Okay, WOW, things are happening. This episode is particularly violent in a series that hasn’t shied away from violence, so if you get to this recap before watching, I’ll let you know the main parts to skip.
First, though, a moment of silence for Nick. Nick the Bodyguard, always ready to cut off the Swedish ambassador’s head and fill it with meatballs, always there to make a flute out of a trachea. Nick got drunk, passed out in a fountain, and drowned. Peter gives a eulogy next to the death fountain: “Poor Nick, from … Tatarland? Dead … too soon.” I will miss him.
The Coup Club is meeting in the theatre, a.k.a. the clubhouse. Orlo is very grumpy that Leo knows about the club and says just because he knows doesn’t mean he gets to join. If this doesn’t prompt a flashback to fourth grade, I don’t know what will. The club’s new goals are to recruit more members (just not Leo, apparently). Three aristocrats are at court to meet with Peter: Rostov, Gorky, and Raskolnikov. Prime recruitment targets! Further club business is that Velementov wants to kill Archie, and Marial says she will stab him in the face if he touches him. Velementov’s WTF face is so good I watched it twice. Catherine is very adamant that when the aristocrats are approached, her name absolutely, definitely cannot be mentioned. (Guess what happens!)
Meanwhile, I am delighted because we get a Peter/Elizabeth scene. Elizabeth says Peter the Great was insistent that a monarch is never safe. Current Peter is pretty sure everyone loves him. “Would I rather be feared or loved? Easy. Both. I want people to be afraid of how much they love me.” — Michael Scott —Peter III
Let’s meet the aristocrats. Rostov we already know from the forced shaving incident. His beardless face is, as he previously stated, real gross. Marial still likes him, though! They’re old friends, which works out great since she’s in charge of recruiting him for the club. Marial’s teenyness accentuates how tall he is, or as my notes say: “Rostov is so tall! He’s so tall! Cheers to Rostov’s tallness.” He and Marial bang it out, which is nice, since he says his wife isn’t so into him anymore. He’s in for the murdering Peter plan.
Gorky is humiliated by Peter, but when Velementov and Leo try talking to him, Leo mentions a “her” being involved, which Gorky immediately susses out is Catherine. He declines membership in Coup Club. Velementov headbutts him and Leo smashes him on the head with a rock. They exit. Raskolnikov tells Orlo he needs 2 million rubles and a port and he doesn’t want to know anything. Is Raskolnikov the smartest one of this group? Later events say maybe.
Okay, so I mentioned violence. After Gorky is murdered, Peter thinks maybe it wasn’t a disgruntled chef who tried to kill him. He decides to torture everyone at court until someone confesses. “It is a flaw to need their love, so I will take their fear instead,” he says in a weirdly non-threatening way. Should I call that The Hoult Effect? Yes. There is a torture schedule posted on the wall, which everyone crowds around like the cast list for a high-school production of Barnum. Georgina, Grigor, Catherine, and Elizabeth are the only ones not on the torture list.
Orlo is 100 percent sure he will confess when tortured. Marial says they should just kill Peter, so Velementov says he’ll get a rock. I enjoy Marial having another person there to advocate for thoughtless action. Catherine says they just need to find a scapegoat. She chooses Archie — it doesn’t pan out.
For those nervous about violence: When we get to the torture room, which you will recognize by the walkthrough of all the torture stations — which include face eels — skip ahead to when some battered people walk down a hallway and Leo hands out snacks. Archie is tortured. He offers to give the emperor his eyes to prove his loyalty, which works. Catherine volunteers for torture, doesn’t confess anything, and tries to shift blame onto Grigor, which doesn’t work.
We all knew Archie was a practical leader of a nation’s religion, but I did not expect him to approach Elizabeth about overthrowing Peter (rival coup club!). He knows Peter is erratic and wants Elizabeth to be empress. I don’t oppose this idea? Especially since IRL Elizabeth was empress. Maybe this is a fun nod to that. TV Elizabeth is clearly pondering it while she is sexed up by a very pretty lady.
MARIAL. I know you have to wake up in the mornings to a roommate shitting in a bowl next to you, and that sucks, but you can’t just go off script and stab people. Rostov offers to do it and for a glorious moment, you think okay, maybe action is the winner and the time has come and the Coup Club will finally graduate to the We’re in Charge Now Club (not as catchy, but with a lot more power). But NO. It’s horrible. Rostov tries to stab Peter and is immediately very, very violently killed by Peter, Georgina, and Grigor. Catherine stands there horrified. The lesson she gleans from this is like when Jenna Maroney takes the sociopath test and makes Kenneth go into anaphylactic shock so she can meet a cute guy. Instead of questioning the path she has started down and the court she is determined to rule, she is very impressed by how quickly those three sprang into action and decides she must be like that. I mean. I guess that’s why most of us aren’t empress of Russia.
Everyone is mad at Peter about the torture until Catherine gives a big speech about how they are all Russian and bonded in their pain and hope etc etc. Peter tells her he may love her. She’s not into it. THEN — okay, I didn’t really want to address it before, but Elizabeth has been making Catherine pee on wheat to see if she’s pregnant, and she does and it blooms, so now Catherine is pregnant. Huzzah?
Dead lawn moose: 1
Times Marial says she will stab Velementov: 9
Rubles Raskolnikov needs: 2 million