The Great season 2: release date, cast, trailer and everything we know

The cast of The Great season 2.
(Image credit: Hulu)

The Great garnered a lot of attention and acclaim in its first season, depicting a highly fictionalized version of the life of Catherine the Great, Empress of All Russia. With Tony McNamara, the co-writer of the tonally similar period piece The Favourite  at the helm, and three Golden Globe nominations under its belt, it’s no surprise that viewers are keen for more from this dark comedy drama in The Great season 2.

Premiering on Hulu back in May 2020, the satirical series is loosely based on the life of Catherine the Great, played by Elle Fanning, and her terrifying husband, Peter III of Russia, played by Nicholas Hoult. The first season focused on the Russian Empress's hopes to overthrow the king and rule over a greater, more free Russia, while carefully building up alliances with the different characters surrounding her. 

The Great season 2 was confirmed back in July 2020, and a release date was recently revealed in a new trailer. On this page, you'll find everything we know about the new season so far. Spoilers for The Great season 1 lay ahead.

Release date: You don't have long to wait for this one. The Great season 2 has an official release date of November 19, 2021.

Is there a trailer? Yes, a short teaser is now available – it offers a little hint of what's to come in season 2, but we'd expect a longer one closer to release.

How many seasons will it get? The initial pitch for The Great was apparently for six seasons – so hopefully we'll see a few more after season 2.

The Great season 2 release date

The Great season 2 release date

The Great season 2 has an official release date on Hulu in the US: November 19, 2021. Like season 1, expect 10 one-hour episodes.

The Great season 2 trailer

The Great season 2 trailer

To mark the release date announcement, Hulu rolled out the first, short trailer for The Great season 2 – check it out above.

The Great season 2 cast

The Great season 2 cast: who’s back and who’s new?

It appears a lot of the main characters will be returning for season 2, with the exception of one whose plot was left hanging in the balance in the season 1 finale.

  • Elle Fanning as Catherine the Great
  • Nicholas Hoult as Peter III of Russia
  • Douglas Hodge as General Velementov
  • Adam Godley as Archie
  • Phoebe Fox as Merial
  • Sacha Dhawan as Orlov
  • Gwilym Lee as Grigor Dymov
  • Charity Wakefield as Georgina
  • Belinda Bromilow as Aunt Elizabeth
  • Bayo Gbadamosi as Arkady
  • Gillian Anderson as Joanna

Season 1, of course, left viewers with one big unanswered question around the fate of Catherine’s lover Leo, played by Sebastian De Souza. The cast and crew are keeping mum about it for now, so whether he’ll be returning, we’ll have to wait and see.

As the image above reveals, there will be one exciting new addition to the faces of The Great – Gillian Anderson. The X-Files and Sex Education star is joining the ensemble cast for season 2 as Catherine’s mother, Joanna, and will, according to Deadline, appear in two episodes. This ties in to some of the themes of the season, as you'll read about in the plot section below. 

Deadline also revealed that Joanna is known for being a “maestro of marriage”, in that she can organize high-profile partnerships for her daughters. Upon hearing of her daughter Catherine’s coup, she has come to Russia to see it for herself.

The Great season 2 plot

The Great season 2 plot: what can we expect?

Elle Fanning in The Great season 2.

(Image credit: Hulu)

A large amount of The Great season 1 was spent following Catherine’s bid to create a greater Russia by plotting to overthrow her dimwitted husband, Peter, as ruler in a coup. Catherine was hoping to find her own independence away from her current role, where she's only around to provide Peter with an heir to the throne.

To sum it up shortly and sweetly without giving too much away, season 1 ended with both the coup and Catherine falling pregnant in the final few episodes. Still, Catherine’s pregnancy has ultimately saved her life, as she was spared of execution despite Peter finding out about the coup. 

But, while Catherine’s life was saved, we’re not so sure about her lover, Leo. Leo was gifted to Catherine in season 1, to help remedy her unhappiness; little did Peter know that they had begun an affair. As such, viewers were left on the edge of their seats with the cliffhanger of whether Leo had met his demise, once the coup was revealed and Leo’s role in it was uncovered.

So, where does that leave us for season 2?

Well, we know about Catherine’s mother, Joanna, joining the cast and we know Catherine will be with child this year.

During an interview with the Wrap, Elle Fanning, who plays Catherine, has suggested a more parental role moving into season 2. “It’s been fun to explore Catherine even further. She’s been taken more out of her comfort zone and into this parental, I think I would say. The season is very parental and learning to be a mother and mother to a country in that sense. There are some themes there. But we have some wild things planned. It’s going to be cool.”

Showrunner Tony McNamara told Collider that the original ending of season 1 changed, due to an idea he had to move certain plot points to the second season.

At a press tour in August 2021, Hoult revealed that Peter will spend some of season 2 in some form of "imprisonment and confinement", according to Deadline

The battle over Russia's future will continue in season 2. Catherine will take the throne this season, but will struggle with the challenge of trying to free a country that doesn't necessarily want to be liberated. 

The official synopsis for season 2 suggests that she'll have a combative relationship with her mother, too. Having Peter captive will change the nature of their relationship, as well, with a hint that Catherine "will also battle her heart as Peter slowly transitions from a much-hated husband to a prisoner". It sounds like their dynamic will take some more wild turns this season.

Are more seasons of The Great in the works?

Will there be more episodes after The Great season 2?

The Great season 2 hasn't arrived yet, but there's likely more to come beyond this season.

According to an interview with the Decider, executive producer Marian Macgowan revealed that there's an ambitious plan for the series. “We initially pitched six seasons. So we believe there’s sufficient material to take us through until she is an old woman.”

And in a separate interview with Collider, showrunner Tony McNamara hinted that the future of the show is open-ended. “I’m not sure [how many seasons it will run] at the moment, I’m just telling the story and we’ll see where we get to.” 

Period dramas are hot property in 2021, as Bridgerton's success on Netflix shows. But you don't necessarily need melodrama and romance to get viewers hooked – The Great works so well because it runs counter to that, embroiling its characters (and Russia itself) in turmoil and chaos, and lacing every twist with dark humor. We can't wait to see Catherine and Peter's strangely addictive relationship develop more in season 2. 

Grace is a freelance writer for TechRadar, with past work at sites like GamesRadar, Metro and The Loadout.