Warning: major spoilers ahead for season 1, episode 1, of 'Monarch.'
The highly anticipated new FOX series Monarch has finally arrived, and it's safe to say, it was worth the wait. Susan Sarandon and Trace Adkins shine as two country music superstars with three adult children looking to pave their own paths in the ruthless industry. It's full of drama, intrigue, and most importantly, some amazing music. Despite being only one episode in, you'll immediately be transfixed by the Roman family, from their impressive musical skills to all of the chaos going on behind the scenes. Here are all of the most shocking moments from the series premiere.
Albie punching a reporter
The episode kicks off with a bang (literally) before showing Albie and Dottie (Adkins and Sarandon) at a press conference. Dottie gets some invasive questions from a reporter about rumors that she's terminally ill, and Albie surprisingly punches him in the face. It was a really unexpected moment, especially if you're comparing it to the real world of country music. Albie's a big outlaw country guy, but even still, I can't really imagine someone like Willie Nelson swinging a punch without some serious backlash in the press later on. No one really brings it up again in the episode other than Albie apologizing to Dottie after the fact, so I'm curious to see if that's just part of his personality or if it's brought up again in future episodes.
Easily the most shocking part of the entire episode centers around Dottie wanting to die on her own terms. Turns out the rumors are true; she is dying. She enlists the help of her daughter Nicky (Anna Friel) to be there with her (much to Nicky's horror) and tells her to keep it a secret. It's a really dark subject matter that the show covers here, not to mention a hard thing to ask of your own child. Nicky really struggles with it because she loves her mom, and Sarandon's portrayal of Dottie as a woman who is not used to feeling weak is heartbreaking.
Albie's entire vibe
I'm not entirely sure what I expected from Trace Adkins' character, but I really loved it. He's an outlaw country guy married to the biggest star in the industry. He hasn't had a hit in over a decade someone calls out, but he's still regarded as one of the greats and half of an iconic country couple. It's an interesting balance, and Adkins really plays it well -- he's a no-nonsense guy who unsurprisingly has issues with his son trying to modernize their family record label. It's been announced that there will be some older country classics covered on the show, and I have to imagine some of those performances will come from Albie...I can't wait.
Literally everyone in the Roman family can sing
We knew that the two daughters could sing since that was part of the main plot seen in the series trailer, but I was not expecting some of the other family members to have incredible voices. At one point in the episode, the family holds a big concert to honor the end of Dottie's legendary career. It kicks off with all the family members in a honky tonk with Luke Roman, CEO of Monarch Entertainment, singing the opening act. Not only that, but Nicky's kids, Ace and Tatum, join in. I'm anticipating a ton of great performances this season from literally everyone in this family. Did Luke ever want to have a music career? What about Ace and Tatum? I assume all of this will be covered, but now I just need to keep watching to see more.
Lots of affairs
Cheating seems to be a big theme in this family. Not only is it established that Nicky's husband Clive has regularly been cheating on her, something she assumes she just has to deal with, but we find out that Luke has been having a side relationship with his sister Gigi's wife, Kayla. On top of that, Albie confesses to Dottie that he had a relationship with another woman at the beginning of their marriage. This is where the plot seems to get a bit soap opera, but I also kind of love it. The writers are weaving a tangled web of drama that will definitely cause issues for all of these characters over the course of the season.
Nicky and Gigi's stunning "How Do I Live" duet
Two words -- Beth. Ditto. Was anyone else speechless when Gigi (Ditto) joined Nicky on stage for that incredible performance of "How Do I Live" at Dottie's big concert? Nicky and Dottie had been trying to convince Gigi to perform at the concert the entire episode, and she finally decides to at the end after some convincing from Dottie. My big question is, did Dottie do that on purpose? It seems like Nicky is her favorite but did she know that Gigi's incredible voice would easily outshine her sister's? Unclear, but it made Nicky's already complicated career a lot more interesting, especially when Gigi gets told that she is the future of the Roman family empire.
When Gigi 0pens the door
Following the concert, Dottie instructed Nicky to meet her in her room so that she could help her die in peace. They share some sweet moments together before Nicky helps her swallow her entire bottle of pills, and she nods off in bed. Talk about a shock when Gigi shows up at the door and sees Nicky holding an empty pill bottle over her mother's body. Will we see Susan Sarandon again on the series in some capacity? The answer is yes. According to Variety, Sarandon will continue to appear throughout the first season through flashbacks.
"It was always designed that the matriarch of the family was going to die at the end of the pilot. But it was also always designed that the matriarch would then come back in several of the episodes throughout the first season in flashback," Michael Thorn, president of entertainment for FOX Entertainment, told Variety. "There's two things happening in the series. The first one is, as you know, there's the succession story of who will inherit the crown of country music after Dottie Roman passes away. But the other part of it, which plays out, in part, in the flashback, is Trace Adkins' character says, the Roman legacy is really built on lies."
We cut to "three months later" and see Albie out in the woods at night. At the beginning of the episode, we saw him hold up his rifle to shoot something (someone?), and now we see him digging a grave and burying what appears to be a wrapped-up body. Who in the world could this be? A character we've already met? I anticipate this will be a big reveal at the end of the season, but my curiosity is already piqued.
READ MORE: 'Monarch' Staffer on Series' Covers-Heavy Country Soundtrack: 'It Introduces Amazing Songs to Whole New Audiences'
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