This recap of the Netflix series The Empress season 1, episode 2, “The Arrival,” contains spoilers.
Where some things change, they really all stay the same. Elizabeth (played by Devrim Linnau) has arrived at her new digs and has no idea what awaits her. Meanwhile, since the arrival of Duchess Elisabeth, her staff are honing in on themselves to be able to engage their “mind and spirit”. And if you look closely, one of them is part of the resistance that we saw at the end of the pilot episode. She now has a beard as the empress’s “lady-in-waiting” to gain her trust for the resistance.
The Empress Season 1 Episode 2 Recap
However, things are happening behind the scenes. As Sophia splits at the seams, it looks like she is mourning the death of a child. We find her sobbing on all fours in her room. When she gives her future daughter-in-law a necklace to wear, she has a flashback of chasing the child. It doesn’t help that her husband, who lives in the countryside, shows up, implying that he wants a chance at physical relations. Even more distracting is a former lover, the Prince of Vasa, whom Sophia wants to allow into her bed, but instead asks if Franz is indeed her son. Sophia won’t give him an answer.
And Francis (played by Philippe Frissant) officially breaks with the Countess. She is heartbroken. He must, however, move on and has a meeting with his advisers to discuss whether he should join the war and honor the treaty with Russia. He says no because it will take all their money, and the country is starving. The emperor tried to build a railway through Vienna to improve his country’s economy, but he had to find more money. It seems he has another mess to clean up everywhere he turns, including his brother. Maxi, it turns out, impregnated two sisters. One committed suicide when he refused to marry her and the other ended up in an insane asylum. Franz takes care of it by offering the father nobility and a pension.
The relationship between Elisabeth and Hélène has been strained for months. The blonde sister has cut her hair short and refuses to talk to her. Still, she came with the family to attend the wedding. But like all sisters, she is ultimately there for the future Empress. For example, she is upset when Elisabeth feels violated while going through a “purity” and “chastity” confirmation procedure involving a doctor and an obnoxious religious figure. During the pre-wedding ceremony, she boldly challenges the man’s authority, saying it was nothing more than an excuse for two older men to stare at her skirt. Franz and Sophie are appalled by his behavior. Even her mother knocks over a tray to distract everyone from her daughter’s attitude. Elisabeth’s future husband insists that she go to rest because she is obviously not well.
This is where Hélène comes in. While Franz is trying to save Austria, Elisabeth goes to a pre-wedding party and drinks bad absinthe. She also develops a connection with Maxi, who is there. The future Imperial Empress finds his advances unseemly but also does not want him to leave. When she wakes up the next day, she is hungover and hides under a table, wrapped in curtains. The staff leaves after Helen finds her and asks them to leave. The sister puts on makeup and reassures her that Elisabeth will be fine. After all, she can advise her because she has been preparing for it all her life.
The episode ends with the two preparing for the ceremony. Elisabeth is wearing a beautiful white wedding dress with the veil pulled back. Franz is in his finery. Before she takes off, he runs towards her, putting his hand on the glass to reassure her. As she gets into her private car, the music plays and her future people cheer her name, banging on the window, demanding her attention.
What did you think of The Empress season 1, episode 2? Comments below.
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You can watch this series on Netflix.
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