Ewan McGregor’s Life is Getting Quite Tedious in ‘A Gentleman in Moscow’

Ben Blackall / Paramount+
Ben Blackall / Paramount+

We’ve been stuck up with Count Alexander Rostov (Ewan McGregor) at the Metropol Hotel for a decade now on A Gentleman in Moscow—or, in our own time, four episodes—and everything is starting to get quite monotonous. Alexander and Anna (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) are still sneaking around. The Count now has a gig at the hotel restaurant waiting tables. Other than that, it’s all the same old, same old.

Alexander finds little ways to fill his days with a new sense of whimsy. He keeps up with the roof, tends to Abram’s (Dermot Crowley) bees, and also tries to help lead chef Emile (Björn Hlynur Haraldsson) flirt with Marina (Leah Harvey). Meanwhile, security guard Osip (Johnny Harris) has been pestering the Count for new details on Mishka (Fehiniti Balogun), who has been rabble-rousing a little too hard these days. Osip and Alexander describe their budding friendship in Les Mis terms: Like Javert and Jean Valjean, Osip doesn’t like having to follow Alex around–but it’s his life’s purpose.

Most of this week’s episode deals with Mishka’s continued violent resistance against Stalin’s country. He’s upset that Russia’s people—the exact folks he originally fought for—are starving. What was the point of locking up rich people like Alexander if they’re the only 0nes who can eat nowadays?

Later in the episode, Mishka confronts Alexander with a black eye. He’s fresh out of a fight after publicly insulting Stalin for taking away farmers’ lands, and now terrified of what the national security will do to him as a consequence. Mishka blows up at the Metropol guards and is taken away by security. This is likely the last we’ll ever see of Alexander’s dear friend.

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When Alexander asks another member of the staff to help him find Mishka—who was just trying to help the commoners!—the Count is totally rejected. Mishka was wrong to cause a scene, because there is no hunger problem, the worker lies to the Count. They cannot talk about these things without putting themselves in danger. The world outside of the Metropol Hotel is changing, but everything within its many walls must remain the same if its occupants want to stay safe.

Danger still lurks around every corner of the Metropol. Say one thing out of line about communist Russia and you’ll be taken out back and killed—one of the chefs in the kitchen learns the hard way, dead with just two minutes left on his soup. Alexander consistently warns Anna about living this gaudy actress life, especially since the Metropol is a dangerous place, but she doesn’t listen. Anna continues to host hot movie stars, producers, and even army generals to promote her new movies.

So, apart from Mishka’s mysterious departure from the Metropol, nothing new is really happening. Alexander’s relationship with Anna is strained but not over. The chef is now dating Marina. Great. Other than that, is the Count ever going to face some actual conflict in this story?

A photo including Billie Gadsdon as Sofia and Ewan McGregor as Count Rostov in a Gentleman in Moscow on Paramount+

L-R Billie Gadsdon as Sofia and Ewan McGregor as Count Rostov in a Gentleman in Moscow

Ben Blackall / Paramount+

Alexander seems to be wondering that himself when a familiar face pops by the hotel, finally shaking things up: It’s young Nina (Leah Balmforth), who is actually not all that young anymore.

Looking as wind-brushed as Saoirse Ronan in Little Women, Nina stops by the Metropol. She’s been living in Leningrad for five years now, we learn. Alexander asks Nina not to be embarrassed to be friends with him—a wealthier man who enjoys fine wine and a good rack of lamb—but she says she isn’t. She was just surprised to see him. Nina goes on about a man named Leo who she’s met, prompting Alexander to raise his eyebrows. Are they dating?

Nina, still fiery with wit, quips: “What about the actress?” Touché, Nina! The pair agree to end that conversation as soon as it started and head up to the roof, the only part of the Metropol Nina has never seen before. There, she tells Alexander that their friendship never really ended after that big fight, it was just misplaced.

A photo including Ines Pires Tavares as Mila and Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Anna Urbanova in a Gentleman in Moscow on Paramount+

L-R Ines Pires Tavares as Mila and Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Anna Urbanova in a Gentleman in Moscow

Ben Blackall / Paramount+

The two part ways again, but a few years later, Nina is back—and this time, there’s no grin on her face. She and Leo are now husband and wife, but Leo has been arrested and sentenced to five years in prison. She plans on following him. But there’s a big issue: Nina now has a child, Sofia (Beau Gadsdon), who cannot tag along for the ride.

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Nina looks to Alexander, pleading: Is he willing to look after Sofia while she’s gone, maybe even for life? Maybe this little girl can bring some life to the Metropol—and the entire show, too—just like Nina did all those years ago.

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