The Great Season 2 Finale: Recap, Review & Ending Explained


A briefly happy couple

The Great Season 2’s finale begins by showing Catherine and Peter madly in love. Archie is not so happy, believing God has abandoned him. Catherine invites him to serve her, if not God. She plans on going out to meet the Ottoman Sultan. She’s optimistic that he wants to discuss peace.

Does Catherine find out about her mother’s death?

Grigor urges Marial not to tell Catherine Peter’s secret. It will only blow up in everyone’s faces and lead to unnecessary death.

But she struggles to hold it in when Catherine visits her. While Marial prepares for her wedding to Maxim, Catherine tells her that Peter is her one great love. Marial retorts by laying out what Peter did to her mother.

She’s instantly heartbroken. After a period of sobbing at her mother’s grave, she goes to Peter. As his back is turned, her eyes flit to a dagger on a dressing table. But he turns around with Paul in his arms, interrupting whatever plan was running through her head.

Peter asks Catherine to let him go with her to see the Sultan so that he can protect her. The grief in her eyes is so intense, it’s a wonder Peter (even as obtuse as he is) doesn’t pick up on it.

How does everyone respond to the secret being out?

On her way to see Russia’s troops, Catherine slaps Elizabeth. It’s pretty apparent she’s not taking the news well.

She also insults Velementov for letting the war be “bloody and pointless.” She throws his plans into the fire. Why should she need them? She’s going to meet with the Sultan and resolve things her way.

When Peter finds out that Marial told Catherine about Joanna, he nearly kills her. Then his face crumples in tears for how he’s crushed Catherine’s heart.

Georgina encourages him to kill Catherine before she kills him first.

Catherine tells Elizabeth she knows how she helped Peter keep his secret. Elizabeth has a note sent back to the palace, with just one word for Peter: “Run.”

Peter decides to run with his allies and take Paul with him. In the end, however, he can’t go through with it.

Does the empress make peace with the Sultan?

Catherine asks a drunk Velementov to come with her to see the Sultan. He refuses, informing her that he awaits her death.

Orlo tells her she’s crazy to see the Sultan, but she doesn’t care. She tells him she’s not angry at him for stealing. She’s upset about what it meant: that Orlo did not believe that she could change things. Brushing past Orlo, she enlists a random guard to accompany her to the Sultan.

The Sultan has drawn up new borders for their countries if Catherine will just end the war. But she proposes that they share the region, creating an experimental zone as “a beacon of peaceful revolution in Europe.”

His answer is to stab her in the hand and shoot her soldier. Acting fast, Catherine stabs him in the neck. Elizabeth arrives just in time to shoot the Sultan’s soldier.

When they arrive back at camp, Velementov pledges to aid her in pushing back the Ottomans’ forces.

While Russia now has the upper hand, they haven’t yet won the war. Velementov does note, however, that the Ottomans will now be at each other’s throats. We basically have our answer on who wins the war.

Do Catherine and Peter prepare to fight each other?

Catherine tells everyone what Peter did to her mother. She knows she must kill him, but she loves him. Orlo encourages her to kill him. Velementov promises to be by her side, as he should have been with the Sultan.

Peter’s allies are meanwhile staging a coup, even as it remains unclear what Peter wants to do. They ask for Archie’s support, and Tatyana hides guns under the table in preparation for a showdown at Marial’s wedding feast.

Hugo attempts to persuade Peter to take back his country and help him take back Sweden as well. Peter is upset. He says he was trying to change. “It doesn’t work,” says Hugo.

On the way back to the palace, Catherine and Elizabeth have it out. Catherine says she’ll have to kill Peter, but Elizabeth insists that both having sex with Catherine’s mother and “killing” her were accidents. She insists that Joanna repeatedly came onto him and that she unfortunately fell out of a window. She says Peter loves her. And she has changed him.

Catherine tells her that she knows Elizabeth loves both of them, but that she’s going to have to choose one of them. Elizabeth says that she already has. Today. By choosing to tell Peter to run and not to fight, I assume she means she chose Catherine.

Outside the palace, Catherine comes across Archie. He was hoping God would tell him who to back: Catherine or Peter. But he feels God has abandoned him. He pledges to stand by Catherine because she believes in something.

Does Peter stage a coup?

Archie marries Marial and Maxim. At the wedding feast, relations are tense. Everyone waits to see what Catherine and Peter will do.

They both stand up to give speeches on the nature of marriage. Though they address Marial and Maxim, they’re actually speaking to each other.

Eventually, Peter breaks down and tells her he’s so sorry for what he did. And Catherine surprises everyone when she ruminates that maybe great love isn’t perfect love. Perhaps they should embrace their failings.

Dancing commences as Catherine walks toward her husband and kisses him. She takes Paul to put him to bed and tells Peter she will see him in his chambers.

Marial and Grigor celebrate, musing that “love conquers all.” Everyone gets drunk, no longer worried about taking back the throne.

When everyone is several cups deep, Velementov and Orlo stride in, arresting all of Peter’s allies. And Marial too!

What are Hugo’s and Agnes’ plans?

The two former monarchs are still intent on finding a way to retake Sweden. When Peter starts to flee, they suppose they’ll have to back Catherine. When Peter decides not to run,  Hugo tries to convince Peter to turn against Catherine (which obviously backfires).

They then become spectators, simply waiting to see in whose favour everything will all turn out. It seems these two are introduced not to be major players in this season, but to help set up some new conflict for season 3.

What happens to Catherine’s allies? And why is Marial arrested?

Orlo apologizes to Catherine, but insists that he needs to have a voice if he’s going to be part of her team. Velementov seems to have put their season-long differences behind him. Archie, too, commits to serving the empress. It looks like these three will be some of Catherine’s strongest allies going into the next season. Elizabeth is also on Catherine’s side, but their foundation is looking shaky.

It’s unclear why Marial was arrested and Georgina wasn’t. Catherine may trust George if she believes her lies from the last episode. And if she’s learned of Marial’s role in covering up Joanna’s death, she may not trust her friend any more. Alternatively, the empress may have a plan up her sleeve that involves blurring the lines between her allies and her enemies.

How Does The Great Season 2 End?

This season ends with Catherine walking into Peter’s quarters after putting Paul to bed. While Peter’s back is turned, she rushes to him without hesitation and stabs him repeatedly in the back.

He falls to his face, and she falls over him. She sobs over what she’s done.

But then the real Peter walks in. Catherine realizes she stabbed his lookalike, Pugachev, who’s made several cameos this season. She rushes up to Peter and embraces him.

Unbelievably, Pugachev gets up with a groan. He walks away, nursing his wounds. Catherine and Peter are left staring at each other awkwardly, as if unsure what happens next.

The Episode Review

In the span of one episode, Catherine’s world comes crumbling all around her.

She’s already forgiven Peter for more than he deserves. But having sex with her mother? Then covering up her death that he indirectly caused? That’s… a bit much. Even for Catherine’s merciful heart.

The emotional whiplash Catherine experiences intensifies when she and Peter have to work against each other again. All while they work through complicated feelings for each other. It’s a powerful and heartbreaking storyline for both of them.

This series finale isn’t as action packed as season one’s events. This episode and season 2 as a whole are a lot more character-driven. That may not be for everyone, and some may miss the sheer rage that fueled Catherine’s coup against Peter.

But this episode expertly draws together season-long themes and closes a curtain on huge character-development arcs.

It also leaves us with questions to anticipate the next season. Most especially: How will the coming civil war between Catherine and Peter play out now that their love stands in the way? 

What did you think of the season finale? What about the development of Catherine’s and Peter’s relationship? How do you think it will evolve in the next season? Let us know in the comments!

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8 thoughts on “The Great Season 2 Finale: Recap, Review & Ending Explained”

  1. Good questions! 1. I’m not sure, but the show was definitely building up to the decoy taking a shot for Peter the entire season. I was just waiting for it to happen. My impression (based on other episodes) is that Pugachev is always in Peter’s room whenever Peter isn’t there. 2. I have no idea. It’s obviously crazy, but it does kind of fit with the show’s humour. But maybe, since his life is in constant danger, he was wearing some sort of protective garment? 3. Their relationship is just so complex. Catherine never wanted him dead. But yes, I think her reaction implies that she won’t try to kill him again–she loves him too much. As for Peter, I think he knows full well what he did was despicable, so he could possibly forgive her. But does that suddenly make them allies? I don’t think so. Honestly, season 3 could go in so many different directions from here! Thanks for commenting!

  2. I agree that Elizabeth’s rescue of Catherine was her making her choice to back Catherine. But I have so many questions about the ending: 1. Did Peter plant his double there as a decoy, or did he just happen to be there? 2. How the hell did he get up and walk away after being stabbed 7 times in the back? And what does that mean? 3. Does Catherine rushing into the real Peter’s arms means she no longer wants him dead? Does him embracing her mean he forgives her for trying to murder him? I can live with question #2 as a good season-ending cliffhanger, but questions 1 and 2 are nagging at me in an annoying way.

  3. You might be right! It was left kind of ambiguous what Elizabeth meant. Either way, I believe she chose Catherine, but I’m not sure that Catherine’s going to see it that way!

  4. I think that when Elizabeth told Catherine she chose, she meant that she shot the Ottoman Emperor to keep Catherine safe and thus choosing her. She could have just stand there and Peter would have been Emperor.

  5. I agree, Haven. The show just wouldn’t be the same without Peter. This season has shown him to be a lot more complicated, and I love him (and often, I love to hate him). While the true Catherine the Great might be rolling over in her grave over all the creative liberties that have been taken, I think they do the show good!

  6. I liked Peter’s development into a stronger and more likeable character this season and it will be interesting to see how they continue the relationship with Peter and Catherine in Season 3. This will of course require a huge departure from the historical events but as the shows credits went from “Occasionally true” to “Almost entirely untrue” it seems the show has given itself license to do so.

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