The Great Season 1 Episode 1 Recap

By Daniel Hart
Published: May 15, 2020 (Last updated: December 1, 2023)
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Hulu series The Great episode 1 - The Great recap


The Great episode 1 is a compelling and funny opening episode, showing Catherine’s dream of a whirlwind marriage disintegrate in seconds.

This recap of Hulu series The Great Season 1 Episode 1, “The Great” contains significant spoilers.

How does The Great episode 1 begin?

Catherine tells her friend on the swing she’s ready to get married to Emperor Peter of Russia. “I’m going to be Empress of Russia” — she’s very excited and has no idea what is about to come.

What’s the Emperor like?

We get a sense of what the Emperor is like immediately. Peter checks her out and jokes that he needs a taller woman. A brief check that she’s a virgin, she becomes Empress. Immediately, she understands her place in the world, unable to make a toast at dinner. At the end of the night, Peter has sex with her while talking to one of his servants. She dreamed of losing her virginity to be a beautiful thing. Basically, Peter is a d***.

Who is Marial?

Catherine ends up writing a list of “how to make Peter happy”. She tries having breakfast with him and then meets the other women who cannot read and have very simple lives. Marial, her servant, takes her away from the dullness. These two characters have bonded very quickly.

Catherine’s request.

Catherine’s view of the world is quickly disintegrating. She tries joining her husband in bed to find him with another woman — she joins and has a threesome with them both. The next day, Catherine asks if she can implement education by opening a school. Peter once again makes jokes before drinking and fighting with his men — he tells her she can build a school.

Peter learns what the school is for.

The Great episode 1 shows how Peter is not a very good leader, asking his men why his army keep on losing battles. Olo briefly mentions to Peter about the school which will educate women — the school is immediately burned down. Catherine learns Peter burned down the school and calls him disgusting.

Has Catherine changed her opinion on Peter?

Yes — within a space of an episode, Catherine confirms she hates Peter. Meanwhile, Peter is annoyed that Catherine is not pregnant yet; the Archbishop asks Catherine to try to have sex with Peter again or her father will not be paid — he insists that she pretends to be happy. But Catherine is struggling to hide her discontent; at a party, she is sour-faced. Peter kills the bear he bought her as a present so she slaps him and walks out. Outside of the party, Catherine tells Peter that they could be ruly and powerful together. Peter punches her in the stomach and tells her she will never win.

How does The Great episode 1 end?

Marial checks up on Catherine who asks for her help to escape. Catherine starts leaving in a carriage but it ends up in water. Peter’s men carry her out of the water. A broken Catherine tells Marial that she thought she had a great life in store for her. The Great episode 1 ends with Marial being very suggestive; she tells Catherine that if the Emporer is taken down, then the Empress would have the power — she confirms that even some men are unhappy and they need a new leader.

The Great episode 1 is a compelling and funny opening episode, showing Catherine’s dream of a whirlwind marriage disintegrate in seconds.

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