The Great season three
This show’s hand-picking of aspects of historical accuracy, woven into an otherwise fanciful, charming and hilarious tale, is a delight. The Great takes the vague idea of 18th-century Russian nobility and crafts a superbly rude, thriller-esque satirical farce, something acknowledged openly in the programme’s tagline: “An occasionally true story”.
The series’ third season, still from creator Tony McNamara, retains the rambunctious fruitiness of its predecessors, but is of course dutifully dialling up the stakes plot-wise. More deceit, more murder, more scandal – more everything. Three things make The Great… great: a superbly involving and witty script, Elle Fanning as Empress Catherine II and Nicholas Hoult as Emperor Peter III (the first element having been composed simply perfectly for the supremely gifted latter two). Fanning runs the show, as both a performer and a character. Her Catherine is sharp, quick-witted and competent, bouncing brilliantly off of Hoult’s ridiculous, dangerous and overconfident Peter.
As with any serial straying into its third season, repetition of themes and occurrence becomes increasingly tricky to avoid. This instalment feels largely fresh, but there are a lot of the same folks knocking about – no nippy mortality refresh rate here, the classic example of which being, of course, Game of Thrones. Not a major issue, but the creators have seemingly had to work quite hard to evade underdevelopment with ever-wilder eventualities.
The edit has always been superb with The Great. Its use of slightly more lengthy than usual blackouts between starkly different scenes is effective, and cutting between shots as characters refer to one another is also a coherent strength.
On the whole, this is another strong showing from the tenuously historical series. This is a well-formulated collection of episodes, celebrating the talents of two wonderful young actors in the title and primary supporting roles.
The Great season three is released on Lionsgate+ on 14th July 2023.
Watch the trailer for The Great season three here: