This is The Great, and I expect certain things. I expect this version of 18th century Russia to be really bizarrely funny. I expect Catherine to be generally exasperated by Peter’s childishness, but since they’re in love, I expect them to get over it.
But then there’s something like this episode where the two argue over Paul’s ordination.
Essentially, there are two things that are considered traditional for Russian princes. One is an ordination. The other is the stag ritual. One is basically a big church ceremony where there’s probably lots of prayers and singing as Paul is anointed as the future tsar of Russia. The other involves putting the infant on a stag, giving Peter a shotgun, and having Peter shoot the stag without hurting the baby. The first seems normal for a European monarchy. The second is the sort of crazy stuff that The Great does so well. There’s no way the stag ritual was ever a real thing, but it fits in so well with this version of Russia that it isn’t something I can’t believe would have happened in a fictional version of a real country that only just got around to outlawing murder. Maybe.
Naturally, Catherine objects to both ceremonies. This may be due to the fact Paul’s first word is “pussy,” and she’s worried her son will grow up to be a dunderhead like his father. Or she could see the rituals for the barbarism that they are. She knows Peter killed his childhood tormentor, and she’s been in Russia long enough to not be too surprised that the stag ritual exists. But no, Paul cannot undergo either ceremony, and Peter is really upset by all that, so marital problems are back on, leading Archie and Aunt Elizabeth to worry because they both want something here. Elizabeth wants the family to stay on the throne. Archie wants his influence not to waiver.
That means recruiting others to get these two back together, and that includes Marial, someone Catherine can finally forgive while Marial can’t forgive Peter for being Peter.
Is Peter a monster? I am inclined to think he’s mostly an idiot. Oh, and his body double that Catherine stabbed is still alive.
But then, after some more somehow effective marital counseling and a game of couples tennis with Marial and Grigor, Catherine relents. She’ll let Peter have one of the two things she denied…the stag ritual.
Look, I get that this Catherine isn’t very religious, and there’s reason to not go along with this if for no other reason than to limit Archie’s power, but it sounds a heck of a lot safer than the stag ritual, especially given Peter wasn’t doing so well in his practice rounds. I mean, it’s obviously the funnier to go with the stag ritual, but it’s also a lot more dangerous and foolish. Isn’t Catherine supposed to be smarter than that? Well, she does it to appease Peter and be a supportive wife or something.
Plus, Peter won’t drug Catherine to sneak in an ordination while she’s sleeping. I guess the counseling worked too well. It’s enough to make Archie go rebel.
Maybe Archie should think twice. With Velementov possibly dying and Orlo dead and unnoticed, his time in this show might be a wee bit limited.