It Starts On The Page: Read ‘The Regime’ Finale Script “Don’t Yet Rejoice” By Will Tracy

Editor’s note: Deadline’s It Starts on the Page features standout limited or anthology series scripts in 2024 Emmy contention.

“Don’t worry. He’s what we want,” exclaims deposed despot Elena Vernham (Kate Winslet) to her last loyal aide Herbert Zubak (Matthias Schoenaerts) of a citizen who has come to their assistance in The Regime finale. “A beautiful perfect idiot who will do anything for me.”

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Debuting March 3, the six-part realpolitik satire, created and executive produced by Succession alum Will Tracy, sees Oscar and Emmy winner Winslet return to HBO in an often hilarious role as the vainglorious Elena. Traversing a year in the life of a crumbling authoritarian regime, the timely The Regime also stars Hugh Grant, Marth Plimpton, Oscar nominee Andrea Louise Riseborough and Guillaume Gallienne.

The finale, “Don’t Yet Rejoice,” written by Tracy and directed by Jessica Hobbs, brings The Regime to an unexpected conclusion. But, as Tracy himself notes in the intro below and as his script reveals, nothing is ever what it seems.

So, one interpretation of this show is that it’s about the stories a certain kind of leader tells themselves in order to survive psychologically and politically. The authoritarian as author.  A person creates a reality – which is really no reality at all – but which must be treated as “real” and “true” because of the way it makes this person feel, and, in turn, the way it makes her supporters feel.  Until, eventually, the scope of this unreality ripples outwards into the really real world of geopolitics in dangerous ways. 

The finale of the show, “Don’t Yet Rejoice,” is where we see the consequences of all this so-called storytelling. The bubble has burst. The leader is forced to survive in the world she’s made outside of the jewel box. Does she acknowledge her role in creating this world and all its misery? Can she do so without fatally succumbing to cognitive dissonance? And can she somehow keep the story going. Anyway, that was the idea for this episode at least. And it seemed a tough challenge at first. After all, our cast of characters has been more or less whittled down to two people.  We’re outside of our usual comfort zone of the palace where almost all of the scenes take place. The usual comforting rhythms and power dynamics are gone. This kind of reshuffle can go badly for a writer.

But I actually found it refreshingly writable. I liked having my options narrowed: It’s down to our two leads, they are on the run through a cold, forested war zone, they’ve got nowhere to go, the whole world is looking for them, and all they have is a pistol and each other. So, in terms of scripting, it’s got a real engine, a clear forward momentum, and the stakes are big and obvious: Stay alive. I ended every scene knowing exactly where to go next. (With a little help from the real-life story of the Ceaușescus.) It was even, dare I say… enjoyable to write?

Now, whether or not it’s enjoyable to watch, I have no idea. But I remember feeling like I wrote what I really wanted to write, and said the thing I wanted to say, and that felt good. I’ll take that.

Read the script below.

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