Here’s everything that happened in The Regime

By Lori Meek
Published: April 8, 2024 (Last updated: last month)
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The Regime Recap (Episodes 1-6)
The Regime | Image via HBO

WARNING: THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS MAJOR SPOILERS

Kate Winslet’s six-episode miniseries about a neurotic dictator helming a sinking ship while desperately clinging to power has been a wild ride from start to finish. The Regime sets its story in an unnamed fictional European country ruled by Chancellor Elena Vernham who starts making a steady stream of unfortunate decisions after falling for the handsome yet violent Herbert Zubak. The relationship between Elena and Herbert grows more bizarre with each episode until its brutal and somewhat surprising conclusion. If you need a quick recap of the week-by-week on-screen insanity of The Regime, I’’ve got you covered! 

Episode 1 – “Victory Day”

Set in an unnamed Central European country, The Regime’s first episode introduces Corporal Herbert Zubak to Chancellor Elena Vernham, her trophy husband Nicky, and her Palace Manager, Agnes (who’s unfortunate enough to “co-parent” her epileptic son, Oskar, with the childless chancellor). 

Herbert got a bit too trigger-happy at a recent miner’s protest and ended up killing 12 people. As Elena saw potential in the “Butcher,” she hired him as her personal humidity monitor. Ever since her father’s death from lung disease, Elena has been desperate to keep herself safe from mold spores. She also keeps her daddy’s corpse in a glass coffin and often visits it for meaningful conversations. 

The country is about to sign a deal with a U.S. corporation allowing it to mine its cobalt supplies. While Elena is not too keen on the deal, she’s been holding friendly relationships with the West ever since she usurped her left-leaning predecessor.  

Herbert is immediately enamored with his Chancellor, but she fires him after he accidentally embarrasses her in front of some American investors. However, Herbert immediately weasels his way back into her favor when he saves her life from a cobalt miner who breaches the Palace grounds. Following the incident, Herbert becomes Elena’s most trusted adviser, leading to her making a swift 180-degree switch in foreign policy. 

Episode 2 – “The Foundling”

Several weeks after Elena publicly denounced “the West” and its unruly influence, Elena trusts Herbert’s opinion on everything. She switched to more traditional remedies like potato steam baths and mustard poultices for herself and she approved a black radish mush treatment for Oskar’s epilepsy (thankfully, Agnes is still smuggling in the real drugs). 

To sever ties with the U.S., Elena pulls out of the cobalt deal and publicly humiliates Emil Bartos, a local businessman supporting it. She even lets Herbert intimidate a visiting American congresswoman so she quite literally runs back to the airport. 

We learn more details about Herbert’s violent past in Episode 2, including an incident where he brutally beat up his mother. He also tends to self-flagellate when alone in his room. 

Elena’s husband comes up with a plan to speed up Herbert’s fall from grace. First, they must help raise him so far above his station that Elena will soon grow bored with him. So the ministers fake DNA tests and convince Elena he is a descendant of the country’s foundling. 

The Regime Recap (Episodes 1-6)

The Regime | Image via HBO

Episode 3 – “The Heroes’ Banquet”

At the start of Episode 3, Herbert’s influence on Elena seems to know no bounds. He is so confident in his power that he gets Elena to eat actual dirt and he doesn’t shy away from getting physically violent to keep her in line. 

Herbert wants a land reform for the country and Elena seems to agree. However, the idea of taking from the rich and giving to the poor isn’t as appealing to the chancellor as illegally annexing the neighboring Faban Corridor. She orders Herbert to lead her army’s annexation and ignores the International outcry her actions cause 

When Herbert returns home a hero, Elena invites him to an Annexation Ball where she laughs as the on-stage comedian makes him the butt of the joke. Herbert is not pleased to see Emil Bartos invited to the ball, nor is he keen about Elena’s plans to befriend China. After the party, Herbert confronts Elena and almost strangles her to death after a heated shouting match. Elena then orders Herbert’s arrest, completing his fall from grace. 

The episode ends with Elena allowing Oskar to go back on his old epilepsy drugs and removing the boy from his mother’s care. 

Episode 4 – “Midnight Feast”

Elena’s deal with China is putting local sugarbeet factories out of business and the factory workers in Westgate are not happy. Making matters worse in Episode 4, the Chancellor is going through menopause and her staff have to live in work in freezing temperatures. 

An incident where a young pregnant woman died at a protest forces Elena to meet with the worker’s union. She makes them a lot of empty promises only to go back home and frame the union leader and arrest him for conspiring with foreign forces.

Meanwhile, Herbert is imprisoned in the dungeons underneath the palace. He meets Ed, the former chancellor and leader of the opposition who’s been held captive since Elena usurped him. Ed spends the episode trying to get Herbert’s help to reinstate democracy and take down Elena’s autocratic regime. Naturally, Herbert responds by murdering Ed and the two unfortunate guards charged with watching over them. 

For Elena, there’s no better aphrodisiac than a dead leftist political rival. Herbert’s actions earn him his freedom back and some sexy time with his beloved dictator. 

Episode 5 – “All Ye Faithful”

As Christmas is nearing, Elena and Herbert are preparing to spend the holiday together as a family. Sure, there’s a full-blown civil war happening outside and the insurgents are days away from breaching the Palace gate, but it’s still the most wonderful time of the year. 

Elena spends most of Episode 5 in complete denial about the looming threat to her minister’s dismay. As the rebels are getting closer, Elena decides to announce her resignation as Chancellor and name Herbert as her successor. After all, he is a descendant of the Foundling. 

However, she never gets a chance to finish her resignation speech as the insurgents take over the palace and Elena is forced to run for her life. Her two loyal ministers, Mr. Singer and Mr. Schiff leave Elena and Herbert to fend for themselves. The two lovers escape through the tunnels underneath the palace. They leave Oskar behind while poor Agnes is killed by a stray bullet amidst the chaos. 

Episode 6 – “Don’t Yet Rejoice”

For most of the finale, Elena and Herbert are on a quest to find safety and escape their pursuers. She can’t believe that her regime was overturned, while Herbert is doing everything in his power to keep her alive. Elena swears never to betray her beloved Herbert. 

The pair eventually get assistance from a drunk passerby who invites them to hide in the safety of his apartment. However, the man locks Elena and Herbert in his bedroom and calls the authorities to arrest them. 

Elena’s former adviser, Laskin arrives to interrogate her. He wants Elena to confess her crimes and endorse the new government in a televised speech. She initially refuses, but the threat of mold is enough to get her to cooperate. Before Laskin can take Elena back to the palace she’s rescued by armed mercenaries. 

Elena and Herbert find themselves guests of their old friend, Emil Bartos. He’s working with the U.S., who wants Elena back in power as their puppet dictator. In exchange for this kindness, Elena must rid herself of Herbert. 

At first, she appears to refuse the offer and promises Herbert she’ll fight “them” to the death if she has to. She spends a few hours with Herbert and watches him fall asleep. He then wakes up on the wrong side of a gun barrel. 

Within weeks of betraying Herbert, Elena is at her palace and much loved by her people. She gives a speech to an adoring crowd before visiting the body in the mausoleum. Inside the glass coffin is none other than poor Herbert. 

That was our recap of The Regime (Episodes 1-6). We want to know your thoughts! What did you think of the series? Let us know in the comments.

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