‘War and Peace’ Episode 3 review: Andrei is a haunted man

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I wished for more nice Russian songs in War and Peace, and last night’s third episode delivered!

Pierre, thank goodness, decides to take steps toward being a better person, after shooting (but not killing) the very naughty Dolokhov in a duel, and later meeting a freemason and being invited to learn the secret handshake.

Helene continues to be sociopathically self-serving as ever – not only has she taken a handsome new lover, but I’m pretty sure she’s still getting way too snuggly with her brother, gross – but at least Pierre seems to mind less. He’s got schools to build!

War and Peace 3 Pierre Bezukhov (PAUL DANO)

His old friend Andrei, however, is a haunted man. His baby is a precious little toddler now, but he still spends most of his time moping about his nice little cottage, and presumably has been for a few years. It’s by chance that he’s sent on an errand to the delightful and kind-hearted Count Rostov (Adrian Edmondson at his most lovable) and discovers that all he needed after all was to meet the right lady.

The lady in question is little Natasha (Downton Abbey star Lily James): she’s got a wide-eyed youth about her that feels better at home in the early years of secondary school, but apparently is ready to make her introduction to society at one of Gillian Anderson’s big parties.

She’s just sadly turned down a proposal from the lovely Denisov, and here I was all ready to give her tremendous grief for making such a terrible choice. He’s a good dancer with a cute face and those lovely big brown eyes; indeed, I’ll happily add actor Thomas Arnold to my very short list of chaps who look dapper with moustaches. I’d have at least given him due consideration.

War and Peace 3 Captain Denisov (THOMAS ARNOLD),

But then I suppose, with Natasha off the market, there would be no one to raise Andrei’s spirits and give him a new lease on life. I do hope Denisov meets somebody nice, who dances a good mazurka and knows how to make a very good potato soup.

Over the period of a short but effectively-played courtship, Natasha and Andrei have fallen in love. But as this is only the third of six episodes, I can’t hold out hope that their happiness will last straight to the end. That’s surely too easy for somebody as wordsome as Tolstoy. Don’t get your hopes up, shippers.


Aired at 9pm on Sunday 17 January 2016 on BBC One.

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> Read more by Sami Kelsh on her website.