War & Peace Episode 2 Recap: I Think I Want To Marry You

Photo: BBC/Laurie Sparham.
Here's a fun drinking game: Take a shot every time someone proposes marriage in this episode. Seriously, there must be something in the vodka.

Pierre, for one, is probably wishing he'd proposed marriage instead of a duel with Dolokhov. He refuses to apologize as he and his former friend face off in a snowy field, despite being so unprepared that he'd probably pull a Nikolai and throw his gun at Dolokhov if Denisof didn't take pity on him and teach him how to pull a trigger. Lo and behold, it works. Helene's lover is shot, menacingly chews on some snow on the way down, and tries in vain get a bullet in Pierre. Pierre 1, Dolokhov 0.

The victor immediately storms off home, where he finds Helene and her brother all over each other, per usual. News of the duel has reached Helene, and she reproaches Pierre for believing false gossip about her love life. If anything, she's the injured party. Pierre unsurprisingly loses his shit and demands a separation, which Helene finally agrees to after he shoves some furniture around and threatens to kill her.

En route to St. Petersburg, Russia, Pierre stops in at an inn and meets a Freemason, who is eager to recruit. Despite not believing in God, Pierre's an easy target. "I hate myself," he tells the mason, who responds, "Good. You have taken the first step." Hmmm.

Soon enough, Pierre is treated to a Freemason ceremony in which he asks for renewal. There's no makeover montage, but the resulting footage of the new and improved Pierre, suggesting improvements for his estates and patting children on the head, might as well be one.

Meanwhile, Lise Bolkonsky is going into labor. A carriage pulls up, but it's not the doctor: It's Andrei, who didn't die in Austerlitz after all. He makes it inside just in time for the birth of his baby son. Lise, however, has died during childbirth.

A wounded Dolokhov (yes, he survived the duel) is now staying with the Rostovs, despite their financial struggle. Natasha, who is totally Team Pierre, is quick to think that the soldier is very flirty with Sonya, and warns Nikolai that his friend isn't to be trusted. He shrugs it off, and then narrowly avoids being turned into courgetti by Dolokhov during a playful sword fight. Turns out, Natasha was right: Dolokhov wastes no time proposing to Sonya. When she refuses, on the grounds that she loves Nikolai, he storms off. A dumbfounded Nikolai seeks out his spurned friend, who is now holding court over a card game. Nikolai, of course, plays right into his hand, and leaves the game with a debt of 43,000 rubles. He can do nothing but ask his father for the money, even though it means the family loses their Moscow home.

That's not the only bad news for Natasha. She also has to sit through an awkward proposal from Denisof. Despite his killer dance skills and monster 'stache, it's a no.

Over in St. Petersburg, Helene has set her sights on Boris, who is now a diplomat with the Prussian high command. Let the sexing commence.

Denisof and a disgraced Nikolai rejoin the regiment, eager to kill Frenchmen. There's just one hitch: The tsar has ratified a peace treaty with France. Napoleon is now an ally.

Photo: BBC/Laurie Sparham.
Not much seems to happen for a while, because it's now the spring of 1809. A still enlightened Pierre pays a visit to Andrei's country home. The two friends couldn't have more different attitudes toward life. Pierre is idealistic and a bit smug, when he goes on and on about living for others. Andrei, meanwhile, is full of remorse for Lise, disillusioned with the army, and "staring into the abyss."

That's about to change. Andrei heads to the Rostov's country home on the pretense of consulting the count about militia business. On the way, he catches a glimpse of a very sunny Natasha. Cupid strikes, and the pair's dance at the tsar's ball is straight out of Disney fairy tale. Cinderella has found her Prince Charming.

Pierre, alas, is back with the Wicked Witch. His Freemason friend encourages him to forgive his wife, after Pierre confesses that he's still unhappy. He reconciles with Helene, but that's not stopping her from sleeping with a smitten Boris or flirting with the tsar.

The melancholy look on Pierre's face, when Andrei confesses his love for Natasha, suggests that he's secretly in love with the girl himself. Still, he encourages Andrei to propose. Prince Nikolai, however, demands that his son wait a year before marrying. Natasha reluctantly agrees, and the lovebirds settle on a secret engagement, just before Andrei heads off to Switzerland. Anyone else have a bad feeling about this?

There's another Rostov love match in the works, but it's not the one Countess Rostov had planned on. She wants Nikolai to marry an heiress to help right the family's precarious financial situation. After hooking up with Sonya in a barn, he announces his plans to wed her. The countess gets ugly, accusing Sonya of being an interloper. She and Nikolai barely make up before he once again heads off to join the regiment, leaving Sonya with a somewhat stricken look on her face.

Will Pierre ever be happy? Will any of these couples actually marry? Will you spend the rest of the night trying to reenact Natasha's badass Russian dance?


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