“War and Peace” Episode Two

Well, last week’s episode started off rather wooden and stilted but then improved greatly after about 20 minutes or so.

That’s certainly not the case this week though, as the whole episode was excellent.

Where to start? Let’s talk about the performances first. It goes without saying that I very much enjoyed watching Tuppence Middleton again; watching her play the alluring, duplicitous ice queen was a joy. It was also great to see Jim Broadbent given a lot more to do, stealing scenes from everyone, Stephen Rea and Callum Turner were appropriately slimy and villainous and James Norton is certainly a powerful, charismatic on screen presence.

Praise also deserves to go to Jessie Buckley, playing the role of Marya wonderfully. The storyline involving her was note perfect and she was certainly the standout performance of the episode.

OK, next let’s talk about the battle scenes. Just like last week, they were suitably bloody and exciting and the shot where Napoleon’s army is revealed was truly jaw dropping and tense. In addition, the whole “Lions led by Donkeys” notion was very well utilized and certainly added to the overall impact of the story, if that even makes any sense!

And the final scenes involving Andrei and Lise were definitely shocking and emotional, though it was never explained how he was in great shape, despite being run through with a bayonet not ten minutes beforehand!

The music is also superb; certain parts feel somewhat otherworldly and eerie, which certainly makes it all the more interesting.

So overall, a solid, tense, gripping episode with some great performances and an increasingly engaging storyline.

Verdict: A-

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