The mystery of the Roman dynasty is one that FOX hopes we’ll keep unpacking all season long, but even after tuning into the sneak peek Sunday premiere, I find myself wondering if there was truly enough to hook audiences.
The pilot episode of Monarch introduced the Roman family led by Dottie (Susan Sarandon) and Albie (Trace Adkins), described as the “first family of country music”— code for super dysfunctional.
Dottie is the ring leader in charge, and though it’s clear everyone loves her, she also seems to be the source of everyone’s pain and insecurities. And she leaves plenty of destruction in her wake, which is bound to impact the characters for episodes to come… if the audience can be swayed to keep coming back for more, that is.
Within moments, it’s clear that the picture-perfect allure is all a facade as the family deals with the matriarch’s terminal cancer diagnosis, Albie recently revealed affair, and a deathbed secret that, unfortunately, was not made known to audiences at the time.
Dottie asks her daughter, Nicky (Anna Friel) to help her “go out on a high note” after the family weekend musicale, which honestly, tells you a lot about the expectations she places on her children. It’s a dying wish Nicky does not want to fulfill, but Dottie uses a combo of buttering up and tough love to convince her; she shows up that evening and assists her mother with downing a handful of pills chased by some liquor.
She may have done it out of love and respect for her mother, but we can expect to see Nicky wrestle with this decision in the future; You don’t just get over something like that.
And if she tries to bury it, her sister, Gigi (Beth Ditto), who accidentally walked in and witnessed the whole thing will be there to hold her accountable.
Gigi and Nicky are already on shaky ground, so this will likely only add fuel to the fire as Gigi will blame her sister for their mother’s death. And I’m not convinced that isn’t what her mother wanted. From the little time we spent with Dottie, it’s clear she was a meddler and a pot-stirrer.
She pushed Gigi to sing at the musicale despite her desire to remain in the shadows, and she damn well knew that if she did take the stage, she would steal the thunder from Nicky, whose dream of having a successful country career was thwarted by her mother’s inability to share the spotlight from the start.
The moment Nicky realized Gigi has kept a low profile because she was afraid of outshining her, she was visibly offended but suggested that it was a fair fight to see who would carry on the Roman legacy.
Unfortunately for Nicky, Gigi was seemingly already given the keys to the kingdom by Alec, who was Dottie’s date to the musicale. Surprising? I think not.
Dottie also bestowed a secret onto her daughter in the final moments, and my guess is that the bedside secret likely has something to do with Albie’s affair confession as the flashbacks during her last moments seem to reveal she played a role in the barn fire and likely killed the alluring caretaker who seduced her man. The dynasty is built on murder, lies, and deceit, which honestly, is fitting and would make a killer country tune.
There’s a handful of little mysteries sprinkled in throughout the episode, including visuals of Albie digging a grave to bury a body. Is this a flashback? A flash-forward? Is he burying his own wife? His lover? Only time will tell.
Cheating seems to be a common theme in the family as Nicky’s British husband also seems to be a two-timing cheater as she makes a comment suggesting that he pursues underage girls.
I can’t say I’m all that invested in Nicky’s relationship drama, but there’s definitely a lot to unpack with Gigi’s wife, Kayla, who hooked up with Luke (Joshua Sasse), Gigi’s brother and CEO of Monarch Entertainment, a role given to him by Dottie much to his father’s dismay. Luke seems to want to live up to his father’s expectations of him, but when he fails to do so, he threatens to leave the company despite being personally appointed by Dottie to “bring the company into the future.” I anticipate plenty more father-son tiffs in the future as they disagree about how to move forward after the matriarch’s death.
The series still seems to be struggling with figuring out exactly what kind of show it wants to be (a powerhouse like Empire or a soap like Nashville), which makes it hard for audiences to sing their praises immediately post the premiere. And maybe this uncertain fan response is just what they need to course correct and ensure that the series is one that brings something fresh to the table and sticks around for a long time.
Admittedly, there were some promising country duets, larger-than-life outfits, and a dash of plot twists, so I can also see this show taking the charts by storm, especially as fans search for a new family dynasty to keep them entertained.
What did you think of Monarch’s series premiere?
‘Monarch’ Has Been Canceled at FOX
The Roman country music dynasty has come to an end.
FOX’s musical drama, Monarch, has officially been canceled after one short-lived season.
The drama aired its final episode on Tuesday, Dec. 6., wrapping up an 11-episode mystery surrounding the first family of country music.
It’s likely a huge surprise to FOX, which heavily promoted the series and tried to sell it as the next Empire or Nashville. While the series had a promising debut—it was Fox’s most-watch fall scripted drama in three years—it couldn’t retain audiences or keep up the momentum.
And it seems as though fans were mostly turned off by the show’s decision to promote itself as a Susan Sarandon-led drama, only to kill her off in the first episode. The matriarch of the Roman family appeared in flashbacks throughout the series, which focused heavily on the remaining cast members, Anna Friel, Trace Adkins, Joshua Sasse, and Beth Ditto.
Even the handful of guest appearances from major country music stars like Shania Twain couldn’t save Monarch from its ultimate demise.
How about you, Cravers? Did you like the series? Or do you think it’s best that it ended after one season?
5 Biggest Moments From This Week’s ‘Monarch’
Monarch continues to dominate primetime television as the fall’s juiciest drama.
Regardless if you were hooked immediately by the premiere or if you’ve had a tough time warming up to the musical drama, one thing is certain—there are plenty of shocking and jaw-dropping moments to pique your interest.
Monarch Season 1 Episode 3 continued with the aftermath of Dottie’s death, showcasing how it affected the family in the present day while checking in on a new mystery set 3 months from now.
We’re breaking down the biggest moments from the September 27, 2022 episode:
I know everyone is kind of making Dottie out to be a monster, but I think Kayla comes in at a close second as she’s deceiving her wife, Gigi, who truly believes that she has the perfect marriage built on trust and honesty, by sleeping with Gigi’s brother, Luke. Multiple times. And if that wasn’t bad enough, she’s also pregnant with his child, which just spells family drama for the front page of TMZ. Nicky caught Luke and Kayla in action (because they, for some reason, thought that hooking up outside was a good decision) and confronted Kayla about it. While Nicky and Gigi might have a little competition going, they are sisters who love each other, so Nicky is fiercely protective. She told Kayla to put an end to the affair, and when she realized she wasn’t eating her sushi or drinking her sake, she figured out that she was pregnant. Nicky then asked Kayla to allow her to take care of it, and I’m slightly concerned it’s Kayla’s body in that grave in the woods.
The Grave in the Woods
Which brings us to said grave. Albie arrives at home after burying the body, but cops are onto him. Nicky attempts to cover for him by telling the officer that her father is asleep, but they aren’t buying it. Once they leave, Albie informs Nicky that they have to get to the body before the cops come back with a warrant or start digging themselves. But when they make their way to the middle of the forest, they realize someone already got to the body first and dug it up. Honestly, this just tells me Albie didn’t bury it far enough, but also, whose body is it? And why is someone suspicious of the Romans?
The Phoenix Ladies
Catt and her daughter, Anna, arrived in town for a meeting with Luke at Monarch, but when he stood them up after his mother’s death, they stuck around, determined to get a record deal. Eventually, they figured out the perfect plan with Anna singing a song in Spanish at the bar that Albie was at. Anna seemed to get the attention of Ace, Nicky’s son, but when Catt confronted Albie about getting her daughter signed, he informed her that it’s what the “suits” dealt with. Later in the episode, Anna got flowers from Ace along with a contract. There’s definitely a deeper connection between the Pheonix ladies and the Romans, as Catt has said time and time again that they owe her this, and even made a comment about how Anna is part of the first family of country music. Could this connect to Albie’s cheating?
Cheaters Are No Fun
I know the majority of hit country songs are about cheating, but I didn’t think it was because everyone was a cheater. Kayla isn’t the only one in a scandalous affair, as it comes to light that Albie cheated on Dottie (which we already knew), something he truly regrets and that weighs heavily on him. And then there’s Nicky’s slimy husband, Clive, who promises not to step out on her again all while having a secret romance with some actress named Imogene. When Nicky finds the present for Imogene to celebrate the “best 6 months of his life,” she flushes it down the toilet—and then donates the toilet bling. She feels like she needs to keep up the facade of a perfect marriage, but when Albie informs her to do what’s best for her family, she picks up Imogene at the airport and takes her as a plus one to the Queens of Country concert, which she marks as the official funeral for her marriage. In a bold move of female empowerment, she informs reporters that instead of placing the blame on the other woman, she’s holding her cheating husband solely accountable. It ends up fueling a powerful and authentic performance that puts her on the radar of a tour producer. Go, Nicky! She also gets Wade’s attention, and honestly, I’m rooting for this pairing. One could say the stars are aligning for her except for the little fact that she helped kill her mom.
What Happened to Dottie?
While Nicky continues to allege that her mother was sick when she died, Luke doesn’t believe it. He knows the woman he saw that night was a fighter, so he taps in the medical examiner to get to the bottom of it. And he finds out that his mother was poisoned. Now, Luke might not be the brightest, but he already figured out that Nicky wrote the letters in the will pretending to be their mother, so I have no doubt that he’s going to piece it all together. And if he doesn’t, Clive, who now has a reason to seek revenge after Nicky outed his cheating publicly, found Dottie’s empty drug package while cleaning out his closet. Nicky tried to help her mother, but in turn, created a huge mess for herself. And if Kayla isn’t the body in the grave, my money is on Clive!
What did you think of the episode? On a scale of 1 to 10, how messed up is the Roman family? Do you think Kayla will come clean to Gigi? Will Nicky do something she’s going to regret to help her cover up the affair? Who is going to go down for Dottie’s murder? And how are the Phoenix ladies connected to everything?
Let us know your theories in the comment section!
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