Season 2 keeps Lyonne in the spotlight but takes away «groundhog dayrehearsal. This time, Nadia doesn’t relive a single day, but rather jumps in time along her matriarchal line. She also rarely dies, which is certainly a relief for her and her travel buddy Alan (Charlie Barnett), which also returned to a structurally similar role.
One of the problems with sophomore seasons is that they tend to drop some topics to focus on others, dramatically changing the structure of the show. I think of the differences between seasons 1 and 2 of Netflix’s Gentefied as a good example of it focusing entirely on the central family, losing capsule episodes which focus on other characters in the neighborhood. Because of this, his world seemed less complete.
Nadia’s world is comparatively more selective in the second season of Russian Matryoshka, which works and doesn’t work. First, it takes away some very nice nuances from the first season; no dump/death agreement no association with video games. To match this change, we don’t see or hear anything about Nadia’s profession as a game creator (there’s one passing phrase that she never works again… and apparently she doesn’t) and we don’t look. like Alan plays anything either. The overall emphasis in season 2 does away with the initial feeling that Russian Matryoshka is a complex puzzle with many solutions.
The show uses more traditional storytelling to work just as well as it did before, and it doesn’t quite fit the occasion. Let’s take character development: Greta Lee as Maxine still has a lot to do, it’s hard to top her meme-inspiring «cute birthday» catchphrase, even though her episode is pretty entertaining. For his part, Alan is underused – he has his own episode in the same location as last season (episode four) and his own time travel. But he’s not Nadia’s equal in terms of importance or screen time, and since we already know about their connection, his whole case feels tied in, like they wanted to keep him but didn’t let him really share the narrative with Nadia. Annie Murphy joins the cast, earning enough Shitt’s Creek favor to be a welcome sight on any call list. Like Maxine, she has great costumes and funny lines, but that doesn’t make her a complete character.