So…Aunt Elizabeth isn’t right in the head.
Sure, we’ve had hints she isn’t, but then we’ll have hints she is. She’s not a stupid woman. She’s just a bit…out there. That seems to be apparent as this episode opens and she and Catherine are on their way to the front to see the soldiers there and hand out macaroons.
That turns out a lot more depressing than it even sounds like it should. Elizabeth likes to pull the coach over and shout a bit in the woods on the way back. Catherine does the same inside the coach when she can’t hold it in any longer, and that leads to some pointed questions to Peter about why he can’t end the war.
Peter, who sees no harm in letting other people die, says he will end the war once the Swedes have been sufficiently punished for whatever vague offenses they committed in his own mind. Then he goes off to have some food because, well, he’s terrible.
Meanwhile, there’s Grigor and Georgina. That’s the married couple where he’s Peter’s best friend, she’s his mistress, and he knows all about that. Georgina has some bruises around her neck and that seems to be a bridge too far for Grigor who decides to go poison the Tsar. He changes his mind, but not before dumping the poison into Peter’s meal and Grigor can’t quite get Peter to, you know, not eat the poisoned borscht.
Now, Peter dying would be a godsend for Catherine especially as the Russian doctor seems to think it’s an illness caused by a cursed goat or something along those lines. If Peter dies, Catherine can get the throne.
Oh wait, there’s still Ivan.
And her speech on what she wants to do to modernize Russia doesn’t go over well with the assembled Russian noblemen who want to know what the economy is supposed to do if she frees the serfs.
And then someone finds a dead dog next to Peter’s borscht bowl, so yeah, poison.
Catherine’s general ineptitude while speaking probably clears her. But that doesn’t mean Peter will live. It sure looks like a coup, enough to bring General Velementov back from the front. Will he side with Catherine?
Will Patriarch Archie?
What about Peter’s half-brother Ivan, a foulmouthed boy of nine? Can he be bought off?
Well, by this point, Elizabeth has pieced together enough of Catherine’s plan that she decides to help. And here’s where we see how problematic she might be.
See, when pressed, it looks like Velementov will back Catherine should Peter die.
And Archie, well, he just makes some vague statements about doing what’s best for Russia. Plus, Marial told Archie Ivan’s still alive, so he might not be so helpful, but he looks like he might be.
And then Elizabeth shows up with Ivan’s corpse. Someone slit the boy’s throat. Elizabeth is…helping.
And then Peter wakes up hungry, so maybe all that was for nothing after all.