You probably don’t know much about Elisabeth, Empress of Austria (from 1854 till 1898), unless you’re a serious student of European history. It’s clear from the beginning of the new Netflix documentary on her reign that she was an unorthodox ruler.
In the first scene, guests at an Austrian royal palace watch as a bride in a white gown prays alone on the floor.
The Empress: In a flashback to last summer, Princess Ludovika of Bavaria (Jördis Triebel) searches for her younger daughter Elisabeth (Devrim Lingnau), whom she nicknames Sisi. They plan to be married, therefore a duke is on his way to see her. Sisi (which is a moniker she despises), however, has no interest in marrying the pompous man her mother has set her sights on. She has always been a free spirit, even as a child when she rode her horse beyond the walls of her family’s estate. Additionally, she dislikes being ordered.
The Empress on Netflix: Release Date, Trailer, and More
The Empress: Her mother would prefer it if Elisabeth were more like her elder sister Helene (Elisa Schlott), a quiet, obedient lady who is engaged to Franz Joseph (Philip Froissan), the Emperor of Austria. The boundaries of the Hapsburg Empire are under attack, and the famished people of Austria are poised to rise up in a revolt, both of which add to the stresses already felt by Emperor Franz. Moreover, his mother Sophia (Philip Froissan) puts pressure on him to establish his power by acting like an emperor and murdering rebels.
Also, she is pushing for him to wed his cousin Helene. He resents being restricted in this way and longs for the life he had before becoming emperor. Franz falls in love with Elisabeth rather than Helene when Princess Ludovika and her children show up to introduce the two. Meeting on the grounds, both of them exposed and defenceless, they bond through their refusal to follow in their parent’s footsteps. Franz’s brother Archduke Maximillian (Johannes Nussbaum) is also interested in her, despite the fact that Maxi is the real black sheep of the family and is ignored by their mother.
The Empress: The following day during Franz’s birthday celebration, he surprises everyone by announcing that he wants to marry one of Princess Ludovika’s children.
It’s certain to make you think of a number of familiar TV shows, right? The Empress has a similar tone to Becoming Elizabeth, although being set 300 years apart in time.
Thoughts: The Empress, co-created by Katharina Eyssen and Lena Stahl, is an attempt to fill the sensual costume drama void left by Bridgerton’s offseason. However, one of its flaws is that it focuses on a lady who is more well-known in Europe than in the United States. While the plot itself is OK, some narrative preparation (even in the form of the ever-present graphic at the beginning of the episode) could have been helpful in this instance.
Like many costume dramas with romance at its core, the first episode proceeds slowly, and the sexual scenes, which are meant to depict Franz engaging in passionate and forbidden sex with a commoner he is seeing secretly, come out as a little clinical. The show could become more exciting as Elisabeth grows into her role as the future empress, thanks to the sparks flying between her and Franz and their shared distaste for conformity.
The Empress: Elisabeth, played by Devrim Lingnau, is a duchess who would rather ride her horse and serve the servants than adhere to the formality befitting her position, and Lingnau brings this out well. To be fair, Philip Froissant’s Franz is a bit more difficult to decipher, but their chemistry in the few episodes they’ve shared thus far bodes well for the remainder of the programme.
The Empress: There is sexual content and skin exposure in the pilot episode, and we anticipate much more in subsequent episodes.
In the last shot, a townie (Almila Bagriacik) is shown the article announcing Franz and Elisabeth’s wedding. This is her opportunity to put their ideas into action. Her catchphrase is “for the people.”
Elisa Schlott is a sleeper star because she gives her everything to the part of Helene, a character who is as unremarkable as they come. Also, she becomes visibly enraged once Franz makes his decision.
My favourite pilot line is, “Has anybody ever considered the possibility that Elisabeth and Franz, as well as Helene and Franz, are first cousins?” Since Sophia is both Elisabeth’s mother-in-law and her aunt, she always addresses Elizabeth’s mom as “sister.” The word that comes to mind is “eww.”
Created by Katharina Eyssen and Lena Stahl, #TheEmpress tries to fill the sexy costume drama hole that BRIDGERTON has left between seasons. Read @joelkeller's review on DECIDER: https://t.co/PpR2ZsoBtv pic.twitter.com/HlymfZ2RZi
— Decider (@decider) September 30, 2022
Our Recommendation: WATCH IT All the formality and ceremony of the first episode give way to rivalries and acrimony in the second when the real action begins in The Empress. The pace slows down a little in the pilot, but it builds up a fascinating plot.