Episode 1 Of “Monarch” Has An Unexpected Twist

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Susan Sarandon and Trace Adkins star in Monarch, a new series on FOX that follows a “royal” country music family with their fair share of secrets and scandals.

Sarandon and Adkins play married country singers Dottie and Albie Roman. Their daughter, Nicky (played by Anna Friel) seems poised to become the new Queen of Country music, but her claim to the crown may not be as secure as it seems.


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The series was originally slated to debut in January, but its premiere was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. After months of waiting, Monarch‘s first episode finally aired on Sunday night (September 11).

Keep reading for a brief recap of everything that occurred during Episode One, which is titled “Stop At Nothing.” But DO NOT keep reading if you don’t want to have anything spoiled for you. There’s a huge twist in this episode you’ll want to keep a surprise.

Here’s the recap…be warned, this episode delves into some sensitive topics.

Dottie Roman (played by Sarandon) discovers she has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. The news leaks to the press, and her husband Albie (played by Adkins) is not too happy about it.

The episode jumps between the present and the future. One future scene shows Albie saying “A Roman never forgets a friend…or an enemy,” to an unknown person before pulling the trigger of a shotgun. The second future scene shows Albie burying a body.

Back in the present day, Dottie asks Albie if he has any regrets. He confesses to an affair he had with one of their property’s caretakers 40 years prior. Ablie says, “After the barn fire she took off.” We don’t yet understand the significance of this “barn fire.” But it comes up again when Dottie remembers setting a barn on fire while hearing someone scream…the memory being one of her own regrets.


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Meanwhile, Nicky (played by Friel) is trying her best to make a name for herself after spending her whole life in her parents’ shadows. But she’s having a tough time getting anyone to take her seriously. Then her sister Gigi (played by Beth Ditto) joins her onstage to sing “How Do I Live” during the annual Roman Family Musicale and gets a lot of attention. Gigi says she always took a step back because she didn’t want to overshadow Nicky, since their mother always said, “there can only be one queen.”

On top of dealing with this family drama, Nicky’s husband Clive (played by Adam Croasdell), is cheating on her, again. But he’s not the only cheater in the family. Nicky and Gigi’s brother, Luke (played by Joshua Sasse), is having an affair with Gigi’s wife, Kayla (played by Meagan Holder). We also see that Luke, who runs the family’s record label Monarch Entertainment, has a strained relationship with his father Albie.

In a shocking twist, Dottie dies by the end of the episode. Since she seemed to be billed as the show’s main character, no one expected she’d die in the first episode.


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But Dottie did not die because of her cancer. She chose to leave this world on her own terms…and enlisted Nicky to help her. She tells Nicky, “I want to die the way I lived, with a smile on my face and flawless hair.” Dottie also wants Nicky to keep the true reason for her death a secret, leaving the world to believe she died from cancer.

Dottie touches up her makeup, gets in bed, and swallows a bottle of pills. Before she dies, she tells Nicky, “I’m not your father’s rose. I’ve done things that can never be forgiven.”

It’s worth noting that because Monarch has been in production since 2021, this scene was likely written and filmed before real-life country music legend Naomi Judd died as the result of suicide on April 30, 2022.

Only time will tell if Sarandon will appear in any future episodes of Monarch. If she does, all of her scenes will have to be in flashbacks.

That was a twist we did not see coming…especially in the first episode. 

Did y’all watch the premiere of Monarch? We’d love to hear what you thought of it.

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