War & Peace (Episodes Guide)

Episode #1
January 3, 2016
Directed by: Tom Harper | Written by: Andrew Davies

The series opens in Russia in 1805. Napoleon Bonaparte’s French army has invaded Austria and now threatens Russia. Pierre Bezukhov, the illegitimate son of a count, is a kindhearted but awkward recent university graduate whose outspoken political views, supportive of the French emperor, are less than fully welcomed by polite society. His social status changes however when he unexpectedly inherits his father’s vast wealth and numerous estates. Andrei Bolkonsky, Pierre’s close friend and the heir to one of Russia’s noblest families, seeks glory and advancement in the Tsar’s army opposing Napoleon. Natasha Rostova, from a minor noble’s family, is a joyous and yet thoughtful girl, still seeking her future place in society.

But mon cher ami, how can you be so calm? This… this monster, Bonaparte – he’s crossed into Austria now and… who’s to say that Russia won’t be next.

Episode #3
January 17, 2016
Directed by: Tom Harper | Written by: Andrew Davies

A nervous Pierre nonetheless defeats Dolokhov in a duel and afterwards separates from Helene, who demands a fortune from him and begins affairs with other men, including the opportunistic Boris Drubetskoi. A Freemason convinces Pierre to resolve his troubles by joining Freemasonry and by devoting himself to helping others. Pierre’s efforts to improve the welfare of his serfs are, however, largely ineffectual. When Nikolai returns home on leave, his army friend Denisov accompanies him and soon proposes to Natasha, who awkwardly declines. Dolokhov stays briefly with the Rostovs and proposes to Natasha’s cousin Sonya, who turns him down, confessing her love for Nikolai. Afterwards, in a lengthy card game Dolokhov wins a huge sum of money from Nikolai, which plunges the Rostov family into enormous debt. Napoleon signs a peace treaty with Russia in 1807. The story moves to the spring of 1809: Andrei has quit the army and has been living a reclusive life out of remorse for neglecting his late wife, but when he meets Natasha while on an errand to the Rostovs both she and Andrei are mutually smitten.

Episode #5
January 31, 2016
Directed by: Tom Harper | Written by: Andrew Davies

1812: France again breaks peace with Russia and invades, striking towards Moscow. Andrei, back from his travels abroad, returns all of Natasha’s letters and mementos and is unwilling to forgive or speak of her, in spite of Pierre’s attempts to soften his heart. Meanwhile, Pierre forces himself to avoid his dear friend Natasha because he is secretly in love with her but is a married man. After Andrei returns to the army to defend Russia from the invasion, his erratic father, the old prince Bolkonsky, is increasingly difficult for Marya to cope with, and as the French threaten their estate the household is eventually forced to flee after the old prince has a fatal series of strokes. Without her father, Marya is unable to control her rebellious serfs in order to escape the French, but Nikolai Rostov, leading an army detachment, rescues her when he passes through the area; this chance meeting and rescue sparks romance for both of them. Pierre and Andrei meet again prior to the crucial Battle of Borodino.

Episode #6
February 7, 2016
Directed by: Tom Harper | Written by: Andrew Davies

Pierre experiences the gruesome Battle of Borodino as an on-site observer, and gets a true taste of the horrors of war and the courage of soldiers facing death. Andrei fights on the front line and is mortally wounded; at the infirmary he meets the likewise mortally wounded Anatole, whom he had pledged to kill out of revenge, and forgives him instead. As the French advance into Moscow, Natasha and her family flee their home for the countryside. They take wounded soldiers with them, and eventually discover that Andrei is among them. Natasha begs Andrei for forgiveness and he confesses that he still loves her. Andrei dies, with Natasha and his sister Marya by his side. Back in Moscow, which is being burned and looted, Pierre is carrying a concealed weapon and is captured by the French, almost shot, and then imprisoned instead. He is befriended by Platon Karataev, a peasant who has a profound effect on his outlook on the deepest of levels—teaching him about gratitude, simple happiness, and giving and receiving love. Helene, pregnant to Boris, is unable to reach Pierre to gain consent for divorce and she seeks an abortion after being snubbed by Boris and others at a party. An abortionist gives her a bottle of liquid of which she is to take only a few drops, but she swallows the lot, and dies alone of hemorrhage during the induced labour. Napoleon, with no supplies left for him in Moscow or anywhere else, orders all of his troops to retreat and leave Russia—thus a Russian victory is secured. After the terrible hardship of a lengthy imprisonment and march through the Russian winter with the French retreating from Moscow, Pierre is rescued by a guerilla group of Russian soldiers led by Dolokhov and Denisov. The Rostovs’ younger son, Petya, is killed in the skirmishes, and after hearing this his father, already in shock from the loss of all his property and the burning of Moscow, subsequently dies of a broken heart. Sonya releases Nikolai from their engagement, and he instead becomes engaged to and later marries Marya. Pierre finally proposes to, and marries, Natasha and starts a family, and their extended family includes the Rostovs, Sonya, and Andrei’s son.