Poignant and powerful, “The House of Special Purpose” sees The Last Czars bowing out on its strongest note yet.
This The Last Czars Episode 6 Netflix recap for the episode titled “The House of Special Purpose” contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
We begin where we will eventually end: With the woman who claims to be Anastasia, the last surviving member of the Romanov dynasty. The family who cared for her have some new information. It will determine the truth of whether she is who she claims to be. At this point, though, we know the answer. And it would scarcely matter even if we didn’t.
The Last Czars Episode 6 picks up a year after the revolution, with the Romanov children being sent by the Bolsheviks to rejoin their parents. They’re all put up in a fortifiable mansion ominously dubbed “The House of Special Purpose”. And it has a special purpose indeed.
Its present purpose is as a prison. The Bolsheviks control Russia but are losing public support, resulting in a civil war and foreign intervention. The prospect of the Romanovs being rescued is not altogether unlikely. In that event, Lenin has authorized their murder. The Bolshevik guards get drunk and harass the family, while missives start being sent and received that indicate there are still loyalists who would help them escape. Tragically, these letters are being written by the Bolsheviks in order to trick the Romanovs into attempting an escape, for which they can be killed.
The young guards become more interested in the Romanov daughters; when one is caught with Maria, he’s promptly executed. As their potential rescue becomes more realistic, Yarovsky tightens security at “The House of Special Purpose”.
One of the best sequences in The Last Czars Episode 6 is a conversation between Nicholas and Yarovsky, in which Yarovsky explains that they met many years ago when he was just a child. “I was just one of the ants you were waving at.” Nicholas still insists that everything he did, he did for his country. “But what did you do for the people?” asks Yarovsky. “Russia is its people. Or did you never realize it?”
Suddenly the Romanovs need to be moved “for their own safety”. Putting on vests secretly lined with jewels, in preparation for their escape, they are led by Yarovsky to a cellar, where they are coldly sentenced to death and executed. It’s a remarkably tragic scene. The looks of hope on their faces just before their sentence is pronounced; the fact that the jewels in their clothes make killing them a long, messy, arduous process.
When we return to Pierre Gilliard, we learn that the girl claiming to be Anastasia is an imposter. Nobody survived the massacre in the cellar.
“The House of Special Purpose” ends with a summary of events that occurred after the murder of the Imperial family. Some of the Romanovs were able to escape. Pierre Gilliard visited the House of Special Purpose to help in the search for the bodies. The Bolsheviks announced the murder of Nicholas II, but not his family, though modern DNA testing on exhumed remains proved beyond a reasonable doubt that they had all been murdered together and that the bodies belonged to the family. In 1998, President Yeltsin presided over the reburial of the Imperial family. Two bodies were missing. Those were discovered in 2007, in a second, smaller grave; the remains are still pending further DNA testing.
The woman who claimed to be Anastasia was Anna Anderson, a Polish factory worker. The DNA testing that confirmed the Romanov’s remains also confirmed she wasn’t remotely related to any of them. Nonetheless, she insisted she was Anastasia for decades.
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.