Saturday, April 4, 2020

What I’m Watching: Unorthodox (Series Finale)

Unorthodox: Season 1, Episode 4 “Part 4” (B+)

This was a very powerful closer, one that makes me and I’m sure many other viewers want more. But I think that this episode – and miniseries as a whole – was more about showcasing an escape rather than a new life, since there are still many elements of Esty’s situation in Berlin that remain extremely unresolved. Just because she got Yanky to understand that she needs to be her own person doesn’t mean that the rest of the community she left behind will, especially given how much Yanky was influenced by his mother and everyone else, to the point that he asked for a divorce since they weren’t about to have sex and get pregnant. After Moische made sure to intimidate Leah, she used the same gun he left to torment Esty to keep him from ruining her audition, but, as she well knows, he won’t be the only enforcer the community sends, and lawyers will surely work to get custody as least of the baby even if they eventually don’t care about Esty anymore. Leah revealing that she had lost custody of Esty was heartbreaking, and reframed their entire relationship in a way that still won’t be her easy for her daughter to easily digest. Changing to song at the last minute was a surprise, but her choice of a second song was immensely moving. It had particular resonance for me since I walked down the aisle at my wedding to that song, albeit a different tune, though one that I’m familiar with at another point during Jewish weddings. Its style also reminded me of a woman whose program I attended in college who left the ultra-Orthodox world and retained the praying style usually reserved for men from those communities. I found this four-episode series to be incredibly worthwhile, and I would encourage anyone who hasn’t to watch the accompanying twenty-minute documentary available on Netflix. I would also certainly tune in for a second series should that ever come to fruition.

If you want to learn more about this show, join me for a live interview with co-creator Alexa Karolinski tomorrow (Sunday) at 12pm PDT at the movieswithabe YouTube channel.

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