Dottie’s funeral service brings the Roman family together — but maybe not for long.
Warning: This is an overview of Episode 102 of Monarch, so there will be scads of spoilers here. We strongly recommend that you not read this if you have not yet watched the episode.
Dottie Cantrell Roman is still very seriously dead. Luke is raising questions about his mother’s death. And Albie may have attracted a shade too much attention while burying — well, whoever it was he buried. What are we to make of this? Here are our five takeaways from “There Can Only Be One Queen,” Episode 102 of Monarch.
Takeaway No. 1
Judging from her billing as “Special Guest Star,” Susan Sarandon may continue appear in future episodes as Dottie even after her character’s demise, but only in flashbacks — or, as she pops up here during the memorial service for “The Queen of Country Music,” in the form of a hologram. Which, by the way, we thought looked more than a little creepy, though it did reinforce our first impression of Dottie as a passive-aggressive control freak, one who would go so far as to find a way to be a scene-stealer at her own memorial service.
Takeaway No. 2
And speaking of Special Guest Stars, it was a hoot to see Shania Twain playing Shania Twain, and complaining about how that tricky vixen Dottie “stole” a No. 1 hit away from her — “Man! I Feel Like a Woman!” — before Twain could record it herself. Evidently, it will be standard operational procedure throughout Monarch to have members of the Roman clan (and others) claim and sing songs that actually were hits for real-life country artists. But the producers will be hard-pressed to pull off another wink-wink, nudge-nudge scene as funny as this one.
Takeaway No. 3
Look like Gigi (Beth Ditto) won’t spill the beans about walking in unexpectedly and catching sister Nicky (Anna Friel) helping their mother Dottie gobble down a fatal overdose of pills. At least, she’s willing to be quiet about it for now, just as long as the Dottie Roman Mythos is a benefit as she attempts to seize the crown as the new “Queen of Country Music.” (Gigi’s overnight success at becoming a major contender for the title strained credibility to the breaking point, but never mind.) Not surprisingly, Nicky has her own designs on being the one true heir to Dottie’s legacy. For the time being, though, she’s too tightly focused on keeping various members of her dysfunctional family from doing anything — like, you know, killing each other — that might tarnish the Roman brand. She figures she’ll be spending a lot of time putting out fires in the days and weeks ahead. Especially when she discovers that her brother Luke (Joshua Sasse) and Kayla (Meagan Holder), Gigi’s wife, have a thing going on.
Takeaway No. 4
On the other hand, Luke seems less worried about uncloseting skeletons than he is obsessed with confirming his worst suspicions. He just won’t (or can’t) accept the official story about his mother’s untimely demise. Sure, he knows (like everyone else in the world) that she had cancer. But he thinks Dottie is quite literally gone too soon. At first, he questions whether the quarrel Dottie and Albie (Trace Adkins) had on the night of her death played a role in her premature quietus. But when he confronts his father about this, Albie responds the same way he always responds to impertinent questions — nonverbally. Later, when he deduces that Nicky was the one who penned the loving farewell notes from Dottie addressed to Albie, Nicky and himself… hey, it may be time for him to take another look at the business card handed to him by the attractive medical examiner while his mother’s body was being carted off from palatial Roman Manor.
Takeaway No. 5
We still don’t know who Albie killed and buried in a remote woodland area during the three-months-later flashforwards that bookended the premiere episode. In Episode 102, however, we find that Albie’s late-night shoot-and-scoot didn’t go unnoticed by the local constabulary. And that Nicky probably knows what her father did, and to whom he did it. So who’s the victim? Maybe Catt Phoenix (Martha Higareda), the woman who appears to think her talented 17-year-old daughter Ana Phoenix (Emma Milani) is somehow entitled to being signed by Monarch, the Roman family’s record label? What does she know? Maybe the location of a closet where a skeleton or two is stored?