This recap of the Netflix series The Empress season 1, episode 4, “The Hunt,” contains spoilers.
A woman offering a child to her husband is the subject of The Empress episode “The Hunt”. Sophia is loyal and, as seen in the last episode, more than a professional relationship, lets her highness know that the Empress hasn’t bled for thirty days. This is fantastic news, she told him. Sophia is calm and stoic, and not to mention, with her political chops, I would describe her as stealthy. Why? Well, Sophia announces that the honeymoon is over. However, it’s a remarkably well-traced episode of political chess moves that heighten the tension and tighten the noose around the show’s best characters.
The Empress Season 1 Episode 4 Recap
Elizabeth (played by Devrim Linnau) isn’t offered coffee, but she has to eat a raw egg. She is also shown the placenta of a woman who has just given her husband his eighth son. One of the ladies-in-waiting almost threw up, and so did I. Also, I’m not entirely sure she wanted Elisabeth to eat it, but that makes me think she did. However, a quick Google search will produce something called human placentophagy, which shows that people from India to Europe believed that eating placenta helped reproductive function. Hey, we’re going the extra mile here, so you’re welcome, loyal Stable cut ready readers.
I find the Elizabeth, Francis (played by Philippe Frissant), and Maxi interesting dynamics. For one thing, Maxi and the Empress have more chemistry than she has with her husband. There is something notable since the evening at Maxi where Elisabeth drank absinthe. Even more evident when he is at the table, when Maxi inquires about the Empress and her “squad” in the park, making handkerchiefs. They have fun back and forth, as Elisabeth is quick with her lines, asking if Maxi was hiding in the bushes, and they make a handkerchief for everyone’s heart that Maxi broke.
There was also a flashback showing how Franz became emperor. Six years before, a revolution was brewing in Vienna and the family had to leave until it passed. Franz’s uncle is now finished as emperor, and Franz’s time has come. Why not his father, he asks? Sophia tells her son that his father is weak, as is his brother. Front flash on Franz making love with his wife near a river. She lightly touches the scar on her neck. It turns out that those five people he hanged tried to assassinate him. This troubles Franz as he sympathizes with his citizens, unlike his predecessors, and wants to help them. This is evidenced by his need to improve the economy and not get into, as he calls it, a senseless war.
Meanwhile, political chess moves play out behind the scenes and Maxi continues to wreak havoc. The French will not contact Franz again, and he cannot imagine what he did to irritate Napoleon. Of course, that’s because Maxi poisoned the waters by telling the French ambassador that Franz planned not to participate in the war between France and Russia so that his country could profit from it. However, Sophia keeps Maxi in the cabinet, for good reason. When his brother has nothing to do and is on his own, he becomes even more dangerous. Looking at this I wonder if Sophia is keeping Max in the case, she has to replace Franz as he is now bringing in the Tsar’s son to talk instead of reinforcing the troops and not going to war.
Franz tries to bribe Maxi to get him to leave. It looks like throwing him in the dungeon, game of thrones the style would solve the problem, but it doesn’t. He offers his brother to be at the head of the navy, but as the Austrian fleet consists of a few tugs, he refuses. He wants to be a political leader. The Emperor is not stupid, he knows that Maxi is not a leader, but he also knows that he does not want to give him more power than he can dangerously wield.
Of course, later in the episode, Maxi meets the cabinet behind Franz’s back and attempts a coup. France would not attack Habsburg if he became emperor, and they had to denounce Russia’s allies. All this happens while Franz meets the son of the Russian Tsar. Of course, guess who shows up for the intimate hunting meeting between the Tsar and Franz?
The hunting party is a resounding success, but the rebellious mole, Ava, may have revealed her identity. Franz’s father introduces himself as Léontine, who gives her the full name of Léontine d’Apafi. Of course, he knows his family, which is French, but she can’t say a word about it. When she meets her master later, he accuses her of liking the new clothes and the diamonds she wears, but Ava claims that this Emperor may be different from others. It’s a subplot to watch.
The final scenes show Elisabeth rescuing the Tsar’s son as he constantly misses a boar charging at him with his weapon. She shoots him, saving his life, but he is now embarrassed. He leaves after having a short chat with Franz, and now he has drawn a line in the sand. He will send troops to eliminate Russian forces in border countries. Of course, Franz is irritated with his wife, who is told to stay while he leaves. However, she ignores his orders and invites Maxi to travel with her. They hook up and Franz sees them getting on the coach as they arrive and wonders why his wife runs to her brother every time they fight. The last scene shows Elisabeth reaching under her dress with blood on her hand. She is not pregnant.
What did you think of The Empress season 1, episode 4? Comments below.
Further reading for The Empress (2022) season 1
The recap of The Empress season 1, episode 3
The recap of The Empress season 1, episode 5
The Empress season 1 review
The Empress Season 1 Full Story Recap
You can watch this series on Netflix.
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