**SPOILERS! Do not read if you have not seen War and Peace episode four**
Passions certainly got heated in frozen Russia this week and the course of true love ran about as smoothly as a clogged up Volga River: against all expectations Lily James’ Natasha Rostova looks like she’s ruined her romance with James Norton’s Andrei Bolkonsky.
One minute she loved him, spinning gaily round gilded ballrooms, looking meltingly into his eyes, and agreeing to marry him. But then up popped the dastardly Anatole Kuragin (Callum Turner, below) to ruin everything.
Natasha had agreed to Andrei’s proposal, the only problem being that his cantankerous Dad (Jim Broadbent’s Prince Bolkonsky) had stipulated that he wait a year to test his feelings. She agreed. But what a year it was.
First there was the trip to the countryside with her family, with lots of drinking and Russian dancing (something Natasha proved her natural talent for).
But for this privileged lot, rural Russia only has a limited appeal and it was when la famille Rostova returned to urban society that things really started to go pear-shaped.
Yes, the nasty Helene (Tuppence Middleton) would be behind it all, wouldn’t she, egging her brother (and lover) on to try and steal Natasha’s heart. And it happened so easily. All Kuragin had to do was try and snatch a few kisses in a coat closet with Natasha and write her a fairly standard love letter and she was his. She was prepared to elope with the cad and poor Andrei was going to have to lump it.
It was a delicious twist, unexpected by those unfamiliar with the novel but stylishly delivered, exposing the naivety and stupidity which eagle eyes may have fathomed in Natasha all along but not been entirely certain about. But hard as the whole thing was to watch, it still packed an emotional punch, aided by some fantastic performances and a sweeping, eery, fantastically atmospheric sound track.
Andrew Davies really has done us proud with this adaptation. He has captured the intensity of feeling, glided effortlessly over the complex plotting and got to the dramatic meat of the story. And as we have seen again tonight, he has provided thumping cliffhangers to every instalment so far.
There are two episodes to go. It’s going to be a bumpy sleigh ride from here on in. Will Andrei be in a forgiving mood?