Heads It’s Me
Episode 1 of The Great Season 2 picks up four months after the events of season 1. In a bid for the throne, Catherine is not only at war with her husband, the emperor Peter; she’s also pregnant with his child.
Catherine is still searching for her lover Leo in the woods, hoping he survived the execution order. Everyone else presumes him to be dead.
On the bright side, she has Peter and his supporters trapped in the east wing of the palace. But General Velementov hesitates to attack, believing they have a strong barricade that would cause unnecessary bloodshed.
Meanwhile, Peter and his company are partying like there isn’t a coup threatening their very existence. And Marial, Catherine’s formerly devoted servant, finds herself on the wrong side of the battle.
Catherine has a plan to burn the emperor’s entourage out. But Peter has already sneaked into Catherine’s room when the attack begins. He’s still smitten with her and her unborn child.
The insults she continually lobs at him just roll right off his royal garb. They both try to convince each other to surrender, to no avail.
Peter manages to escape to a royal estate with his best friends, Grigor and Georgina. No one thought to bring food, however.
Back in the palace, Marial rejoins Catherine’s service. And Archie, the Archbishop everyone loves to hate, is hiding from the empress.
Worried Peter might garner regional support, Catherine quickly tracks him. Although it’s always been the plan to kill him, she’s pressured by the wish of Peter’s Aunt Elizabeth to spare him.
In the estate, Peter is starving and surrounded by Catherine’s guards. He ends up betraying Grigor’s trust by having sex with his wife after he promised not to, continuing a significant plot line from the last season that threatened Grigor’s loyalty to the emperor.
Using the tantalizing smell of food, Catherine convinces Peter to come and negotiate with her. He agrees to abdicate on one condition: he gets to live in the palace and spend 20 minutes a day with her and their child.
Catherine agrees, and he signs the documents—right before informing her that he has Leo’s mummified head in his possession. Stunned, she takes the head from him right as Count Orlo declares her the reigning empress.
On the way back to the palace, Peter laughs in the carriage. He’s not worried at all. He has a plan.
The Episode Review
Just like season 1, this episode delivers a unique blend of the bleak and the beautiful. Although its style is not for everyone, this show has mastered the art of black comedy/gallows humour. So expect every laugh to come with a side of grimace.
Season 2’s premiere reintroduces all the characters we know and love. It especially does well in highlighting the newfound nature of Catherine’s and Peter’s relationship. Now at war with each other, their dynamic is as hilarious as ever.
There were excellent performances and comedic timing displayed here. But now, with the introductory style of this episode out of the way, I expect things to get really exciting.
Peter is still an oxymoron—just as horrible and delightful as ever. Does his plan actually hold any merit? Or will it turn out to be another one of his imbecilic failures?