Catherine the Great Episode 4 Recap
In the previous episode of HBO’s Catherine the Great, Catherine insisted on keeping Paul’s son, Alexander, with her at the palace while his parents went on a diplomatic tour in Austria. In the finale of Catherine the Great, Russia went to war with the Turks, and Catherine had Alexander sign a document in secret.
Divide and Conquer
The Turks declared war with Russia. Catherine wanted to recall Alexei Orlov to court, but Potemkin opposed the idea. He wanted Alexei to serve under him, effectively calling for his resignation. Catherine’s newest lover, Platon Zubov, was the brother of Potemkin’s adjutant, Valerian. Alexei conspired with Platon to drive Catherine and Potemkin apart, but they realized what he was trying to do. Paul arrived at the palace with German soldiers to join Catherine’s forces. She publicly rejected them and told him to go home.
Victory over the Turks concerned the kingdoms of Europe. While on his campaign, Potemkin died. He wrote a letter for Catherine’s eyes only that was delivered to the palace, reaffirming his love for her.
Catherine was not the same after Potemkin passed away. When the French Revolution erupted, Catherine ordered the burning of all French books. Countess Bruce pointed out that she used to love the freedom of expression and French writers like Voltaire. She wandered the palace speaking of Potemkin. While walking with her current lover, she collapsed.
While Alexander was in her care, Catherine had him sign a document. It declared Paul to be an unfit ruler and that Alexander should succeed Catherine when she died. She made Alexander promise not to tell anyone about it. After spending time with Alexander, Sophia confronted Catherine about Alexander signing something. Catherine admitted it and told her that she should also write a similar letter. Sophia declared her loyalty to Paul. When Sophia arrived home without Alexander, she told Paul about what Catherine had done.
While Catherine was still lying on the floor, dying, Paul arrived. He went through her private papers and found the document she had Alexander signed. He tore it up as she died. When burying Catherine, he crowned his father’s crypt once again. He declared Catherine’s claim to the throne to have been illegitimate. He wanted Potemkin’s accomplishments erased. Paul had ruled unsuccessfully for five years, after which his son led a coup.
What did you think of the finale of Catherine the Great? Let us know in the comment section below!