CHICAGO - Welcome back to "Monarch" recaps! In this week’s episode, "About Last Night," a murder victim is revealed and the Romans try to make a fresh start. Miss a week? You can read our recaps and watch On Demand, on FOXNow or on Hulu. This television station is owned by the FOX Corporation.
Whew boy! Seven episodes in, "Monarch" reaches a major turning point as it finally reveals what happened on the night of those murderous flashforwards. Does everything that’s been teased so far add up? Maybe not. Is it thrilling all the same? Absolutely! So let’s break down all the drama as "Monarch" gallops into a brand new era!
And the victim is...
Welp, turns out your FOX Digital recapper got this one wrong. Last week I reasoned that given everyone’s reactions, cheating husband/father Clive Grayson (Adam Croasdell) was probably safe. So naturally that’s exactly who the murder victim turns out to be!
It’s pretty harrowing to watch: On the night of the Country Music Legacy Awards, Clive skips his flight to London and returns to his soon-to-be-ex-wife Nicky (Anna Friel). His drunken ramblings quickly turn violent as he grabs Nicky by the throat and nearly chokes her to death. That’s when Clive gets his first death blow. Only it isn’t from Nicky, it’s from Gigi (Beth Ditto), who goes from a jealous sister to a protective one as she cracks open her brother-in-law’s head with Nicky’s CML award.
MONARCH: Beth Ditto in "The Night Of…" episode of MONARCH airing Tuesday, Oct. 18 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX.. © 2022 FOX MEDIA LLC. CR: FOX.
A bloodied Clive drops to the floor (apparently no one in the Roman family knows how to check for a pulse), and Nicky and Gigi call their dad to help them figure out what to do with the body. Thus, it’s Albie (Trace Adkins) who decides not to get cops or lawyers (or paramedics) involved. But he’s in for a nasty surprise when he goes to bury Clive in the woods only to discover he’s still alive!
That’s when "Monarch" delivers an honest-to-god shoot-out, as Albie and Clive duel for their lives in the woods. Croasdell delivers his best work of the series as he bellows out at Albie, "As far as I can tell, all the Romans do is lie." Cue Albie’s famous "A Roman never forgets a friend — or an enemy" line from the premiere. One shotgun blast later, and Clive bites the dust... again.
MONARCH: Trace Adkins in the "About Last Night" episode of MONARCH airing Tuesday, Oct. 25 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX.. © 2022 FOX MEDIA LLC. CR: FOX.
WATCH FREE ON TUBI: Trace Adkins stars in "Stagecoach: The Texas Jack Story" — get the app
As "Monarch" delivers a quick montage that weaves all its flashfowards together (scored to Albie’s rendition of Townes Van Zandt’s "Waitin' Around to Die," of course) it also drops a new piece of information into the mix: Clive was the blackmailer who’d been harassing Dottie for years. So that’s one more mystery wrapped up too — even if it maybe doesn’t totally make sense as an answer.
The show must go on
Indeed, since the theme of this episode is truth-telling, it’s worth acknowledging that "Monarch" went through some creative changes while it was on hold due to pandemic-related production delays. And you can feel the show somewhat clunkily changing gears in these past two episodes.
"This family needs to get back to normal," Luke announces as the show jumps one month into the future. And that seems to be the energy behind "About Last Night" too.
Of course, "Monarch" doesn’t entirely drop its murder mystery aspect as Nicky’s daughter Tatum (Ava Grace) is still worried about her dad, who Nicky officially reports as "missing." (That’s one way to put it.) But "About Last Night" also offers something of a creative reset thanks to a photoshoot for Gigi, a bourbon launch party performance for Nicky and some refreshingly hefty flashbacks for Susan Sarandon’s Dottie Roman.
Truth or dare
Let’s start with the latter because it’s a blast to watch Sarandon let loose as Dottie again. "About Last Night" reveals that Dottie and Albie’s marriage wasn’t exactly as picture perfect as they claimed — even beyond his long-ago affair with Rosa Florez. As Dottie’s country music star rose and Albie’s began to wane, Albie took to petulantly smashing up hotel rooms like some kind of over-the-hill outlaw. Dottie even threatened to leave him, something she apparently did a lot throughout their marriage.
MONARCH: L-R: Susan Sarandon and Trace Adkins in the "About Last Night" episode of MONARCH airing Tuesday, Oct. 25 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX.. © 2022 FOX MEDIA LLC. CR: FOX.
But the King and Queen of Country had their own unique way of working things out. When Albie shows up backstage at Dottie’s sold-out stadium concert to try to win her back, she shoots him in the leg as payback. Weirdly, it turns out to be a healing experience for the Romans. At the hospital, Dottie announces that Albie needs to grow up — both as a man and as a country artist. It turns out that’s where he got his "Texas Truthteller" nickname. The same nickname Luke is now using for the Roman family’s new whiskey line.
So, yeah, like most things about the Romans, even Albie’s commitment to straight-talk is more about public branding than personal integrity. And that’s an idea that both Nicky and Gigi have to grapple with this week as they struggle to follow Luke’s request that they put Clive’s murder behind them and focus on building their respective brands.
While Nicky goes against her instincts and performs with Wade Stellings (Callum Kerr) at the Truthteller 1839 bourbon launch party (much to Tatum’s chagrin), Gigi takes a slightly different route. When "Beaucoups" magazine airbrushes and reshapes her beyond recognition, she takes to social media to share a real, messy, perfectly imperfect day in her life. And she winds up winning the respect of legions of fans in the process.
Hey, maybe this truth telling thing isn’t so bad after all!
Speculation corner: A new Roman lineage
MONARCH: Martha Higareda in Monarch premiering Sunday, Sept. 11, immediately following the FOX NFL doubleheader (8:00-9:00 PM ET, and simultaneously to all time zones). It then makes its time period premiere Tuesday, Sept. 20 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT). C
"Monarch" may have unveiled its murder victim, but there’s still plenty of drama to go around — and we’re not just talking about district attorney "Uncle" Tripp DeWitt (D.W. Moffett) recommitting to looking into Clive’s disappearance.
Elsewhere, Albie pieces together the fact that Catt Phoenix (Martha Higareda) is his daughter and decides to help her daughter/his granddaughter Ana (Emma Milani) get her start in the music industry.
Albie also lives up to his Texas Truthteller nickname for once when he decides to tell Nicky the whole truth about Catt, Ana and that time Dottie tried to burn a woman and her baby to death.
"Lies are the real Roman legacy," Albie tells Nicky. But is there still more to learn about Dottie’s famous barn burning incident? And what about the fact that Catt was headed over to Nicky’s house the night of Clive’s murder? Did she see something she wasn’t supposed to? Could she even be the one who moved Clive’s body?!?
Best musical performance: You know it makes me feel good
MONARCH: L-R: Callum Kerr and Anna Friel in the "About Last Night" episode of MONARCH airing Tuesday, Oct. 25 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX.. © 2022 FOX MEDIA LLC. CR: FOX.
With three equally strong musical numbers this week, it’s hard to pick a favorite. Albie’s somber take on Townes Van Zandt’s "Waitin' Around to Die" is just the right musical accompaniment for a murderous montage, while his duet with Ana on Kelsea Ballerini’s "Half of my Hometown" brings out the sweeter side of the Texas Truthteller. (Go Bobcats!)
But — like a lot of fans in the "Monarch" universe — we just can’t get enough of Nicky and Wade’s onstage chemistry. So we’re giving this one to their fun and flirty rendition of Eddie Rabbitt’s "I Love a Rainy Night," which puts a smile on our face every time.
"Monarch" airs Tuesdays on FOX. Recaps run weekly.
For more country music queens: "The Dolly Parton Story: From Rags to Rhinestones," streaming free on Tubi
The Dolly Parton Story: From Rags to Rhinestones (2020): This one-hour documentary traces Dolly Parton’s journey from a childhood sharing a bed with several of her 12 siblings (and wearing a certain coat of many colors) to country music fame and mainstream superstardom. Rated TV-PG. 54 minutes. Documentary. Dir: Finlay Bald. Featuring: Dolly Parton, April Watts.
About the writer: Caroline Siede is a film and TV critic in Chicago, where the cold never bothers her anyway. A member of the Chicago Film Critics Association, she spent four years lovingly analyzing the romantic comedy genre one film at a time in her column When Romance Met Comedy for The A.V. Club. She also co-hosts the movie podcast, Role Calling, and shares her pop culture opinions on Twitter (@carolinesiede).
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