The Regime: What is the Story of the Three Brothers? Is Zubak the Foundling?

Image Credit: Miya Mizuno/HBO

In the second episode of HBO’s ‘The Regime,’ an interesting reference is made to a story that speaks of the history of the country run by Elena Vernham. The story comes at the end of the episode and, with one stroke, changes the course of Elena and Herbert Zubak’s journey, making the future even more unpredictable for their country. What makes it more interesting is the circumstances under which the story is referenced and built upon. To understand its repercussions, we must first understand its origins. SPOILERS AHEAD

The Story of the Three Brothers is Part of Czech and Polish Mythology

The story mentioned by Elena’s cabinet is the legend of Lech, Cech, and Rus. Mainly a part of Czech and Polish mythology, the story has several variations over different regions, with some versions talking about only one or two of the three characters. The basic thread remains the same: the three brothers were separated on a journey and followed a different path that led them to the places where they eventually settled. These places became countries in Eastern Europe, such as the Czech Republic and Poland, with Russia and neighboring territories thrown into the mix.

Image Credit: Miya Mizuno/HBO

The version in the Wielkopolska Chronicle (an anonymous historical account of the history of Poland) suggests that the three brothers were on a hunting trip together. They caught sight of three different prey, and following their target led them in different directions. In another version, they were the sons of a king named Pan of Pannonia and left the country, citing different reasons. War is considered to be one of the reasons, while in other versions, they are accused of murder and are forced to flee the country to save their lives. In every version, the brothers travel with their families and other people and settle in different parts of Europe.

In the Polish version, the brother, Lech, who settled in Poland, waited for an omen to decide whether the place he had found was the right one for his people. The omen came in the form of a white eagle in the sky painted red by the sun. This omen has become so ingrained in the country’s history that even the Polish flag is of white and red color. The white eagle on a red background was on the Polish coat of arms, and with the additional detail of the golden crown on the eagle’s head, is the emblem of the Polish national football team. In the western Poland village of Rogalin, three oak trees have been named after the three brothers and are officially declared nature monuments, bringing them under the protection of the government.

The Myth of the Foundling and Zubak

In concocting the history of the fictional country in ‘The Regime,’ the creators bring their own twist to the story of the three brothers. In Elena’s country, the myth is extended to the story of a fourth brother who traveled west and settled on the land that would eventually become Elena’s country. The myth was never taken seriously until Elena’s top ministers pointed out that there is proof of Corporal Herbert Zubak being a direct descendant of the Foundling, the fourth brother who settled their country. This makes Zubak true royalty and elevates his status tenfold.

Image Credit: Miya Mizuno/HBO

Clearly, it is a lie created by the men who want Zubak out of the palace as soon as possible. They’d been trying to get dirt on the man, but when nothing worked, they were advised to come up with a narrative that lifts Zubak in Elena’s eyes. Only when he is at the highest point will it be easier to push him down and ease his fall! This is a tried and tested tactic that has worked every time, but this time, the results might be very different.

For starters, the lie is just too big. What if, instead of working against Zubak, this newfound legitimacy only makes Elena more attracted to him? Previously, they’d found a fleeting link between her and Charlemagne (which was also a lie they supported to keep her happy). What if these two lies convince Elena that she and Zubak were meant to cross paths and are actually royalties, destined to rule over their country? Considering the way the story is headed, it seems to be a more feasible result than expected by the men in Elena’s cabinet.

This sudden bump in the status would certainly boost Zubak’s ego and give him the legitimacy he clearly seeks. Whatever acts of repentance he inflicts on himself will soon fade away as Zubak starts to see himself as someone who should be in power, leading him to assert more influence on Elena and maybe even, eventually, pushing her out of the way. In any case, this lie of the Foundling is not going to serve the country well in the long run.

Read More: Is Matthias Schoenaerts’ Herbert Zubak Based on a Real Person?