I haven’t really said much about the ongoing plot for this season about the dethroned Emperor and Empress of Sweden staying in Russia and trying to get help taking their country back. That’s mostly due to the fact I don’t much care about those two characters.
Instead, I want to talk about Archie.
So, here’s the thing: there is some movement on the Sweden plot here. Archie’s plot to use Peter’s former body double to rile up the peasants against Catherine have the side effect of putting the dying General Velementov into a position he may not be ready for. Or, he might be, but that Swedish Empress manages to get him drunk at a bad moment, and Catherine on her part then essentially removed Velementov from his position since he was a little too old to do it. Combine that with some chiding from the ghost of Peter’s father, including a future incarnation of his baby son Paul, and Peter is already go help Emperor Hugo retake his country with Velementov’s help. Grigor was the only one smart enough not to go along with a phenomenally stupid plan devised by a couple guys while they were drunk.
By the by, Peter the Great, as played with delicious dastardly veal by Jason Issacs, is something of a treat as the embodiment of everything Catherine hates about Russia, and she can’t even see him. Peter the Living came this close to standing up to his dead father, but he’s too caught up by the fact that his people apparently still love him combined with Catherine’s denying him the chance to have Velementov’s old job.
But I want to talk about Archie because Archie might actually be the most dangerous man in court.
Here’s the thing about Archie: he never exactly surrendered to Catherine or agreed with her. He just saw how the wind was blowing and figured he’d be better on her side. While no one on the The Great (aside from Peter most of the time) is exactly what I would call stupid, Archie is a bit smarter than most. His plan isn’t to overthrow Catherine. He wants to spook her enough to go to him for help, and from there, a scared Catherine will slow down her reforms and rely on Archie’s guidance, and the whole thing will be done without Catherine’s knowing Archie was behind it.
He tells all that to Marial, and Marial will be conflicted because Archie was the only member of court who was her friend before Catherine came along.
Catherine isn’t stupid either. She knows the double would never do what he’s doing on his own–namely riling up the crowds to do awful things to Catherine effigies that do not seem to include burning them–so someone must be behind it all, and she isn’t exactly bad at checking things with smart ideas like recruiting Aunt Elizabeth, a woman who just loves a mystery, and even setting a fire to cause everyone to evacuate the palace long enough for her to look for incriminating evidence.
But Archie figured that out. Plus, his plan seems to be working by episode’s end while Catherine finds herself suspecting everyone.
So yeah, I think Archie may be the most dangerous man in the court.
But this is also a comedy, so I suspect it will also blow up in his bearded face.