Hulu viewers will get more of young Catherine the Great’s adventures in 18th-century Russia. The streamer has officially announced that The Great—which stars Elle Fanning as the titular sovereign and Nicholas Hoult as her dense spouse, Emperor Peter—has been renewed for a 10-episode second season. The news arrived less than two months after the show debuted to grand success on the platform; The Great was one of its top performing original comedies, Hulu said via Deadline.
Fanning, who’s also an executive producer on the series, had long been excited to continue Catherine’s story on-screen. “Oh yeah, I’d be down,” she told BAZAAR.com in May 2020 when asked about a possible second season of The Great. “Easy yes.”
Here’s what we know about the next installment of the irreverent new series so far.
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Season 2 premieres November 19 on Hulu.
Hulu has announced that The Great Season 2 will premiere this year, on November 19 (Huzzah!). The premiere date was revealed along with the first footage of the second season. The new trailer opens with Peter asking how Catherine is, and the queen responding, “At war with you, that’s how I’ve been.”
The rest of the footage shows new events in the sovereign couple’s war for control over Russia. One scene shows Catherine and her advisor Orlo watching in horror as the royal castle’s residents fight in the great hall. Another shows Peter shoot a man as he walks down the hall with pistols up. Though that sounds like business as usual for The Great, the trailer also hints at the central struggle this season, as the couple disagree on whether or not they can rule Russia without bloodshed.
The new season will continue Catherine’s struggle to civilize Russia.
Light spoilers ahead.
With Catherine’s attempt at a coup against her husband reaching a stalemate last season, a new description of Season 2 hints that the queen will focus on her attempts to bring the Enlightenment to Russia. The official synopsis says that her relationship with Peter will also evolve, but still remain confusing.
Here is the official synopsis, per Entertainment Tonight:
Catherine finally takes the Russian throne for her own — but if she thought coup-ing her husband was difficult, it’s nothing compared to the realities of liberating a country that doesn’t want to be. She’ll battle her court, her team, even her own mother (played by guest star Gillian Anderson) in a bid to bring the Enlightenment to Russia. Meanwhile, she’ll also battle her heart as Peter slowly transitions from a much-hated husband to a prisoner? Ally? Lover? Ultimately, Catherine will learn that to change a country, you must let it change you, that there is a fine line between idealism and delusion, and that becoming ‘Great’ will ask more of her than she could have imagined.
Filming just wrapped.
Hulu shared that on July 17, 2021, The Great officially wrapped production on its second season. The streamer shared the news with a photo of Nicholas Hoult and Elle Fanning in costume as Peter and Catherine. Do we spot some blood and dirt on Catherine’s dress? Wonder what could have happened there …
Sharing the same photo on Instagram, Fanning wrote, “Season 2 of The Great has officially wrapped. Wow. What a tremendous feat filming in a global pandemic. I am eternally grateful for the crew that kept us all safe and going. This season is going to be WILLLLDDDD! I love them with all my heart. Cannot wait for you to see what we have cooked up!”
Catherine’s got a baby bump.
In the first-look photo of the new season, Elle Fanning’s Catherine reveals her baby bump under her corset. “In season two, Catherine becomes both a mother to Russia and a child,” Hulu said in a statement. (The empress and her husband, Emperor Peter, were revealed to be expecting at the end of Season 1.) And Fanning, who was recently nominated for a Golden Globe for her role in the series, teased that she’s “cooking up something special” for the next installment.
The Favourite’s Tony McNamara is still at the helm.
The Oscar-nominated scribe behind The Favourite once again puts his comedic, satirical touch on royal history for the life story of Catherine the Great, the longest-ruling female leader of Russia. His adaptation first started off as a play in Australia in 2008, and more than a decade later, the show version maintains his sharp, off-kilter humor and eludes complete historical accuracy. (And that’s what makes it so fun.) As showrunner, McNamara also serves as writer and executive producer.
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There are so many possibilities for the storyline.
With such a long tenure as empress, Catherine’s life story is water-logged source material for the series. “[I] definitely know that Tony is for sure thinking beyond [season 1],” Fanning told Entertainment Weekly in May. “He has more stories.”
Before the show’s renewal, the actress imagined that the series would pick back up with Catherine and Peter at relatively the same ages they were at in the first season. “I don’t really have any info yet, but I feel like season 2 would probably continue on this story,” she added to EW. “I don’t know exactly when it would pick up, but it would be us at this age. We have our fingers crossed.”
It looks like Nicholas Hoult is back.
SPOILER ALERT: In the Season 1 finale, Catherine incites a coup against her husband that should have culminated in his death, but the ending was a real cliffhanger as his killing wasn’t shown on-screen. While announcing Season 2 on Instagram, however, Fanning hinted that Catherine didn’t quite succeed in assassinating her husband.
“Okay, now seriously @nicholashoult I’m going to get you this time…” she joked in her post.
That isn’t entirely bad news though: Who wouldn’t want more Nicholas Hoult? Furthermore, Variety reported that the actor faced scheduling conflicts between Season 2 of The Great and the next Mission: Impossible film, on which he was supposed to play the villain. But he exited the big-screen project in May.
Along with Fanning and Hoult, Phoebe Fox, Adam Godley, Gwilym Lee, Charity Wakefield, Douglas Hodge, Sacha Dhawan, Sebastian de Souza (whose character, Leo, perished in the finale), Bayo Gbadamosi, and Belinda Bromilow also starred in Season 1. Season 2 additions have not been announced yet.
There could be up to six seasons.
Executive producer Marian Macgowan told Decider that the team “initially pitched six seasons” of The Great. “So we believe there’s sufficient material to take us through until she is an old woman.”
As McNamara previously told Deadline, “I wanted to tell [The Great] as a story that goes for years and years.”
Keeping the throne won’t be easy for Queen Catherine.
New images from Netflix show Catherine and her allies continuing their scheming after she receives the Russian imperial crown. Though she may officially be “The Great,” McNamara tells Entertainment Weekly that the queen still has a lot to learn about Russia, and she’ll be met with opposition at every turn.
“For Catherine, it was like that was the job, taking power, and she didn’t really focus on how she might use power or how hard it would be to exercise power, or what sort of country she’d be taking over. So it’s really the next part of the journey of once you get power, what do you do with it?” he said.
He also hinted that characters who gain new power, including Orlo and Marial, will have to navigate their new status. “I think that the court shifts and all the characters have to kind of change their game in the second season, to kind of work their way to some kind of position of having some power.”
Gillian Anderson will play Catherine’s mother.
Queen Catherine’s mother is coming to court. Hulu shared a first look at The Crown and Sex Education actor Gillian Anderson as Joanna, Catherine’s socialite mother. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Joanna is known as “the maestro of marriage” for her ability to arrange partnerships for her daughters. She travels to Russia after hearing rumors of Catherine’s coup, but the doting mother may have something more sinister up her sleeve.
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This article originally appeared on Harper’s BAZAAR US