‘The Regime’ Episode 1 Recap & Ending Explained: Did Elena Overcome Her Mycophobia?


Directed by Stephan Frears and Jessica Hobbs, The Regime took us inside the peculiar world of a Chancellor named Elena Vernham, who had been leading the nation for the past seven years. Elena believed that she deserved to be in power, though the people around her did not have a lot of faith in her potential. So, let’s find out what happened in the first episode of this absurdist political satire and what kind of conflicts Elena had to deal with in her life.

Spoiler Alert

What did Zubak do at site 5? 

Corporal Zubak was given a new role after the bizarre happenings at Site 5, which had shaken the entire nation. Around 12 mine workers had been brutally killed by army officials, and the state was criticized for it. It was said that the protesting miners had become violent, and the soldiers had to resort to firing shots, or else the situation would have gone out of hand. But there was another narrative according to which the miners weren’t at fault, and the soldiers judged the situation wrongly. Whatever the truth might have been, each and every soldier present there was branded as a butcher, and even when Corporal Zubak came to the chancellor’s place to serve her, he was called names by the likes of Minister Susan Goin, and he was looked at with disdain. Zubak himself wasn’t able to get over whatever had happened at Site 5, but he hoped that his new role would help his cause. 

What problem did Chancellor Elena have? 

Chancellor Elena Vernham had come to power almost 7 years ago when she defeated Edward Keplinger, the former chancellor, in the general election. Elena promised people that democracy would prevail and that she would look after the welfare of her people. But things hadn’t been the same since then, and once the palace was infested with mold, she became too paranoid, and the administration had a hard time coping with her anxiety and concerns. Corporal Zubak’s job was just to hold a device called a hygrometer that calculated humidity, walk together with the chancellor, and keep informing her if the humidity increased. Spores bred in places where the temperature and humidity were high, and that’s why the chancellor always wanted to be informed about it. It was all very weird for Corporal Zubak, but he didn’t utter a word, and he was grateful for the fact that at least he had a job. Chancellor Elena was one of a kind, and there were things she did that no one understood. She was stubborn as a mule, and her cabinet had a hard time dealing with her. She didn’t want to make a deal with the Americans, and Susan Goin, the minister of finance, was literally tired of trying to convince her. Elena was so anxious and paranoid all the time that she hardly paid attention to any administrative matters, and her cabinet was quite visibly dissatisfied with her actions. 

Why did Chancellor Elena lash out at Zubak? 

The Regime episode 1 made it quite evident that Elena was intrigued by Zubak, and she confided in him more than she did in her husband. She treated her husband as if he were her subordinate, whose services she took according to her whims and fancies. The American businessman Richard Kaiser was coming to the country, and a special gala had been organized in the palace. Elena was told by Susan Goin that they should make a deal with the Americans as it was in her best interest, though Elena didn’t think that it was necessary. Just before Elena was about to sit, Zubak came and told her that the humidity was high, and he even stopped Richard Kaiser from shaking Elena’s hand. Elena was embarrassed, as the world didn’t know about her paranoia, and she believed that they would judge her if they got to know what she did in the palace. Elena took Zubak aside, slapped him, and asked her manager to give him a night shift. Zubak only wanted to help, but now the chancellor didn’t want to see his face. Elena did accept the terms and conditions laid out by Richard Kaiser, where the cobalt was to be provided by Elena and the refineries and other production costs were to be taken care of by the Americans. Richard Kaiser asked for a 30 percent stake, though he said that he would want her assurance to own a majority stake in the future. Elena knew what Richard Kaiser wanted to do, and if it had been left up to her, she would have entered into a contract with her. 

How did Zubak win Elena’s trust back? 

The palace was under renovation because Elena wanted the entire space to be spore-free, so there were a lot of workers roaming in and around all the time. One day, a former miner who now worked as a builder came inside Elena’s room at night, but before he could do anything, Zubak came inside and bashed him almost to death. From that day on, Elena started feeling very close to Zubak, and he was given the responsibility to escort her wherever she went and look after her security. Elena gave Zubak more priority than she gave to her husband, and at times, the latter found it weird that he had to ask Zubak for permission to enter his wife’s room. Elena had started taking Zubak’s opinions into account in administrative matters, too. Zubak had sworn allegiance to his chancellor, and he not only carried out his duties diligently, but it felt as if he was devoted to her.

Did Susan Goin conspire to kill Elena? 

At the end of The Regime episode 1, Susan Goin and Dr. Kershaw came to Elena and told her that she would have to temporarily stay at another palace as, with all the renovation happening inside the palace, they couldn’t ensure that the security did not get breached. A man had already entered Elena’s bedroom earlier, and they said that they didn’t want another such incident to happen.

Elena was in two minds, and finally, in the end, she asked Corporal Zubak what he thought about the entire issue. That’s when Zubak spoke her heart out. He said that he believed that Elena was totally fine and that she was being forced to think that she was ill so that people like Susan Goin could take advantage of the situation. Zubak told Elena to take matters into her own hands and show her council of ministers that she was more than capable of dealing with the matters of the state on her own. Elena was influenced by what Zubak said, and she immediately ordered the arrest of Susan Goin and Dr. Kershaw. Elena’s council of ministers took advantage of the fact that she was suffering from Mycophobia, as they knew that they could play it to their advantage. At the end of the episode, it seemed like Elena had gotten over her phobia, but I believe she would experience it once again. Her relationship with Zubak is another intriguing aspect, and I believe they would come even closer in the subsequent episodes. She had a lot of trust in Zubak, and even he was devoted to her. He understood her in ways that probably no one ever did, and it would be interesting to see what role he plays in the scheme of things.

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Sushrut Gopesh
Sushrut Gopesh
I came to Mumbai to bring characters to life. I like to dwell in the cinematic world and ponder over philosophical thoughts. I believe in the kind of cinema that not necessarily makes you laugh or cry but moves something inside you.

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