Catherine’s plan has hit a hump – sorry, bump, in the road. (Picture: Hulu)
After The Great’s eye-gouging session in episode two, viewers can be forgiven for thinking there’s not much to redeem the cruel Emperor Peter (Nicholas Hoult).
And yet, that’s kind of what we get this episode, with Peter’s insecurities getting the better of him as a massive statue of his father Peter The Great is erected.
It’s a statue that Aunt Elizabeth seems to be enjoying a bit too much, with the fierce warrior put on prominent display riding a bear, but for new Peter it’s just a reminder that he’s not living up to the reputation his amazing dad left behind. And he’s mad about it.
So instead of trying to remedy the situation he goes stubbornly headfirst into war efforts he knows nothing about, making a mockery of himself as he comes up with ideas that the soldiers literally laugh at him over.
At the very least, he seems to be trying a bit harder with Catherine (Elle Fanning), in the only way Peter can, and gifts her a lover in Leo (Sebastian de Souza) so she can be satisfied as much as he is sleeping with his best friend’s wife.
Completely unaware of the coup Catherine, Marial and Orlo are planning, Peter thinks that he’s actually done well as a husband in satisfying the wants of his wife – and the trio allow him to think that.
Spoiled brat Peter is becoming more sympathetic (Picture: Hulu)
Surprisingly, Catherine finds herself drawn to the handsome, and well-endowed, Leo, and despite a plan to pretend they had slept together just to appease Peter, she actually finds herself drawn to the charming newcomer and his love of literature and life.
Which couldn’t be more unfortunate if she tried really, when she’s trying to hide this massive secret of overthrowing the Emperor.
In the meantime, Catherine enlists the help of the unsuspecting Aunt Elizabeth to pin down Peter’s mysterious half-brother, Ivan.
Turns out it was rather easily done, with the tyrannical Ivan actually turning out to be a completely vile nine-year-old locked up in the palace because he may or may not kill everyone.
Will the gift of Leo backfire on Peter? (Picture: Hulu)
Problem is, Aunt Elizabeth is ‘too sentimental’ to kill off Ivan, and at the same time it’s entirely likely that he could be used for a coup that would overpower not just Peter, but Catherine’s quest for the throne as well – so he needs to be sorted out one way or another.
Catherine’s life isn’t getting any easier, with an attempted rape from an Army captain just another thing to add to her checklist for the day.
So by the time she unites with Peter for a party that evening, it’s surprising that she and Peter actually seem to be getting on, in a genuine way and not a fake one.
Granted they are walking on very thin ice, but Catherine proves to be somewhat of a confidant to the ruler as he prepares to give a speech about his father – to the point that he even confides about missing him, rather than being jealous of him.
His fear about crying during the speech does come to pass, and when a soldier laughs in his face he’s brutally stabbed – but for once you kind of let him get away with this callous act of violence.
Peter ends the episode in the arms of his father’s statue, while Catherine finally gives in to her feelings for Leo, and they sleep together for the first time.
It’s all kicking off in Russia, but this isn’t going to end well.
The Great continues Sunday at 9pm on Channel 4.