Meet the Worst Kid Ever


How many little women is Count Alexander Rostov (Ewan McGregor) going to befriend in A Gentleman in Moscow? Alex’s habit of acquainting himself with little girls—this sounds odd, but he’s the one doing it over and over again—has returned in the fifth episode of the season. This man really needs to get some pals who are his own age.

Alex has taken in Sofia (Billie Gadsdon), the tiny daughter of his old friend Nina (Leah Balmforth). Unlike Nina, who was full of childish whimsy and happiness, Sofia is a bratty thumbsucker. Sofia demands to sleep in the Count’s bed. Sofia only talks when she absolutely must. Sofia has messy hair and a messy life and Alex, somehow, still cares for her deeply. Every time he looks at her, he remembers young Nina. Nina is now somewhere off in Russia trying to find her husband, likely putting herself in danger.

But at least Sofia is safe here with Marina (Leah Harvey) and Alex. Well…maybe. Alex is asked to come into questioning by the hotel manager Halecki (Rob Jarvis) and his right-hand man The Bishop (John Heffernan). While Halecki is keen on siding with Alex, the Bishop—a devoted follower of Stalin—firmly believes Sofia needs to be given away to an adoption agency. Alex has no rights over her, and she needs to get a proper education in the outside world. They table the discussion for later.

On his way back to the room, Alex finds a note tucked away in his jacket’s breast pocket. Sofia is the worst—she’s hidden this little love note from Anna (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), and now, the Count is too late to his appointment in her room! What a mess. Alex still storms up to Anna’s quarters, but instead of finding Anna twisted in bedsheets, he finds her maid Olga (Anastasia Hille) naked in the bathtub with a suitor.

When Anna finally arrives to find Alex mortified, hiding from Olga in the bedroom, Anna has no time for him. She’s meeting with a big director. Anna is, however, confused about what happened with the note. Alex explains that he’s now looking after Sofia. This is all fine and good—although this isn’t the best time for Alex to have adopted a child, because Anna is going through a bit of an existential crisis surrounding motherhood this week.

Anna can want a kid, but she shouldn’t want this kid. Sofia is a real menace, forgetting her dolls around the Metropol and demanding Alex go fetch them for her in the wee hours of the night. When Alex wants to read for an hour, suddenly, Sofia can speak! And boy, does she talk. Sofia babbles on and on while Alex grows irritated. The pair play a game where Alex hides a thimble around the room and Sofia must find it—which works for a minute, until Sofia wants to be the one to hide it.

Over time, Alex and Sofia develop a routine. They shave their faces together in the mornings, which is cute, because clearly Alex has no idea how to raise a little girl. Alex spouts off old stories about Nina when Sofia has nightmares about missing her mother. When Olga sees Sofia looking rather disheveled—at least she’s clean-shaven, I guess?—the maid whisks the little girl into Anna’s suite to do her hair and give her a proper bath.

Anna returns and loses her damn mind. Remember the existential crisis I mentioned earlier? Anna doesn’t want to be a mother! The Count quickly says something along the lines, “No, no, I’m watching her. You’re totally off the hook here.” But that also doesn’t appeal to Anna, who does have some maternal urge, albeit very repressed. A younger actress just stole one of Anna’s roles, so she’s questioning her career as an aging actress.

There are more pressing concerns to worry about here, Anna: Sofia might be taken away from Alex. The Bishop continuously demands that Sofia be moved to an adoption center. In fact, there’s a woman coming to retrieve her tonight. There’s nothing Halecki can do. When the adoption lady arrives, Alex makes up something on the spot—Sofia is his niece. He has rightfully become her guardian. The Bishop protests, but ultimately, Halecki has the final call. He saves Sofia.

Then, we get what is perhaps the biggest reveal of A Gentleman in Moscow thus far: who the narrator is. The entire season, we’ve heard a narrator’s voice come in and out, chatting about Alex’s life. But that speaker switches to first person when talking about herself—she’s Sofia! We also get another, sadder reveal as Sofia remembers Nina, who she never saw again: “She simply disappeared into the vastness of the Russian East.”

As the episode comes to a close, we see Nina in a mass grave. She has died, although Sofia and Alex have no idea how. All they have now are their good memories of the sweet redheaded young woman.


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