Note: This article contains spoilers for Russian Doll season 1.
Russian Doll, the existential comedy-drama from the comedy triumvirate of Natasha Lyonne (Orange is the New Black), Amy Poehler (Parks and Recreation) and Leslye Headland (Bachelorette) didn't give much away before it landed on Netflix, other than a very brief synopsis.
We were told that the narrative would follow Lyonne as a woman called Nadia who, much like Bill Murray's Phil in Groundhog Day, is trapped in a particular moment in time – a "seemingly inescapable party" for Nadia – which takes place on one unassuming night in New York City.
But unlike Groundhog Day, this eight-part series spiralled into something much darker, the protagonist of this story unable to stop dying, however hard she tries. Nadia gets hit by a car, she falls into the Hudson, she freezes to death, she gets shot etc etc etc. You name it, it happens, again and again and again.
The first season ends, though, with Nadia and Alan seemingly finding some version of peace away from the nightmarish reality they've been forced to endure.
But then again, all might not be as it seems – we still have many, many questions buzzing around our heads, and their story could be far from over if the potential second series revisits the duo once again.
If Nadia and Alan are the focus of season two, we would expect further dark revelations concerning their respective pasts to reveal themselves, one of which is likely to be Alan's mental health – and one Reddit fan theory in particular hones in on that.
"In Russian Doll, Nadia and Alan (Charlie Barnett) are linked and die at the same time. We see this in the later episodes," writes Tempus_Waffen.
We're led to believe that when Nadia dies, so does Alan, and vice versa, regardless of what's happening in their respective lives.
The theory then discusses the fact that Alan suffers from suicidal thoughts, and has even taken his own life in the past. It's a seismic revelation, dropped like a bombshell at the end of episode six.
"I remembered my first death," Alan confides in Nadia. "I threw myself off the top of the building. I killed myself."
He breaks down, while Nadia is utterly lost for words, visibly troubled in the face of Alan's distress.
Tempus_Waffen's theory then goes on to hypothesise that Alan has committed suicide more than once after he figured out that he was trapped in a death loop (and therefore couldn't actually die, only temporarily dead before surging back to life), and there is one particular moment in the series which suggests that the theory stands.
"I think that Alan figured out the Groundhog's Day situation much sooner than Nadia and attempted suicide many more times than he remembers – or wants to let Nadia know," the post continues.
"In episode two of Russian Doll, Nadia keeps trying to leave the party and keeps dying on the stairs. This is due to Alan immediately going up to the roof of his building and jumping off to kill himself."
In the show's second episode, Nadia quarrels with her best friend Maxine (Greta Lee), before stomping out of the apartment and tumbling down the stairs three times consecutively. Then there's a moment where it looks like she might make it down in one piece, before she is knocked over the bannister by someone heading up the stairs, making that stair death number four, and back to square one.
Like we said, there's still a lot of mystery surrounding the show, but this is a solid theory that does hold up. We know that Alan has severe mental health issues, and we now know that he has killed himself. If he had worked out that he was caught in a loop, why wouldn't he take his own life multiple times, at a complete loss at what to do?
But while some Reddit users backed the theory, others weren't so sure, with one person suggesting that it could just have been a case of luck, or lack thereof.
"I think I have to agree with you since her deaths happen so fast, but I still think people could argue that as the deaths are still random and they don't make it very far ever that it is possible they both kept getting unlucky," said moar_distractions.
loonerz also suggested that it could have been entirely accidental: "It could be one of them died first and the shock made the other die, so they could have killed themselves repeatedly without noticing."
With no concrete answers on the table, it's hard to know what's real and what we're reading too much into. But with a second season potentially on its way, there's every chance we'll finally get the answers we're looking for.
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