Hulu’s ‘The Great’ follows the rise and reign of Catherine the Great. Starring Elle Fanning in the lead role, the show begins with a young Catherine arriving in Russia with the hopes of a great love, which is torn down the same day. She believed that Emperor Peter would be a great man ruling a great nation, but he turns out to be a whimsical idiot who doesn’t care about anyone. When Catherine decides to take the country from him, she realizes she’ll need some people on her side. Count Orlo is the first person she lets in on her plan of overthrowing Peter.
Over two seasons, the relationship between Catherine and Orlo develops as that of close allies and friends with the same motive. It gets complicated as Catherine falls in love with Peter, among other things. The first episode of ‘The Great’ Season 3 shows Catherine and Orlo at complete odds, and it ends rather tragically for him. What happens to him? Let’s find out. SPOILERS AHEAD
How Did Orlo Die?
Before Catherine came to Russia, Count Orlo played the long game. He knew he couldn’t control Peter, so he tried to start with small changes, which he hoped would turn into something bigger in the longer run. He hated Peter with all his heart, but there was no option other than to persevere until Catherine came along. When the plan for the coup was laid out, Catherine hated Peter just as much as Orlo did, and they knew it would be necessary to kill him, or the threat of Peter trying to get the throne back would always linger on them.
However, when the time came to kill Peter, Catherine always fell short. She couldn’t do it the first time, which almost ruined the coup. The second time, when Peter surrendered, she decided to let him live for the sake of their unborn son. Orlo could live with that as long as Peter stayed away from the affairs of the court. However, over time, Catherine grew increasingly lenient with Peter, which irked Orlo. He also realized that the naive optimism he had found inspiring at first was becoming a disaster as Catherine refused to listen to him.
By the end of the second season, Orlo started to worry that he might have traded one inept ruler for another. However, he knew Catherine could be better if only she’d get rid of Peter. She came close to killing him when she found out Peter had slept with and killed her mother, but instead, she stabbed Pugachev, which made her realize she loved Peter too much to kill him. In the first episode of Season 3, Orlo is beyond himself when he thinks that Catherine has finally killed Peter, which is why he is so much more disappointed when he realizes she hasn’t.
After all this time, Orlo decides that Catherine will never kill him, no matter what Peter does. He also knows that Peter cannot be around her anymore, so he decides to do the deed himself. When Peter and Catherine go for a walk in the woods, which is also a rabbit-hunting session, Orlo hides behind a tree, waiting to shoot and kill Peter. When Catherine hears a rustle, she thinks it is a rabbit and takes the shot, which hits Orlo straight in the head.
Not knowing what she has done, Catherine walks away with Peter. Meanwhile, Orlo’s dead body is eaten by bears, never to be found. Later, when Orlo’s absence is noted, Catherine tries to find out what happened to him, briefly considering that Peter might have killed him. Eventually, however, she believed Orlo might have left because he was unhappy with Catherine for not killing Peter. She decides to let him be and moves on.
Did Sacha Dhawan Leave The Great?
Count Orlo dies in the first episode of ‘The Great’ Season 3 and doesn’t reappear again, even as a ghost. This confirms that actor Sacha Dhawan has bid farewell to his character. Whether Orlo was killed off because the story demanded or because Dhawan believed it was time to move on from the character hasn’t been confirmed. In any case, Orlo’s death serves as a reminder of the volatile nature of Russia portrayed in ‘The Great,’ where it is impossible to know when and how someone’s death might come.
For Dhawan, who was last seen playing The Master in ‘Doctor Who,’ it was a joy to play the role that allowed him to show his range. “My character is someone who is desperate for change. He’s been suppressed for so long, and he just wants his lionheart to explode,” he said. He confessed his love for Orlo and that playing the same character for months made him attached to the character.
“It’s a long shoot. It’s eight months or so. You grow so attached that you do feel quite sad at the end. On your last day of filming, you literally say goodbye to the character, in a way. You take your costume off and say, ‘Okay, I’ll see you when I see you,’” the actor said. A prolific actor who has worked over a range of genres and portrayed a plethora of characters over the years, Dhawan has been busy with several projects since wrapping up ‘The Great.’ He is set to appear in BBC’s crime thriller, ‘Wolf.’
Read More: Is Count Orlo in The Great Based on a Real Person?