The latest episode of The Romanoffs, “Expectation”, sees Julia Wells suddenly being forced to reconcile all of the lies that’s she told. As her daughter, Ella, gets close to making her a grandmother, history begins to resurface.
This recap of The Romanoffs Episode 4, “Expectation”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
For some reason, I just couldn’t get on board with The Romanoffs this week. I really, really want to like – I promise that I do. I go into each episode thinking that maybe this time it will treat me right and not hurt me anymore but then afterwards I’m left feeling disappointed all over again. Perhaps I am just going in expecting too much, but given the creator Matthew Weiner’s pedigree, I don’t think I’m being too unreasonable?
There are definitely some positives to this week’s episode in that, as always, it is beautifully staged and there are some fine performances on display. There’s no doubt that the notional leads, Julia and Daniel are doing a fine job, but despite the good work being put in by Amanda Peet and John Slattery I really struggled to engage with the characters and the story.
The story is essentially about Julia coming to terms with various aspects of her life as she begins the final countdown to becoming a grandmother. Amanda Peet does do a really good job of selling the apprehension and uncertainty that such a significant life event brings about. The story itself plays fast and loose with time, dropping us into flashbacks without too much warning, but I thought it was actually quite effective.
“Expectation” plays out over the course of a single day for Julia, albeit with the flashbacks added in here and there. I quite liked that because everything plays out over the course of a day it gives things quite an intense and focused feel. The fact that whenever we see Julia she is always moving forward, always on to the next objective and seemingly unable to just sit still, gives things a dynamic, almost pressured feel at times.
The problem I had, that I’ve alluded to earlier, was that I just didn’t really care for any of the characters. I really like John Slattery as an actor; he’s one of the standouts in Mad Men, a show which is already packed full of standout performances. I just didn’t like his character at all here, something didn’t feel quite right. I can’t put my finger on whether that was the meta-ness of his character being someone who has written a book on the Romanovs, which is about to made into a TV series, or whether it was just because he seemed to lack any real depth.
There are definitely things that I liked about the episode and I still hold out hope that I am eventually going to see the episode of The Romanoffs that really works for me – I just don’t think “Expectation” was that episode. There was a point this week when Julia says “I’m so tired of this Romanov ****,” and that was a perfectly placed moment because it summed up exactly how I felt at the time.
Still. There’s always next week. I’m sure it’ll be better next time.
Oli has been writing for Ready Steady Cut since November 2017. He has a PhD in Computer Science and he writes articles about TV, film and, very occasionally, science.