Russian Doll Will Probably Wrap Things Up With Season 3
The following story contains spoilers for Season 2 of Russian Doll.
Sweet Birthday Baby! After more than three years of waiting, fans of Netflix’s trippy, hilarious, everything-at-once series Russian Doll got to experience another world-bending event centered around Nadia Vulvokov’s (series star, writer, director, and co-creator Natasha Lyonne) birthday. But where Season 1 found our jaded-but-happily-content heroine stuck in a time loop, Season 2 found her stuck in a subway train that goes backwards and forwards in time—and meddling with that can kind of make the entire world collapse on itself. It’s hard to raise the stakes from being stuck in the same day over and over again for eternity, but Season 2 of Russian Doll kind of managed to do it.
Just like Season 1, though, for all of the twists and turns that come along the way, Russian Doll isn’t about it’s sci-fi premise. It’s about seeing how our two main characters, Nadia and Alan, can use their circumstances and experiences to grow as people and understand who they are and what their place is in the world. Not everyone can say that they found themselves stuck in a time loop that starts in the bathroom or as a passenger on a train that goes back decades in time, but just about everyone can relate with having some semblance of an identity crisis. When something happens that shatters your world, how do you react? How do you adjust? And how can you move forward? These are the themes that Russian Doll has dealt with over its two seasons, and has done so masterfully.
Russian Doll doesn’t need to continue for a Season 3; if the show were to end for good right at the end of Season 2, it would make perfect narrative sense. But Nadia, Alan, and the rest of the gang are just so delightful to watch over the course of a season, that it’s hard to come up with a good reason to not keep doing seasons if Lyonne and company can keep coming up with fun ideas. These are just characters we like spending time with, and situations that let us see ourselves within their various conclusions and resolutions. And that’s something we can always make time for.
Will there be a Season 3 of Russian Doll?
We don’t know for sure. Russian Doll Season 1, narratively speaking, could have stood on its own as a perfectly self-contained limited series. But then Season 2 was announced, and Season 2 turned out to be damn solid. If the show can continue to keep up its wonderfully-trippy quality with a compelling story and themes that make us sort of examine the same things in ourselves that Nadia is examining in herself, why not? Season 2 once again ends in a perfectly self-contained kind of way, so if we don’t get a Season 3, we can still feel like we’ve left Nadia, Alan, Maxine, and Lizzy all in a pretty good place. But we also won’t complain if we get to spend some more time with these characters, either.
Back in 2019—which, admittedly, feels like about 100 years to us and probably a lifetime ago to the people making Russian Doll too—Lyonne told The Hollywood Reporter that while she’s open to other options, her plan was for Russian Doll to last for three seasons. We should note that this was either before Season 2 was written, or very early in the process. So her ideas may have changed! But here’s how she described the thought process in the THR interview:
In many ways, yes. I see it quite concretely, and it will be interesting to see what evolves. The beauty of the power of the writers room is that Alan (Charlie Barnett) was a very different character in the original pitch and pilot. Month two of the room is where he really came alive. Before then, he had been a whole variety of other figures and now, looking back, imagining that show without Alan is almost impossible. Because of that experience, I know there has to be space left open for something beyond my limited imagination in this moment to know if that is still where the series begins, middles and ends. Maybe it’s only two seasons. Maybe it’s four seasons. Right now, it feels quite clearly that it is those three.
What would Season 3 of Russian Doll be about?
Again, we have absolutely zero idea. And maybe co-creators Lyonne, Leslye Headland, and Amy Poehler aren’t quite sure yet either—if there even will be a Season .
Based on patterns from Seasons 1 and 2, though, we can make some reasonable deductions. Season 1, of course, found Nadia and Alan both stuck in Groundhog Day-esque Time Loops. Season 2, then, found the two of them taking an MTA 6 Train back in time, Back to the Future style. So, then, Season 3 would conceivably have some new sort of plot device at its center. But what would it be?
Maybe we see Nadia and Alan going full Terminator and going to the future to send an important message from the past (or just to see what kind of drugs they’ve got there, that would also work). Maybe they take a page from Back to the Future Part III and they get sent to the Wild Wild West. Maybe they take a page from the trendy book and really dive into something that Season 1 only sort of tangentially touched on: the Multiverse (between Doctor Strange and Everything Everywhere All At Once, this is having a moment).
Honestly, though, whatever Sci-Fi plot device winds up at the center should there be a Season 3 of Russian Doll, it’s more about the characters. Seasons 1 and 2 of the show have given us some fun twisty happenings, but at the end of the day it’s been about how we care about Nadia and Alan, and how we see them grow and evolve through their surreal, earth-shattering time ordeals.
Who would be in the cast?
There’s no Russian Doll without Nadia, so Natasha Lyonne (who also co-created, writes, and occasionally directs the show) will 100% be back. Alan is also an extremely important part of the show—the yin to Nadia’s yang—so Charlie Barnett would be back as well. Maxine (Greta Lee) and Lizzy (Rebecca Henderson) are also fairly vital to the show, so they should at least be back in some capacity.
Past that, it’s hard to really tell. Elizabeth Ashley and Annie Murphy both had delightful takes on Ruth, but she was dead by the end of Season 2, so unless if Russian Doll plays with time a little bit more (and it absolutely could!) it could be the end of that character. We may not see as much of Chloë Sevigny as Nadia’s late mother as we did in Season 2, but we could see her in flashbackls once again. And it doesn’t seem likely that we’d see any more of Chez after his Season 2 plotline, but actor Sharlto Copley is just such a fun on-screen presence that we feel the need to shout him out and maybe push some buttons for some more of him in the future.
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