Russian Doll theory | Who is Horse and what does he know?

If you were hoping that the second season of Russian Doll would bring conclusive answers about the show's time travel madness, you might find yourself disappointed.

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As was the case the first time around, little time is given to explaining the precise cause of the mind-bending predicament Nadia and Alan find themselves in, but we do get more hints that point to one returning character being involved somehow.

A mysterious homeless man known only as Horse (played by Brendan Sexton III) became a figure of suspicion for his enigmatic appearances in the first season, with this second run implying even more heavily that he knows more than he's letting on.

Read on for what you need to know about the character and the top theories on what exactly he's up to – and be warned, there are season 2 spoilers ahead...

Russian Doll: Who is Horse?

Horse is a homeless man sleeping rough in New York City, who makes his debut appearance in the first ever episode of Russian Doll, where Nadia immediately feels some kind of connection with him.

In her first loop, after passing Horse on the street, she remarks: "I think I know that guy."

This feeling of familiarity carries over to subsequent loops, with Nadia eventually introducing herself and spending an evening with him in the park.

In a somewhat surreal scene, Nadia accepts his offer of a haircut and seems comforted as he takes great chunks out of her deep red locks, describing them as "the old you".

They sleep next to each other that night and freeze to death, prompting the start of another loop, where Nadia ensures he gets into a homeless shelter and stands guard of his shoes, which were stolen in an earlier timeline.

In the season 1 finale, Horse is seen again, this time donning a deer-like headdress and leading a bizarre parade that sweeps up Nadia and Alan at the end of their final loops, almost as if to congratulate them on completing their trials.

What does Horse know about Nadia's time travel?

If there was ever any doubt that Horse is involved in Nadia's time travel, it is definitively settled in the first 10 minutes of Russian Doll's second season.

The latest storyline is centred around a subway train that sends both Nadia and Alan back in time to learn more about their family history.

Moments before the train arrives at the station, Nadia and Horse have a strange reunion, yelling to each other from across two separate platforms.

Nadia instantly recognises him from her loops, confirming that she has retained her knowledge of that experience, even referring to herself as 'haircut' to help jog Horse's memory.

Horse calls her Nora in return, the name of her late mother, before launching into a bizarre rant: "You're gonna just stand there and a long metal tube is gonna show up and open its doors, and then you're gonna, maybe, I don't know, sit down on a seat?"

As the train arrives, he can be heard asking: "You waiting for the f**king train?"

He then starts laughing maniacally and flipping Nadia off through the passing windows and gaps between the carriages, which will leave viewers wondering what his intentions are.

Is Horse good or evil?

It's hard to get a read on exactly what's driving Horse's erratic behaviour, as he has seemed like both a friend and a foe to Nadia at various points across the last two seasons.

For example, the aforementioned scene in which he cuts Nadia's hair seemed affectionate and affirming, but in other moments he has appeared much more standoffish and aloof.

In the second season, not only does he laugh at Nadia as she begins her journey into the past, but he also refuses to help her when time starts unravelling unless she and Alan pay him in whatever they have to hand.

Some viewers have theorised that Horse is something of a Shaman, who guides time travellers on their spiritual journeys, but it's unclear at this stage why he has targeted Nadia and Alan.

Alternatively, he could simply be a trickster who revels in causing havoc in the lives of ordinary people, but there does seem to be a more personal link between himself and Nadia.

Is Horse related to Nadia?

Towards the end of season 2, there are a couple of passing references that hint towards Horse's life outside of the time-loops, dropped when Nadia confronts him as he heads into the maintenance tunnels of the New York City subway.

He says: "I live down here with my wife," and when he sees Alan holding baby Nadia, he remarks: "We're both fathers, I respect that."

Later, Horse becomes insistent on holding baby Nadia himself, a request which is ultimately denied by her adult counterpart, continuing a trend of him being generally more interested in her than he is fellow looper, Alan.

It raises the question of whether Horse could be a relative of Nadia, and given how this series plays with the passage of time, he could essentially be anyone to her despite them being roughly the same age.

Indeed, that he refers to Nadia by her mother's name in an early scene suggests that he might also have interacted with previous generations of the Vulvokov family.

Whatever the case, it seems his interest in her hasn't been settled by the events of season 2, as after she emerges in the corrected timeline in the final scene, he races up to her on the pavement and they share an intense glance.

He then runs off, cackling as he did when her latest time-warping adventure began, implying he may have more trickery in store for her in the future. Season 3, anyone?

Read more: Russian Doll season 2 review: A mesmerising trip down memory lane

Russian Doll seasons 1-2 are available to stream on Netflix. Check out more of our Drama coverage or visit our TV Guide to see what's on tonight.

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