Note: While this is another brilliant episode of The Great, there are mentions of some gory violence and dark humor depicted during the episode. We advise those who don’t feel comfortable to not read beyond this point.
In the season finale of The Great, Catherine is forced to make a brutal choice. The time has come to put their plans into motion, but will all of Catherine’s fellow plotters follow though? Can Catherine kill Peter? This finale left plenty of room for a second season, which I for one hope we get. Nicholas Hoult and Elle Fanning show why they were cast in this episode, as both Peter and Catherine run the gamut of emotions as the coup unfolds. “The Beaver’s Nose” is a fitting ending for the first season of the series. Read on to find out what happened.
We begin the episode where we left off last time: a worried Catherine looking at the blooming flowers. She throws them into the fire, and in a montage showing her fear and depression, a silent Catherine is shown barely interacting in her day to day life. Catherine has a nightmare, and when Leo comforts her as she wakes up, she tells him she’s pregnant. She thinks it’s a sign they have to act soon for their child’s future. When Leo points out it’s definitely Peter’s child, Catherine says he will be dead by the end of the day. She wants to make the coup happen now as a birthday present to herself. Leo agrees with this plan.
Meanwhile, Peter discusses his plans for Catherine’s birthday with Georgina and Grigor. He wants her to say she loves him by the end of the day. Grigor suggests they ask Leo for his thoughts, and when he gives his heartfelt opinion Peter and Grigor laugh, not realizing that a woman might prefer a simple but personalized gift over diamonds. Catherine goes to Velementov to tell him the coup is happening today. He’s drunk as usual, but when Catherine announces her intent to kill Peter, he wakes up slightly. She proudly says that sobered him up, but he quips, “completely replacing my blood is the only option for that.” She asks him to teach her to kill a man so she will be successful in killing Peter. Georgina and Grigor talk, with Georgina glad he’s back to his old self. She says she feels something in Leo’s love for Catherine, but doesn’t share her suspicions.
Bet and Peter talk about Rostov. She feels there’s a missing piece of the conspiracy, likening it to the missing beaver’s nose piece on one of Peter’s favorite puzzles as a child. He feels the whole thing will reveal itself in time and isn’t overly concerned. Catherine is having her murder lesson with Velementov, who advises that she needs a reason to kill in order to be successful. Touching her hand to her belly, Catherine says she has it before repeatedly stabbing her practice dummy.
Leo gives Catherine a peach, which Peter, Georgina, and Grigor mock from afar until they see Catherine’s loving reaction. It turns out Leo has hidden a small ring with an inscription declaring her “Catherine the Great,” which makes Catherine swoon. Peter notes he will have to do something about that. As they walk, she tells Marial of her plans to kill Peter and of her pregnancy, to which Marial replies, “that’s a lot.” Orlo joins them and suggests that they put Peter on house arrest and force him to abdicate instead, but Catherine wants her people to know she has the fire required to rule Russia. She lays out the plan, and they all hold hands before dispersing. Antonia and the other ladies approach Catherine and tell her that after her speech, she has their love as well as their respect. As Orlo and Catherine walk away, she tells Orlo he needs to kill Archie. Orlo surprises her by saying he was going to anyway. They hug, with both pledging to win the fight.
In Catherine’s room, Bet is attempting to get her butterflies to spell Catherine’s name as a birthday surprise. She wants Catherine to take another pregnancy test, and in a bid to distract her she asks what it felt like to kill Ivan. Bet shares that she lost a child, and comforted herself by thinking of Ivan as going to him. She discusses her suspicion that Rostov didn’t act alone, and when Catherine says she doubts it, Bet pounces. She asks how Catherine is sure, considering she was sure Rostov wasn’t plotting before. Catherine puts her doubts to rest by saying she’s just an optimist. But as Bet leaves, a thought crosses her mind. She asks Catherine why she asked her about Ivan, and when Catherine lies unconvincingly Bet realizes she’s behind it. Catherine tries to deny it, but then asks what Bet would do if she was behind it. She reveals she’s pregnant and asks if Bet will support her. Bet kisses her cheek and says she will support her — as long as she doesn’t kill Peter.
Marial enters after Bet, and Catherine tells her about Bet’s support. Marial isn’t as confident that Bet will keep the secret, pointing out she was ruthless enough to kill Ivan. Marial wants to kill Bet, but Catherine thinks she is kind and will come in handy later. Marial doubts this, but Catherine assures her she knows what she’s doing. Grigor, Arkady, and Peter take Leo “hunting,” intending to kill him and make it look like an accident. But when Arkady and Grigor try to shoot him, both injure him but don’t kill him. Peter now feels this is a dilemma: three shots clearly isn’t an accident. They take an unconscious Leo to their carriage to figure out their next move.
Catherine and Marial walk to the party, steeling themselves for the task ahead. Bet goes to Peter and says she’s going to the country for a week. She also says she’ll always love him, but the message goes over Peter’s head. Catherine tells Marial she’ll quickly kill Peter, then send Marial a message so she knows to tell the others. Catherine enters the room fully prepared to kill Peter, but then he gives her his birthday present: a visit from Catherine’s favorite philosopher Voltaire. This makes her panic, telling Marial she’ll have to visit with him briefly before killing Peter. Marial waits outside, worrying. Meanwhile, Orlo goes to Archie to “confess” and distract him. But when Orlo goes to stab him, Marial enters. She tries to stop him before Orlo shuts her out. But Archie sees her, and he and Orlo fight.
Voltaire, Peter, and Catherine eat together, with Catherine fangirling over what he has to say. Peter is jealous and decides to tell her how he feels. He gives a tender, loving speech clearly showing he understands her more than Catherine thought possible (though it was written by Voltaire). Catherine is unexpectedly moved. When Voltaire leaves, Peter and Catherine talk, with Catherine saying that in some ways Peter breaks her heart.
But then Peter commits a huge mistake: he reads a letter supposedly from Leo telling Catherine he’s leaving for a vacation. She rushes at him with the knife, but Peter disarms her. Locking her in the room, he says she’ll calm down later, apparently mistaking her passion as a sign of love. Marial hears her panicked knocking and Catherine tells her to make Velementov call it off. But it’s too late. Velementov sees one of the generals try to warn a priest and starts the attack. Catherine hears the shots and calls for Marial, but Marial just gets up and walks away, still mad about Archie and thinking the coup will fail.
Archie and Orlo keep fighting, but they too hear shots. Orlo thinks this means Peter is dead and tells Archie it’s over. But Archie, ever the politician, tells Orlo to consider backing Bet over Catherine. Archie hits Orlo over the head. Marial enters, confused about what to do next. Archie asks if Peter knows it was Catherine, and Marial says no. Archie tells her she needs to tell Peter; whoever does so will be seen as a hero. She’ll get back everything she lost. Marial is torn, but her desire to be a lady wins. She goes to Peter and tells him everything. Peter is devastated. As he breaks down in sobs, he simply tells Marial to get out. Marial goes to Catherine and tells her she told Peter. But she tells Catherine she is safe because she also told Peter that Catherine is carrying his heir. Catherine is shocked and betrayed, telling Marial to go.
Peter storms back into the room, with Catherine pleading for her life because of the heir. She takes his hand and places it on her stomach. She names the baby Paul and says he won’t kill them. Peter holds his knife to her throat, but then bends down to address the baby. He realizes he can’t kill her. Catherine says she doesn’t want any more bloodshed and asks him to abdicate. He laughs at the idea, but she lays out her case. She says resigning would give Russia to someone who can rule it well, saying he could live out his life the way he wants while leaving the boring parts of ruling to her. It seems to work at first, but then Catherine sees Leo under guard outside. Peter says if she doesn’t call off the coup, he’ll give the order to kill Leo. Catherine writes the letter, but then Peter betrays her. He says if anything further happens, Leo is dead.
Catherine sits in the palace alone, and Voltaire walks up to her. He has some harsh advice: ignore Leo, save Russia. Velementov says much the same, telling her no one will follow her again if she doesn’t follow through now. He says the people finally have hope, and Catherine can see it in their eyes. Catherine goes to Leo and kisses him, before breaking down in tears. He realizes what this means. In a heartbreaking speech, she tells him she has to change the world. He says, “I know you can. My fate was always you, yours was always Russia.” They kiss once more as Leo wryly promises he will “haunt” her. She walks away from him, barely keeping upright. She runs into the palace and nods to Velementov. He fires one shot in the air; the coup is on.
The Great is available now on Hulu.