Episode 9 of The Great Season 2 kicks off with a bang. The heir to the throne is born, and little Paul and Catherine are both healthy, to Peter’s relief.
Six weeks later, Catherine and Peter have barely seen one another. They’re avoiding each other, each for different reasons. Peter feels guilty about being responsible for her mother’s death. And Catherine—she’s wary about her growing feelings toward her husband.
Meanwhile, the court sees several unexpected arrivals. Hugo and Agnes, the former king and queen of Sweden, seek shelter in Russia after their country’s monarchy dissolved in favour of democracy. They petition Catherine for help taking their country back, but she repeatedly refuses to start another war.
Marial’s cousin Maxim arrives also. Since Marial’s father died a month ago, Maxim inherits his title and takes over Marial’s quarters.
Last but not least is Georgina, who returns with progressive ideas from France filling her head. She informs the empress that she’s now on her side. George wants to spread ideas of equal rights for women. She reveals to Tatyana, however, that she’s actually back to stop these very ideas from spreading.
She surprises Grigor too, and he’s not entirely happy to see her. He tells her he’s been seeing Marial and doesn’t intend to stop.
Georgina has the worst timing, as it turns out. Marial asks Grigor to marry her so she can keep her property. Although she knows he can’t divorce Georgina, she suggests they have her declared dead.
Grigor breaks the news to her that his wife is back. But he still wants to make things work with Marial; he loves her. Marial resists him, claiming that Georgina has always had too strong a hold on him.
Peter vents to Elizabeth about Catherine and Joanna. Unthinkingly, he mentions that he witnessed his mother drown Elizabeth’s son when he was a child. Stricken, she leaves with Paul in her arms, whispering, “You’re okay. You’re okay.”
Although Catherine has a war to run, she can’t stop thinking about Peter. She asks him what he thinks about being exiled to the country and being able to visit Paul on weekends. He agrees, just before they both realize Paul is missing.
Each thinks the other was supposed to be watching him. A maid tells them Elizabeth took the baby to a country house.
They ride together but first, they give Grigor a decoy baby with instructions to pretend as if they are both still in the palace.
They spend the carriage ride by answering hypothetical questions. Peter almost reveals his secret about Catherine’s mother. Instead, he tells Catherine he knows she loves him. In the same breath, he admits their relationship would be impossible.
When they find Elizabeth, she’s caring for Paul and pretending he is her own son, Igor. Peter’s comment broke something in her, but she’s still sane. She assures Catherine she knows the baby is Paul. She simply felt an overwhelming sense of danger and knew she had to get Paul out of the palace.
Peter apologizes to her. He says he never understood her pain until he thought he’d lost his son. They embrace.
Back at the palace, Archie lies screaming in the forest. It seems God has left him.
Marial meanwhile cooks up a plan to marry her eight-year-old cousin. He’ll not be alone and she’ll be able to keep her property. So… it’s a win-win?
Grigor tells her he was willing to divorce Georgina for her, if only the laws allowed for it. They agree to remain together, though each of them will be married to another.
At the country house, Catherine poses to Peter another hypothetical. What would he do if she loved him? They give in to their feelings for each other and have sex.
Hugo and Agnes decide that if Catherine won’t help them, maybe Peter will. They think to overthrow the empress. But when the couple arrives looking like a happy family, they have to think of another plan.
Reality comes crashing around Catherine’s happiness with Peter. She insults the way Velementov is handling the war. And she forces Orlo out when she learns of his theft from her treasury.
The episode ends with Marial and Grigor lying next to one another. Grigor lets it slip that Joanna fell out of a window after having sex with Peter. He asks Marial not to tell Catherine, but she simply lies there, silent.
The Episode Review
Formerly solid ties are pulled taut by betrayal in The Great’s penultimate instalment to season 2. So many of Catherine’s alliances have been strained this season. This point in the series may just mark the breaking point for some of them.
While this episode relies a bit too much on surprise arrivals, it proceeds to follow several exciting plot points that should carry over into the next episode – and possibly into the next season.
There has been so much build up to Catherine and Peter coming together. I can’t say I’m a fan of their relationship, but the show has handled their arc so well. But just as it begins, it seems it’s about to come crashing down.
Will Joanna’s fate become known to Catherine? And what will she do to Peter if she finds out?