In Russian Doll season 2, Nadia and Alan are able to travel back in time, but what are the time travel rules, and why do they use trains?
Warning: Contains spoilers for Russian Doll season 2.
In Russian Doll Season 2 Nadia and Alan are able to travel through time by using specific trains. Russian Doll Season 1 famously saw Nadia and Alan sharing similar experiences in a time loop where they each repeatedly died. For Russian Doll Season 2, the dark time-bending comedy has switched up their device in a way that allows them to explore more of the characters’ history and personal lives.
In Russian Doll season 2, after Alan dismisses the idea that they might get stuck in another time loop on Nadia’s 40th birthday, Nadia goes to take train # 6622, but sees Horse just before she boards. When Nadia gets off the train, she realizes that she is in 1982 and inhabiting her mother’s pregnant body. Nadia finds that she can repeat this experience and Alan finds that he can also board a train to the past, although he arrives in 1962 East Berlin in the body of his grandmother, Agnes.
It can feel as though every time travel narrative takes its own approach to the science of time travel. In Russian Doll Season 2, time travel is entirely linear. While Nadia and Alan are able to travel back in time and take actions, the results of those actions have always already taken place in their lives. Ultimately, in Russian Doll Season 2, it is not possible to change the past because the characters already inhabit a timeline in which they were always going to complete those trips to the past.
Why Nadia and Alan Use Trains to Time Travel
In Russian Doll Season 2, Nadia and Alan’s use of trains to travel through time is highly symbolic of how time travel works in this universe. Just like train cars, Nadia and Alan are on a track and set to run a fixed route. While they are able to travel backwards and forwards along the timeline, it is impossible for them to change where the tracks lead. As time travel in Russian Doll Season 2 is centered on a concept of predestination, the idea of trains as a means of transportation through time serves as a meta-pun about the idea of stations and destinations.
The image of trains as representative of notions of time travel in Russian Doll Season 2 is particularly highlighted by a scene in the penultimate episode of the season. As Nadia attempts to escape the confines of the timeline, she travels from train car to train car, experiencing a sped-up version of her time travel as she appears in trains from different points on her timeline. While Nadia is free to move backwards and forwards through time, she ultimately ends up back where she started, cementing the linear concept of time travel through trains in Russian Doll Season 2.
Next: Russian Doll Season 2 Timeline Explained
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