The Regime Ending, Explained: Does Elena Become the Chancellor Again?

Image Credit: Miya Mizuno/HBO

HBO’s ‘The Regime’ closes the final chapter of Elena Vernham’s story through an episode full of many twists and turns. When the show premiered, it was made clear that it would always do the unexpected. The audience was kept on their toes for the entirety of the season because just when they thought they could predict what was going to happen next, something entirely different happened. The finale continues with this trend and delivers something shocking but also entirely feasible, considering everything. In hindsight, one could say they saw it coming, but as it unfolds, it remains entirely unexpected and thrilling. SPOILERS AHEAD

The Regime Episode 6 Recap

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After the rebels take down the palace, Elena and Herbert Zubak are abandoned by the cabinet ministers, and the couple finds a tunnel to lead them outside of the palace. Out in the wilderness, where they can’t trust anyone, they have to find a way to stay alive. While Zubak thinks logically and tries to keep both of them safe, Elena clings to her delusion that she can still go back to the palace and win back her people if only she gets to talk to them and explain everything.

It takes a little time, but Zubak knocks some sense into her, and eventually, she decides to find a telephone and call Nicky, who is currently in Switzerland, and ask him to send help. The only way to survive is to leave the country and live in exile forever. But while Zubak has accepted this, Elena still has hope, though it is dashed when the rebels finally catch up to her. Just when she thinks she’s done for and there is no way out, help arrives from an unexpected source.

The Regime Finale Ending: How Does Elena Come Back in Power?

With the rebels taking over the palace and sending Elena out in the wild to fend for herself, it looks like there is no way she is going to survive this. But things are never that easy. While the rebels may have won the battle and taken over the People’s Palace, the war is still ongoing. Despite her actions, Elena still has loyalists in the country, especially in the region she hails from. This means that without her public resignation and wilful transference of power to the next regime, the new leaders will find it extremely difficult to keep the peace and won’t be able to hold on to their power for long.

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So, while Elena may be ousted from her palace, the civil war rages in the country, which means there is no clear winner just yet. This is where Emil Bartos and the Americans come in. Bartos has made his money from the cobalt mines in the country, and if there is a civil war, he will not be able to operate the mines, which means he will have no money. This is what had been happening for the past few months, ever since Elena went into a completely disruptive mode, chucking the Americans out, establishing free trade with China, declaring war on the Faban Corridor, and basically destroying the country’s economy.

Meanwhile, the Americans, despite looking down on Elena and her country, also need her. It’s not just about the cobalt, which would actually be very profitable for them. It’s also about the placement of Elena’s country in Central Europe, especially now that they have reunified with the Faban Corridor. More than their own absence from the region, what pricks the Americans is the presence of the Chinese, whose relations with Elena’s country give them a foot in the door of European politics and economy, and this is not what America wants at all. This is why they decide to help Bartos in getting Elena back on the throne.

Considering their requirements, Bartos and America need someone they can control, someone whom they know enough to predict their behavior and act accordingly. With the new rebel government, they wouldn’t know what to expect. They wouldn’t know who the new leader would be and what their intentions would be with the new order. It is too much of a risk for them to wait and see who becomes the next Chancellor and then try to appease them into doing their bidding. It’s better for them to get their claws into Elena, who, at the moment, is desperate enough to do whatever they want. They will give her the firepower she needs to take over the rebels, and they will also take care of any other threats posed to her. All she has to do is, bit by bit, bend the rules in their favor and give them what they want. It is a fair trade that Elena is in no position to refuse because the other alternative is death.

How Does Herbert Zubak Die?

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Ever since Elena had Herbert arrested, he feared she’d betray him again. Even though he proved his loyalty by killing Edward Keplinger, and she took him back so much so that she even left her husband, he could not shake the feeling that she would leave him to fend for himself when the time came. When things started to get dire, Elena decided to pass the Chancellorship to Herbert, but she hesitated, and then, the opportunity was gone. This further made Herbert question her loyalty towards him. While Elena repeatedly told him that she would never betray him, this is exactly what she does when the time comes.

When Emil Bartos and the Americans agree to back her, they give her a choice. She has to do exactly what they want, but they also know this cannot happen if Zubak is still around. Considering the events of the past year or so, they know that it was Zubak’s influence on Elena that made her distance herself from the Americans and threw her in the arms of the Chinese, a move that was neither profitable for the Americans nor Bartos. Should Elena come back to power, they don’t want to risk it. They don’t want the cycle to repeat all over again because they simply can’t afford all that anymore.

A choice is given to Elena. She can either have Zubak or her Chancellorship. For the latter, she will have to remove Zubak from the equation, and that doesn’t just mean making him go away. It means making him go away permanently, so even if he wants to, he cannot return. Knowing Zubak, who is so deeply loyal to Elena, if he were sent away, he would find a way to come back, which is evident from how he returned following his stint in prison with Keplinger. Bartos and the Americans just can’t risk that. Despite her feelings for Zubak, Elena knows that this is her only chance to get back her power, and so, after a little thought, she decides to do what’s best for her. She does exactly what Zubak feared. She betrays him, and Bartos and the Americans kill him while he sleeps.

Why Does Elena Keep Zubak’s Dead Body at the Palace?

Elena Vernham loved her father. It was difficult to pin down the true nature of their relationship, but it was clear that his influence on her was a result of a toxic relationship, one that weirdly extended beyond his grave. In everything that Elena did, her goal was to make Daddy proud. She would dream about her father scolding her for not being stronger or chickening out when things got tough. Such was her dedication that even after he died, she kept his corpse preserved in the palace and would even bring him out once in a while for celebrations.

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And then Herbert Zubak came along. Like a breath of fresh air, he invigorated Elena. He made her feel more confident, more in control, more authoritative— all the things she never felt while trying to please her father. So, eventually, on Zubak’s insistence, she decided to cut the tether that was still tying her to her father and decided not to let him influence her from beyond the grave. Her father is eventually thrown off the balcony by the rebels when they take over. But by then, Elena has already bid him goodbye, in spirit at least.

However, her “daddy issues” remain. Whatever feelings she had focused on her father, she now turns towards Zubak. She elevates him so much that it becomes difficult for her to look past him while making decisions. She is also moved by his unflinching loyalty even when he is abandoned by her, and this ties her to him with a string that she cannot snap off anymore, even if she wants to. Moreover, Zubak continues to display his unwavering love and loyalty for her, saving her life on multiple occasions. So, when she finally betrays him, she feels an amount of guilt that creates a fractured sense of loyalty in her, the very same that she had for her father.

While she may have gone through a rollercoaster of a year, there is no significant change in Elena’s overall character. Her situation is different because she is now under the thumb of Bartos and the Americans, but this only makes her feel all the more vulnerable, so she looks towards the only person in whose presence she used to feel invincible: Herbert Zubak. While he may be dead, Elena cannot let go of him, mainly because she wants him by her side, now more than ever. In some twisted way, she finds herself back to square one; only her father has been replaced by Zubak. So, like she wanted her father around so she could talk to him, get his advice on matters, or just have a sense that she had someone to lean on and be protected by, she now wants Zubak for the same. This is why she has his corpse preserved and kept in the palace, like her father’s was a few months back.

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