'The Great' Ending Explained: Catherine makes a hard choice and its result could lead to a Season 2
Catherine (Elle Fanning) in 'The Great' had been plotting the death of the King since she realized his atrocious behavior. The show captured how a young girl from outside Russia, who is book smart but naive grows up into an ambitious young woman who wants to wrestle the throne away from her husband Peter III of Russia (Nicholas Hoult). She uses the help of her servant Marial (Phoebe Fox) and has the court official, who looks for a change from the brutal rule of Peter, plan a coup for her as well.
She uses him to gather support for her in the court, smiles through most days to ensure that there is no doubt being cast on her. She has big plans for the country and if only her husband could be moved out of her way. She does get distracted for a while in between when her lover Leo ends up making her happy. She does, for a moment, lose interest in pursuing the throne and believes that maybe, just maybe she can bring her husband to see reason. Especially after being poisoned and coming back from death, Peter tries to be a different man.
All of that, however, is wasted when Catherine realizes that change cannot be brought when the country is led by a man who is closed off to science and all the wonders that can be introduced in their country. Especially after Peter refuses to allow variolation as a means of immunization against pox. Instead, he directs the country to burn all the serfs who have been afflicted. This is the final straw that pushes Catherine to follow her original plan and get Peter killed instead of trying to save him from himself.
However, Catherine gets caught while planning and plotting all of this. The reason she gets caught stems from her love for Leo, a lover that her husband had gifted her to keep her happy. He was initially supposed to be just a boy toy but the two end up falling in love and Catherine even ends up getting pregnant with his child. Of course, she tries to pass it off as Peter's child when he threatens to kill Leo. Over the period, Peter has also fallen in love with Catherine and he wants her to be in love with him.
He tries to kill Leo and hide it as a hunting accident. However, she doesn't trust Peter and the dramatic turn of events also reveals to Peter, through Marial, that Catherine was the one who had tried to kill him. Marial does so to ensure that she can remain on the good books of the king after receiving advice from Archie (Adam Godley). This leads to Leo getting captured and Catherine getting blackmailed to stop all her plans regarding the coup.
If she does, she gets a chance to see Leo but if she doesn't then Peter will have Leo killed as punishment. Catherine does meet Leo once, but she does so to bid him goodbye. Catherine decides that she has a chance to change the country and believes that she shouldn't let this chance go even if it means losing Leo. She is in tears when she tells him that she has to go, but she is certain that leaving with Leo will not make her happy.
She then heads to the palace and calls out to Velementov (Douglas Hodge) and nods her head. He then shoots in the air as if to start something, but the season ends there. Does Catherine manage to stage her coup? Did Marial really betray Catherine or was there another plan that she had plotted? These are questions that could tentatively be explored in a new season.
'The Great' consists of 10 episodes and all of them drop on Hulu on May 15.