A new character is introduced, desperate measures are taken, romance blossoms, and mob violence takes a life in the fourth episode of To the Lake.
This recap of To the Lake season 1, episode 4 contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
To the Lake episode 4 opens with an introduction to Pavel and Uncle Kolya, who’re bickering about the possibility of a cure for the virus; the former insists someone has recovered from it, and the latter is skeptical. Either way, they’re on their way to the hospital in search of medicine, shifting our perspective somewhat after the chaotic cliffhanger ending of the previous episode. Looks like we’ll have to wait to see what happened there.
The hospital is not in good condition. Bodies are strewn everywhere inside, and tied-together bedsheets lead from the windows to broken corpses face-down in the snow, many feet below. A haunting image of desperation that doesn’t go unremarked upon by Uncle Kolya when he and Pavel arrive.
Bookish-looking Pavel is an interesting new figure; not traditionally heroic but seemingly determined enough to enter the hospital alone, although Kolya quickly catches up with him. They find the doctor who promises to help Pavel hanging from the ceiling. A great shot follows the two into a tunnel in search of a storage room, where they’re knocked over in the darkness by people they write off as junkies (really?). They manage to get what they’re looking for and leave.
Back in the truck, Uncle Kolya mentions an Ira for the second time, who he was apparently sleeping with. Pavel isn’t into that kind of thing — women are too complicated for him, which is understandable. Kolya claims to have had 99 sexual partners, just one away from 100; when he hits that milestone he can die in peace, he claims, but any man of his age who counts his sexual partners probably isn’t ever going to be at peace. In all the excitement of their conversation, the two men almost run Anton over.
Ira and Boris are with Anton, and upon learning that Pavel is a doctor they insist he follows them. They take him to examine Sergey, who is feeling better. Nevertheless, he’s advised not to move too much. In the meantime, Ira takes a pretty obvious shine to Pavel, giving him a contact lens (the right lens of his specs is broken). He wants to take a photo of her to remember her by.
In the meantime, Polina quizzes Lyonya about what happened in the house. We get some flashbacks to the awful closer of the previous episode, but no further clarification. Pavel and Kolya part ways with the group — after a brief summary of everyone’s relationships, one assumes more as a reminder for the audience than anything else — eventually, driving on, lured by a pink neon sign for a karaoke cafe called Eden. Inside, a blonde woman is dancing alone. Her name is Natalie. Naturally, dirty old Kolya is thrilled by this development and begins dancing with her.
The rest of the group, meanwhile, are stuck in a ditch, keeping them conveniently sidelined for most of To the Lake episode 4, which is all the better for introducing our new characters. We get some more backstory for Pavel in the karaoke cafe — he promised his son, Petya, that he would bring him medicine. This obviously explains his determination, even if he hasn’t spoken to the boy for two days and he has probably succumbed to the virus by now. It also explains why he’s so reticent to waste time here.
Another subplot that’s beginning to emerge is Anton acting out, and Ira being strict with him perhaps to a fault. She confiscates the Vitamin C tablets that Pavel gave him and insists he’s grounded, much to Sergey’s confusion. The weather is proving a major problem once again, with night and even deeper cold setting in, and only Misha’s doom-and-gloom recitation of plague history to keep them occupied. Even with Polina licking his ear, his enthusiasm for mob uprising can’t be dulled. Somehow, this is still a more uplifting conversation that what’s going on between Ira and Sergey in the other car; the former obviously isn’t opposed to emotionally bullying her own son just to prove a point to Sergey.
Eventually, Boris spots headlights coming over the hill, and everyone arms up just in case. As it turns out, though, it’s a weirdly quiet man with a tow truck, who drags them out of the ditch and gets them moving again. He takes them to shelter and puts them up for the night, and is apparently properly mute. In the night, Polina leads Misha away to the bus in Mr. Mute’s garage, where they have sex that goes badly wrong — Polina has a quick vision of her murder victim and Misha finishes inside her; probably not the most responsible outcome during the downfall of civilization, and she isn’t thrilled about it. Another mouth to feed!
We catch up with Kolya and Pavel the morning after — looks like Kolya can die in peace, thanks to Natalie, who is a bit upset that he’s leaving her. He promises he’ll be back, though, just as soon as Pavel has found what he’s looking for.
The morning doesn’t go particularly well for Anna, either. First, she catches the men stealing gas from Mr. Mute, and then Lyonya reveals — and we get a flashback to confirm it — that it was Anna who took his gun and shot down Igor’s missus. There’s some toing and froing, but then Mr. Mute arrives and catches them in the act, showing his displeasure by spitting on the ground at their feet. You don’t always need words to get your point across.
At a bridge, Pavel and Kolya are ambushed by some locals, who raid their ambulance and start stealing their medicine. The others arrive in the nick of time, just as things become violent. Pavel and Kolya are both beaten, but Kolya comes off much worse, beaten to death in the snow. Ira intervenes and scares the men off with gunfire, dragging Pavel back to the cars with them. Anton, somewhat idiotically, uses the opportunity to flee, and in the commotion, nobody notices he’s missing. He emerges from the treeline alone, shouting after his mother and staring at the empty road. What did he think was going to happen?!
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