Warning: Major spoilers for The Regime episode 2 “The Foundling” below!




  • The Regime episode 2 explores Herbert’s dark past, while the cabinet falsely claims he is a descendant of the nation’s founder.
  • The Regime pulls from the actual Three Brothers myth to explain “The Foundling” origin story.
  • Elena also claims to be descended from the King of the Franks, Charlemagne.

The Regime episode 2 closes with the “Foundling” twist, but is the Three Brothers’ story cited based on historical fact? The Regime casts Kate Winslet and Matthias Schoenaerts as Chancellor Elena Vernham and disgraced soldier Herbert Zubak respectively. Despite taking part in a shooting that left 12 protestors dead, The Chancellor has deemed Herbert worthy of redemption. Not only that, by the end of The Regime episode 1, Herbert has become Elena’s closest advisor.

The second episode shows how much their bond has grown too, with Elena taking Herbert’s advice on everything from home remedies to international relations. The series mines a lot of dark humor from their relationship, and it’s clearly a toxic one. The Regime’s unnamed nation is in dire need of some stability, while Elena’s husband Nicholas (Guillaume Gallienne) and her ministers want the troubled Zubak gone.

Elena’s Cabinet Claim Herbert Is A Descendent Of The Nation’s Founder

Matthias Schoenaerts' Herbert painted as the nation's founder in The Regime episode 2's final scene

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The cabinet learns about Herbert’s dark past during The Regime episode 2, including the reveal that he beat up his mother when he was 14, and he was the first to shoot at the Site Five massacre. Nic suggests badmouthing the soldier won’t work, since Elena is too taken with him, and a more subtle approach is needed.

To that end, the cabinet informs The Chancellor that Herbert is a direct descendant of their nation’s founder, “The Foundling.” Naturally, Elena is skeptical of this news, but the head of the security service Laskin (Danny Webb) claims to have had Zubak’s DNA checked to confirm it.

Her other ministers – Mr. Singer (Henry Goodman) and Mr. Schiff (David Bamber) – concur with these findings, and remind The Chancellor of her supposed link to 8th century King of the Franks, Charlemagne. They believe it was destiny that brought the direct descendants of The Foundling and Charlemagne together, and combined, they could take the country to new heights.

The Regime episode 2 closes with Elena addressing the nation, stating Herbert is descended from “The Foundling,” and that great things are coming. The cabinet is reinforcing Elena’s fate in Herbert with this tale, though their plan appears to involve building him up to savior status before tearing him down when the time is right.


“Victory Day” In The Regime Explained: The Country’s History & How Elena Won Her Chancellorship

When The Regime begins, the unnamed country it takes place in is celebrating “Victory Day,” marking the rise to power of Kate Winslet’s Chancellor.

The Three Brothers Myth Is Based On An Actual Legend

The myth of Lech, Czech and Rus explored

Matthias Schoenaerts as Herbert staring at Martha Plimpton's Judith Holt in The Regime-1

When setting up their story about Herbert’s ancestry, Laskin reminds The Chancellor of the legend of the three founding brothers. According to Laskin, one brother went “East to Russia, one North to Poland and one settled the South.” He then claims Herbert is descended from these brothers, but while this part is a total fabrication, the Three Brothers myth Laskin pulls from is based on a famous Polish legend. This involves three brothers named Lech, Czech and Rus, who are said to have each founded three Slavic states.

The Three Brothers myth states that Czech founded the Czech Republic, while Lech and Rus went off to settle Poland and Russia, respectively.

Like most legends, there are differing takes on it, with some versions adding or subtracting siblings. Of course, the myth of Lech, Czech and Rus is exactly that and isn’t based on a true story, though it has been argued it has some historical basis. Within the world of The Regime, this country takes the legend very seriously, however.

The Regime’s Fourth Brother Legend Explained

The legend itself has multiple versions

While discussing the legend of the Three Brothers, Laskin goes on to explain their nation’s take on it. They believe there was a fourth brother who went West and was responsible for settling their country, and it’s this brother Herbert is a direct descendant of; in Elena’s eyes, this elevates him to national hero status. Like most myths, the tale of Lech, Czech and Rus has been altered and reworked over many centuries. For instance, there’s a Czech version that only involves Lech and Czech, with Rus being excluded.

In that sense, The Regime is tweaking this mythology for its own purposes. In the final scene, palace manager Agnes (Andrea Riseborough) is left dumbfounded when a portrait of Herbert – depicted as The Foundling and donning armor and a sword – is unveiled in the palace. This suggests things will get worse before they get better, though the ministers appear to have a plan to get rid of Herbert when the time is right.

How this will play out in The Regime’s remaining episodes is the biggest question. It’s hard to picture The Chancellor turning against Herbest, even when it’s revealed his “Foundling” connection has no basis in reality. She also believes herself to be a descendant of Charlemagne despite no real proof, so fantasy is something she’s willing to buy into when it suits her needs.

New episodes of
The Regime
premiere every Sunday on HBO and Max.

Source: Rotten Tomatoes

The Regime TV Show Poster Showing Kate Winslet Sitting in a Chair Next to a Tiger

The Regime

The Regime is an HBO/Max mini-series that takes place over the course of one year and follows a failing dictator as her fictional empire begins to crumble around her. The show sees the beginning of the end of the dictatorship and the challenges that the Chancellor faces to keep her unsustainable rule afloat.

Release Date
March 3, 2024


Will Tracy

Stephen Frears

Will Tracy

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