Catherine the Great Episode 1 Recap
HBO’s Catherine the Great, a new four-part mini-series, details the later years of the monarch’s reign and the power struggles at play. In Catherine the Great Episode 1, Catherine moved against a potential claimant to her throne.
Prisoner Number One
Catherine visited Shlisselburg Prison to visit Prisoner Number One, the alias for Ivan VI. He was Catherine’s late husband’s cousin and the successor to his throne. Though malnourished and weakened, Ivan confronted her. While leaving the prison, Catherine recognized an army guard, Mirovich, as someone who wrote to her office several times asking for money. He suspected who Prisoner Number One was.
Men stormed the fortress at Shlisselburg and killed Prisoner Number One under Catherine’s orders. They arrested Mirovich, who shouted that the slain man was Ivan VI. Minister Panin had assured Mirovich that he would be pardoned. However, he was beheaded without hesitation.
An End to Slavery
Catherine addressed the court. She wanted to abolish slavery and serfdom in Russia. Grigory and Alexi Orlov, who had helped install Catherine as ruler, as well as many of the noblemen, were displeased with her announcement.
While walking with Catherine and her son, Prince Paul, Panin brought up Paul’s ascension to the throne when he came of age. They’d thought that Catherine would become regent. She dismissed the idea, and when Paul left, she admonished Panin for bringing it up. She felt that even her son was a threat to her throne.
Grigory Potemkin was relatively new to court and was smitten by Catherine. He agreed with Catherine’s stance on slavery and was gaining her favor. Potemkin had a playful affair with Catherine’s friend, Countess Bruce. Catherine overheard them talking while they were in bed. Potemkin confessed to be thinking of Catherine.
While playing billiards with the Orlovs, they beat Potemkin and pushed him out of a window. He survived the fall, but the Orlovs continued to beat him. That night, Catherine held a ball where the women dressed as men and the men dressed as women. She told Grigory Orlov that they were over as he no longer loved her. She left his side on the dance floor as she saw Potemkin enter, clearly wounded from the fight earlier. Catherine cheered him up and asked the musicians to play something Russian.
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