At the start, the HBO miniseries Cancellation seemed to be a classic thriller. The main question of “who killed Elena Alves?” Had an obvious answer in Jonathan Fraser. In all other cases it would have meant the killer could be anyone more Jonathan, who made Sunday’s reveal unusual, if not surprising. After six episodes full of red herrings, which at different times pointed to Grace, Fernando, and Henry, Elena’s murderer was finally revealed in the miniseries finale, and it was indeed Jonathan, straying from the usual thriller formula.
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All the evidence had pointed to Jonathan from the start. He had been in hiding after the murder, and he was keeping secrets from his family, like his affair with Elena and the fact that he had lost his job months ago. He had even been present at the scene of the crime that night. In a typical whodunit, all of this would have generally meant that there was no way he could have committed the crime, likely being tricked by someone else.
This appears to be an intentional mistake on the part of Cancellation. The public is supposed to ignore the obvious in favor of looking for signs that point to someone else. Jonathan’s insistence that he didn’t kill Elena further pushes this point.
At the root of this insistence is a play on the idea that a privileged man could not have done this or that he did but would have left. The latter is clearly the goal of his defense, deciding to prevent the prosecution from finding him guilty instead of proving his innocence.
For a very long time it looked like it was going to be like this, until Grace testified. Grace, a trained psychologist, testifies that she knows Jonathan is an empathetic man who could never harm a fly, but things fall apart when the defense plays Grace’s 911 call, in which she states that she was afraid of Jonathan when his first comeback appeared in their country house.
Faced with impending doom, Jonathan takes his son, Henry, for a ride in a final attempt to escape reality. During this ride, Jonathan finally faces the truth – that he killed Elena. She threatened to approach Grace and Henry, and after Jonathan told her to stay away, he banged her head against the wall. A frantic Elena took the Carving Hammer and tried to attack Jonathan, who pushed her away. Then he started hitting her with the hammer and didn’t stop until her face was a bloody pulp.
Police begin to chase Jonathan, who contemplates suicide by jumping off a bridge, but he ultimately decides not to do so as his son begs him not to jump. He is then arrested, as Grace kisses her son, proving that sometimes the most obvious suspect is the real culprit.
Starring Nicole Kidman, Hugh Grant, Noah Jupe, Edgar Ramirez, Donald Sutherland, Lily Rabe, Noma Dumezweni and Ismael Cruz Córdova, The Undoing airs October 25 on HBO at 9 p.m. ET / PT.
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