Episode 7 of The Great Season 2 sees Catherine calmly withstanding an attempt to end her life. She doesn’t seem too worried, though.
Marial attempts to interest Catherine in the daily agenda. Catherine’s lost faith in Russia, however. She believes everyone has failed her: the court, her team, the serfs. Even Marial’s promise of an international science competition doesn’t cheer her.
Nothing truly impresses her when evaluating Russia’s submissions for the competition. She likes the model roller coaster, but it unfortunately has the nasty side effect of killing whoever would ride it. She grudgingly chooses a stapler to represent the country.
Peter has been keeping Grigor out of his quarters. Finally, he lets him in to tell him that he’s realized he doesn’t want to be emperor. Grigor storms out, angry he’s ruined their plan.
Peter also tells Catherine he no longer desires to be emperor. She thanks him for being kind to her, and he tells her he desires her happiness more than his own. He even offers to help her with the science competition. She knows he would fumble an invention, but the idea of him trying cheers her.
Back in her chambers, Catherine accuses Elizabeth of abandoning her—something she half-expected from the men, but not from her. Elizabeth insists she was trying to save her when protesting her plan to free the serfs. “Perhaps I know my country better than you,” she says. Catherine then forces her out of her room.
However, she’s quickly cheered when she learns her mother, Joanna, is coming to visit. She goes into a frenzy making sure everything is perfect for her arrival.
It turns out Arkady is behind the attempts on Catherine’s life. He’s been missing intentionally, but Grigor encourages him to miss by less. They hope to scare her into submission.
After a few days of processing what happened in the last episode, Orlo and Velementov return to their duties. Velementov begins to doubt Catherine, though.
And Orlo’s uncle threatens him, wanting him to procure gold for their region. After the debacle with the serfs, Uncle Varnya worries Orlo’s position might slip. Orlo does later steal gold from Catherine, feeling awful about what he’s done.
Joana isn’t impressed with Russia. She believes her daughter has bitten off more than she can chew with her new reign. It’s clear she wants Catherine to be more like her other daughters. All but one of them have married kings and have happily submitted to their husband’s rule.
She had even clinched a deal for the last sister to marry King Louis of France. But when the rumour spread of Catherine’s takeover of Russia, Louis backed out.
Joanna doesn’t like that Catherine kept so many people alive after the coup: Peter, Marial, and especially Elizabeth. She believes Elizabeth to be more invested in the child in Catherine’s belly than the empress herself.
Peter steals a refrigerated box from a Norwegian scientist to impress Catherine. She sees through his plot, but chooses the device to represent Russia anyway. It’s better than a stapler, after all.
Unfortunately, Joana finds out about the stolen device, making Catherine feel ashamed of her country.
Attempting to resolve their differences, Elizabeth takes Catherine to a memorial for the dead. There, Russians are honoring Shakey, Lady Svenska, and others who fell during the uproar.
All of this is to show Catherine that Russia may be brutal, but everyone tries to heal and put their grudges behind them. Catherine can teach Russia something, but Russia can also teach Catherine. The empress admits that she is also at fault for the uprising, and not just her people.
Joanna meets Peter and attempts to seduce him. Elizabeth emphasizes that he can not do anything with her. If Catherine found out, she would end both of them.
Archie confesses to Marial that he kissed Father Basil. Ever since, he’s been tempted to return to his old way of life. Now, he turns to inflicting pain on himself as a distraction.
Catherine is still without a viable entry to the science competition, but a servant has an idea. The model roller coaster killed people, but it could work with some adjustments.
When they come up with a model that works, Orlo suggests they build one to scale. They only have one night to do it, but what does it matter? They’re Russian!
They end up making an incredible device called the Roll and Coast. It astounds everyone—except for Catherine’s mother.
The Episode Review
As I feared, it does feel somewhat like the consequences of freeing the serfs aren’t intense enough. Catherine has to suffer shakier relationships and some gossip, but that seems to be about it.
Her mother’s visit throws things into a spiral, however! Gillian Anderson is an excellent addition to the cast as Joanna.
Her flirtation with Peter is comical but also threatening, like Elizabeth said. And while we don’t know exactly what her intent is, it doesn’t seem good for Catherine’s rule.