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Western Animation / Undone

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"Just... Try. But Don't Try. Try Without Trying."

Undone is an animated surrealistic comedy-drama/psychological thriller/mystery series created by Raphael Bob-Waksberg and Kate Purdy (both of Bojack Horseman fame) for Amazon Prime. The rotoscoped show premiered on September 13, 2019, and features Rosa Salazar as the protagonist Alma, while also costarring Bob Odenkirk, Constance Marie, Angelique Cabral, Daveed Diggs, and Siddharth Dhananjay as the supporting cast. A second series was commissioned and premiered on Amazon Prime on April 29th 2022.

Undone tells the story of Alma Winograd-Diaz, who after surviving after a car accident, finds that she can connect with her long-deceased father Jacob and starts to develop abilities to manipulate time and space. With these newfound powers, Alma tries to uncover the mystery of her father's death.

Tropes associated With Undone:

  • Affectionate Pickpocket: Alma steals her mother's car keys while giving her a hug.
  • Ambiguous Ending: Did Alma see Jacob emerging from the cave or not? As Season 2 reveals: No. It was the curandera woman. However, the timeline was altered and Jacob is alive again.
  • Ambiguous Situation: There's a distinct possibility that Alma has simply inherited her grandmother's schizophrenia, which her behavior would certainly look like to an outside observer. Notably, having larger than usual brain ventricles, which according to Alma's father is a sign of having shamanic powers, is something that can also be observed in schizophrenic patients.
  • Amnesiac Dissonance: When Jacob realizes that he was a bad guy who committed a Murder-Suicide rather than having been killed by the bad guys.
  • Arc Words: Try Without Trying.
  • Bittersweet Ending: As of Season 2. Alma, Becca, and Jacob successfully help Ruchel forgive herself and create a timeline where she and Alejandro are part of their family. Jacob eventually has a stroke and dies from the complications but does so happily, having lived his desired life. After seeing all this, Alma returns to her original timeline with all of its comparative flaws but with the memories of what she's done.
  • Brick Joke: Jacob tries to remember the name of Farnaz's boyfriend and suggests, amongst others, "Darrold", which Alma doesn't think is an actual name. Several episodes later, it turns out it was the boyfriend's name.
    • When Jacob tells Alma that Farnaz had a boyfriend, she automatically says that it is always the boyfriend who was involved in the murder. Several episodes later, Sam says the same thing to Alma. But in this case, he wasn't.
  • Broken Pedestal: Alma idolises her father. In the season 1 finale she has to confront an uncomfortable truth about him when she learns that He killed himself and Farnaz in a Murder-Suicide.
  • Censor Suds: Alma has them during a Bathtub Scene flashback to her and Sam fooling around in the tub.
  • Child of Forbidden Love: Alejandro, who is Camila's secret child with a priest.
  • City with No Name: The city's name (apparently San Antonio, Texas) is never mentioned.
  • Cliffhanger: Season 1 ends with one. Just as Alma is about to give up, something happens, but it is unclear if it is actually Jacob returning.
  • Closed Door Rapport: Alma and Sam have these "through the door" conversations when their relationship crumbles...
  • Contraception Deception: In season 2 newlyweds Becca and Reed are trying for a baby... or at least Reed thinks they are until he finds Becca's stash of birth control pills.
  • Coordinated Clothes: On Halloween 2002, Alma and Becca were dressed up as Dorothy and Toto, respectively. As an adult, Alma scoffs at couple costumes.
  • Daddy's Girl: Alma. She seems much more affected by her father's death than her sister, and flashbacks reveal he favored her - though this may be partly due to her innate time travel abilities.
  • Dead Person Conversation: Alma and her dead father Jacob.
  • Driving Question: What exactly happened the night of Jacob Winograd's death? And was it a murder as Jacob claims?
  • Gaslighting: After returning from the hospital, Alma notices the photos on the wall of her apartment having switched positions and the sofa having moved ever so slightly. She claims Sam did this on purpose just to mess with her. In reality, it happened because he moved out and in again.
  • Genre Mashup: An inter-generational Family Drama framed around elements of Science Fantasy, Psychological Drama, Psychological Thriller, Magic Realism, Surrealism, Downplayed Supernatural Soap Opera, Fantastic Comedy, Dramedy, and Time Travel.
  • "Groundhog Day" Loop: Alma is trapped in one in episode 2.
  • Guinea Pig Family: Jacob experimented on Alma when she was a child.
  • Heel Realization: Jacob in "The Halloween Night", when he realizes he is responsible for the accident that killed Farnaz and him.
  • How We Got Here: The pilot opens with Alma's Surprise Car Crash but then continues to show the events leading up that incident.
  • Internal Reveal: Alma tells Sam exactly what is going on with her despite her father's insistence she doesn't.
  • It Runs in the Family: Schizophrenia seems to run in the family.
  • Kissing Under the Influence: Becca has sex with the bartender after a night out drinking.
  • Living Is More than Surviving: Alma is asking herself if life has more to offer than that boring life she has been living.
  • Loose Lips At the photoshoot for the wedding, Alma burst out with the truth about Becca having had sex with the bartender.
  • Meet Cute: The flashback to where Alma and Sam met. Both try to evade the other on the sidewalk but end up doing an awkward Mirror Routine that leads to them striking up a conversation.
  • Memory Wipe Exploitation: Alma broke up with Sam shortly before the car accident. When it turns out she suffers from retrograde amnesia, Sam together with Alma's mother agree that it would be better for Alma if they pretended the breakup never happened. Alma finds out about it later but eventually decides to stay with Sam.
  • Mental Time Travel: Jacob possesses his past self on the Halloween Night he died in order to prevent his death.
  • Mind Screw: Amidst its focus on complex family drama, the series interweaves past, present, future, memories, surreal dreamscapes, and alternate timelines into a nigh-seamless amalgam.
  • Morning Routine: The pilot gives us repeated montages of Alma's morning routine to emphasize the boredem she feels in her life.
  • Murder-Suicide: Jacob drives his car into a ravine, killing himself and Farnaz in the process.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Happens to the time-travelling version of Jacob after he realizes that he killed himself and Farnaz.
  • Neurodiversity Is Supernatural: Geraldine's schizophrenia is explained by Jacob a result of her time travelling abilities.
  • Never the Obvious Suspect: The most promising suspect, Charlie Vanderhorn, had actually no part in Jacob's death.
  • "Not Wearing Pants" Dream: Alma appears in her daycare completely nude, with all of the children looking at her. Then her boss comes in. Fortunately, and to her great relief, it is just a dream and not one of her power-related "just appearing somewhere" moments.
  • Pensieve Flashback: Alma's Mental Time Travel allows her to revisit past events with herself being present in it.
  • Psychic Powers: One of the main concepts of the series is the ability to manifest these - often in the form of Mental Time Travel - via enlarged brain ventricles (responsible for carrying cerebral spine fluid); supposedly common in mentally ill people. Jacob's life's work revolves around this hypothesis.
    • Eventually, Alma is able to mentally rewrite events and enter surreal mindscapes to resurrect her father.
    • In Season 2: Becca displays an empathic version of these abilities as she is able to access others' memories via their emotional resonances.
    • Alma's and Becca's paternal grandmother and paternal great-grandmother were Seers.
  • The Reveal:
    • Jacob did commit double murder-suicide on Halloween night.
    • Season 2's first episode reveals the timeline was rewritten! With Jacob alive again, but divorced from Camila.
    • Becca has psychic abilities, too!
    • Alejandro is Camila's only son from a previous relationship; making him Alma's and Becca's half-brother.
    • Alma and Becca are both half Polish-Jewish from their father's side.
    • Geraldine was the one who persuaded Camila to give up Alejandro for adoption out of a misguided effort to save Camila from emotional pain.
    • Geraldine's/ Ruchel's entire backstory. She and her mother (Alma's and Becca's maternal great-grandmother) were Seers living in World War II Poland. An ornery soldier demanded they use their abilities to tell his fortune. Due to well-intentioned miscommunication on Ruchel's mother's part, the soldier left their home, aggravated. Wrongly accusing them of cheating him, he returned the next day to marshal them to a gulag, with only Ruchel avoiding being spotted. Prior to that, she used her abilities and saw the terrifying events before they could happen. Unfortunately, she kept them to herself from her parents. As a consequence, she immigrated to America all by herself.
    • The Season 2 finale reveals the original timeline still exists and Alma is still seated outside of the cave from the Season 1 finale.
  • Rotoscoping: The entire show is animated in this style, and it's gorgeous.
  • Secret-Keeper: When she learns that Sam hadn't told Alma about their break-up (the result of losing her memory after the crash), Becca keeps the secret in exchange for Sam shutting up about her affair with the bartender. Both secrets are later found out by Alma, anyway.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: The entire purpose of mastering time-travel.
  • Sexy Priest: Alejandro, whom Alma and Becca suspect of having an affair with their mother.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Young Alma and her father have a discussion about The Wizard of Oz. First they deconstruct the I'm Melting! trope in it and then Jacob compares Alma to Dorothy who chooses to return to her boring life instead of having adventures in the fantasy world.
    • At one point, Alma and her father discuss Princess Leia's skimpy Go-Go Enslavement outfit in Star Wars.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: It lies somewhere in the middle but could lean towards the hopeful side.
  • Stag Party: Becca has one before her wedding. It ends with her cheating on her fiancee with the bartender.
  • Stargazing Scene: Alma and Becca watch the stars while waiting for Jacob to come out of the cave.
  • Surprise Car Crash: Alma's inciting car accident comes are as a surprise.
  • This Is a Work of Fiction: The disclaimer shows up at the end of each episode.
  • Through the Eyes of Madness: Almost the entire series, if you assume that Alma is simply schizophrenic.
  • Time Travel Escape: Alma sets out to change the past and save her father from getting killed in the car crash.
  • Unstuck in Time: Before Alma is able to control her abilities, she never knows when or where she will appear.
  • Vomit Discretion Shot: Alma during a night of drinking.
  • Weirder Than Usual: Alma's mother is concerned about her after the accident, noting how her strangeness has increased:
    "You're acting even stranger than usual. You usually act even stranger than usual, but since the accident, you have been acting more even-stranger-than-usual than usual."
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • Alma gives Sam an epic one when she learns that Sam had moved back into their home after she had moved out which she forgot due to her car accident.
    • Both Camila and Farnaz hold Jacob to account for experimenting on Alma without Camila's consent.
  • Wrongfully Committed: What Alma (and her father) think will happen if she reveals the truth about her powers to anyone. Whether it's a justifiable fear depends upon whether you accept she has powers or not.
  • You Can't Fight Fate: A major thematic element of the entire series:
    • Averted when Alma is cutting carrots and possibly when getting her father to take a different path on Halloween night, 2002. The ending of the first season is ambiguous if this lead to her father's survival or not.
    • Played straight when Alma blurts out just before the wedding that Becca has been sleeping around since her engagement to Reed causing him to cancel the wedding. Alma is able to replay the scene and avoid revealing the secret, and then Becca just tells Reed anyway days later causing his family to get the marriage annulled.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: Sure, doing a prolonged ritual of dancing to the point where you witness the crucial moment to save your father as a vision in a mirror might allow you to travel there and resolve a major issue of plot, but don't be surprised when you get back you are lying on the ground with a bleeding scalp wound surrounded by shards of the mirror and fired for erratic behavior and endangering children by doing a mirror dive at a day care.
  • Your Makeup Is Running: Alma's makeup in the pilot's opening scene suffers from this due to her sobbing.