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Natasha Lyonne and Russian Doll Cast Break Down That Bizarre Season 2 Subway Scene

"I joke that it is being born, that is the inciting event in a problematic life," Lyonne told TV Guide

Kat Moon

[Warning: The following contains spoilers for the final episodes of Russian Doll Season 2. Read at your own risk!]

The time travel in Russian Doll Season 2 happens with a twist. When Nadia (Natasha Lyonne) transports from present-day to 1982 East Village, she inhabits the body of her pregnant mother, Lenora (Chloë Sevigny). It's as Lenora that Nadia attempts to change her family's past for a better future, but not before Lenora's water suddenly breaks on the subway. In Episode 6, while still inhabiting her mother's body, Nadia gives birth to herself. It's a chaotic scene where Lenora delivers baby Nadia on the subway platform of the 6 train, surrounded by an ogling crowd.

"That was probably just thought of on a Wednesday," the show's co-creator Amy Poehler laughed when asked about how this idea came about. "Isn't it wild?" At the New York premiere of Russian Doll Season 2, Poehler told TV Guide about the scene's inspiration. "Russian Doll, we've always been interested in this Escher painting-like version of life where everything is kind of folding in on itself," she said. "So what better way than to give birth to yourself on a subway?"

Russian Doll's Natasha Lyonne Explains How Season 2's Exploration of Generational Trauma Helps Nadia 'Start Living'

In many ways, the scene is intrinsically connected to both Nadia and Alan's (Charlie Barnett) exploration of their family histories and generational trauma this season. "The specific damage that Alan and Nadia have that prevents them from being able to be in their present life has a kind of root cause," Lyonne said. "I joke that it is being born, that is the inciting event in a problematic life." 

Sevigny, who plays Lenora, described what it was like to film the event. "We were on a subway platform and I had just given birth — actually a year before, not even — so I was trying to really sense memory what that was like and just letting it rip," she said. "And thank God I was in a hospital safe and sound when I gave birth to my child." 

Chloë Sevigny, Russian Doll

Chloë Sevigny, Russian Doll


Though he was not the one delivering on the subway platform, Ephraim Sykes said the scene was "probably one of the craziest on-camera experiences I've ever had." Sykes plays Derek, a member of the public safety volunteer group Guardian Angels who crosses paths with Nadia in 1982 after she time travels. "Everybody's going balls to the wall and it felt so realistic," he said. The actor also discussed how the show more broadly examines different sides of motherhood and still maintains its comedic tone. "While people laugh and get lost in the craziness, hopefully [they] feel that heart that we all have for the people that raised us," Sykes said.

For Nadia, the relationship she has with her mother is more than complicated. It's one of the main reasons that, after she gives birth to herself as Lenora, Nadia decides to take the baby away from the 1980s timeline and to the present day. Lyonne said the act makes her both want to laugh and cry. "Just the idea that you read so many self-help books and all those kinds of stuff and go to therapy and yoga retreats and spiritual programs, and it's to kind of fix your inner child," she said. "And wouldn't it be funny to just actually kidnap that child and start over?"

Season 2 of Russian Doll is available to stream.