WARNING: This article contains spoilers related to the second season of Russian Doll.
Nadia Vulvokov (Natasha Lyonne) and Alan Zaveri (Charlie Barnett) go on yet another time-bending extravaganza in Russian Doll’s second season, which dropped on April 20. Netflix’s delirious sci-fi comedy sends the lead duo back in time through the 6 train: Nadia is whisked to ’80s New York City and later to 1944 Budapest; Alan, meanwhile, zaps to Germany in the early ’60s. Revisiting the past involves swapping consciousness with their ancestors, and the ensuing adventures give each of them a deeper understanding of their upbringing and lineage. What’s more, the loopy new episodes boast a ton of exciting clues and self-references about where the show is headed as well as where it was, shedding new light on details from last season. So let’s unpack as many Easter eggs as we could, planted all over the subway (and elsewhere).
Buckle up for a major Easter egg, especially if you didn’t rewatch the show to prepare. In a brief scene during season one’s sixth episode, titled “Reflections,” Nadia tells Alan the tale of her beloved necklace. Her grandparents, who were Holocaust survivors, didn’t trust banks. So their valuables were converted to 150 Krugerrands (South African gold bullion coins), one of which she wears all the time. The remaining 149? As she puts it to Alan, “My mother, ’cause she’s a fucking piece of work, spent them all.” The quick conversation ends up as the vital narrative backbone of season two.
With every trip back to the ’80s, Nadia attempts to stop her mother, Lenora (Chloë Sevigny), from spending the fortune she was supposed to inherit. She’s hoping to fix the bond between Lenora and her own mother, Vera [Iren Bordan], which would make Nadia’s childhood far more smooth-sailing. Also of note: When Nadia initially tells Alan the story, she says the net worth of the 150 Krugerrands in 2019 would be $150,780.86. In season two, while explaining the value of the coins to someone in the ’80s, she notes the cost as $280,451.21. Sweet fluctuating prices, baby.
In a throwaway line from season one, when Nadia and Alan try to figure out why they keep dying repeatedly at the same exact time, she says, “Us being the same person is my current favorite [theory].” It’s not correct then, but ironically, it’s how season two works. Nadia swaps with Lenora in the ’80s and her grandmother in the ’40s. Similarly, Alan switches into being his grandma, Agnes (Carolyn Michelle Smith) in the ’60s. Technically speaking, they become the same person as those family members, albeit temporarily.
Maternal relationships actually occupy prime real estate in Russian Doll season two, whether it’s Nadia with Lenora, Vera, or her godmother Ruth (played by Elizabeth Ashley in the present and Annie Murphy in the ’80s). Heck, Nadia’s motherly instincts factor in when she brings baby Nadia to the future after giving birth to her as Lenora in the past. (It’s a dark, complicated tapestry.) No wonder season two begins with Nadia casually referencing Oedipus to a doctor while visiting Ruth at the hospital.
Yes, Russian Doll has done a great job of establishing Nadia and Alan are tied together in many ways—mainly by driving home that if they would’ve helped each other on the night they met, season one’s time loops wouldn’t have happened. Alan’s ex-girlfriend, Beatrice (Dascha Polanco) was cheating on him with a coworker named Mike (Jeremy Bobb), who Nadia sleeps with in the series premiere before her first death. But season two gradually explores the characters’ deeper bond.
The journey of Alan (as Agnes) comes together with Nadia’s when it’s revealed that in the ’80s, Agnes had moved to New York City and worked as an MTA employee. She was a bystander at the Astor Street station when Lenora (or, as we see it, Nadia as Lenora) gave birth to baby Nadia. In fact, in the third episode, it was Agnes who helps a disoriented Nadia—after the gold gets lost again—get off the train before the cops round her up.
There are lots of nods to the show’s breakout moments, like Nadia exclaiming “Thursday, what a concept.” The quote isn’t just a meme anymore, it’s a whole damn Twitter account. She rephrases it in season two as “Time zones, what a concept,” while visiting Budapest in 2022 with Maxine (Greta Lee). Lyonne’s striking pronunciation of “cock-a-roach” returns too. In season one, Nadia tells multiple people that a Yeshiva once stood where Maxine’s building is. In the ’80s, as Nadia walks past it, and school kids are rushing out of there. As time is breaking in the season two finale, titled “Matryoshka,” Nadia and Alan see the rabbi teaching a where Maxine’s apartment stood.
It’s scientifically impossible not to fixate on Harry Nilsson’s “Gotta Get Up” during the show. Each time Nadia springs back to life in the bathroom during her birthday party, the song blares from the speakers. In “Matryoshka,” Nadia and Alan are back at the damn party. Nilsson’s track is playing in background, and even Nadia is inspired to finally go, “Jesus Christ with this fucking song.” As a treat, Maxine busts out one more “Sweet birthday, baby.” Kudos to Russian Doll for organically bringing its treasured scenes back without feeling forced.
Even Alan’s neighbor, who was tasked to feed his fish in season one, returns. She specifically told Alan back then that she’s incapable of keeping Boba Fett alive. Nadia runs into her as she’s exiting Alan’s house, expectedly announcing the fish is dead. Also in season one, Nadia talks to Ruth about Lenora’s obsessions with the cartoon character Betty Boop. She even tried to make a business out of selling her merch. Well, when Nadia has taken over Lenora in the ’80s, she casually finds a Betty Boop keychain while trying to buy the Kruggerands back at the thrift store. Clearly, with a carefully constructed show like Russian Doll, it’s the little details that matter.