This is a completely different beast from the pilot, but it’s equally spellbinding. I’m seriously loving The Romanoffs.
It’s amazing how a 90-minute run-time isn’t boring me to death, but the show is now two for two in crafting captivating storytelling experiences. The Royal We showcases the depths of marital unhappiness in a wonderfully nuanced manner.
As the married couple at the center of the story, both Carey Stoll and Kerry Bishé are sublime. The former’s Michael is appropriately depressed and hopeless, while the latter’s Shelly is constantly on the edge of imploding as she struggles to maintain a positive attitude in the face of her crumbling marriage. I kind of wish we didn’t have to say goodbye to this whacky duo at the end of the hour.
Equally well cast are the people who steal Michael and Shelly’s hearts. Noah Wyle is excellent as Ivan, another married-to-a-Romanov-but-not-really-a-Romanov who almost gets Shelly to cheat on her husband. But the real standout is Janet Montgomery (who was terrific on Salem, This Is Us and New Amsterdam) as Michelle, the femme fatale who completely flips Michael’s world on its head. She is just superb in the role; you totally buy how Michael could fall so hard for her dangerous and thrill-seeking demeanor, not to mention her astounding beauty. Can someone please give this woman her own show to lead?
The Royal We is also exceptionally unpredictable. I honestly had no idea how it would all end, and I found myself constantly trying to guess who would murder who in the episode’s final moments. What we got instead was even more satisfying: Michael going berserk and pushing Shelly off a cliff in his failed attempt to kill her. The hour’s final scene with Shelly knocking out her husband and leaving him for good as a smile finally appears on her face is surprisingly cathartic and beautiful. Wow!
An intricate exploration of desperation and insanity. I won’t soon forget this gem!