A Gentleman In Moscow – Episode 4 Recap & Review

Good Times

Episode 4 of Gentleman In Moscow begins in 1932. The count has been confined to the hotel for 10 years and his knowledge of food and wine make him an apt candidate to begin doing the rounds as a waiter. The labels are back on the wine bottles again and Stalin has transformed the country. Guests from around the world have arrived to see Stalin’s Russia in all its glory.

Through all of this though, Rostov and Anna continue their affairs, getting in bed together any chance they get. However, actually sleeping is another matter given Anna prefers to spend that time alone.

Another familiar arrival to the hotel is Osip, who shows up in the private dining room. Rostov is a little taken aback by his manners (or lack thereof given how he serves himself before Rostov), but he does continue to educate him on the various books Osip has been reading.

Osip’s real reason for being here though stems from the new Minister of Culture – Alexei Nachevko. Rostov should know his character, given he’s involved with Anna, and although the Count refuses, Osip practically blackmails him into submission. This culture minister happens to be the man whom Anna was talking to last episode and hinted at sleeping with too.

With Rostov still reeling from this interaction, he’s frazzled when another familiar face shows up at the hotel. It’s Nina! She’s a lot older now and she’s been living in Leningrad for 5 years. She’s only passing through on her way to the East and serving Stalin.

Nina does show up a week later though, and apologizes for her hasty behaviour earlier in the episode. She’s on her way to Donetsk, somewhere Mishka has just returned from. She’s going to aid the shock workers in the collectivization of farms. As they talk, some of the framing for these shots are quite interesting and include the chessboard in the foreground, just off to the side. This is, of course, symbolic of their old games together – which they’re no longer playing.

Anyway, Nina shrugs off the ideas of romance with her fellow companion, Leon, and instead Rostov shows a much more romantic side to the hotel for her. Specifically, the rooftop where they share a drink and a tasty morsel of honeycomb.

That night, when one of the wait staff is taken away, Rostov rushes up to see Anna. However, the Minister is there watching this unfold. He scoffs at Rostov, telling him they’re not as subtle as they think and he knows they’ve been getting together. When he leaves, Rostov points out that things are dangerous and she needs to be careful around the new minister. Anna though nonchalantly shrugs it off, claiming that things have always been dangerous for her.

Rostov’s concerns materialize that night when Rostov returns. He points out that the farmers have been kicked off their land and the crops are failing – all across the country. He’s seen starvation first-hand and knows that the hotel storeroom, with its lavish collection of food, is just a front for the empty husk of Russia. Mishka is distraught, given his dream of a better Russia has gone up in flames. Even worse, he’s publicly criticized Stalin so his days may well be numbered.

Rostov meanwhile, fears for what this means with Nina. His fear spills over to dangerous territory that night. When Osip shows up with his family for his daughter’s birthday celebration, Rostov hovers around the table and makes a slight scene. It’s rather awkward, but Osip does confront the man in his room later that night. Osip is not happy with Rostov but after some hasty apologies, things do simmer slightly.

When Osip composes himself, he explains what’s happening here. Now, they suspect that Belsky is plotting to overthrow Stalin, and he wants Nachevko’s (the Culture Minister) help in doing so.

They’re powerful men so this is why Osip needs Rostov. He demands that he give him something he can use by the following evening. If not? Well, Mishka is going to be in the firing line. This trade-off – Mishka’s life in exchange for two powerful men – is something that the former actually overhears. Mishka is in the other room and he speaks to Rostov in confidence after. He tells his friend not to debase himself to protect those he loves, and never to drop his honour.

Speaking of honour, Rostov’s is tested that night when Anna ends up celebrating the start of her new film, which has been greenlit for production. However, he’s to send over a coupe of bottles of champagne to the general’s room… which doesn’t sit well with our Count. However, as we later find out, it’s actually because Nachevko and Belsky are in a relationship together.

Seeing this lavish display of food and drink, is too much for Mishka. He speaks up on behalf of Russia and the common folk. Specifically, the values Russia shares. When he’s escorted out the hotel, Alexander speaks to Osip up on the balcony. When Rostov refuses to dishonour Mishka, Osip walks away. However, not before mentioning how Mishka made a scene in the hotel and was taken away, leaving Rostov rattled.

Osip though, soon learns of the relationship between Nachevko and Belsky, and the latter is taken away by armed guards.

We then jump to 1938. Rostov is still working in the hotel, and his life is largely the same… until fate flings one person in the hotel lobby that changes his life completely. And that person? Nina’s daughter, Sophia. You see, Nina is married and her husband Leon has been taken away for 5 years manual labour. She’s going to try and help Leon and in the process, Rostov gets the unenviable task of looking after Nina’s daughter. Nina regrets leaving the hotel and gives her old friend a massive hug, thanking him for everything before leaving.

The Episode Review

So it’s fair to say this is probably the last we’re seeing of Nina right? Her ordeal is a horrible one but it’s also foolhardy too and it’s hard to see exactly how she’s going to come back from this. And the same can be said for Mishka too, who’s still part of the old guard and his views are almost certainly going to get him in deep trouble.

However, there’s enough to whet the appetite here and the one part of Gentleman in Moscow that actually works quite well is seeing how the hotel has changed over time. This in particular is really interesting, especially as the politics and ideals differ while Rostov remains steadfast in his endeavours.

The ending though certainly leaves the door wide open for where this one may go next.

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