What is the other person thinking? Two people, even when close, can react to something in an entirely different manner. That is the main thrust of the seventh episode of The Romanoffs, “End of the Line”. Here, it can be felt even in the opening moments. While experiencing turbulence in the air while traveling to Russia, Anka (Kathryn Hahn) clutches nervously at her seat and her husband Joe (Jay R. Ferguson), while he stays asleep. It’s an easily glossed over moment, but says so much about them as different people.
It’s a long and strange journey, where Anka and Joe are heading, rife with documents, strange payments in cash, checks, and chocolate, and a series of locations leaving them on edge. But the excitement of what it’s all about is too strong, and the need to push forward is too great. “End of the Line” is a lot like a previous episode, “Expectation”, in terms of what it is going for, but boiled down to a single moment in this couple’s life rather than a series of choices made over time. It’s the anticipation and the reality, and where someone’s perspective falls when reality is right there in front of them. The episode holds on Anka and Joe’s faces when faced with their reality, and they try a number of things to make the situation better. But it’s in their slowly shifting expressions, once full of absolute joy and now increasing concern, that “End of the Line” holds a lot of meaning.
Its characters are well-defined and steadfast in their views. Hahn in particular is heart-wrenching in her performance, tired from all which came before and the ache of disappointment hitting her. Ferguson plays off of her so well, and their history can be felt in one scene in particular, arguably the best of the episode, both doing a fantastic job.
The smaller moments of the episode, where Anka enjoys a drink at a bar and becomes curious about a particular profession, and Joe walking on the streets, are great little windows into who they are, and really help reward the larger picture. Annet Mahendru (who was wonderful in both FX’s The Americans and Tyrant) plays a facilitator of sorts, who helps them on their journey. She isn’t given an awful lot to do other than translate or coax the story along, but she is a unique presence with some quirkiness to her character. Clea Duvall appears briefly in the episode, in a warm role when she shares time with Hahn.
“End of the Line”, written by Andre Jacquemetton & Maria Jacquemetton and directed by Matthew Weiner, is successful in doling out its character work and providing a stark and frigid backdrop in which they wander with purpose. Weiner’s direction makes the cold part of every frame, in the dilapidated rooms, the wintry setting, and Anka’s reaction to a particular development. But it’s in the point of view and the history people bring to it where the episode really shines, becoming one of the better episodes of The Romanoffs heading into the finale.
The Romanoffs: “End of the Line” hits Amazon’s Prime Video on November 16th.