The Great Season 2 Episode 1 Recap and Ending, Explained

Hulu’s ‘The Great’ dives deep into the chaotic, inspiring, and mildly scandalous life of Catherine the Great, Empress of All Russia. A historical comedy-drama created by Tony McNamara, it follows the series of events that unfold when Catherine, with the help of supporters, tries to take the throne from her ruthless and idiotic husband, Peter III.

Season 2 focuses on the events that shape Catherine’s personal and political life during and after the coup. She faces tricky obstacles in her quest to bring the Enlightenment to Russia and reform the country’s socio-political landscape. With the heir to the throne growing in her belly, Catherine is aware that she is safe only up until the birth of her son, Paul.

Season 2 episode 1 looks at the unexpectedly long coup and its aftermath, highlighting the messy struggle for power between Catherine and Peter, which involves a horde of royal subjects. Here’s everything you need to know about the recap and ending of this episode. SPOILERS AHEAD.

The Great Season 2 Episode 1 Recap

The episode opens with Catherine, Orlo, and Velementov searching for Leo in the forest. However, even though his body is missing, Orlo and Velementov believe that he is dead. Later, we discover that the bloody coup has been ongoing for four months, with Peter and his supporters trapped in the east wing of the damaged palace.

However, Peter is having a gala time eating and partying; he ignores Svenska’s military plans and takes the entire situation very lightly. Marial and the Patriarch/Archie too are trapped with Peter and the others. On the other hand, Catherine invents the molotov cocktail, determined to smoke out her husband and his people.

In a surprising move, Peter uses the doctor, Vinadel, to go and see his wife. At the same time, the molotov cocktail attacks begin. Peter, enjoying the bloodshed, asks Catherine to give up the throne for the sake of their love and baby. Elsewhere, Velementov shoots Svenska dead. Peter escapes the palace with Grigor and Georgina.

Marial shows up in Catherine’s chambers, determined to be by her side. The empress forgives her best friend. Catherine’s inner council keeps reminding her that the coup continues because she was unsuccessful in assassinating Peter. Meanwhile, in their hideout in the countryside, Peter grows hungry for luxurious foods.

Later, Aunt Elizabeth visits Catherine’s chambers and talks about her pregnancy. Marial finds Archie’s hiding spot and brings him food; he praises Marial’s cunning betrayal, but she believes her treason was the only way to save the empress’ life. However, she promises to try and save him.

At night, Catherine sees Peter’s chef and his mother’s mummified corpse being taken away stealthily. She follows them and finds his hideout; her army quickly surrounds the area. Aunt Elizabeth begs Catherine to spare Peter’s life, highlighting how killing him would make people suspicious of her. She suggests that the empress make him abdicate the throne instead. Meanwhile, Catherine’s pregnancy makes her want to eat dirt.

The Great Season 2 Episode 1 Ending: Does Catherine Win the Throne? Is the Coup Successful?

Grigor grows angry when he sees Peter and Georgina continuing to engage in sexual acts. The next morning, Catherine makes Peter’s chef cook delicious dishes, using their mouth-watering scent to lure him out. Overwhelmed by hunger, Peter agrees to talk terms. He states that he will abdicate the throne if Catherine allows him 20 minutes a day with her and Paul. The husband and wife then debate the terms of his house arrest.

Image Credit: Gareth Gatrell/Hulu

Peter finally signs the document of his abdication, and Catherine legally attains the throne as the Empress of All Russia. She revels at the moment, with her supporters cheering. Thus, the coup ends, having successfully attained its goal. However, Peter casually brings up the topic of Leo and hands Catherine his head in a sack. Later, when Peter, Grigor, and Georgina are returning to the palace, Peter reveals that he does not intend to give up his power and has a plan.

Is Leo Voronsky Dead?

Throughout the episode, everyone is convinced that Leo is dead even though his body remains unfound. When Peter gives Catherine Leo’s mummified head in a bloody sack, she does not open it to check the head’s identity, too fraught with grief. Although it is possible that Leo was killed by Peter’s guards after Catherine decided to choose Russia over his life, the fact that his body is not shown even once is an indication that perhaps he may be in hiding somewhere. However, after seeing the sack, everyone now believes that Leo is truly dead.

What Are the Terms of Peter’s House Arrest?

Peter and Catherine heatedly debate the terms of his confinement after his loss of power. Whilst Catherine wants him to move away from the palace, Peter suggests a house arrest within it. He tells her she can run Russia as long as he gets to spend time with her and his son. He asks for regular sex as well, but the empress refuses. Finally, she agrees to the palace house arrest and grants him 20 minutes a day with her and Paul during breakfast. She also gives him his chef.

Their negotiations point out how deeply Peter loves his wife. Additionally, despite despising him, Catherine has a tender spot for him as well, unable to treat him like scum even though she believes he deserves it. It is also likely that she agrees to most of his terms because of what Aunt Elizabeth told her about his childhood. Plus, the empress knows there’s a political advantage in keeping Peter satisfied, if not happy, as he will then be less likely to harm her.

What’s Going On Between Peter, Grigor, and Georgina?

Grigor makes Peter promise to stop sleeping with his wife, Georgina, and the emperor agrees to do it only twice a year. However, when Grigor sees them together again, he loses his temper. He has been upset about their affair for years but loves them both too much to oppose it outrightly. Meanwhile, Georgina gets angry at Grigor’s feelings, stating that she will sleep with either of them whenever she wants to. Additionally, we know that Georgina is using Peter to maintain her social status in court.

Thus, although Grigor is loyal to both his best friend and his wife, he is traumatized by their affair as it makes him feel worthless and excluded. Peter, however, brushes Grigor’s concerns aside in his characteristically indifferent and delusional way. The emperor is simply unable to see that others have issues with him because he is extremely flawed.

Why Does Aunt Elizabeth Want to Keep Peter Alive? Who is She Loyal To?

Aunt Elizabeth wishes to keep Peter alive because she promised his parents that she would. Additionally, she loves him like a mother and is able to see the troubled heart behind his veil of hedonism and cruelty. Although she is loyal to Catherine and genuinely wishes for her well-being, she believes in preserving the royal bloodline and thus is unwilling to dispose of Peter. She also tells Catherine about Peter’s traumatic childhood and her own drowned son, Igor. Clearly, she does not wish to lose another loved one and believes that Catherine should control Peter because he loves her.

Read More: The Great Season 2 Filming Locations