We'll be breaking down The Crown episode by episode as you binge along.
Show: The Crown
Starring: Claire Foy, Matt Smith, Vanessa Kirby, Jared Harris, John Lithgow
Season One Episodes Three & Four
One of the crowning achievements, excuse the pun, of The Crown is its ability to educate the viewer on aspects of British history that have been lost along the way. After the first two episodes were exposition heavy, the third and fourth focus in on more concrete events of Elizabeth’s reign.
The third episode "Windsor" starts with the abdication of King Edward (Alex Jennings), due to the government’s disapproval of him wanting to marry Wallis Simpson (Lia Williams), a three-time divorcee.
You get to see a young Elizabeth watch as her parents struggle with what this means for their family. Whoever did the casting for the show needs to be given a raise. Jennings is an absolute pleasure as the Duke of Windsor and his condescension and general shadiness towards the Royal family and their customs is refreshing such as his nickname for Elizabeth: Shirley Temple.
Another star in this episode is Matt Smith who plays Elizabeth’s disgruntled husband Prince Philip perfectly. The Crown attempts to shine a light on Philip's life and what it means to be a man unable to pass his name on to his children. Although I do find Philip childish, I can’t help but root for him over Elizabeth, who comes off as dissociated and unemotional.
"Act of God", focuses on the Great Smog of 1952, when London was covered in a smog for four days which is believed to have caused 12,000 deaths. Something The Crown gets right is that the city London is a character of its own and similar to how the show focuses on the major events in the lives of the Royal Family, it doesn’t forget to tell London’s story along the way.
British Prime Minister Winston Churchill (Lithgow) actively ignores the warning of meteorologists and acts as though the deadly smog is just a bit of fog. A head of government denying that pollution can cause harm? Sounds familiar, it also sounds like The Crown is being shady. I'm for it.
Churchill’s opponents want to use his inactivity as a means to take him down, but unfortunately they’re a bit too slow because he ends up admitting his wrongs and being a hero in the eyes of Londoners.
What made him come to terms with reality, you ask? Was it the meteorologists? Was it the sheer proof presented or the thousands who fell ill? Actually it was the death of his hot secretary (poetically caused by the smog) that made him see the error of his ways.
But The Crown is fun so far. It allows me to take a much needed break from keeping up with American politics, it teaches me a lot and quite frankly I love Claire Foy’s accent. However, I can’t help but feel like the show is missing a soul. On paper it’s perfect – the acting, the direction, the screenplay – but it’s missing that extra punch that makes the viewer connect.
Stay tuned for the next review covering episodes five and six.