7 'Russian Doll' Theories That Could Be True, According to Reddit – Collider

Redditors have a few ideas about where this time-travel drama is heading.
Surviving a near-death experience was an understatement for Nadia Vulvokov (Natasha Lyonne) after she woke up from each death-defying accident to relive the same day over again. Russian Doll, Season 1, premiered in 2019 as Nadia and fans tried to wrap their heads around time loops. Finally, after two years, Russian Doll announced that season two will premiere on April 20, 2022, continuing Nadia's story and providing clues as to how time operates in Nadia's world.
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Although Season 2 shared some clues as to what fans will expect to see in the series, it also left viewers asking more questions or hypothesizing why exactly was Nadia in the time-loop, and how exactly did she break it, if she did? Reddit's users under the u/RussianDoll subreddit provided their take or their theories as to what's really going on in the show.
After a taxi killed Nadia, and she appeared in the same bathroom as at the beginning of the episode, it gave viewers clues that time worked differently for Nadia. Further on in season one of Russian Doll, viewers learned that Alan (Charlie Barnett) experienced a time loop phenomenon as well. What if more people were also stuck in this time loop?
Reddit user u/Balthazar_rising shared their theories regarding the possibility that Mike (Jeremy Bobb), the University professor and sex addict, was also in an endless time loop. They reason that they saw Mike appearing almost "everywhere," in the series. They further explained that Mike seemed to be the most damaged individual in the TV series, so for him to be stuck reliving the same experiences was possibly a form of punishment.
When Nadia reappeared in front of the bathroom mirror, she was piecing together whether she didn't already live through these events a moment ago. She remembered that she was looking for her lost cat, Oatmeal when she was hit by a taxi. As she retraced her steps to the same place where her first death was, Oatmeal appeared on the other side of the street (just like the first time), except this time, Nadia didn't get hit by the taxi, and she was able to catch her cat.
Nadia held her cat in her arms, but a few minutes later, her cat disappeared. Nadia then fell backward into the lake and reappeared once again in front of the bathroom mirror. A few Reddit users noted Oatmeal's strange behavior, and u/schwerky proposed that Oatmeal represented "schrödinger's cat." Schrödinger's cat refers to the cat being both dead and alive, a thought experiment that is used to explain the paradox of quantum mechanics.
Usually, time loops are caused and controlled by some kind of external action or spell. In one of the greatest time loops in television shows, Buffy The Vampire Slayer's episode, "Life Serial," Buffy's time loop was a test caused by a magical spell. Yet, what if people didn't control the time loop, but the time loop controlled people?
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Reddit user u/zeta212 noticed that the dialogue or lines that the characters said at one point in the TV series, seemed rather odd as if they wouldn't naturally be said by those characters. Specifically, they note that when Mike said "I'm the whole where the choice should be." This could be that Mike was evolving to no longer being the pompous person he was seen at the beginning of the series or can time influence or control characters. Reddit user u/whoisliva commented that Mike's line may be a way of explaining or excusing his poor behavior.
Even though the chicken was one of the foods found on the table at the party, the chicken appeared in more scenes later on in the series. The chicken became a reoccurring item and didn't always appear in the same raw form as it did in the birthday party scene. Chicken bones also happened to cause one of Nadia's death.
Perhaps the chicken didn't just resemble a comfort food or a standard food item. Reddit user u/schwerky suggested that chicken represents the "uncertainty of human life," where they explained that people keep chickens to eventually eat them and suggested that chickens' deaths served a greater "purpose". While expanding on this thought, another Reddit user u/plotthick proposed that the chicken may be the only element in the show that represents "normalcy." They further examine that the chicken soup that was offered served as a typical traditional meal while the chicken at the birthday party may represent a friendly gesture.
Some movies or television shows may not verbally or directly give all the information away. For instance, Julia Ducournau's film, Raw (2016) uses gruesome violent scenes as a metaphorical device to convey the emotions that the characters are experiencing rather than the characters announcing that they feel anxious or emotionless. While Russian Doll might have purposefully used some objects in its show to convey certain elements about the characters or about the plot, one Reddit user carefully analyzed the meaning by the title of the show itself.
Russian dolls or Matryoshka dolls are painted wooden dolls and each doll is placed inside a larger doll. One of the ideas that Reddit user u/oitnbspinofffor2022 suggested was that each of Nadia's deaths alluded to her removing a piece of herself, therefore, allowing her to no longer focus only on herself and notice the world around her. This process that Nadia undergoes alludes to removing a smaller doll from the larger one.
At the end of Russian Doll's season one, Nadia spoke with Alan on the roof of a building after he decided not to jump off the building. At the same time that Nadia and Alan exited the roof, a split-screen showed Nadia speaking with Mike and running up to meet Alan. In these two scenes, Nadia and Alan were seen wearing two different outfits.
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Reddit user u/randallparkinson noticed that during this scene, and specifically in one particular shot, two people that resembled Nadia. This might have given insight as to there being three timelines that have crossed each other in that one scene. Each timeline could have operated on a different path, where each character experienced different events. Their theory doesn't consider the possibility that during this event, the two people that are walking in the opposite direction, may have dressed and appear to look like Nadia.
In Christopher Nolan's 2020 film, Tenet, viewers had difficulty grasping the concept of "time inversion." In Tenet, The Protagonist (John David Washington) had to stop an arms dealer, to do so, he had to travel back in time. The time machine in Tenet, or turnstile, operated differently than the time machines in other films. Therefore, the Protagonist moved in reverse, even though the surrounding objects and people in the environment moved forward.
Reddit user u/Royal_Passion_5274 specifically connected the film, Tenet, to the last episode of Russian Doll. They expanded on the idea of multiple timelines that were suggested by other Reddit users. However, they suggested that the reason why the two red-haired individuals were facing the opposite direction than Nadia, in the black coat, was because their timeline was inverted. Whereas Nadia, and her timeline, moved forward.
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Karina Kosmala is a TV/Movies List Writer for Collider. She enjoys watching new movies and TV shows as well as rewatching them to catch the intricate details or Easter eggs. She is a recent graduate of Northwestern University and a former editor-in-chief of her undergraduate campus newspaper. When she’s not watching TV shows or Movies, she hosts “Uncovering the Corners of the World,” podcast.


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