The Undoing recap: You should add that to my list of lies

Derek Lawrence
·7 min read

Niko Tavernise/HBO

I began and ended last week's The Undoing recap by lamenting the easy out the show took in the previous cliffhanger and hoping that they wouldn't commit a similar error again. And, somehow, "Trial by Fury" made me even more furious in that regard.

The penultimate episode opens with shots of New York City and voiceover of Jonathan's TV interview, which built up to him saying he had an idea of who killed Elena. The credits rolled before he could finish, leaving us waiting a week for an answer that we never got. Because, here, Henry is rewatching the interview, only for him to be interrupted at that same moment. Now I can assume based on Haley's strategy that plays out in court that Jonathan's suggestion was that Fernando is responsible for Elena's murder, but that is both not our job to assume and another unsatisfying half-resolution of a cliffhanger. This is especially true in a non-binge rollout where the audience isn't able to immediately watch the next episode and get to the disappointment.

In an entertaining world, Jonathan would have pointed the finger at Grace, who we already know was spotted near the scene of the crime. While he clearly didn't say that on TV, he does question Grace over it, wondering if she was following him. Again, she cites her famous walks. Haley thinks the case against Jonathan is vulnerable but needs Grace to play the role of devoted wife. "I'm here," she says. "Under the circumstances, I think I deserve a medal." Haley needs more, as the jury will be studying them and they don't feel together.

Well, they better get feeling together soon, because the trial has arrived. The highlights of the opening arguments are the prosecutor showing a replica of the likely murder weapon and Haley pointing to Fernando as the likely killer, believing the police investigation was too quick and fixated on Jonathan.

After the first day in court, Jonathan returns to an empty home and drinks his problems away as he watches trial analysis given on CNN by none other than Jeffrey Toobin (at least in the screeners sent to press before his NSFW Zoom practices). Jonathan either turns the TV off or mutes it, we can't tell for sure, kind of like Jeffrey Toobin and the "turn off video" button. Feeling lonely, Jonathan calls Grace. He uses the classic British technique of trying to seduce a woman by inviting her over for a cup tea. She initially passes, instead opting for his latest apology and reminiscing about the good ol' times. Then, one of her famous walks actually has a destination in mind: her home. She gets in bed with Jonathan for some cuddling and more.

The next morning Grace returns to Franklin's residence where she's caught sneaking back in by Henry, who couldn't sleep. "We've survived so far, and we'll survive the rest," she assures him, knowing there is something bothering him (I mean, his dad is on trial for murdering his mistress). He comes clean that he once spotted dad with Elena. Making matters worse, Jonathan saw his son, opting to just smile "like it was nothing." Henry says that if he had told Grace then maybe none of this would have happened. I always knew he was a daddy's boy! Of everything that has gone down, this seems to be what has hurt Grace the most. "He would do anything for you," says Grace, later unloading on Jonathan. "Why would you do that to our son?!"

They will have to save this for family court, because it's time for criminal court. Mendoza is on the stand, prompting the prosecutor to show gruesome photos of Elena's unrecognizable body. Groans can be heard from the whole room, as some spectators leave and Fernando rushes to cover the eyes of poor Miguel, who probably shouldn't be there. Mendoza found Haley's opening argument to be "offensive," insisting that his only pursuit is the truth. When it comes to Fernando, Mendoza points out that he has an alibi in poor Miguel (Haley points out that the boy was probably sleeping) and he was never spotted by cameras, which only captured Jonathan. Haley takes this as an opening to introduce the image we previously saw of Grace near the murder site on one of her walks. Grace knew this was coming, so she doesn't flinch. And the plan isn't to paint her as a suspect but to demonstrate that Mendoza just lied and didn't do his due diligence.

It was a pretty good day in court for the Frasers, and they celebrate by going out for a very awkward meal. Jonathan apologizes to his son for having to see him with Elena, and yet all Henry has to say is, "I think we're gonna win." He further adds, "If we can survive this trial, I think this family can survive." Children of divorce can relate to part of this, and (hopefully) not the murder trial part. Henry really goes in for the kill by saying they can even finally get a dog, referencing Grace telling him about what happened to dad's childhood pet. This hits Jonathan hard and he needs some air. When Grace follows him, he has another confession: He never had a dog. "I killed the family sister," he reveals. Substitute in his 4-year-old sister Katie and the earlier story is essentially the same: as he was babysitting, she snuck outside and got hit by a car. “You should add that to my list of lies — except I also tell myself this one, that it wasn’t my fault, that it was just an unfortunate thing," he says. "Because it was my f---ing fault.” He points out that Grace is the shrink but that he thinks Katie's death is why he got into the profession he did, with every patient being his late sister to him.

Once court is back underway, it's Fernando's turn to testify. Earlier, Jonathan described Fernando as a sympathetic figure, and that is how things are playing out so far. "You feel nothing for me, or my pain," says the grieving husband when Haley tries to play nice. "You disgust me." But she doesn't play nice for long, responding to Fernando saying Elena was "everything to him" by shading him with, "But you weren't everything to her." Haley suggests that there were other men and that Elena was receiving psychiatric treatment. Fernando snaps, gesturing at Jonathan and screaming, "He did this!" Surrounded by a cast of much more famous actors, Ismael Cruz Cordova's simmering performance as Fernando has been impressive.

Left alone as he waits for Haley, Jonathan solemnly clicks through photos of Elena. "Another reason I could haven't done it: I loved her," he tells Haley upon her arrival. "Quite madly." Haley comes with news that he must testify. Her advice: "Don’t pretend to be honest, because you’ve told too many lies. Don’t be pretend to be a good husband, a decent father, because you are arguably neither. We don’t need to give them a good man, just someone who didn’t commit murder.”

Following several unsuccessful attempts to get ahold of Jonathan's mother, Grace receives a late-night video call from Janet. His mom doesn't mince words when it comes to Jonathan being responsible for Katie's death, saying he didn't suffer from guilt or grief. "We kept waiting for it," she shares. "Jonathan doesn't know how to suffer. After his sister was killed, he never even said he was sorry. After his sister was killed, he never even said another word about it." Grace reports this back to Sylvia, whose takeaway is, "In essence, his own mother identified him as a sociopath."

Instead of one of her famous walks outside, Grace then strolls around her father's home, eventually checking on a sleeping Henry. She decides to clean up his room and discovers his violin on the floor, so she gets the instrument's case from the closet. Upon opening it, she finds what looks awfully like the sculpting hammer that killed Elena. Henry wakes up and they look at each other, both of their eyes as big as can be.

Like father, like son?

Episode Grade: B

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