The Last Czars (2019) s01e02 Episode Script

The Boy

[Mr Gilliard thinks] She was here in this room with its ghosts and its nightmares.
Could anybody have survived it? A family died here.
[clock ticks] Anastasia, do you remember them? No! Do you remember them? [Mr Gilliard] Do you remember them? Do you remember them? How did you get away? [rustle of bed sheets] According to the notes in her file, she remembers being shot at, wounded, beaten and ending there.
Do you think she could have escaped that cellar with those injuries? Maybe they left her for dead.
After all it was the Czar that they wanted to get rid of, and the boy.
[Mr Gilliard] Alexei the boy who would be Czar, but whose birth would lead to tragedy.
[sound of birdsong] To be the Czar was to have absolute power.
He could choose whatever his heart desired [soft footsteps] except what he needed most.
A son, an heir.
For this, he had to do what the poorest among us must do.
Pray for the grace of God.
- [soft footsteps] - [birdsong] God is miraculous through his saints, God is miraculous through his saints.
God is miraculous through his saints.
God is miraculous through his saints, God is miraculous through his saints.
[birdsong] [splashing of water] [Alix gasps] Please, Seraphim, give me a son.
[sighs] Give me an heir.
[gasps] - [sound of water] - [sighs] [Alix moans in pleasure] [Alix] Oh, God.
- [Alix] Oh, Heavenly Father.
- [Nicky moans] [Alix] Oh, most merciful and compassionate God.
[both moan in pleasure] [Alix] Shine your mercy upon us, and bless us now with glory.
[both moan in pleasure] [muffled moans of pleasure] [moans] - [Nicky laughs] - [Alix sighs in pleasure] [both sigh in pleasure] [Alix gasps] Don't move.
- [Alix] Don't pull out.
- [Nicky pants] The longer you stay inside me, the better our chances of a boy.
It will happen.
Have faith.
[kiss] [Montefiore] The Romanovs have ruled Russia for almost 300 years, since 1613, and Alix has had four children, all daughters.
But of course, only a son can succeed to the throne.
As a result of this, they're starting to turn to all sorts of different methods to attempt to conceive a son.
Nicholas thinks that it's important that for generations to come, the Romanovs will rule Russia and that he is in many ways the trustee of that rule.
[faint sound of retching] [Alix coughing and retching] [Alix gasps] [Alix coughs] [Alix sighs, sniffs] I'm sorry.
No more state occasions.
You're staying in bed.
Look, we won't risk anything going wrong.
[door squeaks] What do we do if it's another girl? [Nicky] Then we throw her in the river.
[both laugh] I don't think I can do this again, Nicky.
- I'm getting too old for it.
- No.
- [Nicky, kissing] Mm! - [Alix] No.
[both laugh] - [Nicky] Brush your teeth.
- [Alix, laughing] Get out.
[Dr Alexandrova] A good Russian Czar is supposed to produce a male heir.
That's his number one job.
His number two job is to conquer lands.
He fails with one of those, he is not considered a good Czar.
Nicholas felt enormous pressure to continue the dynasty and expand the empire.
[gunfire] He saw his opportunity in the Far East.
This brought him into conflict with a rising power, Japan.
[shouting] [sound of boots] He was sure that he would win the contest, and that Japan would never dare go to war against him, which is a colossal misjudgment.
- When did they attack? - [general] Midnight.
They torpedoed the Czarevich Retzivan Pallada.
They are fucking monkeys.
Without a declaration of war.
They did try every diplomatic avenue.
[Sergei] There is only one way to respond.
[general] The Japanese are a huge industrial and military force.
I know what your father would do.
Tell Japan we are at war.
[decisive, retreating footsteps] [laughing] This is a situation that Nicholas misjudges catastrophically.
Like any conflict, if it goes badly, it could jeopardize his rule, and indeed, the Czarist regime.
[Dr Hetherington] Part of the problem for Nicholas is that he has a picture of the empire in his head, which, in many ways is a kind of fairy tale, based on the history books that he read about the 17th century.
So, by keeping his head in the sand in this way, he consistently makes the same bad decisions over and over again.
Nicholas is a dogmatic decision-maker.
That's why he consistently ignores advice from good policy-makers.
[hurried footsteps] [Alix's agonized scream] [Alix screams] - [baby makes noises] - [Alix sighs in relief] [doors rattle closed] [doors rattle open] [clapping] [laughing] Thank God you've done it! Ha! The Czarevich! To Alexei.
[Dr Hetherington] The birth of Alexei is incredibly important.
He's the long-awaited son that they had hoped so much for, and that they think is going to secure the Romanov dynasty.
It's a cause of huge celebration and relief for Nicholas and Alexandra.
[baby Alexei gurgles] You know what it could be, don't you? Yes.
We'll get the doctor.
The curse.
[Montefiore] Within days of Alexei's birth, the joy that Nicky and Alix feel turned to ashes when it becomes clear, from a bleeding navel, that the child is suffering from hemophilia.
The sufferers bleed from any wound or bruise, internally or externally.
[baby screaming] [Dr Hetherington] Alexandra herself knows exactly what hemophilia means, and this is something that runs in many of the royal families of Europe.
Alexandra's own uncle and brother have died of hemophilia.
[baby screams] - [baby screams] - There's nothing wrong with my son.
[Montefiore] This is a nightmare scenario for Nicky and Alix, or any parent, in fact.
Hemophiliacs died young.
Alexei was quite likely to die before his father, before Nicky.
Medical science couldn't really help them.
What they needed was a miracle.
[footsteps] [door opens] [Dr Antonova] At the moment that Rasputin arrives in Petersburg, it's an incredibly timely moment for the kind of rise he is going to have.
He's not necessarily someone who turns up with an arch-plan right from the very beginning, to go to the top, but he's very good at realizing when something is open to him that will enable him to increase his power and his wealth.
Bishop Germogen.
So you are Grigori Rasputin.
Yes, your Holiness.
My references from Bishop Feofan.
Wait here.
I may have some work for you.
Thank you.
[footsteps recede] [door clicks] [slow footsteps] He will give you a child.
He hears you.
He hears you.
On the road to healing, there's pain.
[baby Alexei cries] [anxiously] You're fine, you're fine [baby coos, cries] [baby cries sharply] How long? [baby cries] This disease is very unpredictable.
He can have years of good health.
And then, one day - [baby cries] - it can turn.
[baby cries] Turn? A nasty knock, a cut a bruise.
- [baby cries] - [doctor] It could kill him.
[baby Alexei crying quietly] [lady's voice on phone] Nicky, darling, please There's rumors that Czarevich is sick.
We understand that you don't want to say anything, but we know someone.
Just say the word.
[Rasputin inhales] [general chatter] When Rasputin first arrives in Petersburg, he's introduced very early on to the so-called Black Princesses.
They're very closely connected to all of high society.
They're also interested in mysticism.
[woman murmurs] From Pokrovskoye, Siberia.
He's arrived in Moscow with excellent references.
The Bishop says he has genuine miraculous powers.
[phone tinkles] You've got to understand that Rasputin's home village is over a thousand miles east of St.
Petersburg.
It's the frontier.
Herds of reindeer.
It's wild.
It couldn't be more different than the social rules of St.
Petersburg.
He's from another world.
Why do you need all this? - All this junk? - [ladies laugh] [chatter continues] Don't be scared.
It's all right.
Don't look at them.
They don't matter.
Look at me.
Mm.
You're like the night cold and dark.
So much grief.
Now the ice has set in.
Your love has nowhere to go, it's It's frozen.
Is it for him? Your husband? No.
No, this is much much deeper.
Isn't it? So fragile and tiny your little girl.
It's okay.
- [woman gasps] - It's not your fault.
[sniffs] Look at me.
[gasps] You saw her suffer, didn't you? And all the love was in vain.
- She's gone.
- [woman sobs] She's gone.
It's not your fault.
You were just a child, too.
Weren't you? [quiet sob] Only a child.
[gasping sob] - [woman sobs] - That's it, that's it.
- Let it out.
- [sobs] - [woman sobs, sighs] - Good.
[Dr Alexandrova] People were starving for that kind of person to come in and tell them what to do with their lives.
It feels like he really understands those he talks to.
It feels like he's a very warm and caring person, and actually, a lot of his advice is really humane.
[Dr Hetherington] He's someone who people talked about, his ability to know exactly what to say to people who are in distress, and in some ways, he's kind of a soothing balm for them, a soothing presence.
What will the people say? They want a strong Czarevich, not an invalid.
[Alix sighing] They'll lose faith in him.
They'll blame us.
No one can find out.
They've already noticed.
We must deny it.
What happens when he gets sick? We'll give him his own bodyguard.
We'll get him the best medical care there is.
We'll tell only those we must.
Those we trust implicitly.
[Dr Hetherington] It's arguably a big mistake that they decide to keep this secret.
What they do by keeping him away from the public eye, is that they seem to be retreating from the Russian people.
For a monarch, to have their heir as a hemophiliac is just a disaster.
And Nicky and Alix reacted by becoming even more paranoid, and the pressure of keeping the secret of Alexei's illness affects the political decisions that Nicky and Alix made for the rest of their reign.
[general] They've bombarded Port Arthur for over two weeks and shattered the Pacific fleet.
The Siberian Army Corps have been forced to retreat.
Now's the time to use a fucking sledgehammer.
[general] The people are desperate for a better life.
They don't need a war.
[Sergei] That's exactly what they need.
Don't let people walk all over you, Nicky.
The Baltic fleet.
Give me numbers.
Forty-two ships.
Twelve thousand sailors.
Nicky this is madness! Send them all.
Don't come to me when it all turns to shit.
[Dr de Orellana] The Baltic fleet is the mainstay of Russia's power in Europe.
If Russia loses this fleet, its standing amongst the great nations of the world collapses.
It's a really, really dangerous moment, and defeat in war is potentially catastrophic for the dynasty.
As Nicholas makes this desperate gamble to win the war with Japan, things are going from bad to worse, outside the walls of the palace.
I mean, in St.
Petersburg, there are protests, there are shortages.
The war is not going well, and the home front is even worse.
People say, "Well, the autocracy and the Czar's ministers are making terrible decisions.
Perhaps, what we need is an actual representative democracy, and then we would have a government that was making better decisions for the Russian Empire.
" [sound of horses' hooves] [sound of carriage wheels] Cannot be leaving this place a second sooner.
Had it up to here with this fucking city.
And the fucking Czar constantly needing his hand held.
Oh, what the hell? [angry crowd shouting] These bloody extremists should be shot.
- [crowd shouts] - All of them! Get a fucking move on! [shouting, banging on carriage] [horse whinnies] "March to The Winter Palace, ninth of January.
We wish our father, the Czar, to deliver us from the evil oppressors, the despotic and irresponsible government, and the capitalist exploiters, crooks, and robbers of Russian people.
" [Dr de Orellana] The Czar, in 1905, doesn't really understand what's happening around the country, and he doesn't understand how pervasive revolutionary ideas can be.
He believes still in the sacred bond between himself and the mass of the Russian peasants.
[Montefiore] The war is going badly, disastrously.
There are strikes in all the big factories.
There is discontent, there is terrorism.
Russia is seething, on the edge of revolution.
[hubbub] [Dr de Orellana] In January, the situation comes to a head in St.
Petersburg.
A huge crowd gathers to demand better working conditions.
[Montefiore] This was a peaceful protest, and the idea was that the good Czar, the 'Little Father, ' would smile on them and help them.
That was their dream.
[mother] What does Mirsky say? It's under control.
He called troops to reinforce the garrison.
Alix wants us to leave St.
Petersburg.
You can't.
Alix is at breaking point.
You have no idea how difficult it's been with Alexei.
The people need to see their Czar.
You must stay and accept the petition.
- It's not that simple, Mother.
- You have to be strong.
You need the people behind you.
Nicky you have no choice.
[Alix] All packed.
Cars are ready.
I don't think we should panic.
The army's been alerted.
We'll stay.
Duty, my dear.
In times such as these, the Romanovs have to be strong Your first duty is to your family.
Your children, your heir his safety.
I've heard there are thousands coming.
Thousands of angry peasants and workers.
Why else would the army have been alerted? - All the more reason why you should stay.
- Oh, what? Like sitting targets? [mother] As Czarina, you should be behind the emperor's decisions, - not challenging them - As Czarina, I will protect my children.
[Alix] By all means, stay if you want.
[receding footsteps] [Dr de Orellana] This is not only a mistake for Nicholas, this is a huge missed opportunity.
This would have been an excellent opportunity for him to symbolically play exactly the character that he saw himself as.
The divinely appointed 'Little Father' that listens to the crying pleas of his people.
[Dr Alexandrova] He panics, and he leaves the capital.
He should have stayed, he should have received the protesters, and he should have received the petition.
He basically hides from the situation in another palace.
[Dr de Orellana] Nicholas decides to leave behind the regiment of guards with orders to fire on protesters that get too close to the Winter Palace.
[Dr Alexandrova] The protesters are advancing towards infantry, the infantry hopes that they will stop at the stop line, but they don't.
The crowds keep pushing forward.
[bang] [gunfire] The troops fire a couple of warning shots, and the shots actually hit the kids who are hiding in the trees, starting a horrible carnage.
- [screaming] - [sound of horses' hooves] [bang] [screaming] - [gunfire] - [screams] [screaming and shouting] [Dr de Orellana] The troops start shooting, and at least 1,000 people die.
[bang] 2,000 more are wounded.
This is a disaster, and a very, very visible bloodbath in the streets of St.
Petersburg.
They say the people were cautioned again and again that they were going to shoot.
So they were warned? But they didn't stop.
They say there were thousands running towards the soldiers, that there was no way of knowing if they were armed.
What else are the soldiers meant to do? Of course they had to shoot.
The people.
Apparently, they were singing "God Save the Czar.
" "Apparently.
" Does it say that in the report? [Nicky] They will never forgive me for this.
Look at me.
Look at me.
You've done nothing wrong.
For every 1,000 that march, there are 10,000 that look to you for guidance right now.
Just as I do.
I couldn't have survived the last few months without you, Nicky.
Now it's time to show the people how strong you really are.
[Dr de Orellana] This is a huge turning point in Russian history.
It becomes known as Bloody Sunday.
This is a moment that leads many people to lose faith in autocracy altogether.
People start to talk about the need for an elected, representative government.
What's called in Russian, a "Duma.
" In fact, Bloody Sunday radicalizes a lot of the political body of Russia.
Russia is now cursed with a plethora of terrorist organizations, revolutionary parties, all of whom are using violence and terrorism to destroy society and recreate a new workers' paradise.
And from now on, though no one knew at that moment, you know, politics in Russia would be a fight to the death.
[gun fires] The people spearheading the revolution are not the type of people you might imagine.
These are educated men that are passionate about the cause of overthrowing the monarchy and changing Russia.
They're willing to give their lives.
Men, like Ivan Kalyayev, he's an educated man, he's a published poet.
[footsteps] [Dr de Orellana] They have taken, shall we say, the terrorist-anarchist experience of the previous 20 years to a fine art.
They're assassinating imperial officials all over the country by late 1905, and seriously jeopardizing the imperial administration that relied on these officials.
[match strikes] [fizzing] [rattle of paper] - [Sergei] Rubbish.
- [crumpling] They'll print any crap.
Don't, darling.
You'll make yourself ill.
[wife laughs] [Dr de Orellana] Grand Duke Sergei is very much the greatest nemesis of the revolutionaries.
As governor of Moscow, he has hunted down revolutionary groups.
He's a reactionary, brutal, bloody-minded man.
No wonder revolutionaries want to kill him.
[door clicks] [Sergei grunts] [click] [knocks] [horses' hooves] [fizzing] [sound of carriage wheels] - [fizzing] - [sound of carriage wheels] - [bump] - Fuck! [sound of carriage wheels] - [fizzing] - [kicking] [Sergei shouts] Fuck! [explosion] [wife gasps] [wife whimpers] [wife whimpers] [crying] No, no [gasps] [wife gasps, sobs] I've done my duty! [wife sobs] [struggling sounds] [wife sobs] [door rattles] [mother] Oh, this is dreadful.
After all those years of selfless public service.
Nicky, is there really no way we can get to the funeral? No.
It's not safe.
We have to stay here.
[mother sobs] [Alix sobs] My poor sister.
[Montefiore] Nicky and Alix understood very little what was really happening in the streets.
They lived in what today we'd call a bubble.
Incredibly, Sergei's widow, Ella, actually goes to see Kalyayev in prison.
She's desperate to understand why he's committed this atrocity, which, I think, shows us how out of touch the Romanovs were with public feeling at this time.
[whispers] I want to forgive you.
I don't need your forgiveness.
[Ella] Why him? Why my husband? Remember the ninth of January? Thousands marching to see the Czar, and That wasn't his fault.
Did you really think there'd be no price to pay? He was a good man.
He had blood on his hands.
Like all of you.
I will pray for you.
I don't want your prayers.
Keep them for yourself.
This is just the beginning.
Sergei's death sets off a snowball of indiscriminate violence and revolution.
And in fact, the whole Russian Empire now starts to sort of unravel.
Huge swathes of it start to fall out of the Czar's control.
Nicholas says to his Minister of the Interior, "You're talking as if this is a revolution.
" And the minister says, "Your Imperial Majesty, this is revolution.
" [ship's horn blasts] [Dr de Orellana] As Russia slips out of Nicholas' control, the war in the Far East is going from bad to worse.
They've lost on the ground, and when the Baltic fleet finally finishes its epic journey around the world, to meet the Japanese fleet, it is defeated in only 40 minutes at the battle of the Tsushima Straits.
[sound of ships' engines and steam] [explosions] [Montefiore] This is a terrible moment for Nicky.
Russia is totally humiliated.
Nothing drives revolution like political and military defeat.
[general] Riots, and strikes.
Schools and factories shut.
Disorder, bloodshed This cannot go on, sir.
We need military dictatorship.
No! Give the people the government they're asking for.
This time, it was the Grand Duke.
Who is it going to be next? But we are a monarchy.
So is England, but they have a parliament, too.
Hear me out.
You need to have an elected legislature.
A Duma.
It's the only way.
[footsteps in snow] [Mr Gilliard] When I arrived at the palace, I came as a tutor.
But my role, ultimately, was to bear witness to history.
[quick footsteps] Welcome, Monsieur Gilliard.
[whispers] Your French tutor.
This is Alexei.
This is Olga.
Tatiana, Maria, and Anastasia.
I expect you all to behave, comme il faut.
- Was that right? - Absolutement parfait.
Perfect, your excellency.
It is a pleasure to meet you all.
You're not very tall, are you? Enchanté.
[Mr Gilliard] That is when I first met her.
[clock ticks] - [screams] - [bang] A little girl with no idea of the terrors ahead.
Her notes.
She said a guard helped her escape? She says he hid her with his family.
Hm.
Then, the Bolsheviks came, and he smuggled her to Bucharest.
So, he saved her life.
So she says.
- [Mr Gilliard sighs] - [papers rustle] [doctor] She also says he raped her.
And that they had a baby together.
Then, he was killed by Bolshevik agents, so she left the child with his family, and then she ran away.
A week after she arrived in Berlin, she threw herself off a bridge.
Things she collected.
Photographs, newspaper articles.
It's to remind her of who she once was, or to help her learn who she's trying to be.
You think she's another impostor? They're after the fame and the money.
Many, many people want to make a claim on that world.
Being rich and famous never kept anyone safe.
It was a dangerous time, even before war and revolution.
[clock ticks] [Mr Gilliard] These elected representatives will propose and approve law.
They will discuss the work of the Czar's government, and they will be able to look at the budget.
Now, how old you think they will have to be to be a member of the Duma? [Dr Hetherington] So, Nicholas is finally convinced that he has to offer real concessions to the Russian people.
He promises an elected representative government, what's called in Russian, a Duma.
So, this really is a massive concession for an autocrat to make.
It's the first time that any Czar has agreed to anything like this before.
What were you doing, agreeing to this? It's a temporary measure.
I had no choice.
No choice? You're the Czar.
God rules through you.
I had to give the people something.
It starts with something, but where does it end? They'll want more.
Be careful, Nicky.
[receding footsteps] [Dr Alexandrova] For Nicholas the moment when he offers concessions to the people is a very tragic one.
But on the other hand, the Duma is weak, and the Czar can ignore its decisions or veto its decisions at any moment.
The whole Duma business is very risky.
It gives people the taste of democracy, and there is always the risk the people would want more democracy.
[Montefiore] It's a mess.
The fact is, the Czar remains the autocrat, and even though the Duma is elected by a large electorate, it actually doesn't have as much power as it looks like it has.
So, it's a paper tiger.
[a man moans in the distance] [man moans] [gunshots] [Montefiore] While the Duma was busy debating, Nicholas was more interested in repression, a ruthless and vengeful crackdown on revolutionaries.
1905 saw a dramatic rise in death sentences and executions.
Thousands of revolutionaries are killed across the empire, but men like Kalyayev, who were prepared to die for the cause, welcomed the death sentence.
He tells his judge, "Learn to look the advancing revolution in the face.
" [cocking of guns] - [yells] Fuck the Czar! - [soldiers] Aim, fire! [bang] [Prof Fedyashin] Towards the end of the year, Alexei falls and hurts himself, and begins to bleed internally.
There's terrible swelling in his leg.
The doctors, they try everything.
They're doing everything they can to help him.
- [Alexei cries] - [doctor] His pulse is very quick.
Let's try and get fluids into him.
[Alexei cries] - Where the hell were you? - [Alexei cries] I told you! It only takes a second.
Just a second of taking your eye off him! [Alix gasping] It's okay.
It's okay, my darling.
[doctor] The swelling is worse.
His blood pressure is dropping.
All we can do is give him something for the pain.
[Alexei cries] Mummy's here.
- [Alix, crying] Mummy's here.
- [Alexei cries] Oh! Christ, my Lord, who saved Jonah out of the belly of the whale and Daniel out of the mouths of the lions You said you know someone.
Deliver us now from the dreadful darkness of the Prince of Evil We want an introduction.
Right away.
[click] Let not the Devil come over the deathbed of thy servant.
[door squeaks] [Alix] Oh my Christ, let not the Devil come over the deathbed of thy servant.
[Alix] Oh my Christ, deliver us now.
Deliver us [sniffs] Enough.