Claire Foy, Matt Smith and guest actor Alex Jennings shine with the scripts Peter Morgan gift them with.
And so comes the episode we’ve all been waiting for; when our Queen dons that titular crown in her lavish coronation. The Crown‘s streak of great episodes continues, with well-constructed and realistic writing, and excellent performances from both its lead and guest characters. The troubles in Elizabeth (Claire Foy) and Philip’s (Matt Smith) marriage come to the fold in ‘Smoke and Mirrors’, as her husband’s frustrations at their unequal power prompt Elizabeth to hand control of her coronation to him.
It’s an episode which showcases what The Crown does best; humanise its legendary characters, reduce a Queen and her consort to a wife and her husband. The stellar acting from Foy and Smith in Elizabeth and Philip’s row is heightened by the atmospheric setting of Westminster Abbey. Away from the royal couple, the secondary story of the episode is equally morally conflicting; while the abdicated King, Edward (Alex Jennings) is contemptible in his letters to wife Wallis (Lia Williams), his homesickness and upset at being rejected by his own family is heartbreaking. Jennings, who has appeared as Lady in the Van and Peter Morgan’s previous film The Queen, is another shining star in this show’s plethora of talent.
John Lithgow is a notably smaller presence in the episode, after his focal role in the previous ‘Act of God’. His primary scene does contain a lot of weight however, as the Prime Minister takes a seat while meeting with his Queen; something Mr Churchill previously condoned doing when Elizabeth requested he sit on their first meeting. He seems iller and quieter, humbled by the unfortunate events of the Great Smog, and there is a definite feeling of his tenure coming to an end. You may also remember Churchill’s concern that immediately after Elizabeth’s coronation would be the time to call for a new PM; we’ll have to see how that one plays out in future episodes.
With the crowning of the Queen comes an interesting question of how The Crown moves forward. In a short time of five episodes, Elizabeth is almost unrecognisable to the young wife and princess she was in Episodes 1 and 2. The fallout of this change has a lot of potential to be explored, with her marriage to Philip clearly on the rocks, and the power play between her and Churchill shifting in her direction. God knows, I could watch Claire Foy and John Lithgow all day long.
The Crown‘s ten episode first season is available to watch in full on Netflix.