It’s here! Paul is coming! The only guarantee we have of the baby being a boy and maybe named Paul is that Catherine the Great did have a son named Paul who lived to adulthood. But how much have I learned in two seasons if I’m still somehow looking at actual history to see what will happen in this show? This is a rare instance of it panning out because the baby is born, and it’s a Paul!
Catherine and Peter are both dealing with some feelings about the other. Catherine is nervous about her newfound feelings for Peter and their family, and Peter is intensely worried he is going to blurt out that he had sex with her mother during which she fell out a window and died. He thinks that has the potential to ruin things between them. If I’ve learned anything from soap operas, it’s that the truth will come out, usually at a wedding or a christening or whatever event will bring the most shame and drama to the moment. Peter lives in a time before soap operas, so he does not know to just tell Catherine and deal with the fallout.
And they’re so cute in this episode. So cute! While angsting about keeping this secret from Catherine, Peter inadvertently lets it slip to Elizabeth that her son Igor, whose death she has blamed herself for all these years, was murdered by his mother. Seemingly for no reason?? She just drowned him in the lake. Elizabeth is obviously shocked, and she picks up Paul and carries him off to her country estate. Catherine and Peter go in search of him, which entails a six-hour carriage ride where Peter plays I Spy with himself (“I have an ability to forget the very thought I just had”), and they pose hypotheticals to each other. Catherine wants him to tell her the worst thing he’s ever done, as it will be a great test of their hypothetical love. He cannot do it! And I get it, sir. How do you tell someone you cheated on her with her mother and accidentally caused her death? It’s just not your typical situation.
So much happens when they arrive at Elizabeth’s country house. Belinda Bromilow as Elizabeth has not gotten enough hype from me when she really runs the gamut of emotions and does it all so well. She did not mean to kidnap Paul; she just felt danger, panicked, and left with him. Her speech about her sadness about losing Igor made me realize how much The Great provides that specific relaxing experience where you know everyone performing is excellent at what they do. It must be such a rewarding acting experience! I hope they all felt very validated in their craft while filming.
The royals of Sweden are here and trying to get Catherine to help them take their throne back, but I do not have time for them.
Georgina is back — remember Georgina? She goes off about France and Olympe de Gouges, who doesn’t get enough play in the United States and is all, oh, you were right, Catherine, we need to read more. Except all she really learned in France was that the Enlightenment would destroy the nobility, and they have to take down Catherine. Saboteur and so forth!
The return of Grigor’s wife is not amazing news for my No. 1 OTP ship of all time, Marial–Grigor. Marial’s already having a hard enough time with her father having died and her 8-year-old cousin, Maxim, set to inherit everything. Grigor won’t kiss Georgina, though, and he tells her he’s been seeing someone, and it’s Marial, and he is not going to end it. The following scene, I think I watched four times because of THE PATHOS. Marial bounces up to Grigor, saying she needs him to marry her so she can claim her inheritance, so they can have Georgina declared dead, and anyway, they should just face that they were born to be together. He tells her Georgina is back, and Marial takes a moment to process. What I said about everyone being excellent at what they do holds because Phoebe Fox’s face contains multitudes. She says that’s that and walks away. MY HEART. He tells her he loves her, but she says she has a husband to find. I cannot. I just cannot.
Marial and Archie hold a casting call in the Shaky Memorial Salon. She nixes everyone, including the man whose requirements were (1) someone to keep him company, and (2) someone who kisses him once a day. Nope, not for Marial. What happens, of course, is that she gets engaged to her 8-year-old cousin Maxim. Before Grigor knows this, he charges into her apartments, saying he will beat up her cousin until he gives back her estate. He can’t divorce Georgina legally, but he wants to be with Marial. They make out. I love them.
Everyone is together and happy (except Orlo, who has been fired for stealing from the treasury but let’s think of more lighthearted things!). Catherine and Peter, brought together over worry for their son, finally kiss when they are both into it. Then follows an extremely hot sex scene involving a velcro corset (it’s sexier than it sounds), well done to both of them, and they return to court holding hands, confusing everyone.
It’s all finally working out. Except, again, for Orlo. And maybe Velementov. And Elizabeth, Joanna, Shaky, Svenska, that serf who died from the poisoned candle, that man who the crocodile ate — look. It’s working out for Catherine and Peter and for Marial and Grigor. But then, Grigor mentions to Marial how bad Peter feels about Joanna’s death. Unfortunately, Grigor thought she knew much more than she did, but being an excellent friend, Marial did not want to know any details when Elizabeth asked her to help her with the dead body of her friend’s mother. So now Marial knows that Peter was semi-responsible for Joanna’s death. Grigor is panicked. Marial says nothing. We are on to the finale!
• Would you survive Marial’s spousal casting call?
• Can Peter and Catherine get past this final but admittedly very terrible hurdle of him having sex with and kind of killing her mother? I just don’t KNOW.
• Why are the Swedish royals here? What purpose are they serving? Go start your fish market in Germany.