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The Romanoffs - Panorama - Review + POLL

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We’re back to the extended run time again, ugh.

This week’s episode opens with a man, who I believe is Abel (Juan Pablo Castañeda) scrolling aimlessly through Tinder. There is an internal monologue that plays over snapshots of various women around the city. This is an ode to beauty and the simplicities of it, are we more beautiful when we’re unaware of said beauty?

This same man goes to the city and into a market where he makes a somewhat shady deal with one of the vendors.

We get a lot of, wait for it, panoramic, shots of Mexico City and the area around a fancy clinic where he is getting a blood test. As someone who has worked as an extra before all I could think about was all the choreography it took to keep everyone in the right place milling around in the background.

Afterwards, there is another sketchy exchange with a nurse who then does swapping with blood samples in one of the labs.

Abel arrives at his journalist job for a meeting with his boss Frank (Griffin Dunne). Abel is worked up about a new drug that he believes is a scam. They’re targeting people with terminal illnesses who are desperate and looking for a hail Mary pass. But the clients are billionaires, “not a dollar made in the light of day”, these are men and women who profit on weapons and war, it’s hard to decide who the victims are. This is why Abel is at the clinic, to study and investigate.

Upon leaving the clinic, Abel spots a well-dressed woman with her disabled son. Abel thinks about the fact so many of these people are rich, people who think they’re entitled to more than they really are. Yet this woman has a son who has barely started to live.

We get confirmation that Abel does not have the disease, this his money and bank account are fake, he’s here solely for his work so it’s clear why he balks when the nurse tells him they’re starting with a physical exam. Thus explaining the blood sample switcheroo at the beginning of the episode, Abel needed to use someone with the disease to get into the clinic.

The doctor notes Abel’s excellent stature, he looks healthy. Abel wonders why they don’t begin why discussing treatments, he feels lie these people are giving out false hopes. He inquires into the success rates of the trial.

Except, the doctor isn’t stupid. He knows Abel is healthy and that he’s a journal. But he has nothing to hide and is willing to go on the record for an interview.

During the interview, the doctor does a great job of hiding his true intentions, if they are actually sinister. Abel questions the validity of the published success rates, the fact they’re taking advantage of people who have nowhere else to turn but unlimited financial means, but what about the people without money? If this miracle cure is real then will those who can’t afford lucrative hospital bills be left out in the cold?

The doctor’s rebuttal? “You have a nihilistic view of the world, and all you do is go around looking for evidence to support it. That diagnosis, is free.” Well, damn. Looks like the juicy story Abel was searching for isn’t going to be as easy to find as he once thought.

When he gets back outside he spots the woman (Radha Mitchell) from earlier who is struggling to find a ride for her and her son, Nick (Paul Luke Bonenfant). Ever the white knight, Abel steps in to help her overcome the language barrier. He earns a ride out of it for his efforts.

Nick and Abel get to chatting on the cab ride and we learn Nick has hemophilia. They also discuss local history and Abel talks about a local church with a rich Aztec background. He wants to visit and pleads with his mother who is clearly torn about wanting to make Nick happy but also nervous about the perils of the world when you have a sick child. Eventually, she relents to making a quick trip.

They have a nice afternoon and Nick’s mother, Victoria, donates a crisp one hundred dollar bill when she lights a candle for her son. She’s not above exhausting all options for a miracle. After, Abel is reluctant to say goodbye as he brings them to their hotel lobby. He offers to continue their sightseeing the following morning. Victoria is still clearly having an internal struggle over it.

If they want, they can meet him at 10 a.m. sharp, if not, then he’ll understand.

As expected, they do arrive and again the three spend a lovely day together with Abel teaching insightful lessons and moments about oppression, religion, and colonialism. I found myself getting whiplash given the nature of last week’s episode as compared to this monologue.

Victoria is devastated to get a phone call from Nick’s dad who berates her for her decision to take Nick to Mexico City. He believes this was a waste of money and a fanciful dream because it didn’t work. “He’s such a cynic and I fucking hate that about him.” Abel has the decency to look a little chagrined, after all, that is essentially the same the thing the doctor said to him earlier on. Maybe Victoria will be the one to change his view of the world.

Radha Mitchell gives a fine performance as a mother who is struggling to perform, and keep her composure for her son. He’s only 12 and these experimental treatments take so much out of him. A moral question is always on the horizon about whether or not the exhaustion and trauma of extensive, risky treatments are worth it in the end or if it would be better to live a full, shortened life instead.

Once leaving Victoria behind, Abel meets up with the woman from earlier, Lourdes (María Evoli) that helped him exchange the blood samples. She got fired. Abel is officially the worst reporter ever. But he does learn a disturbing truth so maybe his instincts about the clinic weren’t so off after all. They harvest their stem cells used in the trial from the poor and downtrodden.

Victoria and Abel meet up once again. I guess this episode is supposed to be a love story but I really don’t feel much chemistry between these characters unfortunately. She clearly needs someone to lean on, and Abel can be that person but this episode is so all over the place in terms of plot that I find myself struggling to get engaged. Abel essentially tells Victoria he could love her, and I’m wondering why? I mean yes she is a great mother but what does he really know about her? He’s barely even known her that long. It doesn’t feel believable and their relationship is devoid of passion and sparks.

While looking out over the city together, Victoria reveals her Romanov heritage, yet again - it’s a pointless addition to the episode. It adds nothing to the overall storyline and truly makes me wonder why the show was even called The Romanoffs. Its strongest episode, the third entry starring Christina Hendricks is clearly the stand out and shows what the show could be, but the rest has truly fallen flat. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the best episode is the one that actually tells the story about the Romanovs rather than just tagging it on to a character like pretty drapery with no substance.

Anyways, back in “Panorama”, Victoria’s husband Phillip (David Sutcliffe) finally shows up at the hotel. They have a spat about the way she’s relentlessly trying to cure Nick rather than letting him live out a higher quality of the life he has left. Victoria’s rebuttal is that Philip only cares about his money, I’m assuming he’s the one funding all of this.

By the episode’s end, we don’t get much resolution. I’ll be honest, my eyes kind of glazed over during the final stretch when I realized this episode wasn’t going to be anywhere close to fulfilling.

Here’s to hoping next week’s episode is better with Kathryn Hahn starring!


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