One of the most telling and potentially darkly comedic images from Hulu’s first look at “The Great” shows Catherine under a tent on (what appears to be) a battlefield, possibly waiting — based on the desk behind her — to engage in some sort of political negotiation. But it isn’t the empress’ elaborate, purity-reiterating, lavish and silvery white attire that speaks most directly to what Season 2 will bring. Instead, it’s the fact that she’s — somewhat stoically — grasping a large, bloody sack in her hand. Behind her, two faceless members of the Russian military (whose uniforms suggest varying titles and degrees of import) stand firmly against an expansive, sweeping landscape.
From the looks of it, Season 2 will see Catherine shed even more of the naïve optimism that so characterized the fledgling Russian royal at the start of Season 1. The image appears to speak almost directly to her conversation with Voltaire (Dustin Demri-Burns) in the latter’s finale, wherein she tells her idol that he’s “an unexpectedly dark character.” Voltaire’s reply — that he “would not seek enlightenment if (he) did not think we all flailed in the dark” — sparks something in the conflicted empress, and causes her to choose the enlightenment she feels she can bring to Russia over her love of Leo.
Changing the world comes at a cost, and although Catherine is determined to drag Russia into modernity without bloodshed (as fans know from the Season 2 trailer), it seems the next chapter in her rise to power will force the empress to re-think her all-too-idealistic approach.