A&E, Lifetime, and the History Channel are currently airing the BBC’s 2016 adaptation of War and Peace. There’s some good … but there’s also some bad and some very, very ugly. We’ll be recapping each of the four parts (six episodes if you’re in the UK), focusing on the costumes, praising what needs to be praised and snarking where it’s required. Today it’s part three (US), but essentially the second half of episode 4 and first half of episode 5 (UK).
Nikolai heads back to the war, leaving everyone bleak except Natasha.
Natasha hasn’t seen Andrei in FOREVER. She gets a letter from him, saying that he has to stay in Switerland longer because his war wound has reopened. Instead of thinking, “Yeah, that doesn’t sound good, he should get better,” she basically goes all Lydia Bennet:
The Bolkonskys have come to town (Moscow?). Dad is clearly heading into emotionally-abusive-dementia-land, screaming about how he needs to do stuff that wimmin can’t understand, then flirting with Mademoiselle Bourienne and saying, “Oh, I didn’t mean YOU, I meant MARYA. She sucks.” Satisfyingly, Marya tells Mademoiselle Bourienne off — although really, the person she needs to stand up to is her father.
At Prince Bolkonsky’s name day party, Anna Drubetskaya tells Frodo to hit on Marya, because she’s got money. Marya stands around like the abuse victim she is. Frodo is irritated. Prince Bolkonsky is a jerk.
Frodo tells Mom not to worry; he’s got heiress Julie Karagina all figured out. She mysteriously thinks of herself as a tragic figure, so he just goes all “Nobody understands us” and she eats it up. It’s actually pretty hilarious, with him writing her terrible poetry.
Drubetskaya visits the Rostovs. She’s excited to annouce that Frodo and Julie Kuragina are on their way to getting engaged. She suggests Natasha and Dad go visit Marya, to get to know Andrei’s family.
Natasha, having just come back from Berkeley c. 1995, is down. For once, Sonja is dressed better in a rust print dress.
Natasha and Dad head to the Bolkonskys:
Natasha is wearing a dress with yet another badly-thought-out, flopping-over collar. Mademoiselle Bourienne greets them in a c. 1975 Holly Hobby dress. They hear Prince Bolkonsky throwing a temper tantrum from the other room.
Marya is traumatized by her father, and also by the fact that unlike all of the other too-high-underbust-seam dresses, her dress goes too low under the bust, leaving weird puckers below her nipples.
Prince Bolkonsky comes out and is totally calm. Natasha and Dad are offended and leave.
Meanwhile — Pierre heads home to find BitchWife hanging with Frodo. They’re all, “Dude, can you get Frodo into Freemasonry? It would totally help his career.” Pierre is all, “YOU HAVE TO TAKE THIS SERIOUSLY.” But agrees.
The Rostovs, minus mom who is sick, are off to the opera. Natasha is wearing a satin and crepe dress. I kept hoping she’d have a nip-slip, but no dice.
At the opera … Julie Kuragina is annoyed when Frodo checks out Natasha:
Dolokhov has attached himself to some Persian prince or something and gone full Orientalist:
And just as the singing starts, BitchWife turns into that obnoxious person at the movies who speaks in full ringing tones, asking Dad Rostov if Natasha can come sit with her. She seems to have psychically sensed her Douchebag/brother/lover’s desire to despoil Natasha.
Douchebag slimes in and starts whispering in Natasha’s ear and trying to touch her. Ew.
Natasha is flustered. When they go home, she looks at a miniature of Andrei.
The next day, Natasha is being fitted for a new dress when BitchWife visits her, wearing what could be a plausible outfit if flocked taffeta were ever made in silk and that triangular brooch didn’t make her look like she was on Star Trek.
BitchWife wants Natasha to come “advise her on clothes.” Suuuuure. Natasha agrees.
On her way to a party at BitchWife’s, Natasha looks great in a white fur-trimmed hood:
Taking a page from BitchWife’s playbook, underneath Natasha is wearing a dress taken from your Florida grandmother’s curtains. Douchebag is hot to trot.
But who cares, because WAR AND PEACE BARBIE IS HERE, BITCHES:
Natasha dances with Douchebag, who is all, “I love you.” She’s all, “I’m engaged.” He’s all, “Doesn’t matter.”
She flees him, he chases her into the cloak room, and Natasha being too young to understand the difference between stalking and love, makes out with him.
The next day, Natasha gets a note from Douchebag asking her to run off with him. In yet another plot point that confuses me, she doesn’t see any problem with this. WHY??? Natasha is wearing a floral print dress that looks fine from a distance:
But close up (look at the bottom left) is clearly a 1930s-esque Liberty of London print.
Douchebag goes to Dolokhov, says “I’m in LURVE you have to help me elope with her!” Dolokhov is all, “Uh you’re married to that chick in Poland, but okay!” Because Dolkhov is nothing if not Team Douchebag.
Sonja stumbles across Douchebag’s note while wearing a “the poor didn’t want this” dress from The Sound of Music. She rightly tries to point out to Natasha that 1) she’s engaged, 2) she’s in love with Andrei, and 3) if Douchebag was even the slightest bit reputable, he’d ask her parents for her hand. DUH NATASHA. Natasha is petulant, and threatens to never speak to Sonja if she tells.
Marya turns up to apologize for the cold reception Natasha received at her house. Natasha basically says “Imma stop you right there — tell your brother I’m sorry, but I can’t marry him.” Marya is flabbergasted.
Douchebag turns up to run off with Natasha, but Sonja clearly did the right thing and told, so instead he is greeted by a couple of servants who, satisfyingly, beat him up.
Natasha is locked in her room, screaming and crying. Because everyone’s a big meanie because they don’t want you to run off with some loser who can’t even meet your parents? I SO DON’T GET NATASHA’S LOGIC HERE. I mean, his sister is married to Pierre, so it’s not like he’s some nobody!
Mom Rostov is basically all:
Pierre has heard about Douchebag and Natasha. He heads home, grabs Douchebag off of BitchWife, and threatens to beat him up if he ever so much as looks at Natasha again. Douchebag cowers, and it is again satisfying.
The next day, Pierre goes to visit Natasha, who is all, “NOBODY IN THIS FAMILY UNDERSTANDS ME.” He’s all, “Uh, Douchebag is MARRIED.” She initially disbelieves — RIGHT NATASHA. BECAUSE THIS WHOLE RUNNING AWAY IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT THING SEEMED TOTALLY REPUTABLE.
And Andrei arrives in Moscow, eager to see his fiancee.
Natasha has a sad.
Andrei has a sad. He tells Pierre to tell Natasha not to worry, she was always free to shack up with a douchebag, and asks Pierre to return her letters and portrait. He never wants to speak of her again.
Pierre goes to see Natasha and comfort her.
Natasha has a REAL sad! Doctors are called! Leeches are applied!
Mom and Dad Rostov wonder when they’re going to get their manic pixie dream girl, aka Happy Natasha, back.
joins the proletariat heads to church to have a sad.
Apparently the costume designer was inspired, for this ensemble, by an 1840s Orientalist painting of a Persian woman. Just hang out with that idea for a while.
Nappy is heading back into Russian territory! Tsar Alexander the Hot is DISPLEASED. He selects Frodo to take Nappy a message saying “GTFO of Russia!”
Frodo visits Nappy. Somewhere, we can feel Frodo’s mom being all “YASSSSSSSS!!!”
Nappy’s not going nowhere.
Back in Moscow, the Rostovs are worried about Nappy’s invasion of Russia. Petya REALLY wants to join the army, and promises to run away if his parents won’t let him. Please, do. Let me help you pack. Sonja is wearing a nicely cut dress for once.
Andrei heads home to visit the fam, before heading off to battle. He wants to warn them that they need to get out of Dodge and into Moscow.
Mademoiselle Bourienne welcomes Andrei, which irritates him because she’s a grasper. He shuts her down.
Marya apparently has one overdress to ever wear. It continues to ride below her bustline, giving her weird poochy-bust.
At dinner, Mlle. Bourienne is super flirty with Dad Bolkonsky, while Dad B. continues to be an ASSHOLE to poor Marya.
After dinner, Andrei tells off dad about being such a jerk to Marya. Dad basically tells him to F off. Andrei reads a story to his son, and thinks about his sad.
The next day, Andrei heads off to war with a giant rift between him and his dad. Marya wears the same exact outfit.
We get a great close-up of Mlle. Bourienne’s 1960s floral print dress.
Back in Moscow, Pierre is visiting Natasha to try to cheer her up. They have a heart to heart, where she basically is all “I’m a worm!” and he’s all “You’re fabulous! If I weren’t married…”
Natasha wears a nice! black silk taffeta dress, because she HAS A SAD.
Back at the Bolkonskys, Nappy is super close and Marya wants to evacuate, but Dad is certifiable and refuses to leave. She sends their servant into town to find out what’s up.
Servant runs into Andrei, who says, “What the hell? Get out!!”
Dad Bolkonsky is in serious dementia land. He gets geared up in his military uniform — apparently he used to be in the army — and heads off to fight the French on his own. He gets on his horse and then promptly falls off — probably had a stroke. Everyone is upset, except me, who is relieved.
Andrei takes a detour by the family ranch, where he sees some peasant girls picking fruit and frolicking. He clearly is all “Tomorrow I die.”
He heads back to his regiment, where the soldiers have found a lake/river/pond and there are DANGLY BITS. Sadly, not on anyone you’d be excited to see, so I’m keeping it to just butts:
Dad Bolkonsky dies, after muttering to Marya that he loves her. She has a beautifully acted moment on the porch of being happy (to be reconciled/loved) and sad (to have lost her father). I am just happy for her.
Dad is laid out for burial. Marya manages to find a new dress for mourning.
Mademoiselle Bourienne is all, “Yay French! We don’t need to evacuate, I’m sure they’ll be SUPER nice to us!” Marya is offended.
The peasants are being difficult about giving horses to Marya & Co. They claim there are no horses, but Marya takes it as them being rebellious. Soldiers are spotted, so the servants go off to explain that Marya & Co. need help.
It’s Nikolai! He’s pumped that he gets to be chivalrous. He meets Marya and they are clearly Into Each Other, in a respectful sort of way. Nikolai and the soldiers escort Marya & Co. to safety.
Back in St. Petersburg, Bridesmaid-in-Waiting and the rest of society are stressed about Nappy’s invasion of Russia. B-i-W is worried about being guillotined.
Helene is pregnant by her new (to us) lover. She tries to talk her lover into marrying her, essentially implying that she’s never shagged Pierre. Her lover is all “Sure!” but looks super doubtful.
Pierre is stressed, and thinking about Going to See the War. Random family member who was going to disinherit him is really mean about it.
The Rostovs get a letter from Nikolai, saying he’s fine and that he met and helped Marya. Sonja JUST KNOWS something is up.
Nikolai and his army friend attend a party in whatever small town they’ve taken Marya too. All the ladies are hot to trot.
Nikolai has clearly grown up, because he ignores all the lay-deez in favor of discussing Marya with some rando with weird gold trim along her neckline. She offers to fix him up, he sighs, “If only it were that easy…”
The next day, Nikolai pays his respects to Marya, who is very Full Mourning. They continue to have a (adult, respectful) connection.
Andrei heads up to the war. It’s TIME for the big battle (of Borodino) with Nappy and the French.
Pierre decides to Go See the War. He shows up dressed super dorkily in a floppy hat and huge cape. He’s bumbling and in the way. He runs into Dolokhov, who offers an apology. And finds Andrei, who is annoyed that he has to take care of Pierre when he’s going to be busy dying tomorrow.
Are there any other Barbies that we need to put into that War & Peace Barbie equation? Did YOU let the cat wrap the Christmas presents?