After three years of absence, the hit series Undone returns with a second season. The Amazon animated series, portrays Alma (Rosa Salazar), a 28-year-old Mexican-American woman living in San Antonio, Texas, who after a near-fatal car accident, reconnects with her long-dead father Jacob (Bob Odenkirk), and discovers her gift of traveling through time and space. During the first season, she’s getting to know her new abilities, whereas her mother Camila (Constance Marie), sister Becca (Angelique Cabral), and boyfriend Sam (Siddharth Dhanajay) suspect that she has schizophrenia symptoms. Although Undone might seem like a regular comedy-drama with a dash of fantasy, the implicit psychological, and sometimes philosophical, aspects make it deeper than many of its peers.
The second season opens with Alma in the front of a cave, waiting for her father to be back. When she realizes he is – and that’s she skipped timelines to one where he never died – she’s elated. But she quickly gets restless, going on a quest with her sister Becca to figure out what is upsetting their mother. Becca learns that she too can time travel and together the sisters fix or prevent a whole slew of traumas for their families. In the end, Alma is healed too but still restless, still wanting more, still needing a big challenge to occupy her.
The rotoscope gives the animation a surreal aspect and deeply expresses the confusion and “jetlag” characters who travel in time feel. This technique also emphasizes the deteriorating reality around the characters who seem stuck inside a never-ending dream, making them lose their landmarks. It especially transmits Becca’s anxiety and feelings of loss, as she discovers her gift and deals with mixed emotions around everyone’s expectations that she become a mother. The combination of this surrealist world with realistic characters is fascinating, matching form to function, while letting our imaginations roam free and our dreams contain boundless possibilities.
In this season, almost all the characters evolve drastically but especially the two sisters. In the first couple of episodes, Becca is scared of her abilities, partly because she can’t control them yet, and arguably, partly because of what they mean about her. She’s always been the “normal” one while Alma was different (differently-abled, less traditionally femme) and Becca’s not sure what this new identity will mean for her. But progressively, as she is motivated to save her family, she grows more confident and more comfortable traveling in time and accessing people’s memories. As for Alma, the true change happens in the last episode, when she realizes that she can’t control everything and that the best thing to do is to face life as it is, dealing with whatever it gives her. It’s a big leap from the person who gets bored with the “routine” of brushing her teeth each morning.
With its fanciful touches, “Undone” tackles serious issues like what it’s like for children born out of wedlock and the feelings of shame, guilt, and self-blame that Latina women from conservative Catholic communities have. Camila, who put her son Alejandro for adoption, carried the burden of her secret and the guilt of abandoning her child alone. Through changing the past and imagining an alternative future, the series delivers a message of hope to marginalized women and invites them to find closure.
Furthermore, Alma’s disability, through her deafness and struggle with schizophrenia, is a powerful positive representation for young American-Mexican girls. The portrayal of Alma’s disability isn’t broad; it includes specific everyday details, like how she needs to wear her hearing aids when she wakes up in the middle of the night to answer a phone call. The attention given to the finer details allows disabled girls who’re watching to recognize themselves in the 28-year-old character and contributes to the normalization of disability. Alma’s character shows them that they can be gifted, have superpowers, and have an impact on their entourage and the world, their health condition notwithstanding.
The script flows smoothly, with the actions’ pace often intense. And the finale has quite the cliffhanger, keeping us in suspense, eager to know what will happen next. Undone combines this driving plot with meditations on the philosophy of life, reminding us that things will never be perfect. The quality of our lives is partly determined, yes, by the difficulties we face but, just as importantly by how we respond to those challenges. So will Alma find inner peace? Only season three will tell.