We begin the episode with Catherine trying to hump a chair. She’s all revved up on pregnancy hormones and hasn’t slept with anyone since Leo died. It’s pretty clear from the get-go here that she and Peter are going to resume their sex life, but they take their time getting there (sorry, couldn’t not). In the meantime, he shows her an apricot, and she’s so turned on that she leaves. The many-months-pregnant body wants what it wants. And Catherine’s wants to eat dirt and have sex.
And assign homework! Catherine assigns everyone in court a pamphlet by the French philosopher Diderot. This reminds me of when I was in high school and I’d write opera synopses on index cards and tape them to the outside of my locker, 100 percent certain that my classmates would both read them and be thankful that I was exposing them to new things. As was the case back then, no one reads Catherine’s pamphlet. Well, except for Father Basil (Archbishop Basil now?). I love Basil! Catherine’s ready for an all-court discussion, but no one offers to speak, and it’s like Q&A time during a work Zoom meeting on Friday at 3 p.m. Catherine says a freewheeling discourse can be a giddying thing, and that’s when you realize how much she would have loved Model U.N.
Obviously, Peter takes advantage of Catherine’s ideas around free speech and has Grigor read his own pamphlet, where he reminds everyone how fun he is — and he’s going to throw a party to remind them further. So now Catherine has to deal with that.
But there are also the Ottomans. I know, you were watching and going, “But wait, what was the state of the Ottoman Empire in approximately 1762?” Extremely briefly, the Ottomans burned Moscow in the 1500s, so there wasn’t an amazing friendship between them and the Russians, but the Empire was overall fairly peaceful at this time. Historical spoilers, but a few years into Catherine’s reign, Russia was responsible for an Ottoman-controlled town in Ukraine being massacred, sparking the Russo-Turkish War, which lasted six years. But for now, we have to talk about Ambassador Sunduk and his impressive mustache!
Truth be told, I do not like Sunduk. He tells Catherine the sultan sent a toy horse for the baby, and Marial calls him a rude piece of shit, increasing my love for her. You know that friend who will punch someone in the face for you? Marial is that friend. Let us all have a Marial in our lives. Sunduk also mansplains diplomacy to Catherine, Marial, and Elizabeth, who I know is not empress in show canon, but she was the Empress of Russia, and she empressed successfully, and I just cannot. It’s been a long time since 2016, and we’re in year two of the pandemic, and I just refuse to deal with men doing anything in the vicinity of … this. *waves hands about both powerfully and vaguely*
We have to talk about how this episode presented me with two ships I did not even know I wanted but now am lightly obsessed with: Orlo and Katya, and Marial and Grigor. Who saw this coming!! Particularly in the former case because Katya is very new this season!! Orlo and Katya the schoolteacher flirt via Kant-centered wordplay. They’re a pair of nerds, and it’s great. Meanwhile, how could anyone suspect the simmering cauldron of sexual tension that would exist between Marial and Grigor? I am still shocked. Or, as my notes say as I real-time came to terms with this, “Omg would I be pro-Grigor/Marial?? Maybe!” They make out in this episode, and I literally noted the time stamp so I could go back and watch it later, which is something I have not done since I was 15 and watching Kevin Kline and Sally Field make out in Soapdish on an endless loop. This better continue.
Velementov is sleeping with Svenska? Svenska the truly awful, who it turns out is only after state secrets so she can share them with the Retake Russia Club, which you’d think would be more fun than Coup Club, but it’s not because they just think of ideas like the laxative plan of the last episode. Svenska finds out about the potential Ottoman threat. The Ottomans are harrying their borders (the opposite of history, according to the cursory skim I did of Wikipedia), so there might be war.
I know I’ve barely talked about Archie, which is unfair because he cut his finger off. But he’s currently trying to unseat Basil, and I just cannot get behind that. I do want to note that Elizabeth keeps the finger, and I do not want to know what she does with it. (We all know what she does with it.)
Catherine is still trying to find someone to bang. Elizabeth recommends the guards, as they’re trained in discretion, but Catherine doesn’t like the power imbalance because she’s not Rebecca in Ted Lasso (someone, high-five me!). She does try though after some turnip throwing at Peter’s baby shower, where I think he’s wearing panniers, and I love this show. She almost has sex with a bearded guard, but he has beard lice, no! Wow, who would solve this power imbalance problem and also is very anti-beard and has nothing else to do but plot to take the throne back from her? Catherine goes to see Peter and tells him to do the thing with the tongue. I can’t wait for these two crazy kids to find their way back to each other. Or to each other for the first time, since their beginning was a little rough.
Oh. Sunduk got stabbed! Peter’s friend Arkady stabbed him in his carriage, and then he and his wife Tatyana cut his head off! I am not a diplomat, but if you’re trying to avoid war with a nation, it feels bad to send them back their ambassador sans head. I am concerned.
• Is throwing turnips somehow way more fun than it sounds?
• What pamphlet will Catherine assign next?
• Will anyone be writing Marial-Grigor fanfic, and can they post it ASAP, please?