Though it's not a complete 'misadventure', The Crown's return hits a few bumps, notably when separating the royals – but the opening scene is a work of art.
From its opening scene, the standard is set. The Crown is back and it intends to reclaim its throne; to rule supreme as true television royalty. Our reintroduction is an electric showdown between Queen Elizabeth (Claire Foy) and Prince Phillip (Matt Smith), a flash-forward that sets your hair on end before the opening credits have even rolled. The perfectionism is evident – from Peter Morgan’s crafted dialogue to the moody atmosphere of the set, to the character direction and the breathtaking performances of Foy and Smith – suddenly our lives are being ruled by The Crown once again.
Although the introductory scene is set five months on from the core narrative of ‘Misadventure’, I’m compelled to rave about it a little longer. A ‘showdown’ might imply a shouting match to most, but not on The Crown; the quiet fury of both Elizabeth and Phillip makes way for a monumental clash, bottled up within the pressure cooker of a ship cabin. Foy and Smith give everything to their roles, carefully capturing the internal struggles of both their characters. The humanisation of these untouchable figures remains the central success of Peter Morgan’s series; despite the alien politics of their marriage, the Windsors’ quarrels will resonate with anyone who’s experienced a relationship.
The rest of the episode is a little rough around the edges, experiencing a lot of turbulence often found in a season opener. Catching up on where we left off takes up a large chunk of the hour, and while Elizabeth and Phillip’s more tranquil romance in the middle of the episode is great watching, the plot falters slightly after the Duke of Edinburgh departs for Sydney. His absence is instantly felt, and the exploration of his adventures in future episodes is a more exciting prospect than being left behind with the crown.
Elsewhere, Anthony Eden (Jeremy Northam) fails to fill the void left by Churchill, and the Queen’s second prime minister feels considerably less fleshed out than John Lithgow’s impressive presence in Season 1. The enigmatic Princess Margaret (Vanessa Kirby) appears in just one scene, while Victoria Hamilton’s Queen Mother is absent entirely. Cumulated, this leaves Claire Foy to carry the second half of ‘Misadventure’ alone – an opportunity she admittedly excels in, but is a little frustrating considering we’ve waited thirteen months to be reunited with The Crown‘s stunning ensemble.
Ultimately though, the absence of others allows the most important character to come to the fore. Reacquainting ourselves with the young Queen is a delight, and the flash-forward (one of the best television scenes in 2017 so far) promises that Season 2 has a whole lot to give moving forward. God bless Netflix.
The Crown‘s second season is available to watch via Netflix now.