Before proceeding with the plot recaps, I just wanted to do a quick sidebar on the character of Fyodor Romanov, aka Bishop Filaret. One of my personal complaints about Season 2 of Godunov is there was far too little Godunov and too much Romanov. Too be sure, Romanov was an important historical figure. And in the serial he was played, quite well by Russian actor Alexander Ustiugov, a talented artist who has many meaty roles under his belt.
In fact, Alexander is not just an actor, he is also a theater director and a rock musician with his own band called Ekibastuz. Named after the city in Kazakhstan wherein Alexander was born, in 1976.
Much as I like Ustiugov, I was personally discomfited with the ideological load his “Godunov” character is forced to bear. The producers and writers did what I feared what would happen; in Season 2 they sort of went to town with the whole “Russia is Romanov” and “Russia is Church” thematic, as hammered in (sometimes not all that subtlety and often quite ham-fistedly) by the current government. Which ideology, it goes without saying, excludes people like me. Namely, non Christians! But we are Russians, nonetheless, and we still love Russia, even if we wish Russia had remained a pagan land with gods prancing around bearing Aryan god-names like “Deivos” and “Stribog”; and even if we don’t know how to cross ourselves properly to the Jewish Messiah. Fyodor Romanov, on the other hand, is the perfect embodiment of the current “Ideological Combination” of modern Russian statehood. He was (historically) not only a Bishop in the Orthodox Church, but also a landowning aristocrat, not to mention the father of the founder of the Romanov dynasty! The Byzantine Russian Deep State at its finest. Fyodor Romanov could be considered the ideological ancestor of President Putin.
I say that half-facetiously, but if you think about it… In Season 1 when we first met Romanov he was a young Oprichnik in the service of Ivan Grozny. When we first met President Putin he was a young KGB officer in the service of Yury Andropov. Fyodor Romanov was sent abroad to carry out secret-agent type missions for the Tsar. Putin was sent to Germany to do secret-agent stuff… and so on…
Meanwhile, I found more explanatory information about this confusing character from this, from which I quote liberally:
Fyodor Romanov was born in Moscow in 1553. In his youth, he was regarded as the finest rider and one of the most handsome men in the whole of the city. Appointed a boyar in 1586, Fyodor held a series of important posts in the Russian government and army. He was related to Anastasia Zakharina-Yurieva, the first wife of Ivan the Terrible.
After the death of his cousin, Tsar Feodor I, Fyodor Romanov was regarded as the next in line of succession. Boris Godunov responded by incarcerating him in a monastery as the monk Philaret. Fyodor’s wife Xenia was forced to take the veil under the name of Martha, while their five-year-old son Michael was imprisoned along with his aunt, Fyodor’s sister Anastasia, at the St Cyril of Belozersk Monastery of the Dormition.
When False Dmitry I captured the Russian throne, he promoted his “cousin” Fyodor to the rank of metropolitan of Rostov. Philaret preferred to side with the opposition, however, and played an active part in his overthrow. He was similarly unimpressed when False Dmitry II elected him patriarch of Russia. Philaret thought it better to politely decline such an offer, foreseeing the possible consequences of allying himself with a foreign usurper.
Philaret only accepted the post of patriarch after helping to overthrow Basil Shuisky in May 1610. In April 1611, he headed an embassy to King Sigismund of Poland, who wanted to place his own son Wladyslaw on the Russian throne. During the negotiations, the patriarch was imprisoned and spent eight years in a Polish dungeon.
While Philaret was in Poland, his son was elected tsar of Russia. On 21 February 1613, representatives of the different classes gathered at the Dormition Cathedral in the Moscow Kremlin to elect a new autocrat. They unanimously voted to offer the throne to Michael Romanov. The Romanov dynasty ruled Russia for over three hundred years, from the election of Tsar Michael in 1613 to the overthrow of Tsar Nicholas II in 1917.
Okay, now it’s recap time. With Stalin’s ghost breathing down my neck, I proceed with enthusiasm.
Here is the video link to Episode 1, the others follow from this. Be wary, you have to endure short ads intruding at random and usually inconvenient times.
Series is produced for TV Channel Rossiya-1. Production company is Moskino, with funding by BTR Bank, some others, and the Russian government. Director is Timur Alpatov.
[to be continued]