The Great – Recap Episodes 5 & 6


We’re excited enough by Hulu’s comedic version of Catherine the Great that we’re recapping and podcasting the series. Pour yourself a cocktail, because we don’t expect to take The Great (2020) too seriously! Catch up with previous episodes here.


We’re excited enough by Hulu’s comedic version of Catherine the Great that we’re recapping and podcasting the series. Pour yourself a cocktail, because we don’t expect to take The Great (2020) too seriously! Here’s our screencaps to follow along with our costume analysis in this week’s podcast. Catch up with previous episodes here.

Episode 5 opens with Catherine and Aunt Elizabeth traveling to the front in the ongoing (and failing) war against Sweden. Whatever Catherine thinks is about to happen when she gets there is immediately thrown out the window when she sees the horrific conditions Russian soldiers are fighting in.

She wears a cute blue damask traveling coat with a fur-lined hood, though.

She realizes pretty quickly how absurd their mission is: to inspire the troops by giving them macaroons. After feeding a few maimed soldiers by hand, Cathy is horrified by the casual attitude of pretty much everyone around her.

Elizabeth gets a gold brocade gown trimmed in fur, while Catherine wears a gown in a subtle green and gold shot fabric.

They return to the palace where Cathy storms into Peter’s quarters to demand that he stop the war immediately.

You can see the shot fabric better in the indoor scenes once Catherine returns to the palace.

He, of course, thinks she’s insane and dismisses the notion out of hand. Cathy is resolved that the war HAS to stop, but in the meantime, Peter is poisoned and now things are looking up for her.

A very nice pair of strapless stays in a pretty floral brocade fabric.

Marial arrives to interrupt Catherine’s writing to get her to pick a frock to wear when she appears before the council to announce she is ready to take over governing duties now that Peter has been poisoned and is on his deathbed.

Really, Cathy? THAT’S the dress you decided to go with? It’s such a blah outfit & repeated from earlier episoded…

The meeting does not go well.

Meanwhile George & courtiers party while they can, whilst wearing old dresses with new twists. This is the big red bow dress from ep 3 without the back bow.

In the meantime, with the succession now in question, everyone is concerned about Ivan, a young cousin of Peter’s who is confined to his rooms, probably mad, and has a strong claim to the throne if Peter dies.

I guess it’s not as terrible as other examples of movie historical portraits go…

Cathy meets with Aunt Elizabeth to discuss how ill-prepared she is for ruling on her own. Elizabeth has some interesting ideas about what she needs to do to salvage her reputation in front of the council.

Elizabeth’s gown is a subdued old gold silk damask.


Episode 6, Parachute

Episode 6 starts with Catherine walking around talking to her pet bear (the new one, replacement for the first one Peter shot) and wearing a new dress that we can’t quite see yet. Peter is also wandering around talking, but to Grigor, wearing his version of a hoodie.

The Great (2020)

This just might be the douchey-est Peter has looked so far in the series.

Peter’s brush with death gives him a teeny tiny change of heart. Sure, he’s had a bunch of folks strung up as suspects for poisoning him, but he really cares about people now. Kind of. If it’s convenient.

Meanwhile, Leo is introducing French champagne to Catherine and just wants to fuck. She’s not so sure, until, y’know, fucking.

The Great (2020)

Cathy wore this dress (with a shawl covering it) to talk to her bear earlier, but this promo pic shows it better. The problem here is they’ve boned the lining, but because there’s no (historically accurate) center front seam, the fashion fabric isn’t attached in front, and it’s moving independently. All made worse because they used satin, which is the world’s least forgiving fabric.

The Great (2020)

Alas, it laces up the back.

Then Peter and Auntie have a chat near Ivan’s corpse. Auntie reminds Peter that he really needs to knock up Catherine and get himself an heir.

The Great (2020)

Look, we love Auntie’s wacky fashion sense, but…

The Great (2020)

This dress is not constructed in either a historically accurate fashion or a particularly flattering fashion. The sleeves are too big & out of proportion. The back pleats also seem too big & may also be stitched down too far, so they don’t flow elegantly. It seems like an 1890s tea gown gone wrong.

Catherine’s not keen on that plan, so Marial suggests using a lemon as a diaphragm. However, Catherine does use his newfound interest to get him onboard for some arts and sciences stuff. Then there’s a few scenes of Peter walking around butt-naked to the camera but no new costumes, so no screencaps, sorry.

Catherine joins the ladies and invents lawn bowling — “smash bottle game” — and lets Peter take credit for everything, showing that she’s learning how to play court games.

The Great (2020)

Significant that Catherine is wearing fur at court for the first time.

The Great (2020)

She’s so very playing the game.

Marial wears a cute, what might be Russian peasant-style jacket — we’re not sure.

It reminds Kendra of the description of Siberian costumes in one of her favorite childhood books about Girls Suffering (a genre Kendra was very committed to):

The Endless Steppe

The Endless Steppe by Esther Hautzig. If you have read this book, please bond with Kendra about the SWEATER KNITTING BIT.

It reminds Trystan of the Folkwear Bolivian Milkmaid Jackets pattern:

Folkwear Bolivian Milkmaid's Jacket pattern

Orlov goes off on a military mission of dubious nature. Cathy and Peter fuck with intent to procreate under Auntie’s watch. The patriarch is scared of science. Cathy introduces a truffled scrambled eggs. We learn why Marial’s family was exiled from court. But there’s no new costume content of note, so ya just gotta watch for yourself.

The Great (2020)

Contractually obligated puppeh pix.

There’s science and barbarity, but nobody is actually hurt. Huzzah! And in the podcast, we talk about the costumes, such as they are.

2020 The Great

Kendra wants you to know that she randomly likes this stripey outfit on an extra, mostly from a color perspective. Plus, stripes!


We’ll be back in two weeks with episodes seven & eight!

15 Responses

  1. Roxana.

    I have read The Endless Steppe, and I remember the sweater knitting incident very well, poor Esther!
    Remember how Esther desperately wants the fur trimmed jacket and boots that are so all that in Siberia, and how she finally gets them and is so proud but then the family is released and practically the first thing her father says to her back in Poland is not to worry they’ll get her some decent clothes right away?

    • Hermina De Pagan

      Omg! I sobbed buckets when her father does that. She was so proud that she earned the money herself.

      • Kendra

        Both of you! Listen to our podcast recap, I go off on the Siberian clothes that she can’t wear in the city! <3 <3 <3

        • Roxana.

          The city was Vilna wasn’t it? Esther’s home town. And do you remember the masquerade party costume? Esther hopes to borrow one from theatrical costumes but is blow off, only to see the daughter of one of the factory owners or other VIP wearing a cute little outfit from the costume stores?

            • Mary

              Suffering Girls genre, giggle snort. I remember that book and the red sweater knit and reknit quite well!

      • Roxana.

        I remember that Esther is crushed, she worked so hard and the jacket and boots look beautiful and chic to her. But then she realizes she’s still thinking like a Siberian girl and that chapter of her life is closed. I don’t know if she actually feels better though.

        • HeidLea

          I didn’t read this book, but my sister did and I remember her telling me part of the story. I was aghast at the idea of exile and summer being short and cold, also the book wasn’t available to my grade level at that time, so I didn’t read it. I was happy with my sister telling me the story.

  2. Shashwat

    The “smash bottle game” outfit is stunning.Fanning really looks stunning in blue.
    Is all that fur real though?There is a lot of fur in this show,fake I hope.

  3. Nzie

    The pic of Peter in the hoodie and whoever is with him really has nothing that makes it 18th century at all. They look like it could be last week. :-\

    Also, the macaron thing I found interesting… I can see from a writing choice why it would be a good way to highlight how inadequate the royal response is, although it seems really frivolous for someone of either Elizabeth or Catherine’s character. But I was curious and apparently the type we know best, and which are pictured, are probably from the 1830s, after a long evolution from the 17th century when the Italian versions came to France with Catherine de Medicis. I didn’t really verify anything but it makes sense to me, so, you know, that’s a substitute for actual expertise. ;-)

    • Roxana.

      Personally I took that image of Peter and pal for a behind the scenes shot until I read the caption! I mean seriously, a hoodie??

  4. Adorabell

    Very late but I am so confused. Why is Peter doing any ruling or being called Emperor when Empress Elizabeth is alive?