It begins with a lackluster episode, “Heads It’s Me,” a minefield of forced humor and a casual end to the coup against Peter that occupied the whole of the last season. It tries to tie up the loose threads of the far more compelling finale that preceded it. On average, however, the writing does improve gradually, as Catherine and her court adjust to her new reign and her pregnancy. Intrigue is layered upon intrigue, ambitions and appalling mistakes rising like the smoke from poisonous candles Catherine receives for her attempts at diplomacy. At times sickening, at others charming, The Great’s second season is a woozy, erratic take on similar themes to its first: idealism, desire and the price of power.