Dottie Cantrell Roman is no more. The matriarch of the Roman family, played by Susan Sarandon, was shockingly killed off in the last moments of the Monarch premiere. Dottie wanted to die on her own terms, and that’s exactly what she did. For showrunner Melissa Hilfers, she wasn’t afraid to take out Susan’s character in the very first episode.
“I have never hesitated for a moment. Did other people question this decision? Yes,” Melissa told HollywoodLife EXCLUSIVELY. Melissa explained how the president of FOX reacted upon reading that epic twist in the pilot script.
“The president of FOX goes, ‘But she’s not really dead, right?’ And I said, ‘Oh, she’s dead.’ I actually said, ‘We’re gonna Game of Thrones Dottie?’ And the reason is that it’s important to show that this is the bold storytelling you can expect from Monarch. Every show would not do that. It’s a swing as you say, but it’s a bold show. We take a lot of bold swings,” Melissa said.
The creator stressed that you will be seeing Dottie again in flashbacks. As Dottie took her final breaths, her oldest daughter, Nicky, was by her side. Just after Dottie died, Nicky’s younger sister, Gigi, walked into the room to find Nicky clutching a bottle of pills next to their dead mother. Melissa teased the fallout of this moment for the two sisters.
“That happens on the heels of them having sort of this dare me moment where they sort of both realize maybe they both want to be queen. So it’s a one-two punch,” Melissa revealed. “The fallout will be massive, and the relationship between the two sisters who fundamentally love each other so much and really will ride or die for each other, this is something that really rocks their relationship. We’re exploring when competition and ambition gets in the way of an otherwise healthy relationship.”
Dottie did attempt to whisper something to Nicky in her final moments, but Nicky couldn’t quite make it out. Melissa noted that Nicky will “absolutely” be on a mission to find out what her mother was trying to tell her. “I think when the audience finds out what Dottie was desperate to say on her deathbed, they won’t be disappointed,” Melissa told HollywoodLife.
Another major twist of the premiere is what’s going on with Albie Roman, the patriarch of the Roman family. At the beginning of the premiere, Albie pulls the trigger of his gun. At the end of the episode, he’s burying someone three months after Dottie’s death. “We see him shoot a gun. We see him bury somebody, but I’m not going to say he necessarily kills someone,” Melissa teased. She did promise that fans “will get satisfaction on that particular mystery, but other mysteries may arise.”
Now that Dottie is gone, Monarch will explore the relationships between Albie and his three kids: Nicky, Luke, and Gigi. “Dottie had sort of been the glue that held the family in place and kept everybody in the roles that she had defined for them. This is another thing I think is really interesting official that the show gets into is sometimes the roles we have in a family are defined when we’re a child, and we can’t break out of it. Dottie now not being there to be that glue is devastating, but it’s also an opportunity for people to kind of come out of their shells and redefine themselves,” Melissa explained.
She continued, “Albie’s relationships with each of the kids is going to evolve and develop. He gets to know them in a different way because Dottie’s not there. As much as she was this force for good in the family, she had everything exactly the way she wanted it. Nobody knew anything she didn’t want them to know. They’re going to learn a lot of things about each other good and bad, which will ultimately deepen their relationships.”
During Monarch’s cast discussion during FOX’s press day during the Television Critics Association summer press tour, Trace Adkins revealed that he would love to have pal Blake Shelton on as Albie’s brother. “I know how funny they are together. I know what good friends they are, so I think it’d be fantastic,” Melissa said. Monarch will now air Tuesdays on FOX.