What Happened To Elena’s Father & What Those Spots Are On His Face In The Regime
6 mins read

What Happened To Elena’s Father & What Those Spots Are On His Face In The Regime


  • Chancellor Elena’s fear of toxic air stems from her father’s death from a lung disease, creating insecurities and becoming a source of manipulation from her cabinet.
  • Elena’s complex relationship with her father is evident as she struggles to let go, facing her own mortality through his decomposing body.
  • The Regime explores Elena’s dysfunctional leadership as she deals with self-doubt, betrayal, and the looming collapse of her authoritarian regime.



Warning: Major spoilers for The Regime episode 1 “Victory Day” below!The Regime’s Chancellor Elena has some major hangups surrounding her father’s death, especially when spots start appearing on his body a year later. HBO’s new miniseries might be trying to fill in the gap left behind by Succession, with The Regime casting Kate Winslet as the head of a fictional nation. Winslet’s Elena Vernham is the dysfunctional ruler of an authoritarian regime, but while she wants to be seen as powerful and graceful, the show reveals she has many insecurities behind the scenes.

Chief among these is that Elena has an intense fear of toxic air, which largely prevents her from leaving her palace. When The Regime episode 1 begins, the nation is prepping for “Victory Day,” which marks the seventh anniversary of Vernham’s rise to power. This includes bringing in disgraced soldier Herbert Zuback (Matthias Schoenaerts) to act as her new water diviner. It’s Herbert’s job to scan the air for humanity and mold, and in the course of protecting her, the two become unlikely allies.

Elena’s Father Seemingly Died From Lung Disease 1 Year Before The Regime

The Chancellor’s relationship with her father is complicated

A key scene in
The Regime’s
first episode involves Elena visiting her father Joseph’s mausoleum to give him “V-Day” flowers. Despite having died a year prior, The Chancellor insists on keeping his corpse on open display.

This scene provides some brief backstory on their relationship, including the fact Joseph never became Chancellor despite his ambitions. Elena also believes her dad wouldn’t have approved of the “Victory Day” festivities, but she wants to throw a lavish party.

Elsewhere on The Regime, it’s revealed Elena’s father died of a lung disease, and members of her cabinet claim she could be vulnerable to the same ailment. This is why she is so wary of air quality, but it also appears to be a way for members of her government to manipulate her. Before entering the mausoleum, Elena insists Herbert goes inside and scans the air first, and she appears afraid to get too close to the glass display.

New episodes of
The Regime
release Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on HBO and Max.

The Chancellor’s interactions with her father’s body are interesting since there’s both respect and resentment. Elena humblebrags she has achieved more than he ever did – yet she still came to visit his grave and lay flowers. It’s possible Joseph was the one to fuel Elena’s political ambitions, which led to a strained relationship between them.

The Spots On Her Father’s Face Are From The Slow Decomposition Of His Body

The body Elean's father with spots on his skin in The Regime episode 1

When The Chancellor first meets Herbert in The Regime, they also discuss having lost their parents, underlining how important Joseph was in her life.

This is why she can’t let him go, despite Elena being unnerved when she notices “more spots” on his face. Of course, this is a sign the Chancellor’s father is slowly decomposing, and as her husband Nicholas (Guillaume Gallienne) points out, the corpse has been there for a year.

Elena doesn’t accept this, believing her team should be covering the decomposition with makeup. Elena’s fear of illness on The Regime is a vicious loop, since she’s terrified she will die of the same lung ailment. These fears are only heightened by her own cabinet, with the palace being constantly “cleansed” of supposed mold. Despite this, Elena still insists on visiting his grave and watching as Joseph rots away, reminding her of her own mortality.

Why Elena Keeps Her Father’s Dead Body On Display In A Glass Box

The Regime’s Chancellor should let her father go

The body of Joseph Vernham in The Regime episode 1

Despite Nicholas’ advice that it’s time to let her father go, Elena refuses; this is despite being disturbed by the intruding spots on his face. The Regime doesn’t reveal why she insists on displaying Joseph’s body in a box, but it again speaks to her complicated feelings about his passing. She obviously feels she’s honoring her father by putting him on display, and hasn’t fully come to terms with his death. His decaying body is also a constant reminder of Elena’s own health concerns, which has become her primary obsession.


The Regime Episode 1 Recap: Elena’s Big Speech & 8 Other Reveals

The first episode of HBO’s new dark satire The Regime ends on a rousing speech from Kate Winslet’s Elena, which sets the stage for what’s to come.

There are signs by the end of The Regime’s first episode – with Herbert’s encouragement – The Chancellor has overcome her self-doubts. She has her Minister of Finance arrested for apparently conspiring with foreign powers to have her assassinated and rejects outside interference from America or NATO. A new dawn is coming to The Regime’s unnamed nation, but with Elena and Herbert leading it, that’s not a very positive sign.

The Regime temp series poster

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 will see 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


Streaming Service(s)

Stephen Frears

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