Undone season 1, episode 3 recap: Handheld Blackjack

Undone - Courtesy of Amazon Prime
Undone - Courtesy of Amazon Prime /

Undone hangs on to reality with “Handheld Blackjack.” Alma tries to return to normal life, but she’s not sure what that is anymore. We’ve got the recap!

Remember the concept of a totem from Inception? They were meant to be objects that had a tactile touch and physical behavior specific to their owner. If the totem felt and acted the same, the person was in reality. If it didn’t, the person was dreaming. Don’t get me wrong. I love Inception. But there were a lot of rules for totems that allowed the story to move where it needed to. Totems were Inception’s elastic clause to its own physics. There’s none of that in Undone.

In “Handheld Blackjack,” Alma (Rosa Salazar) is finally back home. She’s trying to get back to normal. But, her dead dad Jacob’s (Bob Odenkirk) presence makes that difficult. Plus, she keeps getting pulled in and out of different timelines. And, someone moved all of the pictures in her apartment. Any comment on that, Sam (Siddharth Dhananjay)? The episode is trippy and packed with emotion. And, I was left wondering if Jacob is just manipulating his daughter to get what he wants.

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Two of the saddest conceptual time travel moments I’ve ever seen occurred in “The Hospital.” From her hospital bed, Alma saw her mom Camila (Constance Marie) rapidly age, melt into bones, and be reborn to start the cycle anew. Later on, she saw her sister Becca’s (Angelique Cabral) whole life play out till her death. Alma saw her own life play out to her death as well. She ends up marrying Sam. She reluctantly starts a family. As an old woman she cries over Sam’s open casket. And them she’s in her own casket. That helped Alma connect with her family.

But, Alma learns that she can show up in other people’s timelines as that other person. She morphs into Jacob’s driver seat on the night of his deadly crash. At the last second, she’s able to pull herself out of the driver’s seat by using the same handheld blackjack game that Jacob used to pull himself out of a timeline. The imagery was grotesque and awesome. Alma pulls the handheld blackjack out of her chest. Hard core.

Undone - Courtesy of Amazon Prime
Undone – Courtesy of Amazon Prime /

Meanwhile, Camila and Becca are worried about Alma. They don’t know that Alma is time traveling, so she just appears actively aloof. The presence of the handheld blackjack, which Camila recognizes, makes her family also feel like she’s not taking anything seriously. Also, there’s some fear that Alma could be manifesting mental illness. It was at the same point in Jacob’s mom’s life where she started to manifest schizophrenia. Jacob says that his mom could travel like Alma. That’s no comfort.

While Alma is learning to control her own timeline, she goes back to work. Tunde (Daveed Diggs) is happy to have her back at the daycare, but he doesn’t like her attention span. Alma shows the kids her bruises by basically flashing them. She totally spaces out when the kids could have fallen down from a climb. And, she freaks everyone out when she begs the mom of a young boy to either keep away from the water or get him swimming lessons. In her time travels, she has seen the same boy drowning in water more than once.


Meanwhile, Jacob brings Alma up to speed on the events leading up to his death. He was a physicist who lectures at a college. Jacob is obsessed with time travel. While Jacob’s sense of humor and bluntness ground him, in large part due to the acting capabilities of Bob Odenkirk, Jacob is legit obsessed with time travel. He believes that he is close to making a breakthrough with some independent funding he’s secured. Jacob lets his favorite student, Farnaz (Sheila Vand), know. Who is providing this funding? What trouble did Farnaz get into on that fateful Halloween night? Why was she in the car with Jacob?

Alma starts investigating all of it. She realizes that there is a lot she never knew about her dad when he was alive. She borrows a ton of old boxes of files from her mom’s attic and digs in. Sam, who responds to Alma’s question about moved pictures by moving them again, wants to know if she’s okay. She dismisses him by taking her hearing aide out. That took my breath away. What a power move. Alma’s like, I’ve got no time for you so I’m going to mute you and your entire soul.

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Everyone is worried about Alma. They may have a point. Jacob is in a rush to have Alma solve his murder. Alma is in a rush to stabilize her timeline before she truly goes mad. The clock is ticking. Something dangerous lurks behind every corner. Alma rules, but I’m worried for her.

Are you enjoying Undone? Do you trust Jacob? Are you worried about Alma? Let’s discuss in the comments!