The Great – Season 3 Episode 4 “Stag” Recap & Review


In The Great Season 3 Episode 4, Peter practices the stag ritual, in which he will try to shoot a stag without hurting baby Paul, who will be strapped to the animal.

Archie excitedly prepares for Paul’s ordination, but Catherine brings preparations to a screeching halt when she learns that Paul’s first word is “pussy.” Fearing her son will turn out like Peter, she cancels the ordination.

Archie and Elizabeth worry what this would mean. If Paul isn’t legitimized in the eyes of God, the Russian throne will stop being hereditary. And that tradition is the reason Catherine is in power. In canceling, Catherine risks her own rule’s legitimacy.

Elizabeth tells Peter he has to focus on his one job: to preserve his line. But this doesn’t sink into Peter until she tells him this was his father’s last wish before he died.

Archie enlists Mariel to help as well, which is made possible when Catherine comes running to Mariel for comfort. Together, they come to an agreement not to throw their disagreements about Peter into each other’s faces.

Catherine and Peter then talk about their conflict in private. She gives Peter a letter she received from her sister Angela, who worries about where their mother has gone. Catherine isn’t sure what to say. And she feels that her irritation today was a culmination of feelings from their past.

Still, she’s sticking by her cancellation of the ordination. But she does want to try working through a marriage counseling book with Peter.

Tatyana and Arkady guide them through the marriage book’s exercises. Afterwards, Arkady remarks that they’re both exceptional people, which makes it hard not to wound each other. They’re going to have to step back from themselves at times if they don’t want to hurt each other.

Meanwhile, Agnes continues to work on Velementov. She sets up for them a “war game,” a demonstration of the battle between Sweden and Russia that would have been. Velementov demonstrates how he would have won. Afterwards, Agnes tells him that they can’t sleep together, as she’s married. It doesn’t matter that it’s his dying wish.

While this is going on, Georgina and Katya talk about ideas for Russia’s future. George says she hears only empty talk from others like Voltaire. She needs a friend like Katya who actually believes in the change she wants.

After the marriage exercises, Peter and Catherine decide to have fun together with Mariel and Grigor. Mariel does her best to be nice to Peter, but she can barely bite back insults. Peter brings up Angela’s letter and composes his own response. His sentiments, although somewhat problematic, are touching to Catherine.

Again, Mariel bites her tongue. Afterwards, Grigor is actually surprised to find that Mariel hasn’t yet come to like Peter.

Later, Mariel tells Archie about Pugachev’s living downstairs. And she assures him that Catherine is going to give in to the ordination. She’ll do anything for Peter.

That’s not Mariel’s wish, however. That night, she sneaks into Catherine’s rooms to implore her not to give in. Stick by her word, and do not go forward with ordaining Paul.

Peter, however, is confident that their renewed connection and love means that Catherine will come around, but Elizabeth worries. 

Catherine gives excuses to Elizabeth about potentially having another heir better suited to rule, but Elizabeth sees through her deception; she’s using protection when she has sex because she’s too busy to have another baby.

In the end, Catherine admits that ordaining Paul scares her. People could get rid of her and make him ruler. But Elizabeth knows it strengthens her as much as it weakens her. Still, Catherine thinks Elizabeth just wants to strengthen the line of her great love, Peter the Great.

Catherine finally tells Peter her decision. To his disappointment, she sticks by her cancellation of the ordination, but allows him to proceed with the stag ritual.

Elizabeth and Archie can’t abide by this decision, so Elizabeth gives Peter a sedative to administer to Catherine, allowing them to perform the ordination in secret.

However, Peter can’t go through the plan. He worries too much about the burden he’d be placing on Paul.

While the stag ritual takes place the next morning, Archie wakes up Pugachev to tell him that God has called him–specifically, to act against the empress.

The Episode Review

What an interesting turn of events that Archie would turn to Pugachev. Of course the priest is up to his own designs. Catherine called it at the beginning of the season that he works for his own gain, and his position is not secure if Catherine won’t give the church authority over the royal line. 

What, then, is he up to with Pugachev? And how will the Peter look-alike help him reestablish the church’s rule?

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You can read our full season review for The Great Season 3 here!


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