In this episode of The Great, Elle Fanning gets the chance to show off her dramatic abilities as Catherine tries to win over the ladies of the court who despise her (and who she despises right back.) She’s dealing with a lot, from the mean girl attitudes to her growing love for Leo, who she fears is manipulating her in some way. Her political scheming also grows in this episode as she, Orlo, and Marial plot to get the church on their side. Read on to find out what happened in “Moscow Mule” …
The episode opens with Catherine and Leo in bed together, again. It seems after her initial reluctance, Catherine has grown to like having Leo around. Meanwhile, Peter and Georgina are in bed together when Archie barges in. The leader of the Russian Orthodox Church has died. This means Peter will have to choose a new patriarch for the church. Peter reminisces about the dead leader, saying his mother used to bring Peter to him to see if he had a soul, which always disturbed a young Peter. Georgina distracts him by having sex with him.
Leo and Catherine play a drinking game outside together, both laughing. Suddenly, Catherine rushes off, realizing she is late for her planning meeting with Orlo and Marial. As she runs through the halls, some of the ladies neigh at her, which she doesn’t understand. She arrives to plot with Marial and Orlo, who informs her about the patriarch. In order to aid their coup, they need to convince Peter to pick a leader who will back Catherine when the time comes. They also tell her the ladies loyal to Antonia have started a rumor that she engaged in bestiality back home and that she wasn’t a virgin when she arrived. Orlo emphasizes that the rumor may be ridiculous, but the sentiment behind it means she needs to try to get more friends at court for the coup to work. Marial suggests Catherine strike her in front of the ladies, to make them think she’s teaching Marial “her place,” but Catherine is reluctant to do this.
She goes to Peter, who is annoyed she is late. But he is happy to learn she kept Leo as a lover after all, claiming all the credit as usual. He also issues a veiled threat that if she falls in love with him, he’ll kill him. He notes he still needs an heir, but laments he just had sex with Georgina, using a funny but very dirty expression that makes Catherine choke on her breakfast. Archie enters, needing Peter’s input on the new patriarch. He says they must pick one soon or it could lead to violence. Peter waves him off. Catherine attempts to offer her assistance in choosing the patriarch, but this makes Peter laugh and she is unsuccessful. Catherine walks by a room and sees Antonia crying softly while watching the troops leave. She enters and tries to make amends, but Antonia is not having it. She leaves as Marial watches, with Catherine wondering how she can make Antonia like her. Leo arrives on “important business,” but Orlo suggests Catherine meet with his preferred candidate for patriarch instead. He worries she is too distracted, and she seems to confirm this by immediately running off to have sex with Leo.
Marial and Archie meet in the chapel, where Archie is emotional at the loss of the patriarch who was like a father to him. Marial says Archie was the father she needed when she was young and her mother died, and that she understands. Peter is hiding from Archie in secret rooms, not wanting to choose a patriarch. Grigor tries to pep him up for the task. Orlo manages to convince Catherine to meet with the bishop he wants, but then he reveals he’s not exactly known for treating women well. She argues that if this bishop won’t even look her in the eye, he’s not the person for them. Orlo tries to convince her otherwise, saying most of them are old fashioned. She meets the man, and all he does is bless her, not talking to her. Orlo asks her to trust him, and she reluctantly says she does.
Peter begins to go over the candidates, but instead of using Orlo or Archie’s expertise he goes with Grigor, who mainly wants to know how he’s supposed to tell them apart. Orlo tries to steer the proceedings in the direction of his candidate, but all are distracted when one bishop literally sets himself on fire rather than submit to Peter’s “immoral” rule. Orlo tries to turn this to their advantage, setting up his candidate as one who is loyal to Peter. Archie also has a preferred bishop, but both are disappointed when Peter walks off without choosing anyone. In another effort to win over the ladies of court, Catherine buys them all expensive jeweled eggs, meeting each of them individually to try to curry favor. Georgina is the only one who is honest with her, saying that trying to buy their friendship won’t work. Catherine shouldn’t beg them: if she is too sweet, they will eat her alive.
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That night, Peter and Leo talk, with Peter revealing it was Catherine who chose to keep Leo. They and Grigor have a raucous night together, which Catherine witnesses. In the morning, Leo goes to her and flirts, telling her she is exceptional. But Catherine worries he is too good at pretending, that he doesn’t love her the same way she loves him. Leo says she’ll have to trust her own instincts. He tells her he would be heartbroken if she sent him away, and it seems they’ve both fallen deeper in love than they wanted to. He also adds that if she doesn’t love him, she should send him away now so his heart can mend faster. She says she needs time to think before sending him away.
Georgina, Grigor, and Peter are having fun when once again Orlo and Archie interrupt to ask him to choose the new patriarch. Peter sends them away yet again, before saying he’ll hope for a sign from God on who to choose. Catherine is invited to a tea dance at Antonia’s, and she thinks this means she’s ready for peace between them. But when all the ladies start to dance, they use the opportunity as an excuse to hit her repeatedly “by accident.” Antonia escorts her out, where she reveals that she heard of what Catherine was doing with the gifts. She says they’ll never be loyal to her, and slams the door in Catherine’s face. Catherine is upset, and when she returns to her chamber she cries in Leo’s arms. He tells her about his childhood and that after the uncertainty of growing up in war, happiness is his only defense. This strikes a chord with Catherine, who says she can’t let him go and kisses him.
Peter goes to Archie and asks him to commune with God about the patriarch. Archie at first doesn’t want to, but Peter insists (much to Orlo’s chagrin.) Orlo goes back to Catherine and tells her about Archie, and Catherine says if Archie is as political as Orlo says he is, then perhaps he can be persuaded to their side. Marial defends Archie’s motives. She tells Catherine that Archie cared for her when her mother died and her father essentially abandoned his children. As a plus, Archie also talks to women, which is more than most of the bishops. Orlo finds Archie to ask him about the patriarch, but it goes bad quickly when Orlo insults Archie’s faith and Archie accuses Orlo of thinking only of politics.
Catherine goes to Bet for help with the other ladies. Bet says she doesn’t need the other ladies to like her, just respect her. Catherine is the only voice the women in court have. Bet tells Catherine that one way to get the women on her side would be to show Marial her place, even if Catherine doesn’t really feel that way. It’s the same advice Marial gave her, but Catherine is still reluctant. Bet also offers her sticks that are meant to aid Catherine’s fertility, though she’s not sure whether to wave them over Catherine or insert them. Catherine hilariously says “I’m … pretty sure it’s a ‘wave them’ situation” as she barely hides her disgust.
Archie is out walking in the woods under the influence of what I can only assume is some kind of acid trip. He sees Catherine, but mistakes her for an angel from heaven. Catherine senses an opportunity, and tells Archie he should be the patriarch. He protests, saying he isn’t worthy. She lists all his good qualities, and he collapses in sobs. Catherine leaves, satisfied. Orlo pitches his candidate to Peter one last time, but before he can get Peter’s agreement, Archie bursts in. He tells Peter an angel told him it was he who should be the patriarch. Orlo tries to protest, but Peter silences him. He asks Archie what he sees when he looks into Peter’s eyes, and Archie (who is still high as a kite at this point) says he sees the soul of a king. That’s all Peter needs to hear, and he makes Archie the new patriarch.
At a party that night, Catherine sits with the ladies. She asks them their concerns, and listens to them respectfully. Marial interrupts, and Catherine hits her, telling her never to do it again. This works, with Antonia dropping her guard. Bet congratulates Catherine on the acting job, and Catherine reassures Orlo about her choice of Archie as the new patriarch. She leads Leo to Bet’s room for a night of fun alone as the episode ends.
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The Great is available on Hulu.