Hmm. So. Despite the time it took me to do the re-watch and write this up, I’m actually a little less annoyed with this episode than with most of the other ones.I still have a shit ton to say though, lol.First Andrei and Pierre scene. The line is actually “I said a fallen women should be forgiven but I did not say that I could forgive her. I cannot.” I think what they were trying to do was illustrate the difference between Pierre and Andrei, but the original line is a pretty strong characterization of Bolkonski. (It’s not the most flattering characterization but at least it’s an interesting/new one. We already know that Pierre is empathetic and understanding and Andrei not so much.) It’s also one more instance to add to the ever-growing pile of “we decided to re-write canon scenes for no apparent reason whatsoever.”
So, we did get Pierre’s “if I were a better man” speech after all :) No comet though. Although, in this adaptation I think it would have been a little superfluous. In canon, this is kind of a turning point for Pierre and his feelings for Natasha. I mean, I’ve always pegged this moment as “yes, Pierre is in love.” He has inklings of it before, but this has always struck me as the moment. But in this adaptation, they’ve been setting it up as Pierre having already been in love with Natasha for a very long time.
Ok, ok, the scene with Boris and Napoleon was ridiculous, but also just too amusing to dislike. Boris’ face when Napoleon pulls his ear was priceless.
They’ve obviously tried their hardest to make Mlle Bourienne as obnoxious as possible in this adaptation. I never got this impression of her in the book. (And I didn’t put this in my earlier episode comments/reviews, but I was unhappy about the fact that they did not show Maria and Mlle. Bourenne making up after the whole incident with Anatole, because she was genuinely upset and regretting what had happened and through Maria’s POV we see that they did have a more-or-less genuine friendship, differences in temperament and privilege not withstanding.) And, honestly, that girl has to survive in that house somehow as well. She can’t just leave, either. She doesn’t really have anywhere to go.
(Aside: seriously, though. Who tells Bluebeard as a bedtime story to their six-year-old? Lol.)
Some very good acting from Jessie Buckley this episode, IMO.
Oh, little Ilyin! I do love the cameos they work in, I’ll give them that.
Ok. I’m annoyed at how they’re doing Helene’s thing. It’s just so…it’s out of character, it doesn’t make sense. Like, why would Helene be trying to convince this guy to marry her? Why would she even want to re-marry. In canon, she kind of got caught between two (very, very powerful, btw) lovers, but she was also handling juggling them quite well. Yes, she was trying to get a divorce. But I doubt her goal was to remarry. And even if she was considering it, I think it makes sense to at set up the play she’s making: a practical one, of course. Here, it’s completely illogical why she wants to marry this guy. In fact, here it would be far more practical for her to stay put until after the baby is born. Socially (and legally), since she’s married, the baby would be considered Pierre’s and there would be nothing strange or scandalous about her having a child. Even if there was gossip about who the father is, the only way it would be a scandal is if Pierre refused to recognize the kid. And, knowing Pierre, there’s no way he would inflict that sort of hardship on an innocent child. So the whole thing comes off as completely dumb and even reckless (getting a divorce was not just hard but socially touchy and risky). That’s really not Helene at all.
I see they’re trying to give Nikolai/Maria some actual set up so it doesn’t quite look so out-of-nowhere and like a purely for-profit marriage. Because it really did feel that way in canon. (I’m a tiny bit biased because they’re a NOTP of mine. Well, I suppose I can’t quite fault the adaptation for trying to give them some buildup, especially if you take Tolstoy’s intentions at face value that this relationship was genuine. *shrug* Plenty of people have read it that way, so, I guess.)
Dolokhov and Pierre. See, here’s the thing. In canon, even with Dolokhov’s nuanced characterization, this scene comes almost out of left field. On first read it feels so ridiculously OOC. But then you start thinking about it. You think about who Dolokhov is, what he values. You realize that not only is he thematically and contextually the closest from all the noblemen (read: officers) to the soldiers – the ones who are supposed be the backbone of the Russian army and win the battle on the strength of their soul and self-sacrifice, as Andrei will tell Pierre later – but it also jives with how he acts later on during the French retreat. You realize that he’s pretty much getting ready to die. And of course book!Dolokhov would do this. Proudly, yes, but not too coldly either. It’s not so much regret as an act of honor, a settling of affairs. For the characterization that BBC has chosen this is OOC in a way that feels almost irreconcilable with what we’ve seen so far. (And Dolokhov isn’t a militia man here, he’s an officer.) And even if we say that, well, this is one of his “exceptions” – his mother and sister, “you feel things very deeply don’t you?”/”some things” – it falls flat. They’re trying to deepen characterization with off-hand Pet the Dog moments and it falls flat.
I see what they did there with the Pierre and Andrei’s conversation. They made the bit where Andrei thinks of Natasha and is all like “ahh yes that was nice, I really liked her” into dialogue. Instead of having the conversation about war. (You know, the one where he’s all like “taking prisoners is lame. Just kill them all, we’re at war after all.” And the rampant anti-German xenophobia. Although, I can’t really blame Andrei too much for that. He was far from the only one exhibiting this particular attitude.) But yea, I mean…it’s a logical way to bring out inner monologues in adaptations, but the thing is…this Andrei is already way too emotive and this just adds to that problem.
(Aside: apparently the BBC tried to make him into a “Russian Darcy.” LOL OMG. What. No. Bolkonski is Stannis Baratheon far more than Mr. Darcy.)
TBH, I think Borodino was well done all things considered. They didn’t do overwhelmingly stunning panoramic shots, but I get the feeling that that’s just a budget thing. Maybe I just hate watching graphic violence in general, but I thought the time allotted for the battle was alright. I’m not sure how much value there would have been in drawing it out even more.
Medtent scene. For some reason the holding hands thing annoys me. 2007 did it too and I guess it’s a decent visual representation of “human connection” and I’m not sure what else could get this moment across without voiceovers, so I’m willing to let it go. What bugs me a lot more was why was it necessary for Anatole to have dialogue in this scene? It’s totally stupid and useless dialoged as well. (I won’t say OOC, but…it just…if Andrei and Anatole had had any interaction post-Natasha and before this, I could see it maybe working. Maybe. But the way it is…)