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The Hollywood Insider The Great Season 2 Review

Photo: ‘The Great’ 

At the start of this year, we were swept away with a surge of period dramas that provided salacious royal intrigue and bouts of betrayal. With ‘The Crown’ and ‘Bridgerton’ making their long-awaited comebacks in 2022, there’s been a notable vacancy of historical dramas that have proven to be a hit among audiences. Along with mesmerizing costumes comes captivating nostalgia that took viewers out of quarantine confinement and transported us to a romanticized version of the past. For those of you who are left feeling stranded, Hulu’s ‘The Great’ will be returning this month with our favorite and eccentric royals ready to bring us back to 18th century Russia and the debauched court of Emperor Peter III (Nicholas Hoult). Season 1 garnered global acclaim by racking up multiple Golden Globe nominations in the past year. Luckily, the enticing plot of deceit, greed, and decadence will continue to unfold on November 19. 

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The Beginnings

Created by the brilliant mind of Tony McNamara, the delicious world of ‘The Great’ is a masterclass on feminism, sexism, and finding comedy within the absurd. Season 2 sets the stage for a battle royale between dysfunctional husband and wife in the new trailer released on October 19. The story centers on the chaotic lives of Empress Catherine II (Elle Fanning) and her degenerate husband, Emperor Peter III, following her coup d’état to seize the throne to establish forward-thinking and reformation throughout Russia. 

This historical dramedy is a boisterous alteration to the true story of the Russian royals whose legacies are dissected and interpreted for modern-day viewers. The recently released trailer solidifies the series’ pomposity, subversive hilarity, and difficult personalities desperately fighting for power and dominance. The final episode of the first season left viewers with unanswered questions and – spoiler alert – a final scene of betrayal by one of Catherine’s closest confidants. With Peter discovering Catherine’s plot to have him killed, he agrees to spare her life after telling him she’s pregnant. Conclusion: there’s no surprise that Catherine intended to coup her husband; Emperor Peter’s court became overrun by corruption permeating beyond control. Peter forces Catherine to make a heartbreaking sacrifice between her ambition for power or the life of her lover, Leo Voronsky (Sebastian de Souza). In an emotional scene, Catherine chooses to continue her quest to the throne. 

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What Can We Expect?

The trailer for Season 2 picks up moments after Catherine’s coup. It features the Empress dressed in an ornate golden gown, a gauche headdress, and sporting a baby bump that leads viewers wondering, who’s the father? Catherine’s pregnancy is arguably a defiant symbol of the birth of a new leader. Even more, fans of ‘The Crown’ are in for a surprise since Gillian Anderson makes a welcomed appearance in season 2, where she will be playing Catherine’s mother, a beguiling powerhouse whose role may become crucial to Catherine’s future as an Empress and as a wife. Catherine is savoring her moment as she assumes her new royal title, Catherine the Great, signaling that the reign of her sordid husband is finally over. For now.

Catherine the Great is eager to release Russia from the antiquated customs of Peter’s rule and the corrupt politics that are on full display within his court. The trailer introduces murderous schemes, political maneuvering, and the hilarious incivility that captured the hearts of fans. As filming wrapped over the summer, Elle Fanning posted a photograph on Instagram in July with a poignant message: ‘I can’t hold it in any longer! THE GREAT is renewed for a SEASON 2!!!!! Okay, now seriously @nicholashoult I’m going to get you this time…’ Leaving fans anxiously waiting to rejoin the obnoxious world of ‘The Great’ and reunite with the complex characters that make this series binge-worthy.

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Undoubtedly, Season 2 will define Catherine’s identity as a ruler. She will quickly come to terms with the weight of the responsibilities leading Russia into a new era and her self-appointed title, Catherine the Great. It will be a challenging season for her as she navigates the murky waters infested with enemies and those who are quietly waiting for her to fail. The Empress will attempt to put her feminist and enlightened stamp on a country that seemingly refuses to step out of the dark ages. Catherine is now at the helm of a morally corrupt court with her husband reluctantly standing by her, plotting his path to defeat his wife and resume his tainted legacy. This upcoming season will focus on the royal couple’s toxic marriage as we watch Catherine and Peter struggle to conquer one another.   

The Great Season 2 – Note to Self

In just a couple of weeks, fans can rejoice that our beloved unruly characters are returning to our screens and, this time, tackling issues that remain prevalent today. Catherine must adapt to a new country, a new marriage, and now a new baby. Her role as a woman becomes redefined and explored throughout season 2. When speaking to Wrap, Elle Fanning mentions, “This season is very parental and learning to be a mother and mother to a country in that sense… There’s some themes there. But we have some wild things planned. It’s going to be cool.”

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The complicated subjects of sexism, class, and corruption are concepts that remain very visible in today’s modern world. Catherine must confront a patriarchal system that has long benefitted the status of men while leaving women trailing behind in the shadows. It will be interesting to watch how Catherine’s rise to glory transforms the narrative for all the female characters in the series and how the show will continue to explore the gender dynamics of 18th century Russia. It’s time to grab your glass of champagne only to throw it against the ground while screaming, “Huzzah!” for the return of Hulu’s ‘The Great’ coming November 19.  

Cast: Elle Fanning, Nicholas Hoult, Phoebe Fox, Gillian Anderson

Creator: Tony McNamara

Director(s): Colin Bucksey, Ben Chessell, Geeta V. Patel, Matt Shakman

By Gina Michele Yaniz

Click here to read The Hollywood Insider’s CEO Pritan Ambroase’s love letter to Black Lives Matter, in which he tackles more than just police reform, press freedom and more – click here.

An excerpt from the love letter: The Hollywood Insider’s CEO/editor-in-chief Pritan Ambroase affirms, “The Hollywood Insider fully supports the much-needed Black Lives Matter movement. We are actively, physically and digitally a part of this global movement. We will continue reporting on this major issue of police brutality and legal murders of Black people to hold the system accountable. We will continue reporting on this major issue with kindness and respect to all Black people, as each and every one of them are seen and heard.

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