Monarch Premiere Recap: Wait, Did They Really Just Kill Off [Spoiler]?
In the premiere of Fox's new primetime sudser Monarch, the first family of country music is rocked by secrets, scandals and death!
Monarch kicks off with a rifle-toting Albie Roman (Trace Adkins) declares, “A Roman never forgets a friend… or an enemy” before pulling the trigger. We then flash back three months to Albie and wife Dottie at a press conference for having received a Lifetime Achievement Award. Asked if, during her 40 year reign as the queen of country, she’s had any regrets, Dottie says, “not a one”… after flashing back to what sure looks like her setting a barn on fire. As Roman and Dottie exit, an obnoxious reporter peppers them with questions regarding rumors that Dottie’s dying of cancer. Not taking kindly to his tone, Albie barges into the crowd and knocks the reporter out.
At a theater, Nicolette is rehearsing for a CMA performance when brother Luke breaks the news that the organization doesn’t want her doing a solo number, but rather performing with dad Albie. “A lifetime in this business, and I’m still looked at as the sidekick,” she laments, adding she intends to forge her own path.
Turns out those rumors of Dottie dying aren’t just being asked by a single reporter, ’cause the cover of the new issue of People quotes her as saying, “Yes, I Am Dying.” And as it turns out, it’s true, and it’s all anyone wants to talk about during that night’s big awards ceremony. The family hits the red carpet, dressed to kill… well, except for daughter Gigi. When Nicky says she looks like roadkill, Gigi corrects her. “I look like a mom that left work and raced here to support her parents, Nicky. If that keeps me off the cover of Vogue, then so be it!”
Guest star Martina McBride shows up to present the Romans with their award, after which Albie takes to the stage to sing with daughter Nicky doing back-up vocals. And while they croon, we get another flashback to that barn fire. Bringing the whole room down, Dottie confirms this is the last time she’ll be on the stage, but says her family will “always entertain you. Backstage, Dottie sets up her plan for Nicky to be the future of the family. When the girl laughs that her mama won’t be going anywhere soon, Dottie begs to differ: “Oh yes I am. I’m dying Saturday night right after the concert, and you’re gonna help me do it!”
In short order, we dive into several family dramas. Nicky’s husband, Clive, has to miss out on the big family weekend because he’s an actor who has to do reshoots. (At least, that’s what he claims… she later learns from the project’s director that her hubby is lying through his teeth.) With Dottie no longer doing the upcoming tour, promotors want to pull the plug. After all, Nicky’s not big enough to carry the show (and is on the wrong side of 40), and daddy Albie hasn’t had a hit in a decade. We also learn that Dottie’s being blackmailed about something and has been paying for years, and later meet Wade Stellings, a handsome up-and-comer Luke is trying to sign to the Monarch record label.
With so much riding on the big concert, Nicky says it’s important that Gigi be there to sing. “Thanks, but no thanks,” Gigi says, in essence, saying she spent years fighting for their mom’s love and has had about enough of that. Nicky eventually approaches Dottie for more details on the whole “You’re gonna help me die” thing. “God’s killing me,” says the matriarch, “I just wanna get it done on my own hairs. I wanna die the way I lived… with a smile on my face and flawless hair!” Nobody else can help, because the rest of the family doesn’t have what it takes, insists Dottie, who later confirms that yes, she leaked the news to People rather than lie to her fans.
When Luke shares with Albie that he managed to sign Wade, his dad isn’t exactly impressed. “What do you want, a reward for doing your job? You get one every two weeks. It’s called a paycheck.” Ouch! Luke considers quitting, but Dottie talks sense into her son, saying he shouldn’t be a horse’s ass (and then promptly apologizing to the horse whose back she’s brushing). Albie may not appreciate his son, but he needs him… which is why she’s going to be leaving all her voting shares to Luke.
Nicky calls out her husband for his lies, and it’s clear he’s cheated repeatedly (and with much, much younger women, given that she asks if this one is “able to vote.”). He laments the difficulty of his life, which she doesn’t even want to hear. “You know what is hard? Never having visible roots… or taking a photograph with every single fan until your feet are swollen from six-inch heels!” She darn near electrocutes her bathing husband before saying they’ll discuss this after the family weekend.
As the big Roman family weekend kicks off, Luke crosses with a woman named Kayla, who says what happened between them was a mistake because she’s married. Surprisingly, Luke joins the rest of his clan on stage, doing lead vocals on a fun song called “Family Tradition.” Even more surprising, we then find out that Kayla is married to… Luke’s sister, Gigi!
As the big concert approaches, Dottie tries to guilt-trip Gigi into performing, essentially saying, “Don’t do it for me, do it for Nicky.” While Albie’s performing, Luke breaks the news to Nicky that the tour is off, thanks in part to Gigi not agreeing to do it. Despite this heartbreaking news, Nicky takes to the stage, determined to put on the best show possible. And sure enough, as she’s performing a cover of “How Do I Live Without You,” out comes Gigi, driving the crowd into a frenzy.
Backstage, Nicky is happy for Gigi, saying there was nothing to be afraid of. But Gigi quickly sets her straight: She didn’t avoid the spotlight out of fear, but because it was what her sister always wanted and there could only be one queen. Clearly shaken, Nicky replies, “You wanna be a star? Bring it on, sister!” Gigi is later approached by the promotor, who dubs her the future of country music and the Roman family legacy.
As Dottie prepares to meet her maker — complete with a touch-up from her one-man glam squad — Albie approaches, apparently wanting to confess his one regret: That decades ago, he had an affair with a female caretaker on the estate. “After the barn fire, she took off,” he reveals, adding that since then, he’s never strayed. Her eyes lighting up, Dottie thanks him for finally coming clean… to something she’s clearly known all along! “Albie Roman, you are a liar and a cheat… and I will love you forever,” she tells him. With one final kiss, she walks away and meets with Nicky, who tearfully, reluctantly helps her mama take her own life before the cancer can. With her final breath, Dottie tells her eldest daughter, “I’m not your father’s rose. I’ve done things that can never be forgiven” as she again flashes back to having set the barn fire.
Just then, Gigi walks in. Nicky says their mom is gone, that it was her time. But spotting the pill bottle in her sister’s hand, Gigi gasps and asks, “What did you do?”
Finally, we flash forward three months to the place where the episode began. Albie is seen digging a grave into which he rolls a body. “Rest in peace,” he says… fade to black.