THE ROMANOFFS EPISODE 7 – END OF THE LINE.
This latest and penultimate installment of THE ROMANOFFS finally finds itself in the location from where the original dynasts were from. Set in Vladivostok, Russia, END OF THE LINE is a complex, layered, indirectly frightening and crucially realistic approximation of life, akin to the masterful tone of short stories the nation is quintessentially regarded for. Trust me, it’s shot in such an evocative way that the claustrophobia and chill of this dimly lit provenance captures us. The central conflict that emerges in this tale further creates a simmering tension amidst that cold, cold world the protagonists find themselves in.
It takes a while for us to figure out the reason behind this L. A based couple’s passage to this other place where they know nobody. Is it to investigate the lady ANKA’S ( Kathryn Hahn) original Russian / ROMANOFF ancestry, as we suppose? But Matthew Weiner’s direction spins a web of cultural isolation, bemusement and mystery till the point we realize that her ancestry is an afterthought and the parental figures that the couple is revealed to be have to contend with truths as stark as this snow capped small town. The heft of the issue takes off to an engrossing tangent from there and the very idea of child rearing melds with deep undercurrents for them ( and us) .
It’s a ringside view of belonging, identity and personal stakes as adoption comes with the paraphernalia of uncertain means and a society willing to abandon infants ; it illustrates the kind of selective criteria of giving a baby a new life in the first world / in a stable environment we will usually prefer to dust under the carpet, stringing it with individual ideologies of man and wife. END OF THE LINE hypnotises us and the resolution is as heartbreaking as the journey to the heart of the tale is unpredictable. We feel the twinge of this childless couple and the million other impulses and essential truths it has to wrestle with to find a child to call its own. Only writing of such immersive quality can achieve the inherent gloom it does, optimistic yet harboring guilts. It proves that the politicization of even the foster care system is deep rooted.
Ultimately, concerns tantamount to special needs in children and the subtle pride in one’s ancestry occupy the picture. Scratch the surface and there are subtexts that will be unearthed. HENCE, END OF THE LINE is gripping and the title is inverted by the value of the climactic resolution in which the newly minted parents are inexorably divided by their thoughts. So this new beginning ultimately creates a gulf perhaps or maybe a marital compromise of silences is broached. It’s performed brilliantly by KATHRYN HAHN and JAY R. FERGUSON on all fronts.
** in the next post, I will write about other salient points regarding this episode.
Corruption, apathy and the universality of human dilemmas all hit us in the gut courtesy the multiple themes seamlessly handled here.