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The Romanoffs: “Panorama”

Mexico City is a beautiful backdrop for the sixth episode of The Romanoffs, “Panorama”, as history and time factor into what it means to be human and alive.

Abel (Juan Pablo Castañeda) is a journalist trying to get to the truth, pontificating about how he views the world in voiceover as he meets women on phone apps, does some mysterious trades with people, and goes to an upscale clinic to be checked. It’s all window dressing of a kind, as Abel’s true game starts to solidify. He is trying to see if this clinic is fleecing money from the sick, where finances are no option when trying to heal. It’s a noble story, but one he does with questionable operation. But it is in meeting Victoria, played by Radha Mitchell, where Abel is able to find a new story.

This more interesting story is in Mitchell’s Victoria and the relationship with her son Nick (Paul Luke Bonenfant), with their family dynamic, the protection she feels for him, and the actions she takes to do her best. It’s a touristy kind of episode, but when it is done this well, it’s not a detriment. If you’re an art and architecture fan, the episode will be an absolute dream. With stops at the Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral, showing the famous Diego Rivera mural, the Aztec ruins, and the other various sights of the city, the episode is spectacularly shot by Matthew Weiner and provides a lot of eye candy and visual splendor.  There’s also a song used quite well by Regina Spektor, a welcome addition to the scene where it occurs.

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Castañeda, Mitchell, The Romanoffs: “Panorama”.

For all the good, however, must come the disappointment. The episode’s main crux jumps from one thing to another, as though it isn’t sure which story it should tell. Fortunately, it does stick with the more rewarding one in Victoria and Nick, but the trips back to the original story of the clinic do not feel worthwhile. Abel’s lofty voiceover does not fit at all with what’s going on in the episode, leaving his character a little dry and uninteresting, and not providing Castañeda much to work with. His character feels too much an opportunist, even admitting as much in a bar scene with his boss. The final shot, while well done and effective, does not feel earned whatsoever, with Abel never really jumping off the screen other than drifting into stories more interesting than his character.

“Panorama”, written by Dan LeFranc and Matthew Weiner, is a beautifully shot and excellent travel brochure for visiting Mexico City’s vast and gorgeous sights and sounds. But outside of Mitchell’s character and her arc, there’s not much else to gravitate towards in this episode.

★★★

The Romanoffs: “Panorama” begins streaming on Amazon’s Prime Video on November 9th.

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