Story Recap – what happened in The Empress season 1?

By Marc Miller
Published: September 29, 2022 (Last updated: January 27, 2024)
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This is a story recap of the Netflix series The Empress season 1, which contains spoilers as it details what happened.  

The outstanding German Netflix series The Empress does what only the very best films and series do — take you to another time and place. With breathtaking production value, stalwart performances, impeccable writing, and an evocative score, this series is guaranteed to be the next big streaming hit. The season ended on a cliffhanger for what is being labeled as a limited series. It shouldn’t be a surprise if anyone knows the tragic history of the beloved imperial highness. So, there should be plenty of seasons to come.

Story recap – what happened in The Empress season 1? 

Episode 1 — “One’s Place in the World”

There is civil unrest within the Austrian Empire, and the emperor has just hanged five conspirators. However, he must pick a wife. His mother, Sophie, has chosen Helena, a Bavarian Princess. Franz (played by Philip Froissant), though, likes his sister Elisabeth (played Devrim Lingnau), a young woman who has been labeled a troublemaker by her family.

Episode 2 — “The Arrival”

Elisabeth arrives to prepare for her wedding to Franz, the emperor of Austria. While Helene still refuses to speak to her sister, they make up when Elisabeth cannot handle the stresses of her new role. Finally, the resistance is set, and a “lady-in-waiting” infiltrates the royal quarters. What exactly are the conspirators up to?

Episode 3 — “The Wedding”

While Franz and Elisabeth have no idea an upriser is amongst their staff, the new empress is worried about the wedding guests and her inner circle. After making Helene her head of household, she sends her away after seeing her with Franz and is scared she is still holding a grudge. Elisabeth meets Franz’s old flame, Louise, who helps her ex-lover secure a loan from financiers to build a railroad into the heart of the Habsburg empire. This angers his council and his mother, Sophia, who thinks they should send 250,000 troops to the border. Meanwhile, Maxi is getting close to the French ambassador, winning favor among European allies.

Episode 4 — “The Hunt”

Franz invites the Russian Tsar’s son for a day of boar hunting so he can convince both sides to have peace instead of war. When we thought he would agree to Franz’s plans to withdraw troops from the border countries, Elisabeth saves his life by shooting a boar charging him. He is a proud man who missed the wild animal twice. As everyone laughs at the notion of a woman saving the mighty Russian, he leaves because of the embarrassment. As Franz tries to calm him down, he refuses, and now they are at war. Meanwhile, Maxi is working his behind-the-scenes magic, cutting his brother off at the knees at every turn. Finally, Elisabeth bleeds for the first time in months, meaning she is not pregnant with the emperor’s child.

Episode 5 — “The Shoes”

Who knew how much trouble a simple pair of shoes may cost? When Elisabeth is sent out on what amounted to a public relations ploy, she visits a factory with awful working conditions. She gives a pair of her shoes to a little girl, which starts a riot, as the royal guard carries her out against her will. (The crowd did not like she could not walk on the same dirt they have to every day). Meanwhile, Maxi is finalizing his plot to take over as emperor, and Ava learns that resistance will strike any moment.

Episode 6 — “The God Who Us Has Freedom Sent”

Things have finally come ahead in The Empress, and people are about to clash. Sophia convinces Franz to take control of the Elisabeth situation, giving her two options. She can return to Bavaria, and they will have the marriage annulled. Or two, she can obey the rules but live in the palace under constant supervision and scheduled visits with her husband. Elisabeth chooses to leave, even though she finds out she is pregnant, without telling the emperor. Ava betrays the resistance and lets the royal guard know of the assassin sneaking into the palace. That goes for Maxi, arrested for the coup and whose mother calls him weak and unfit to be emperor. The season ends with Elisabeth walking into a crowd of angry citizens at the gates. She announces — per a servant who reported to Sophia — that she is pregnant.

That is the full story recap of what happened in the Netflix series The Empress Season 1. What are your thoughts on the story? Please comment below.  

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