'The Romanoffs' review: Kathryn Hahn's Anka Garner is anything but a garden-variety mother in 'End of the Line'
While 'End of the Line' fails to talk about how the bloodline continued in the first place, it does give us an interesting and complex character in the form of Anka
Yet another failed attempt at storytelling, Matt Weiner's 'The Romanoffs: End of the Line' was a mediocre episode, at best. The show has repeatedly failed to hit the nail on the head and it didn't really come as a surprise when this chapter too, entirely missed the point of the show - if there ever was one, that is. However, just like every cloud has a silver lining, 'End of the Line' had one fantastic element - Kathryn Hahn's Anka Garner.
This installment went home to Russia for its plot. After five years of trying to get pregnant and failing miserably, Anka and Joe Graner (Jay R. Ferguson) find their prayers answered when an adoption request goes through.
The catch? apart from the fact that they have to travel all the way to the port city of Vladivostok so they can bring her home, this couple has never ever met the baby girl named Oksana and they know very little about what lies ahead. Things spiral out of control when they reach Russia and Weiner's storyline preys on every Russian stereotype there is. From being suspicious of Americans to never really smiling at strangers, 'End of the Line' tries to be paranoid but fails.
Anka is an alleged Romanov and just like every other story in this anthology, her ancestry is mentioned just in passing. She blushes and gushes about how her grandmother's side was related to the royal family but that's about it. However, had it been anyone else other than Kathryn Hahn, it would be hard to buy it. Hahn slips into the shoes of the character like she's been an expectant mother all her life. From fretting over tiny details of the adoption, to being the one who can't get any sleep due to the sheer excitement of things, Hahn endears us with her innocence at first.
The character arc for Anka hits a rough note when she finds out it's not the baby she wants. She starts distancing herself from the child, who she clearly loved before she met. The whole experience of adoption becomes like a supermarket visit soon after. She is unshakeable about what she wants to do and is resilient even in the face of moral damnation. While one may argue babies are angels sent from above (like her husband Joe does), Anka is stoic about what kind of a child she wants.
What is really striking about the character, apart from her belief system, is the sheer honesty of who she is. She refuses to raise a "vegetable", knowing full well that they are the only hope the baby has in the world. As cruel as it may seem through the moral glass, Anka's is a refreshing take on motherhood. It's hard to put a finger on what's right and wrong in her story, but it is definitely a different way to look at things.
Anka says a lot about adoption and motherhood, while Joe perfectly complements the character. He's been abandoned himself and refuses to let go of the baby even though he knows what lies ahead. He eventually gives in, telling us how at the end of the day, it's hard to put your money where your mouth is when you know the truth isn't easy.
The installment subtly points at the way adoptions work in Russia and all around the world - prospective parents fly in, spend a small fortune and wish to take back the prize. The eighth and final installment of 'The Romanoffs' premieres next Friday on Amazon Prime. Will they finally touch upon the history of what really happened with the Romanovs? Fingers crossed!