Honestly, I did not expect this particularly daffy historical comedy to come back, but here I am with a new batch of episodes on Hulu. It’s just a show where a young, aspiring Empress has to tell two small children to stop playing with a decapitated head, and they react like she’s the biggest party pooper around.
And that’s just one incident in the first five minutes.
So, to review: the first season ended with Catherine pregnant with her loutish husband Peter’s child. Her attempt to overthrow him failed miserably and got her lover Leo killed, but then at the last minute, she nodded a signal to ally General Velementov to start the coup anyway.
We pick up here where a very pregnant Catherine is fighting Peter in a civil war, the smallest one possible. Instead of armies ranging across the Russian steppes or the like, the entire war seems to be fighting inside the palace where the extent of Peter’s territory appears to be the third floor of the Eastern wing. Catherine has, on her side, progressive Count Orlo, Velementov, and Peter’s eccentric Aunt Elizabeth. On Peter’s side is Archbishop Archie, Catherine’s one-time best gal pal Marial, and Grigor and Georgina. Grigor, of course, is Peter’s best friend while Georgina is Peter’s mistress, Grigor’s wife, and both men know that and only one is generally happy about it.
Peter would also be someone so dumb that he doesn’t understand that A) his wife does not love him and B) he is losing the war to her no matter how many so-so body doubles he has.
Yes, Peter thinks he can’t lose because, you know, God’s anointed, and even sneaks down to Catherine’s room to tell her all is well, and he really wants to get to know the baby he has already named “Paul”.
That doesn’t work, but he does escape back to his part of the palace.
Since this is The Great, everything going on is a mess, and the only reason Catherine is winning is because Peter is a much bigger boob than everyone else on the show put together. He’s a man who thinks he’s winning when Georgina tries telling him that she can’t win if he’s still alive. That was not quite what she meant. By then, Marial has made up with Catherine and Archie his disappeared after reading the writing on the wall. That just means Peter and the married couple flee to an island-bound palace in the middle of a lake with only a loyal band of Cossacks to guard him. Those guys, it turns out, are sharpshooters.
Then again, the only reason Catherine knows they’re out there is Peter can’t abide living anything but the finest life, and the French chef he hired is spotted smuggling a lot of food and Peter’s mother’s mummified corpse out that way.
That desire for lots of the finest food is Peter’s eventual downfall. That and Elizabeth wants Peter alive because, you know, family. So, in exchange for the French chef and an hour a day with Catherine and eventual baby Paul, Peter will surrender his crown.
You’d think that would be a problem for the big doofus, but he actually insists it is all part of his master plan.
OK, this could be interesting. Peter believes he can win Catherine’s heart, and while he had some decent success there when he really tried in season one, he’s not exactly in a good place for that.
Then again, Orlo went from the small progress guy to a bloodthirsty man who just wants Archie dead, so a lot can happen.
I think I am gonna love this season.