‘Monarch’ Ep. 3 Continues to Rewrite Country Music History [Spoilers Alert]
Episode 3 of Monarch proved that there's no drama too big to slide off the Roman family's collective back. The show also offered its most music-centric hour yet.
Last week, viewers were treated to a cover of Shania Twain's "Man! I Feel Like a Woman," which in the Monarch universe is a Dottie Roman Cantrell (played by Susan Sarandon) hit, not a Twain staple. The real-life singer even makes a cameo appearance to tap this point home (the "B" word is used, it's sassy) before she sings a fictional song called "Dixie Kitten" to tribute the country family matriarch.
Here is the part where we yell "SPOILER ALERT!" Don't say we didn't warn you.
Also in Ep. 2, viewers also see Nicky Roman (Anna Friel) singing "The Card You Gamble," the show's theme song, performed in real life by Caitlyn Smith. Live music wasn't the focus of these introductory episodes as Dottie's scandalous death and funeral took the stage. That changes early on during Ep. 3 (Sep. 27), when Gigi Roman (Beth Ditto) is seen in studio rehearsing a countrified version of Lizzo's "Juice." Everyone is preparing for the Queens of Country concert, set to pit sisters Gigi and Nicky against each other for title of "Queen." Shout out to Earl (Kevin Cahoon), who continues to steal every scene he's in. This time, he recognizes how everyone likes a little Game of Thrones with their country music, and he's not wrong.
The next musical performance is Nicky rehearsing "Breathe" by Faith Hill, and subsequent covers include her performance of "Kerosene" by Miranda Lambert and Albie and Gigi's (Trace Adkins, with Ditto) version of Willie Nelson's "Always on My Mind." Tanya Tucker makes a cameo and sings her own "Delta Dawn" after a scene in a boutique that ends with Gigi storming out, boots in hand.
It's hard to figure if these covers are being presented as originals in this fictional Monarch world or as tributes to Hill, Lambert, Nelson, etc. After the Twain twist a week ago — and without additional context — a viewer is led to believe "Breathe" and "Kerosene" are hits for Nicky Roman and Albie Roman first recorded "Always on My Mind." Gigi's Lizzo cover is easier to believe as a cover, as she's at the point in her career where a cover would make most sense, unlike Nicky and Albie, who are years or decades into a hit-making career.
Not only does Nicky sing Lambert's song, she invokes the most recent Entertainer of the Year winner's famous 2005 CMA Awards performance in which she spins around to close the fiery song. The original artists are never named, which makes each one-shot performance a challenge to compartmentalize. More time may be needed for a complete reality immersion.
An original song called "God Knows" and a Spanish language cover of another called "The Brambles" also dot Ep. 3, "Show Them Who You Are Baby." At times, Cliff Notes are needed for Monarch, as it's edited at the speed of a Dude Perfect video. No one will ever complain that the show is boring, however. Here is a short and probably incomplete recap of the action that filled the hour on Fox:
- Viewers learn that Nicky and Albie are definitely working together to hide the body Albie has been burying since the premiere.
- Gigi detests how a sibling rivalry is being played up, but her wife and Earl clearly enjoy it.
- Nicky admits to brother Luke (Joshua Sasse) that she wrote the letters each child supposedly got from Dottie during Ep. 2.
- Luke says he'll quit digging around to find out how his mother died (Nicky helped), then calls the coroner before he's left Nicky's house (the coroner suspects assisted suicide).
- Rochelle Aytes, who plays Nichelle on CBS' S.W.A.T. (Hondo's girlfriend), appears as a live music promoter.
- Nicky's husband gets caught cheating again.
- A country newcomer tracks Albie down at lunch and sings a verse and chorus to him and his son. This leads to a recording contract without further meeting. The son looks to have pulled some strings even though he's still in high school.
- Nicky lets Gigi's wife Kayla know that she knows she's cheating on Gigi with Luke. Then she finds out Kayla is pregnant with Luke's child. She asks Kayla to let her handle it, which is ominous to say the least.
- Viewers learn that Albie and Dottie would hide stuff for each other in their boots. Gigi finds a flash drive with a song meant for Albie in a pair of Dottie's old boots.
- Nicky brings her husband's paramour with her to the Queens of Country concert. There she announces to the world that her husband is cheating on her and shows that she doesn't want to shame the mistress.
- At this concert, Nicky crushes her performance and nearly lands a headlining tour from Hondo's girlfriend (from S.W.A.T.)
The time shift between the past (where most of Monarch lives) and today, three months later, doesn't advance the dead body storyline very far. Someone dug the body up, however, leaving a very big hole to explain to the cops later.