This is a remarkably well-plotted episode of political chess moves that raise tension and tighten the noose around the series’ best characters.
This recap of the Netflix series The Empress season 1, episode 4, “The Hunt,” contains spoilers.
A woman gifting a child to her husband is the subject of The Empress episode “The Hunt.” Sophia is loyal and, as we saw in the last episode, more than a professional relationship, lets her highness know that the empress has not bled in thirty days. This is fantastic news, she tells her. 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, this is a remarkably well-plotted episode of political chess moves that raise tension and tighten the noose around the series’ best characters.
The Empress Season 1, episode 4 recap
Elisabeth (played by Devrim Lingnau) is not offered coffee, but she must eat a raw egg. She is also shown the placenta of a woman who just gave her husband her eighth son. One of the ladies-in-waiting almost vomited, and so did I. Also, I’m not entirely sure she wanted Elisabeth to eat it, but it makes me think she did. However, a quick google search will produce something called human placentophagy, which shows people from India to Europe thought eating placenta aided reproduction function. Hey, we go the extra mile here, so you are welcome, loyal Ready Steady Cut readers.
I find the Elisabeth, Franz (played by Philip Froissant), and Maxi dynamic interesting. For one, Maxi and the empress have more chemistry than she has with her husband. There is something noticeable since the party Maxi had where Elisabeth drank absinthe. Even more evident when at the dinner table, when Maxi asks about the empress and her “squad” in the park, making handkerchiefs. They have fun back and forth, as Elisabeth is quick with her retorts, asking if Maxi was hiding in the bushes, and they make a handkerchief for everyone’s heart Maxi broke.
There was also a flashback showing how Franz came to be the emperor. Six years prior, a revolution was brewing in Vienna, and the family had to leave until it passed. Franz’s uncle is now finished as the emperor, and Franz’s time has come. Why not his father, he asks? Sophia tells her son that his father is weak, just like his brother. Flash forward to Franz making love to his wife near a river. She lightly touches the scar on his neck. It turns out those five people he hung attempted to assassinate him. This troubles Franz because he empathizes with his citizens, unlike his predecessors, and wants to help them. This is highlighted by his need to improve the economy and not enter, as he calls it, a senseless war.
Meanwhile, the political chess moves are happening behind the scenes, and Maxi is still wreaking havoc. The French now will not contact Franz back, and he cannot imagine what he did to anger Napolean. Of course, this was because Maxi poisoned the waters by telling the French ambassador Franz plans to sit out the war between France and Russia so his country could profit off it. However, Sophia keeps Maxi in the cabinet meeting, with good reason. When his brother has nothing to do and is left to his own devices, he becomes even more dangerous. While watching this, I wonder if Sophia is keeping Max around in the case, she must replace Franz because he is now bringing in the Tzar’s son to talk instead of reinforcing troops and not entering the war.
Franz tries to offer Maxi a bribe to get him to leave. One would think throwing him in the dungeon, Game of Thrones style would solve the issue, but he doesn’t. He offers his brother to be head of the Navy, but since Austria’s fleet consists of a couple of tugboats, he declines. He wants to be a political leader. The emperor is no fool, he knows Maxi is not a leader, but he also knows he doesn’t want to give him any more power that 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 needed to denounce allies with Russia. All of this happens while Franz meets the Russian Tzar’s son. Of course, guess who shows up at the intimate hunting meeting between the Tsar and Franz?
The hunting party is a smashing success, but the uprising mole, Ava, may have exposed her identity. Franz’s father introduces himself as Leontine, who gives her the full name of Leontine of Apafi. Of course, he knows her family, who is French, but she cannot speak a word of it. When she meets her handler later, he accuses her of liking the new clothes and diamonds she wears, but Ava claims that this emperor may be different than the others. This is a subplot to watch for.
The final scenes have Elisabeth saving the Tsar’s son when he keeps missing a wild boar charging him with his gun. She shoots it, saving his life, but he is now embarrassed. He leaves after having a short conversation with Franz, and now he has drawn a line in the sand. He will send troops to eliminate the Russian forces at the 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 back with her. They connect, and Franz sees them going in the coach car when they arrive and questions why his wife runs to his 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? Comment below.