This article includes spoilers for Annie Murphy’s role in Russian Doll Season 2
Annie Murphy continues to show her range beautifully in every role she takes on, and that’s certainly the case with her embodiment of young Ruth Brenner (Ruthie) in Russian Doll Season 2. Murphy matches Elizabeth Ashley’s mannerisms brilliantly through layers and nuances acutely different from what you’ve seen in previous roles, bringing something newer into the character before growing into the woman we know her has.
Russian Doll Season 2 takes Natasha Lyonne’s Nadia Vulvokov time-traveling through the past, swapping bodies with her mother, Chloë Sevigny’s Lenora. Through such cosmic escapes and viewpoints, Nadia is able to see the moments and the lives that have shaped her, and with Ruthie especially, it brings their relationship to a beautiful close in a subtly stunning season finale appropriately titled “Matryoshka”– the Russian wooden dolls, the heart of the series.
It takes a single, brief shot in a train for the love of both their characters to shine through and Annie Murphy’s performance to show off her understanding of the character. In a collapsing moment between past and present, Nadia stops young Ruth to tell her that though she (Ruthie) had no obligation, she loved her (Nadia) anyway. It prompts a single expression from Murphy to destroy us all with the nuances she conveys, understanding nothing but everything at the same time.
Throughout the season, Murphy does a spectacular job showing us Ruth’s heart and the immense love she carries for Lenora — the love that will later be extended to Nadia when she is born. It is a fascinating detail to see as we catch glimpses of the moments where Ruth’s expressions allow us to understand more than what is on the page, showing us something more expansive through her expressions that tell an even more incredible story.
Russian Doll is a complex show for various reasons but what is never complex is the compassion that the women share for one another. And that is especially the case with the relationship between Nadia and Ruth–two women who would go through great lengths to be beside each other even after time collapses and changes everything. We see this come to pass through all three performers and how much they consistently display.
Annie Murphy is especially fantastic in showcasing the work she has done to bring to life a beloved character with much to say and offer. Murphy is fiercely brilliant and demanding in the role, and yet the calm she exudes surpasses much of what we see on the show with other characters. Every look she gives tells us a significant amount, and her body language consistently matches the woman her character will grow up to be.
Nothing is more apparent by the end of Russian Doll Season 2 than the detail that Ruth’s impact has been the greatest treasure in Nadia’s life. She has changed her in more ways than one, making her the woman that she is today and who she will continue to be long after. And to see both versions of the characters makes the season much more riveting as the performances drive much of the plot, creating something so utterly special in this show.
Now streaming on Netflix: What are your thoughts on Annie Murphy’s character in Russian Doll Season 2?