HBO’s The Undoing Review (Plus Ending Explained Compared To The Book)


The Undoing is an addictive who-done-it thriller that will have your mind racing with suspicions — and that ending! WOW!

the undoing poster

I love a good who done it that will have you constantly changing your mind on who the actual murderer is. And that is exactly what The Undoing is. Every single episode has you thinking that maybe, just maybe, someone else did it. Trust me when I say that when you get to the end and the murderer is revealed, you are going to want to watch this miniseries all over again! 

From the very first episode, I was completely hooked. I found myself to be a couch detective as I tried to put all of the pieces together. In The Undoing a young mother named Elena is murdered — quite horrifically. Her face is bashed in with a sculpting hammer after a school fundraiser for Reardon, the high end school her child attends, thanks to a scholarship. 

Grace, Johnathan, and Henry are the other main characters. Grace is a therapist, Johnathan a charismatic oncologist, and Henry attends the same school, Reardon. In the first episode Grace and Elena meet through the auction committee, although it seems that have met in passing previously.  

As the miniseries goes on, more and more pieces of the puzzle come out, making it almost impossible to say who the murderer is. But don’t worry, we do get a definitive answer. Unlike viewers of Defending Jacob get, although this miniseries really reminding me of that one.

the undoing hbo

Overall Thoughts

One thing I loved about this show is that it plays like a movie. It is very dramatic and like I said, it will keep you guessing. There were a lot of liberties taken with the book, read about them below, and I am thankful they changed it up how they did. I think it was completely necessary when taking it from the pages to the screen. 

Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant are the stand out actors in The Undoing. They both are phenomenal in their roles, especially as we get to the climax of the final episode. If you like dramatic mysteries, you are sure to enjoy The Undoing! 

Check out my favorite The Undoing quotes!

Warning: SPOILERS for The Undoing
& You Should Have Known Ahead

the undoing hbo

The Undoing Ending

The Undoing is a miniseries with only six episodes and like I said above, it will have you rethinking the actual murderer constantly. In the show, Elena has been murdered, and Johnathan has disappeared, leaving behind his phone. Grace eventually finds out that her husband has not only been having an affair with this woman, he lost his job because of it. Oh, and he is the biological father of her baby daughter.

Part way through the series Johnathan comes home, claiming he only ran because he knew how it would look and he was scared. He is put on trial, but Grace asks her father to bail him out of jail. She is just not sure that he is a murderer. Sure, he is a cheater and a liar, but could he kill someone?

Grace discovers the murder weapon, a sculpting hammer, in their son Henry’s closet. I t turns out he found it at the beach house in the fire pit. This is when she realizes that Johnathan must be guilty. Convincing his lawyer, Haley, to put her on the stand, she eventually tells the story of how even Johnathan’s own mother thinks he is guilty. It turns out he had a younger sister who was killed when hit by a car while he was watching her and he never once felt sadness, or guilt, over it. A true psychopath.

On the day the jury is supposed to come back with a verdict, Johnathan asks Henry to meet him for breakfast, claiming it is the last chance they will get. Instead he flees again, driving to a bridge. Along the way he confesses to his son that yes he killed Elena, but that wasn’t the real him. He simply, lost himself for a moment. He stands on the edge of the bridge and it seems like he is going to kill himself, when Grace shows up. The police arrive too and Grace takes her son Henry away, and Johnathan is apprehended. 

you should have known

Book You Should Have Known Ending

HBO’s The Undoing is loosely based on Jean Hanff Korelitz’s 2014 book You Should Have Known. There are several differences throughout the whole miniseries, although the show does remain true to the book’s core. It is obvious that the first few episodes tie closer to the book, but once the trail starts and Johnathan comes back, things are very different.

The book is written from Grace’s point of view, so she is never thought to be a suspect. Whereas the show basically makes you think anyone could have been Elena’s killer. Speaking of Elena, she is much different in the book, right down to her name. She is called Malaga in that story and is much more reserved. 

In the book it is pretty much obvious from the start that Johnathan is the killer. There is no trial as he is on the run throughout the whole thing. Eventually he confesses his guilt in a letter to Grace, and he is caught overseas and extradited to the United States.

Probably one of the biggest differences, besides the trial, is the story of Johnathan’s dead sibling. In The Undoing, he is babysitting his four year old sister when she goes outside and is hit by a car. This story is much darker in the book. He is watching his brother, who is sick with the flu, while his parents are away. He locks his brother outside in the cold forcing him to get sicker and sicker, until it is too late. Making it very clear he is a psychopath. 

About HBO’s The Undoing

From writer David E. Kelley (Big Little Lies) and director Susanne Bier (The Night Manager), the limited series focuses on Nicole Kidman’s Grace Fraser, a successful therapist, and her devoted husband, Jonathan (Hugh Grant), and their young son who attends an elite private school in New York City. A chasm opens in Grace’s seemingly perfect life: a violent death, a missing spouse, and a chain of terrible revelations.

Watch The Undoing on HBO Max now!


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