Previously on War and Peace: Pierre joined the Freemasons and tried to improve his life and Andrei fell in love with Natasha.
Natasha whines to her mother about Andrei not having visited for three weeks. She’s just sooooo in loooooove. Her mother tries to reassure her, then tells her that if it’s meant to happen, it’ll happen.
Andrei brings up the potential marriage with his father, who has all sorts of reasons why it wouldn’t be a good idea. But, since Andrei’s in love with her, Bolkonsky only asks that his son go abroad for a year and experience a little more of life, then come back and marry her, if that’s what he really wants.
Natasha pouts and sulks, but then Andrei comes for a visit and she brightens right up. He requests a word in private with Natasha and of course Natasha’s mother readily agrees.
Once they’re alone, he tells Natasha that he loves her, and he hopes she loves him too (she reassures him she does). He then tells her about having to travel for the next year, which naturally disappoints her. He says he’ll consider himself bound, but she shouldn’t do the same, in case she changes her mind, and their engagement will remain a secret. She promises to wait.
Natasha and her family and Pierre wave Andrei off. Natasha tries to look cheerful for his sake, but noticeably sags as soon as he’s gone.
Hunt scene! Drink! Because this is Russia, they’re out hunting wolves. Is this just trophy hunting? Because I’m pretty sure you don’t eat wolf. And if it’s just trophy hunting, then screw all these people. Natasha wanders off while the dogs try to regain the trail, and she spots the wolf and seems transfixed. Foreshadowing!
Later, once they’ve gotten their wolf and are heading home, Niki compliments his sister on her riding, then asks what the deal is with this secret engagement. He thinks it indicates Andrei looks down on their family but Natasha insists that’s not the case. She cuts the conversation short.
It’s now winter 1810, six months on. Andrei’s mother, Natalya, tells her son that they’re in serious financial straits, mostly thanks to him. She urges him to find an heiress to marry, even suggesting one: Julie Karagina. Niki’s not interested. His mother begs him to at least consider it, because their situation’s desperate. He sulkily says he’ll think about it. Ilya urges his wife to cheer up, because Christmas is coming! Just what she needs, to be reminded of further expenses.
The family goes to visit a relative, Mikail, who lives in what appears to be a large cabin with his girlfriend and a whole bunch of other people. It’s quite a contrast to the opulence of the other characters’ homes. Mikail welcomes them all and the girlfriend, Anisya, brings food. That night, there’s music and Natasha starts getting really into it, swaying with her eyes closed, then getting up and starting to whirl like a little dervish. Her younger brother wonders how she knows what to do and someone tells him it’s in the blood.
Later, almost everyone’s asleep. Anisya tells stories to the few who are awake. She also mentions that if you go out to the barn it’ll tell your fortune: you hear knocking, that’s bad, grain pouring is good. Sonya offers to go find out. Niki follows her there and they make out for a bit.
On the way home, Niki, Natasha and Sonya admire a comet that’s visible in the sky and Niki wishes that things could just stay the same for all of them, forever.
Before he returns to his regiment, he gathers his courage and tells his parents that he’s in love with Sonya and wants to marry her. Natalya kind of loses her mind and refuses to bless this match, then starts dumping on Sonya, calling her an intriguer. Niki sticks up for Sonya, who bursts into tears, and Natalya rushes out of the room. Natasha offers to go after her mother, promising everyone she’ll make this all right.
Natalya sobs and calls Sonya ungrateful. Natasha tells her mother that none of this is Sonya’s fault. Natalya wails about how Niki will hate her now. Natasha says he doesn’t at all, and if Niki goes back to his regiment, maybe his passion will cool.
Niki gets ready to leave, kissing his mother and sister and embracing Sonya for a long time. He then hugs his father and departs.
The Bolkonsky family goes to Moscow, which is a rarity. Bolkonsky, for no apparent reason other than the fact that he’s a jerk, starts bellowing about how stupid women are. He then apologises to Bourienne, telling her he really meant to call his daughter (who’s standing right there) stupid, not her. Once he’s gone, Marya yells at the woman for playing on the old man’s weakness and making a fool of everyone.
Natasha and her family return to Moscow as well. How? How can they afford that? Natasha wonders if Andrei will be there, but when she arrives she finds a letter from him saying his wound’s acting up, so he won’t be able to travel for a while. She starts crying and throws a tantrum, saying she wants to see him now and will forget what he looks like soon.
It’s Bolkonsky’s name day party, and most of Moscow society has been invited. Boris and his mother, Anna, are there so she can throw him at Marya. He’s not interested, but he knows he needs to marry a fortune, so he obeys and goes to speak with her. She’s incredibly awkward, which isn’t exactly surprising, and doesn’t respond much to his polite inquiries. He looks rather helplessly at his mother.
Over dinner, Bolkonsky talks about Bonaparte and predicts war will start again. Pierre goes to sit with Marya and asks how she liked Boris. She says she sometimes thinks she’d marry just about anyone in order to escape. Except Anatole, apparently. She asks Pierre what Natasha’s like. He says there’s no one like her, and that she’s enchanting. Marya seems pleased to hear that.
Boris tells his mother that he tried his best, but Marya wasn’t biting. He suggests Julie, because he’s already made some inroads there, but wonders if he could really bear to be married to her.
He goes to visit her and plays her perfectly. So perfectly that, when Anna visits Natasha’s family, she can report their engagement. Anna asks after Andrei and Natasha starts to fib that he’s coming home soon. Anna goes on to say that Bolkonsky’s a difficult man, but Marya seems sweet and pliable. She suggests Natasha and Ilya go call on them, which they probably should have done already. Ilya’s not exactly enthusiastic, but he agrees.
So, off they go, all dressed up, and receive a terrible welcome. They’re left loitering in a grand room and can hear Bolkonsky yelling angrily about how he doesn’t want them there. Natasha and Ilya turn to leave, but Bourienne appears, introduces herself, and takes them to Marya. Poor Marya’s so incredibly socially awkward that the scene that follows is actually painful to watch. She apologises for Bolkonsky not being available, but then has no idea what to say. Bourienne steps in and starts chattering away about how much she loves Moscow. Marya just stands there, looking like she wants to cry. Natasha doesn’t know what the heck to do.
And then the door opens and Bolkonsky comes in, dressed for bed, and insists he had no idea they were there. He sneers at Natasha as he looks her up and down, then leaves. Ok, then. Ilya determines this is a bad time and gets his daughter out of there. Before they leave, Marya stammers that she’s happy her brother’s happy, but Natasha cuts her off and says this isn’t the time to talk about it.
At home, Natasha sobs to Sonya about how horrible it was and how her future in-laws clearly already hate her.
Pierre finds Boris visiting with Helene. She tells her husband that Boris wants to become a Freemason. Boris insists that’s true, though Pierre seems doubtful. Helene turns the bedroom eyes on Pierre and asks him to help Boris.
That night, Pierre drinks and drinks and thinks of his original Mason friend urging him to purify himself and listen to his conscience.
Boris becomes a Mason.
Natalya’s not well, but she insists Ilya and the girls go to the opera without her. Natasha begs to be allowed to stay home with her mother but Natalya won’t hear of it. Off they all go!
Moscow society’s out in full force. Julie’s nagging Boris, Dolokhov is dressed like he just came from Turkey because, apparently, he did. He greets Anatole down in the dress circle. Helen comes in and takes her place in her box, which is right near Natasha’s family’s. As the opera begins, Anatole eyes Natasha creepily (though she seems charmed by the attention) and Helene asks Ilya to introduce the girls. He obliges and Helene invites Natasha to come sit with her, so she can get to know her better. Natasha obeys, taking a seat beside Helene. Helene invites her over to the house for some girl-talk about clothes and a dress-up party.
The door opens and Anatole slips in. Helene introduces him and he takes the seat to Natasha’s left. He starts flirting with her and she gets flustered. He invites her to a party the next night and (I think) seems to ask her, in French, to give him her virginity. I guess she doesn’t speak French, because she doesn’t respond, other than to look further flustered. His gloved hand begins creeping towards hers, and as he brushes the back of her hand with one finger, she jerks away and the music starts to crescendo.
On the way home, she’s all dreamy and zoned out as her father chats and Sonya has a, ‘what are youthinking about?’ look on her face.
At home, Natasha grabs a miniature portrait of Andrei and stares at it.
The next day, while Natasha’s getting fitted for a dress, Helene shows up and tells her that Anatole’s all goopy about her. Natasha blushes. Helene insists she come to this party. Natasha isn’t sure she should go and makes noises about staying home, but Helene insists Andrei wouldn’t want Natasha to shut herself away. She pouts prettily and begs Natasha to come, just for an hour, to keep her company!
Natasha goes, of course, along with her father. Helene is wearing a truly insane dress that looks like a reject from the Gone with the Wind costume department. An actress recites a French poem about war, which is appropriate. Afterward, Anatole asks Natasha to come dance with him. She demurs, but Helene works on Ilya and he agrees to stay for another half an hour, so Natasha dances with Anatole. He tells her he’s in love with her. She quickly says she’s engaged but he’s not all that concerned about it. She slips away from him and goes to catch her breath in a cloakroom. Helene joins her and comments that she and Anatole make a lovely couple. She disappears so Anatole can start stalking Natasha through the cloakroom, which she finds sexy, because she’s a child. Personally, I think this guy looks and seems creepy as hell. I think it’s those narrow eyes of his. He looks fishy. He grabs Natasha and kisses her, insisting they have to be together, somehow. She whimpers no and leaves. Her father finds her and says they need to leave.
She sits in her room, fidgeting and nervous. A maid comes in with a note from Anatole. In it, he insists he loves her and will die if she won’t love him back.
Anatole brings the matter to Dolokhov, who reminds Anatole he has a secret wife back in Poland, which will make things challenging. Anatole points out that only Dolokhov and Pierre know about the first wife, so he should be golden.
Natasha returns to her room to find Sonya there. Sonya has read Anatole’s letter, because Natasha idiotically left it just lying out in her unlocked room. Well done, Natasha. Natasha insists she’s now in love with Anatole and plans to dump Andrei. She feels like she’d do anything for Anatole and that must mean true love. Sigh. I know she’s a teenager and all, but I still want to just slap her while also telling Andrei that he’s probably made a lucky escape here, because everything he seemed to hate about his first wife—the frivolity, the lack of any useful interests or industry—seem to be pretty strongly present in Natasha. Don’t get me wrong, Natasha seems like a sweet girl, but she’s incredibly frivolous and silly. Maybe it’s the similarities to Lise that draw Andrei to her—he feels like this is his chance to make amends to his late wife—but that’s not a recipe for success in a marriage.
Sonya can’t even wrap her head around all this, and then Natasha outrageously tells Sonya she has no idea what it’s like to be in love. Sonya angrily retorts that she does, in fact, know what it’s like to be in love. At least Sonya doesn’t fall in love the way Disney characters do (hey, you’re good looking and dance well! We love each other now!) Sonya realises this whole situation is all wrong and suspects Anatole just wants to seduce her friend. Natasha doesn’t care—she’ll happily run away and ruin herself. Oh, man, she is an idiot. Sonya threatens to tattle and Natasha warns that if she does that, she and Natasha will be enemies forever. Natasha then childishly tells Sonya that she hates her and goes to write a reply to Anatole.
She’s called away to greet a guest, whom she clearly expects to be Helene. It’s not, it’s Marya, come to apologise for the terrible visit the other day. Marya earnestly asks for forgiveness, which Natasha gives before asking Marya to break her engagement. Oh, for God’s sake, Natasha! What a coward you are! Do your own dirty work! Marya is alarmed but Natasha says that this isn’t because of her, it’s because Natasha’s just changed her mind. Marya staggers out.
Natasha sends Anatole a reply via the maid, who is observed by Sonya.
That night, Dolokhov and Anatole go to collect Natasha, only to be met by a bunch of male servants ready to take him to Natasha’s mother. Anatole manages to flee, along with Dolokhov. Natasha beats the door with her fists and weeps like her heart’s broken.
Natalya sobs to Ilya that their daughter is ruined. Ilya doesn’t get it, because nothing happened, but his wife points out there’s no way to keep this sort of thing quiet. He expresses pity for his daughter, but his wife is out of sympathy and snaps that Natasha brought this on herself. Well, yes, she did. But then, you two were pretty lax in the parenting department. In fact, you kind of seem to suck there all around, neither of your older two children have turned out to be great exemplars of much of anything.
Word has, indeed, gotten out, and Pierre goes to the sitting room and roughly drags his horrible brother-in-law out of there, demanding to know what Anatole’s intentions were as far as Natasha was concerned. Pierre knows about that Polish wife, so he knows nothing honourable was intended here. Anatole insists he loves her and Pierre calls him a liar and threatens to smash his head in. He demands Anatole hand over Natasha’s letters, cease all contact with her, and get the hell out of Moscow and never come back, or Pierre will kill him. I believe it, too. And so does Anatole. He looks terrified.
Pierre goes to Natasha and tells her Anatole is gone. She accuses Pierre of engineering that and says she’ll go to Anatole wherever he is. Pierre tells her about the wife in Poland. Natasha refuses to believe it, but Pierre has no reason to lie about that, and she knows it. She bursts into tears. That’s right, Natasha, you just threw over Andrei for a complete asshole. Pierre comforts her as she cries.
Poor Andrei voiceovers a letter to Natasha. He’s coming home! Oh dear.