The Empress is a historical drama based on the life of Empress Elisabeth of Austria who married Emperor Franz Joseph at the age of sixteen.
Warning: This article contains heavy spoilers
Elisabeth’s family visits the royal family for a marriage set by her mother between her sister and Franz. Elisabeth accompanies her sister but the emperor gets impressed by her charm and picks her instead of her sister.
Franz is conflicted between his vision for a railway project and the political pressure to join a side in a war between France and Russia. His brother, Maximilian, tells him about his decreasing popularity among the citizens.
Inspired by the French Revolution, the citizens of Austria devise a plan to overthrow the monarchy. One of them disguises herself as countess Leontine to enter the palace and work for Elisabeth. The new Empress gains popularity among the public immediately after her marriage.
The Archduchess feels threatened about her position in court and pushes Elisabeth to follow her royal duties and bear an heir to the kingdom. Elisabeth befriends Countess Leontine and seeks support from her amidst the chaos. Leontine starts softening and doubts her plan to kill the royal family.
The turmoil in the kingdom escalates as Franz is forced to send men to defend his territory from Russia. Elisabeth tries to soothe the kingdom by interacting with the citizens but is forced to stay distant from the people by the royal code of conduct.
Maximilian uses the opportunity to overthrow Franz and become the emperor. He gains support from the church and the army. Seeing Elisabeth frustrated by the lack of support she received from Franz, he asks Elisabeth to join him.
The Archduchess tells Elisabeth she has weakened Franz by her consistent disobedience. She asks her either to start following the rules or leave Franz.
The Empress ending explained in detail:
Did Maximilian succeed?
Maximilian plans to use the public unrest in his favour and arrest his brother. His plan depended on the failure of Franz in protecting his territory from Russia. His counsellor tells him he can become the Emperor if he gains support from the army, church, and the Archduchess.
Maximilian dreams of getting his brother’s throne and his wife. He has been obsessed with Elisabeth since the day they met.
He gains support from the army and the church. His mother, the Archduchess, discards his proposal.
Maximilian uses Elisabeth’s frustration to get her support. They share a kiss but Elisabeth refuses to support him. He manipulates his brother using the incident.
His plan fails when he discovers that Franz’s plan is successful and the Tsar has withdrawn his army. Franz orders his arrest.
What happened to Leontine?
Leontine forms a bond with Elisabeth which softens her stance against the monarchy. Her partner reminds her of the life she had before she disguised herself as the countess.
She proceeds to conspire against the royal family. One of the court mistresses forms a suspicion and starts investigating her identity. She finds a picture of her working as a housemaid. Upon confrontation, Leontine pushes her off the balcony.
Leontine betrays her partner on their plan to kill the Emperor. She tells the royal guards about his identity and he gets arrested.
Did Elisabeth leave Franz?
After receiving the ultimatum from the Archduchess, Elisabeth runs to Franz for help. He tells her that her rebellion has caused him great trouble and fights with her instead. She decides to leave the palace without telling anyone about her pregnancy.
Leontine asks Elisabeth to stay in Vienna for the people but she sets on her journey. The guards ask her to stop for the night as the angry citizens gather in front of the palace gates.
She defies the order and opens the gate to meet the people. She greets them and kneels in front of them. She announces to the public that she is pregnant.
The Archduchess hears the news through her informants and realises her plan to throw her out of her family’s life has failed.