A Gentleman in Moscow episode 8 recap: Rostov makes a break for it

Ewan McGregor, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Beau Gadsdon in A Gentleman in Moscow
Ewan McGregor, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Beau Gadsdon in A Gentleman in Moscow (Image credit: Ben Blackall/Paramount+ With Showtime)

"It all sounded so simple," the older Sofia narrates in the opening moments of A Gentle in Moscow episode 8, as Rostov (Ewan McGregor) plans out the route Sofia (Beau Gadsdon) needs to take to drop off the recorded message that will secure her freedom from the Soviet Union. But as we all know, things are never that simple.

Rostov feels this too, as he is anxious about every part of his plan, including the dress Sofia is going to wear for her performance in Paris. But he is also melancholy that the little girl he has raised is now a woman, who he must let go. But he knows Russia will be the ruin of her and this plan is to ensure she has a future.

Let’s break down Rostov's plan and how it works out with our A Gentleman in Moscow finale recap.

The plan

Rostov and Anna's (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) plan is that after Sofia's performance, she will sneak away from the group, cut her hair and adopt a disguise, then sneak out of the concert hall with the rest of the audience. With her time slot earlier in the show, it should give her ample time to do this. Rostov won't plan to leave the hotel until after Sofia is safe, signaling them by having the US embassy call all the phones at the hotel to distract everyone and allow Rostov to walk out. Sofia wants to know how they will meet up with her after that, but Rostov tells her not to worry about it.

Anna gets some alone time with Sofia. She tells her Nina would have been proud of her daughter, just as Anna is proud of her. Sofia again asks how long she'll have to wait for her and Rostov to join her in America? Anna tells her not to wait, just live her life and never look back.

Rostov has also arranged for a special dinner with Sofia in their secret room, with three final lessons he wants to give her. First, if one does not master one's circumstances, "one is mastered by them," Sofia answers for him, clearly having heard this before. The second lesson is the surest sign of wisdom is cheerfulness. And the final thing he wants her to know is while he'll be sad by her absence, Rostov will have immense joy thinking of the adventures she'll have. Sofia realizes Rostov is not planning to join her in America. He explains he was able to secure asylum for her, but doing so for him and Anna wasn't possible. Instead, they plan to take a train to Finland, and from there they will see.

He speaks about how he prevented his sister from having the life she deserved, and he is determined to not let that happen with Sofia. He intends to keep his promise to Nina to look after Sofia, which now means getting her out of Russia.

It's then time for Sofia to leave. She says goodbye to all of the staff in the lobby; Leplevsky (John Heffernan) looks on from afar. Rostov plays it like he'll be seeing Sofia in two weeks, but as they embrace in a hug he assures her she can do this. As she walks out the door, Rostov pulls out the thimble from the first game he played with Sofia when she was young.

No regrets

Johnny Harris in A Gentleman in Moscow

Johnny Harris in A Gentleman in Moscow (Image credit: Ben Blackall/Paramount+ With Showtime)

Rostov spends time with the rest of the staff, telling them about the legend of the tree with black apples from his home, the ones that if you eat allow you to start your life over. He says even though his life has taken more twists and turns than he thought it would have, he would not eat a black apple, refusing to give up all the joys he has had and the friends he has made. He gives a toast to living a life without regret.

When he returns to his apartment, Glebnikov (Johnny Harris) is waiting for him. Glebnikov has come to say goodbye, expecting he will soon be killed. Unlike Rostov, he has regrets, saying the last time he saw his daughter he gave up spending more time with her to go to a meeting. He now wishes he had the chance to give a proper goodbye as Rostov did with Sofia (he also observed her departure from one of the hotel balconies). Rostov is worried Glebnikov is on to their plan, but the former official knows there is nothing he can do to stop it, but others can he warns Rostov. Soviet officials will be watching the train stations and Sofia, so Rostov's plan is in serious jeopardy of not working.

The escape

As Sofia prepares for her concert, she is told she has been moved to the second-to-last performance of the concert, which will make her escape plans all the more difficult to pull off.

Things appear smoother for Rostov, he has gotten two Finnish passports (stolen from guests) for him and Anna, while she has taken care of the train tickets. Rostov tells her he never expected his sentence at the Metropol to bring the happiest days of his life or that he would find someone he loves as much as Anna. Like Sofia, Anna picks up that Rostov has little faith their plan will work. When he asks her if she does, she admits she is doubtful too. But regardless of what happens, she says he gave her something she never imagined for herself, a happy ending. They go their separate ways as they make the final preparations.

In the lobby, Leplevsky is actively searching for the guests' missing passports. He notices Anna leaving, suitcase and all, which raises his suspicions. He goes to search Rostov's apartment, finding the passports. Rostov spies him doing this from the secret room.

Leplevsky heads for his office to make a call and inform officials of Rostov's plan, but Rostov beats him there and is holding two dueling pistols (the that were locked behind a painting in the manager's office for years) to threaten Leplevsky. He forces Leplevsky to empty the filing cabinet with all the information he has gathered on Rostov and the other members of the hotel staff, taking them down to the cellar and burning them in the furnace. Rostov then leaves Leplevsky chained up in the cellar so he won't interfere with his planned escape.

Meanwhile, Sofia finishes her performance and rushes to a bathroom to adopt her disguise. However, when she is not a part of the final curtain call, her chaperone goes looking for her. Sofia spots her coming and hides in one of the stalls. Of course, the chaperon checks each individual stall one by one. But when she gets to the last stall, Sofia is not there. She leaves in a huff. Sofia then emerges from the ceiling of one of the stalls. With shorter hair and dressed like a young man, she follows the plan and attempts to blend in with members of the audience as she heads for the exit. However, guards are eying the doors, aware Sofia is trying to defect.

Back in Russia, Anna waits at the train station for Rostov, but it's Glebnikov who arrives, telling her to get on the train and giving her a passport that will get her into Finland. Anna realizes Rostov isn't coming. Glebnikov explains Rostov knows even with Stalin gone, the Soviet Union hasn't stopped punishing the families of their enemies, so Rostov not joining Anna is the best way to protect her. As the train prepares to embark, Anna is frozen, unsure of what to do.

Rostov anxiously waits in the lobby for the phone to ring, signaling Sofia is safe. It rings a few times, but they are just normal calls. But then a phone rings again, and another and another, until all the phones in the Metropol are ringing off the hook. Rostov smiles as he knows Sofia is safe. He then gathers himself, gives one last look at the hotel and walks out the front door.

A happy ending

Ewan McGregor and Mary Elizabeth Winstead in A Gentleman in Moscow

Ewan McGregor and Mary Elizabeth Winstead in A Gentleman in Moscow (Image credit: Ben Blackall/Paramount+ With Showtime)

With the older Sofia's narration, we learn she safely made it to America to start her new life, but she would never see Rostov or Anna again. She heard Rostov left the hotel, but what happened to him is a mystery.

However, we see a disheveled Rostov, presumably having traveled a long way on foot, walking through a field. At the end of it, he sees Anna waiting for him.

Time passes, and Rostov and Anna are living on a farm. The black fruit on some of the trees indicates they are in the area where Rostov grew up. He never left his beloved Russia, but they have found peace and safety to live out the rest of their lives.

All episodes of A Gentleman in Moscow are now streaming on Paramount Plus.

Michael Balderston

Michael Balderston is a DC-based entertainment and assistant managing editor for What to Watch, who has previously written about the TV and movies with TV Technology, Awards Circuit and regional publications. Spending most of his time watching new movies at the theater or classics on TCM, some of Michael's favorite movies include Casablanca, Moulin Rouge!, Silence of the Lambs, Children of Men, One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest and Star Wars. On the TV side he enjoys Only Murders in the Building, Yellowstone, The Boys, Game of Thrones and is always up for a Seinfeld rerun. Follow on Letterboxd.