The Romanoffs season 1, episode 5 recap: Bright and High Circle


This week’s episode of The Romanoffs was it’s weakest and confusing episode this season–did it make sense to anyone?

The Romanoffs this week was odd and a bit weak given the potential it had with the cast and storyline that could have been presented in an entirely different way. It’s like the episode has really good points it’s trying to make, but it fails to execute the purpose across in a way that reaches the audience in a coherent manner.

Given the social and political climate of the last couple of years, it’s hard to take the point of this episode in a mature and serious way. In “Bright and High Circle”, we have Diane Lane as Katherine Ford, who is a descendant of the Romanov family and teaches Russian Literature as a college professor.

Katherine is married to Alex (Ron Livingston), who is a fleeting presence in the episode due to his job pulling him away for out-of-town duties. The episode is focused on David Patton, a gay piano teacher that works with Katherine and Alex’s sons, as well as the children of many of their friends.

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The Romanoffs opens to a piano recital at Alex and Katherine’s home where we first meet David along with their two boys. Everything seems okay for the most part until Katherine is visited by a detective inquiring about David.

While the detective doesn’t reveal much at all, she does tell Katherine it involves David and a complaint against him for misconduct. Whether it’s inappropriate or not is unclear, but it throws Katherine for a loop.

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Afraid that it might be misconduct towards the boys he teaches piano to, Katherine starts to panic and worry about her own children and decides to ask them about it.

It’s quite awkward as she tries to find a way to even bring up the situation but first calls her son in college who says he remembers nothing of the sort.

Her other two boys have nothing bad to say either, in fact, one of them is extremely defensive about it and is angry at her for even implying that David could have been inappropriate with him.

He’s angry at his mom for being so condescending and always flaunting their status around in a way that makes her less humane.

As the episode goes on, you start to see this image of David that is all based on hearsay. It’s as if this imaginary persona is attached to him as their fears grow stronger, and they continue the gossip chain amongst their friends.

However, it doesn’t seem like anyone else thinks David could be capable of such a thing, and it leaves Alex and Katherine with the most doubt. But in conversation with one of the mothers, Katherine learns that David told her that he is a Romanov descendant and that he owns a Bible from his ancestors.

Katherine interrupts to say that’s actually the story of her life, and she has the Bible, not him. But where the episode gets confusing is that there are too many conflicting thoughts and opinions. In fact, Katherine herself teeter-totters between being accusatory and defending David to her husband. It gets worse when she obsesses over talking to the police officer who has essentially gone MIA since the initial call.

Credit: Amazon Prime Video

It’s strange because no one has anything bad to say about him yet it feels like Katherine and Alex aren’t sure what to think and almost want him to be guilty. And it doesn’t help that any flashback with David and Katherine and their family is a positive one where he’s helped all of them through their own issues.

Having said that, there is something odd about David which comes out through his stories which seem too good to be true, like playing for Elton John. He also just pops in and out of Katherine and Alex’s house as he pleases even when they’re not home, so he’s not exactly helping himself out. But maybe that’s all it is, maybe he just doesn’t understand social boundaries and is lonely. Honestly, it’s just so hard to tell.

It turns out, after multiple phone calls and harassing anyone she could, Katherine finds out that the allegation against David was that he bought alcohol for a minor. Alright, okay, but what about everything else that has happened in the episode?

For example, did anyone else notice a random helicopter noise in the background of the episode? And did you see the hesitation in Katherine’s face at the end of the episode when she allowed for David to continue teaching the boys? And was this episode just about how people can be judgmental based on someone’s lifestyle which can perpetuate hateful and accusatory thoughts?

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Honestly, I’m not sure and it only feels weirder when Alex tells a story from his childhood about a boy that he thought was a girl, but then was actually a girl. That whole scene was lost on me, and I’m not entirely sure it did a good job of conveying any semblance of sense.

So what was the moral of the story in this episode of The Romanoffs? If I’m being honest–I have no idea.