DISCLAIMER: This recap of the Undone episode “Rectify” has spoilers. Proceed at your peril.
Welcome back, time travelers! Undone‘s penultimate outing, “Rectify,” is the show’s best yet. It’s a poignant, visceral, raw and spellbinding tale of sci-fi magic, resonating with profound themes.
It’s a lesson in radical self-love. It’s about loving your inner child and forgiving yourself for the past. While we can’t change the past, we can give ourselves grace and transform from the inside out by choosing not to repeat the behaviors of those who came before us. That, in turn, heals intergenerational trauma. We can break that cycle by not passing said behaviors on to our children.
Ready to dig deep into “Rectify”? Let’s get to it.
We open with Ruchel (Veda Cienfuegos), a.k.a. young Geraldine, answering the door to find Alma (Rosa Salazar), Becca (Angelique Cabral) and Jacob (Bob Odenkirk) on the other side. They reassure Ruchel that they’re here to help, so she lets them inside.
Now, the quartet arrives in World War II-era Poland. A policeman knocks on the door of Ruchel’s family home, and her father, Zusman (Luzer Twersky), answers. Ruchel’s mother, Leeba (Yael Grobglas), is a seer, and the officer demands she read his future. We also discover that Ruchel has that gift and seeks to learn from her mom.
So, Ruchel assists her mother with the reading. Leeba peers into a bowl of water while the policeman reveals he wishes to know if the woman he plans to ask to marry will accept or reject the proposal. Leeba fibs, but Ruchel lets slip that the officer will get a rejection.
Suddenly, the man flings the bowl across the room in a rage. Later, Ruchel and her parents burn anything related to Leeba’s seeing business since the Jewish community is already intensely discriminated against in the region.
However, Ruchel saves the bowl, and she sees something awful unfurling in the water. She tries to tell Zusman and Leeba, but her father breaks said bowl and orders her to clean it up. Soon, they’ll be en route to America.
Then, Ruchel leads Jacob, Alma and Becca to a floating cityscape consisting of every stage of Geraldine’s life. We see various rooms spinning in space, from Geraldine’s wedding day to her giving birth to Jacob and more. But our family wants to know what happened when Ruchel went to fetch the broom in the shed.
Next, everyone revisits a memory of Ruchel boarding a ship bound for America. One woman notices her sitting alone, so she asks about the child’s name. Ruchel glances at her ticket, noting the ocean liner’s called “Geraldine.” So, she changes her name on the spot.
So, our heroes embark on a mission to elicit the truth out of adult Geraldine. They weave through the perpetually moving staircases in the cityscape of Geraldine’s life, reminiscent of M.C. Escher’s Relativity lithograph print.
Unfortunately, Geraldine (Holley Fain) dismisses the group whenever they approach her, regardless of the time in her life. She grows increasingly dismissive when she spots Ruchel among them.
Jacob decides to inhabit the body of his younger self, asking about his grandparents after breaking the TV set. Geraldine skirts around the topic, only mentioning that her parents loved her very much. They stayed behind while she boarded a ship for the US.
But that’s not the whole story, according to Ruchel.
We’re back in Poland. While Ruchel’s in the shed, she observes the return of the police officer, and he’s brought a friend. They arrest her parents, throwing them in the back of their vehicle. Ruchel watches in abject horror.
After the vehicle departs, Ruchel cries out, blaming herself for her parents’ deaths. But Jacob, Alma and Becca believe Ruchel can reverse their fate by explaining what she saw in the bowl, preparing them for the officer’s inevitable arrival.
Ruchel’s first attempt at an explanation doesn’t pan out, but Jacob reminds her that persistence is vital. They can try this as many times as it takes. Jacob tries to inhabit Zusman’s body to prevent him from breaking the bowl, but he fails. If at first, you don’t succeed…
Finally, Jacob’s attempt at fusing with Zusman works. Ruchel and her parents flee to the shed. Unfortunately, the officers find them and arrest all three of them.
Alma and Becca urge Jacob to slow down as the constant merging with different bodies taxes him physically. However, time is of the essence, especially since now the police have Ruchel in their custody. That could blip Alma, Becca and Jacob out of existence.
So, Jacob tries to inhabit one of the police officers, and Alma urges Becca to merge with the other to prevent Jacob from hurting himself.
Alma races back into the cityscape, returning to the room in the hospital where she first encountered young Geraldine. Alma encourages her to speak with Jacob, to persuade him out of his suicide mission.
After the truck drives off with Ruchel’s parents again, Geraldine rushes to Jacob’s side, reassuring him that this is supposed to happen. He can’t change this point in time. Geraldine also chats with Ruchel, comforting the young girl. She tells Ruchel that she didn’t kill her parents. Their arrest doesn’t lie on her shoulders. Ruchel must learn to forgive herself.
Then, we see a sea of Geraldines from all stages of her life, circling Geraldine and Ruchel to provide support. Geraldine and Ruchel embrace.
Next, Ruchel is on the dock, waiting to board the ocean liner for America. However, when the woman who approaches her asks about her name, Ruchel doesn’t change it.
What transpires is a delightful montage narrated by Jacob. We see him and Camila (Constance Marie) approaching young Alejandro (Ryan Lopez) and adopting him with Ruchel’s blessing. Alejandro (Carlos Santos) grows up with the family. Even Becca adopts a child of her own.
The episode ends with the family gathering to celebrate Ruchel’s life. All’s well that ends well, right?
“Rectify” boasts top-tier performances from the core cast, with a compelling episodic narrative and a happy ending. I love that Undone establishes a firm boundary in its mythology by ensuring that Jacob, try as he might, can’t change the past for his mother. But our heroes inadvertently shift their future trajectory by helping Ruchel heal from her trauma and forgive herself. Powerful stuff. That’s the magic of sci-fi, baby.
So, what lies ahead for the final episode of the season? There’s only one way to find out!
Undone Season 2 is now streaming on Prime Video.
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