Russian Doll is filled with mind-boggling mysteries, but by the end of each season, Nadia and Alan seem to work things out. However, there’s one character who’s still as big a question mark as ever after Season 2. I’m talking about Horse, the strangely knowledgable and vaguely threatening unhoused man who always seems to pop up when things get weird. Season 2 doubled down on Horse’s inexplicable familiarity with whatever space-time conundrum Nadia and Alan are part of, and it could mean Horse is another time traveler who’s also part of the duo’s cosmic adventures.
Spoiler alert: This post contains spoilers from the Russian Doll Season 2 finale. Viewers already knew something was up with Horse back in Season 1. Early in the show’s premiere, Nadia saw Horse on the street and remarked that she thought she knew him, despite having never met him before. As Nadia’s time loops went on, she formed a connection with Horse, saving him from dying of the cold and giving him her inherited Krugerrand. It also seems like Horse can sense Nadia’s inherent needs before even she can — he offered to cut her hair, a symbolic gesture hinting that she needed to let go of the anger she had for her mother in order to break the time loop.
In Season 2, Horse’s appearances are even weirder. Before Nadia first traveled back in time on the subway, Horse called her Nora from across the tracks. After the train ride, Nadia found herself in the body of her mother, Nora.
In the finale, Nadia and Alan chase down Horse in the subway tunnel, and he points them in the direction of the stalled time-travel train they’d been looking for. However, finding the train soon results in both Nadia and Alan seemingly dying and falling into an afterlife-like realm called the Void, where they interact with their passed-on loved ones before returning to the surface.
It’s pretty clear Horse knows what’s going on with Nadia and Alan, which could mean he’s experienced the same space-time distortions they have. Or, his role could go even further than that. After Season 1 aired, Russian Doll co-creator Leslye Headland said Horse represented the god Pan in her mind. In ancient Greek mythology, Pan is the part-goat god of the wild and shepherds, along with being strongly associated with music and sex. Notably, his name is also the root of the word “panic,” attributing to his sudden ferocity when disturbed. Likewise, Horse seems to be a supernatural agent of chaos with a knack for shepherding the lost. Given Headland’s comparison, Horse may not be human at all, but a godlike being that presides over the space-time chaos that Nadia and Alan have stumbled into.
Whatever is going on with Horse, hopefully he’s explored further in a potential third season of Russian Doll, because something tells me once we know more about Horse, we’ll also finally know why Nadia and Alan are jumping through time in the first place.