‘A Gentleman In Moscow’ Episode 2 Recap & Ending Explained: Why’s Osip Interested In Mishka?


Unpredictability was probably not something you expected from Showtime’s TV adaptation of Amor Towles’ A Gentleman in Moscow. And that sense of surprise is something that you have in common with Count Alexander; he didn’t think his lifelong imprisonment in the confines of Metropol would be anything but mundane. But here we are—accompanying the Count on this escapade as he discovers unexplored parts of the Metropol as well as himself.

Spoiler Alert

How does the Count know Mishka?

The deafening uproar of the Bolsheviks in the ballroom is the new normal Metropol has to get used to. Holding the crowd’s attention as though they are hypnotized is a man the Count has known all his life. He doesn’t seem like someone who’d counter Mikhail “Mishka” Mindich’s rousing speech about the demise of nobility and how the fate of the working class used to be decided by the aristocrats. So why is there a frown on the Count’s face? As we get to know Mishka more intimately through the flashbacks and their sporadic exchanges, we learn they’ve been as thick as thieves all their lives. The friendship that found its spark at the university got even stronger when the Count opened the door to his mansion to Mishka. They lived like brothers in arms until they parted ways. 

What caused the rift between the Count and Mishka?

Nina’s unrelenting curiosity about royal balls and princesses gets some pretty layered anecdotes out of the Count. As he recollects a certain princess leaving a ball to go to the blacksmith’s humble abode, there’s a sense of some personal pain attached to the story. Nina seeks a fairytale turn of events in all the stories she hears from the Count. So, it’s understandable why her face drops upon hearing that the princess didn’t marry the blacksmith’s son. Even though the Count didn’t mean for the story to have anything to do with his own life, he inadvertently opens the dam to a flood of memories. The princess—in his case, his dear sister Helena—loved Mishka, a man of working-class background. Their love blossomed daringly, posing a challenge to all the condemnatory eyes around, including the Count’s. Blinded by his prejudice against a woman of noble birth marrying a “nobody,” the Count was heavily opposed to the union. 

How does the Count handle his conflicting ideals in his new life?

The Count isn’t opposed to personal growth. The thing is, he didn’t expect his imprisoned condition at the Metropol to actually teach him new things. He’s always polite, no matter who he’s speaking to. So, seeing working-class people as inferior never really shows up in his behavior. But the prejudices are deeply ingrained in the Count. He’s starting to accept that the divisions are gone in post-Revolution Russia. So when a beautiful actress, Anna Urbanova, shows up at the Metropol and deems him worthy of a fling, the Count isn’t above accepting the invitation. His inherent notions of social hierarchy and his dissatisfaction over the abolishment of the same, however, leak through his words even when he means to come off as open-minded. The dinner date was going pretty well, with Anna and the Count showing genuine interest in seeing beyond each other’s immediate appearances. But the Count’s evolution is slow. It’d take him a while to go from someone who’s always romanticized nobility because it’s benefited him all his life to someone who’s ready to embrace the new world. No matter how hard he tries to mask his bitterness, it still aches him to see that his suite has gone to a “lowly” actress when he’s bound to the attic room. A scorned Anna means only to playfully mess with the Count when she escorts Alexei Nachevko to her room. The Minister of Culture hasn’t taken an interest in helping Anna in her career without a personal motive. Given that he’s secretly gay in a world where heterosexuality is mandatory, it’s easier for him to hide the truth if there’s news of a salacious affair with an actress. And with Anna in on it, too, he doesn’t see why they shouldn’t help each other out. The sight stings the Count nonetheless, and hopefully, it comes as a lesson for him, too. 

Why’s Osip interested in Mishka?

It’s difficult to read. You get the sense that he’s a bit of a cynic. Simply observing is one thing, but the look on his face is that of a man who’s waiting for the Count to slip up. He doesn’t trust the Count. But he’s somehow even more suspicious of Mishka, the man who holds an important place in the party. We’ve seen Mishka’s face at the tribunal meeting where the Count’s fate was being decided. The reason why Osip wants the Count’s help in figuring out Mishka is simply the fact that Mishka’s ideology is confusing. On the one hand, he’s a true fighter for the Bolsheviks’ cause. But then he goes out of his way and risks his position in the party to save the Count’s life. Of course, the Count reciprocates this unconditional loyalty by getting into a rather violent brawl with a man harassing Mishka at the bar. But given that Osip’s watching this all unfold from the outside and doesn’t quite grasp how deep the camaraderie between the Count and Mishka runs, he’s confused by the bond between the two men of polar opposite ideologies. The Count owes his life to Mishka. The poem that saved him from being thrown against the wall and shot to death was most likely written by Mishka, not the Count. Mishka’s action of lying to the party about who authored the poem came from a place where he’d do anything to save his friend. The Count doesn’t dodge Osip’s questions with vague answers just because he wants to protect his friend. In a way, he wants to protect Osip, too. As he makes his way from one of the extremities to reach the middle ground, he wants Osip to do the same. Handing him Tolstoy’s “War and Peace” was his way of reaching out to Osip. It was his way of communicating that even a former aristocrat and a loyal member of the Bolshevik party could be friends if the two kept an open mind and reached that middle ground.

Does the Count like Nina’s gift?

Much of this week’s episode makes one thing clear: He’d be left behind to live an excruciatingly lonely life if he didn’t change with the changing times. While people like his grandmother can still hope for the glory days to return, the Count is experiencing the new world up close. However, growth is often a painful process. For the Count, it comes with pangs of regret, too. He can’t help but wonder if his sister would still be alive if he weren’t such a snob. Guilt overcomes him every time he looks at the portrait of Helena made by Mishka, wondering if things would’ve turned out better had he not come between them. But not everything is so grim about adjusting to the new way of life. Maybe he joins the hotel employees’ New Year’s party only to be polite and to distract himself from the overwhelming loneliness. But how quickly he’s accepted as a friend and how easy he finds it to become one of them prove that he’s not above fixing whatever’s wrong with his perspective of life. 

In between all this, the Count’s sole source of joy and comfort is little Nina. The explorers found new territory in the secret room the Count had discovered behind his cupboard. And even though Nina’s excitement about their scheduled escapades is marred when the Count picks spending time with Anna instead, she’s quick to forgive him too. Maybe it’s knowing that she’ll be going away to school that softens her heart a bit more. Their time is soon coming to an end. The Count is sad to lose the unexpected friend, but he’s also thrilled that the new experiences will enrich Nina’s curious soul. In giving her the binoculars, something his sister used to love exploring the world through, the Count acknowledges how much he’s come to love Nina. But nothing could ever top the gift Nina leaves for the Count. Knowing she wouldn’t be around to accompany him on the adventures, Nina left him the master key to the Metropol. In the ending sequence, the Count finally opens the door to the roof and sees the pigeon that he’s been hearing all this while. The fresh air and the snow make up a slice of forbidden freedom for the Count, and he’ll be eternally grateful to Nina for this. 

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Lopamudra Mukherjee
Lopamudra Mukherjee
In cinema, Lopamudra finds answers to some fundamental questions of life. And since jotting things down always makes overthinking more fun, writing is her way to give this madness a meaning.

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