Monday, April 15, 2024

Who Killed Elena Alves? “The Undoing” Mystery is the Guilty Pleasure of the Fall, Scoring 1.3 Mil Viewers on Sunday


This past Sunday, 1.3 million people tuned into HBO to see penultimate Episode 5 of the limited series, “The Undoing.” You could hear a collective gasp all over the world, actually, (those ratings are just for the US) as the murder weapon in this mystery was discovered in an unexpected place.

So who killed Elena Alves? We’ll find out on Sunday. In the meantime, you have a few days to binge watch the guilty pleasure of the fall. Snobby reviewers have written doctoral papers about it, decrying the entitlement of the characters. But the audience loves it. On Sunday, “The Undoing” beat “Fear the Walking Dead,” among other cable shows. Real people love it. Some are obsessed with it.

The early reviews tried to compare it to “Big Little Lies” because the star is Nicole Kidman, who has never been better in anything. But the two series have nothing to do with each other. “The Undoing” is a page turning mystery that starts with a murder. Everyone is a suspect because Elena was the married mistress of Hugh Grant’s famous oncologist Jonathan Fraser. We find out he fathered her baby even though he’s married to Nicole’s Grace. They have a tween son, played by Noah Jupe. They are Upper East Side royalty. Nicole’s father, in the person of Donald Sutherland, is Wealthy and Powerful. Any of them could have killed Elena, but Jonathan stands trial.

And there are complications. Lily Rabe is a powerful female attorney and Grace’s bf. Did she do it? A lot of people think so. Her Sylvia likely had an affair with Jonathan, too. We may discover that this Sunday. Then there’s Sutherland’s Lion in Winter, Franklin Reinhardt. He despises Jonathan for being poor and lazy. Why cast Donald Sutherland if he didn’t do it? Then there’s also Rosemary Harris, who stole one scene playing Jonathan’s estranged mother. And don’t count out Elena’s cuckolded husband. He’s not happy either. Maybe the only person who didn’t do it is the police detective who’s investigating all this, played by Edgar Ramirez.

Of course, there’s always Grace. She was seen walking near the murder site around the time Elena was killed. She and Elena had a weird, semi-erotic near encounter before the death. Because Elena was hot, hot, hot, did I mention that? Everyone wants her. Kudos to Matilde deAngelis. She makes a lasting impression before succumbing to her attacker.

The murder weapon, by the way, is a large sculpting hammer. Some people say the writers are hitting us over the head with a hammer there are so many red herrings and Maguffins. But “The Undoing” couldn’t have come at a better time.

See you Sunday at 9!


Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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