Does Peter Really Die in The Great Season 3? We discuss the major plot twist in Hulu’s original comedy series. This article contains spoilers.
Easily the most shocking plot point from Hulu’s third season of The Great is the surprising death of Peter III, played by Nicholas Hoult. Rarely has such a successful, well-known TV show killed off one of its main characters (presumably) before the final season.
This scandalous talking point has many fans debating whether Peter actually dies or if it is just one elaborate piece of misdirection from the writers to trick their viewers into another season. After all, this is a satirical comedy series that doesn’t always take itself too seriously.
Let’s discuss the possibilities in more depth. Is Peter really dead in The Great Season 3?
What happens to Peter in The Great Season 3?
Former emperor Peter III ended season 2 in a strange place. He’d just witnessed his lookalike Pugachev being violently stabbed numerous times in the back by his wife, Catherine the Great (Elle Fanning). She thought she had killed her husband, but she had been hoodwinked.
After this life-changing altercation, Catherine and Peter decide to seek out marriage counseling. They’re unsure if their strange romance can be cured or if they want it to be. The attempted murder has highlighted the couple’s crazy love for one another, which may be electric but also unsustainable.
Peter loves Catherine, but he continues to defy her throughout the first half of the season. He frees his friends when Catherine forbids it, instigates a duel when Catherine has banned them, and kills an enemy when Catherine just outlawed murder. He will stop at nothing to undermine her at any turn if it suits his purpose.
Of course, Catherine retaliates, sleeping with an American ambassador and canceling Paul’s ordination to irritate Peter further. The final straw comes when Peter steals Catherine’s army to go and invade Sweden. He wants to honor his life again and leave a lasting legacy. But Catherine orders him to turn back immediately.
How does Peter die in The Great Season 3?
Catherine intercepts Peter’s advances into Sweden beside a frozen lake. Peter heads across the lake on horseback to speak with his wife. Catherine tries every trick in the book to convince Peter to call off the invasion, but Peter won’t have it.
He declares his love for her and then heads back across the lake. At around the halfway point, he has a change of heart and turns back, presumably to concede. The weight of the horse and the King suddenly causes the ice to break, and Peter falls into the freezing water below.
Grigor races to his aid, but he’s too late. Peter is entangled with the horse and sinks straight to the bottom of the lake at a ferocious speed. In shock, Catherine orders them to head back to the Palace. Hugo witnesses the same tragedy from across the lake via a telescope but presses forwards to Stockholm.
Does Peter really Die in The Great Season 3?
After Peter’s death, Catherine and Grigor descend into their own distinct mental breakdowns as they struggle to process their painful grief. Catherine orders her people to tell jokes and put on festivals, while Grigor acts erratically, too, shooting countless deer and hiding baby Paul in a cage in the forest.
All those that actually saw Peter fall into the ice start to question what they’ve seen, unsure if it was imagined or a trick of the mind. Catherine’s unhinged behavior causes her to deny Peter’s death for a long time, believing Pugachev to be the one that died, not Peter. This confusion eventually disappears, though.
Elizabeth and Petrov return to the lake to retrieve Peter’s body. The aunt swims down into the lake to initially recover Peter’s corpse, but on discovering the body, she chooses to leave him there instead. He looks peaceful, and she wants to remember the happier times than dragging the body back home and disturbing the corpse.
In the end, Elizabeth is the only one who sees Peter after his death. The camera never shows Peter under the water. We must accept what Elizabeth has said as true. She isn’t the most reliable of characters, though, normally twisting situations to fit her goals, but here, it would seem rather odd for her to lie about Peter’s death. She loved him wholeheartedly.
To conclude, I believe Peter died that day out on the ice. Catherine, Grigor, and Hugo all saw Peter fall through the ice. It may have been far off in the distance, but there is no way that Peter could have tricked them and escaped. It also seems unrealistic that Peter would want to fake his own death — for what end?
I think the filmmakers kept some mystery to Peter’s death so audiences would question it. I was shocked by the twist and couldn’t quite believe it myself. Yet there is little evidence to suggest that Peter is still alive and faked his death. The filmmakers made it hard to accept that Peter had died, which perfectly reflects how the characters feel themselves.