jonathan’s mother (Rosemary Harris), finally returning Grace’s calls, doesn’t waste time in telling her daughter in law exactly who her son is. Jonathan is a sociopath, his mother says quite baldly, and it is entirely his fault that his little sister died, and he never once showed any grief, regret, or remorse about it. Remember when Jonathan told Haley that his family didn’t have the means or inclination to help him? At least he was telling the truth about one of those things — I think the only thing that could surprise Jonathan’s mother at this point is news of his death. “Jonathan doesn’t know how to suffer,” his mother tells a shocked Grace, once again shown to be thoroughly hoodwinked by Jonathan’s woe-is-me act. If Jonathan’s way of dealing with problems is walking away from them (he hasn’t seen his family since he left for college), then could we be looking at a flight risk here? Think of that fake trip to Cleveland, which no one seems to have asked him about since! And if so, remember what Franklin said to Jonathan: He’d kill his son-in-law if he hurt Grace and Henry again. And the only person I might trust on this whole damn show is that cocksucker.
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• David E. Kelley is throwing around “ugly” like the word is free: Last week, Grace had to face “ugly truths,” while this week, the prosecutor calls murder “ugly business.” What will be ugly next week?
• No comment on Grace choosing to sleep with Jonathan again. No comment!
• Was that really Franklin watching MSNBC? I did not expect that! Although I did expect his irritated sigh at the news anchor’s “As much as we think we like to stick it to the rich, in the end, we don’t. We never do,” and that reaction amused me.
• THREE chandeliers in Franklin’s piano room. Guillotine, baby!
• Even if Henry doesn’t end up being the killer, the kid is certainly screwed up as a result of his father’s actions. Henry knows enough about his dad to subconsciously realize that Jonathan got some sick satisfaction out of his son’s knowledge of his infidelity. But during that restaurant scene, all Henry wants to do is please his father, calling Mendoza a “squirmy worm” and insisting “I think this family can survive.” I wouldn’t count on it.
• Are we ever going to get an answer about why Elena kissed Grace? I know some readers called me out last week for my statement that Elena’s portrait of Grace and numerous unanswered calls to her were the only suspicious things the murdered woman had done, thinking that I had overlooked or forgotten the weird behavior I had previously written about. Recall that in the premiere, Elena unexpectedly shows up at the philanthropic planning committee with her infant daughter, and then we see her standing naked before Grace at the gym, and then there was that emotionally charged bathroom altercation at the fundraiser. But I think the portrait and the phone calls are objectively suspicious (our knowledge of them comes from Mendoza, who is an outside party), while I now take every Elena interaction we’ve seen through Grace’s perspective with a grain of salt. I don’t think Grace is a reliable narrator anymore, and for as bizarre as Elena acted, I wonder if any of those moments could be separated from Grace’s POV and become something more innocuous and less sinister.
• I love that at the restaurant, with both complementary bread and breadsticks on their table, Grace seemed to be eating … a pile of undressed lettuce and a couple of slices of cantaloupe? What was that meal?
• “I loved her, quite madly.” Ugh.
• I am assuming we see Jonathan testify next week, and I’m curious who else gets called. Maybe Lily Rabe’s Sylvia? Could the prosecutor know that Jonathan had approached her to defend him in the hospital case? Or could someone from the hospital get called? I would think the prosecution would be interested in painting Jonathan as unreliable from all angles, and certainly lying about losing his job and having the affair would do that.
• Jonathan’s mother correcting Grace’s grammar! The. Best. Thing.