The Regime Season 1 Episode 1 Recap – How does Herbert regain favor with the Chancellor?

By Lori Meek
Published: March 4, 2024 (Last updated: last month)
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The Regime Season 1 Episode 1 Recap
The Regime | Image via HBO


Elena is a mold-obsessed hypochondriac, while Herbert is a populist brute, making the two a match made in dictatorship heaven (or hell, depending on how you look at it).

Episode 1 of The Regime introduces the show’s main player of Season 1 and their budding yet disastrous relationship. Chancellor Elena Vernham, who’s been in power for the past seven years, reassigns Corporal Herbert Zubak as her personal humidity monitor after a violent incident involving some unhappy miners. 

The series opens with Corporal Herbert Zubak, lovingly referred to as “Butcher”, being brought to the Chancellor’s under-renovation palace. Herbert, who was previously involved in the massacre of a group of protesters, meets Palace Manager Agnes and two of Elena’s councilors, including Susan, and listens to an interesting speech about dust mites and their toxic properties. 

When he first comes face to face with his Chancellor, she reassures him he did a good job shooting those pesky protesters before revealing his new mission. Herbert must follow Elena around with a gadget meant to monitor air humidity. 

How did Elena’s reign start?

Through a TV speech, we learn that Elena has been in power for the past seven years after defeating the left-leaning leader of the opposition in a totally fair election that was not a coup. According to Elena, Ed, the leader of the opposition, is living it up in a country manor and beyond her reach. 

Herbert’s first day on the job also matches the country’s Victory Day celebration. The Palace Manager discourages him from asking questions and tells him to just follow Elena around and “look sharp.”

What is the Cobalt deal?

Elena’s first order of business is receiving intelligence. It seems that the Americans are a bit hesitant to sign the cobalt deal with The Regime after Herbet’s actions. The deal would grant the U.S. access to the country’s mines, but Elena is starting to have second thoughts about it. 

After a brief meeting with her ministers, Elena drags Herbert to visit her well-preserved dead father’s corpse. 

While getting ready for her Victory Day dinner party, Elena watches her husband giving a Vogue interview. Disappointingly, he fumbles when the interviewer asks uncomfortable questions about the government’s many human rights violations, more recently the mining incident. 

The party is just a celebration of Elena where she gets to show off her terrible singing voice on stage. 

After Elena’s musical moment, Herbert embarrasses her as she’s trying to charm the American corporate guests. Her husband further adds to the humiliation by telling the story of how they met. It seems our fearless leader persuaded her spouse to abandon his first family and marry her. Angered, she takes Herbert aside to slap and berate him for making her look like a “lunatic” in front of the Americans. 

Making matters worse, the U.S.-based corporation wants to own the majority stakes in the Cobolts mines, something the Chancellor is less than pleased about. 

For his part in the disastrous party, Herbert finds himself demoted. He’s no longer the Chancellor’s humidity manager. Instead, he’s to measure the air all by his lonesome during the night. On the bright side, Agnes dissuaded Elena from having him executed. 

How does Herbert regain favor with the Chancellor?

Fortunately for him, that same night, Herbert gets the opportunity to save the Chancellor’s life when an angry cobalt miner manages to make his way into her bedroom. Herbert beats the man to a pulp before he gets a chance to touch Elena. 

How does The Regime Season 1 Episode 1 end?

Two weeks after the failed assassination attempt, Elena has yet to make a public appearance. She’s been isolated with an oxygen mask in a room surrounded by dehumidifiers and won’t allow anyone but Herbert near her. 

Elena’s husband convinces her to meet with Susan and her doctor. The two suggest our Chancellor move out of the palace as it’s currently not fit to keep her safe. Of course, if Elena decides to relocate to the countryside for her health, Susan would remain in charge of the government. 

After hearing the proposal from Susan and her doctor, Elena asks for Herbert’s opinion. He doesn’t hold back. He says that he doesn’t believe she’s sick. Instead, he thinks it’s the people around her trying to weaken her by playing into her hypochondria. 

The episode ends with Elena, with regained confidence, giving a live TV broadcast. Not only will she not sign the deal with the Americans for the cobalt mines, but she also has both Susan and her poor doctor arrested on suspicion of conspiring with foreign forces to weaken her immune system and assassinate her. 

What did you think of The Regime season 1, episode 1? Comment below.


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