The Regime Season Finale, April 7, 2024, HBO, “Don’t Yet Rejoice”

The Regime on Binge

In the season finale of The Regime, airing on HBO on Sunday, 7 April, viewers will witness the inner workings of a modern European authoritarian regime as it grapples with internal strife and external pressures. The episode, titled “Don’t Yet Rejoice,” finds the regime’s grip on power faltering, leading to a dramatic unraveling of the established order.

With the palace walls breached, Elena and Zubak find themselves on the run, seeking help from an everyday citizen to evade capture by the rebels. Elena, played by Kate Winslet, leverages her skills in diplomacy and duplicity in a last-ditch effort to maintain her position of power.

HBO’s The Regime is a darkly comedic political satire that chronicles the inner workings of a modern European regime as it begins to unravel. The six-part miniseries takes us inside the palace walls, where we witness the rise and fall of Chancellor Elena Vernham, a dictator ruling over an unnamed Central European nation.

The series introduces us to Chancellor Vernham, played by Kate Winslet, as she prepares for Victory Day. Weary and unkempt, Corporal Herbert Zubak, portrayed by Matthias Schoenaerts, arrives at the palace as Vernham’s new “personal water diviner.” Zubak, a recently disgraced soldier with a violent past, is tasked with measuring humidity levels, catering to the Chancellor’s hypochondriac tendencies and fear of fungus-borne toxins. As the series progresses, Zubak becomes Vernham’s unlikely confidant and most trusted advisor, his influence over her growing with each episode.

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Winslet’s portrayal of Vernham is a highlight of the show. Her performance adds depth to the character, presenting a coldly commanding figure who is also blithely oblivious and, at her core, an overgrown child seeking validation. Vernham’s paranoia and instability increase as she becomes convinced of a mold infestation in the palace, leading to her ordering the building to be ripped down to the studs. This descent into hypochondria and quack medicine is made all the more striking by the revelation that she was once a medical doctor. Winslet’s comedic timing and commanding screen presence elevate the series, providing a unique take on the traditional dictator figure.

The Regime also features strong performances by Guillaume Gallienne as Nicholas Vernham, the Chancellor’s poetry-loving husband, and Andrea Riseborough as Agnes, the Palace Manager and Vernham’s right-hand woman. Gallienne’s portrayal of Nicholas is quite multi-layered as he becomes suspicious of his wife’s relationship with Zubak and conspires with her ministers to unearth damaging information. Riseborough’s character, Agnes, starts as an unflappable presence but soon becomes concerned for the well-being of Vernham’s epileptic son, whom the Chancellor dotes upon.

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The series delves into the psychological aspects of authoritarianism, exploring the cult of personality that forms around Vernham. Zubak’s influence over the Chancellor leads him to shout, “Without her, nothing makes sense,” in a meeting meant for military strategy. This dynamic serves as a microcosm of the larger phenomenon of a leader using the pain of their followers as a cudgel to maintain control. The show also offers a critique of American foreign policy, highlighting how global superpowers exploit smaller countries as client states, regardless of their alignment with democratic values.

While The Regime has received mixed reviews, with some critics finding it tonally inconsistent and falling flat as a satire, it has also garnered praise for its exploration of the psychological dimensions of power and the aesthetics of fascism. Winslet’s performance, in particular, has been singled out as a standout element, with critics and viewers alike praising her comedic timing, charisma, and ability to portray a multifaceted dictator.

The episode, written by Gwyneth Hughes and directed by James Strong, promises to deliver a thought-provoking and suspenseful conclusion to the first season.

The Regime: Don’t Yet Rejoice airs on HBO at 9:00 pm ET/PT on Sunday, 7 April 2024.

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