A Gentleman in Moscow Episode 1 Recap: Is Nikolai Petrov Dead?

Image Credit: Ben Blackall/Paramount+ With Showtime

Based on the novel of the same name by Amor Towles, Showtime’s ‘A Gentleman in Moscow’ unfolds the captivating tale of Count Alexander Rostov and his time within the walls of the Metropol hotel. The story begins at the point when things could go either way for the protagonist. He could be killed, but he is lucky to have been spared and put on house arrest. Soon, however, he realizes that the hotel is a much more dangerous place than he had imagined. He will have to be very cautious about whom to trust and steer clear of. Slowly, he starts to get a sense of the place, but by the end of the episode, the gravity of his situation becomes crystal clear to him due to the sudden death of a beloved friend. SPOILERS AHEAD

A Gentleman in Moscow “A Master of Circumstance” Recap

Image Credit: Ben Blackall/Paramount+ With Showtime

A poem that Count Alexander Rostov wrote before the Bolshevik revolution becomes his saving grace and the reason why he isn’t immediately executed. The Bolshevik tribunal decides that due to his poem becoming an important symbol of the revolution, they will spare Rostov’s life but not his freedom. Because his house was burned down by the revolutionaries, Rostov had been living in the Metropol. The tribunal decides that this is where he will be living for the rest of his life.

It doesn’t sound so bad in the beginning, living in the hotel with his board and meals taken care of. However, as the days fly by, the confinement starts to weigh on the Count, and despite his active efforts not to lose his sanity, things start to become difficult. At this time, a little girl named Nina arrives as a breath of fresh air. She and Rostov become friends soon enough. Like him, she, too, is on a kind of house arrest. Her father is a bureaucrat, and she is not enrolled in a school yet, so she has nowhere else to go. Her mother died a while ago, which means she is under no supervision.

While Rostov tells Nina about the bygone days of princesses and duels fought by noblemen over all sorts of things, which Nina believes mainly has to do with a woman one way or another, she shows him all the nooks and crannies of the hotel. However, the sense of safety that he may have started to feel soon turns sour when something shocking, though not entirely unexpected, considering the circumstances, happens.

A Gentleman in Moscow Episode 1 Ending: Why is Nikolai Petrov Killed?

Image Credit: Ben Blackall/Paramount+ With Showtime

When Alexander Rostov is sentenced to a permanent house arrest in the Metropol, he decides not to be beaten by his circumstance. He decides to keep himself in high spirits, no matter how difficult the situation gets for him. And for the most part, he succeeds at it. Initially, at least. It’s not that Rostov doesn’t think about leaving the hotel. He looks longingly at the front door, watching people come and go as they please, thinking about the time when he was a free man, too. But the reality is different for him now. He knows that he is being watched, and the moment he sets foot outside the door, he will be killed. Still, the wish to escape remains.

Hope arrives in the form of Prince Nikolai Petrov, who is no longer a prince. Being on the higher levels of aristocracy, the fall has been even harder for Nikolai, who is reduced to being a violin player for a group that sometimes comes to the Metropol to perform. Meeting his friend again makes Rostov happy, but he is also saddened by his friend’s situation. Being a prince, it is clear to both Rostov and Nikolai that a sword is hanging over his head, and it could fall any day. It doesn’t take long for their concerns to come true.

Dejected about his new situation, Nikolai comes up with a plan to run away from Russia. Unlike Rostov, he is not confined to the hotel. He used to live in a palace before the revolution, and now he has to make do with keeping himself in the quarters that were previously deemed fit only for the palace’s servants. Working with the band has given Nikolai the freedom to step foot outside his home, which means he has access to contacts that Rostov doesn’t.

While Rostov discourages Nikolai from taking any step that might draw attention to him, Nikolai is too desperate to heed his warning. He cannot live in Russia anymore, and soon enough, he approaches Rostov with a plan. Just hearing about it excites Rostov, and ignoring his own warning, he decides to give Nikolai the money he needs to pay his contacts for secure passage. For a minute, it looks like they just might get their freedom after all. But this illusion shatters soon enough.

Image Credit: Ben Blackall/Paramount+ With Showtime

During his exploration of the hotel, the Count discovers a file with Nikolai’s name on it. It’s clear to him that his friend is being watched closely. He tells Nikolai about it, who realizes that there is nothing that can be done about it anymore. There is no use in running away. The same night, he is taken away and shot in the head right outside the hotel. While a stunned Rostov tries to process the death of his friend, Osip Glebnikov shows up and reveals that they had found out that Nikolai had paid someone to arrange for a passage out of Russia. He was planning to run away, and they couldn’t have that. For whatever reason Nikolai wasn’t killed the first time around, the escape plan is enough to have him killed this time, and he meets his tragic fate.

Glebnikov also mentions that Nikolai was found to have arranged for two tickets. He wonders aloud who the second person is, though Rostov knows that Glebnikov knows it is him. Of course, there is no concrete evidence to connect it to Rostov yet, but Glebnikov slips the info about two tickets to make his message clear: Rostov needs to be extra careful now and watch his back. Things are only going to get more treacherous from here on out. While it is important for him to make friends, it is even more important for him to know who his enemies are. The first episode introduces a character that the Count will need to be extremely wary of.

While most of the staff at the Metropol is courteous of Rostov and his aristocratic lineage, and he is still treated so, despite his situation, some people in the hotel are not very happy about serving him like he is better than them. The Count gets a hint of this from a new attendant at the Metropol who not only refuses to address him according to his title but also seems discourteous and rude. He lingers awkwardly around him, and while at first, it doesn’t seem more than a nuisance to the Count, it turns out that the attendant, named Leplevsky and played by John Heffernan, has more malicious intents. There is a good chance he told Glebnikov about Rostov and Nikolai’s long chats in secret. For some reason, though, Glebnikov decides not to touch Rostov just yet, which only makes things worse for him.

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