The Crown: Gloriana

Why is it that so many biopics of famous queens end essentially the same way? With that queen, having struggled so long with the duty/personal life balance, fully embracing her own iconic image? Setting aside the personal stuff, putting the duty first and foremost, even to her own unhappiness and that of those closest to her, and becoming The Symbol? Watching the end of this last episode of The Crown, I was strongly reminded of the last scenes of Elizabeth.

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The Crown: Assassins

You know what a biopic about Queen Elizabeth totally needs? An episode that’s almost entirely about Winston Churchill getting his portrait painted.

Seriously.

Elizabeth’s whole story here was relegated to the minutae of racehorse breeding and more Prince Philip being a douchebag fratboy asshole while we spent ages with Churchill, watching him give painting advice to a professional artist (dilletante-splaining?), and then throw a tantrum when he doesn’t like how the painting turns out. Because–OMG!–it actually portrays what he really looks like.

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The Crown: Pride and Joy

Heavens, people. You have ONE job to do! Why is Elizabeth the only one who really seems to get it?

It’s sister vs sister again. And it’s duty vs family, Philip vs. being a likable human being, and the Queen Mum vs ennui.

We start off with the three women King George left behind, preparing to unveil a statue of him. QM realises she can’t bring herself to do it, because the grief is still too raw for her, so she turns to her daughters. Margaret immediately offers her services, because she likes public speaking, while Elizabeth hates it, and anyway, she was their dad’s favourite. This is clearly a sore spot with Elizabeth, who pulls rank, reminds everyone who the head of the family is, and gives the speech. Her mother barely holds it together, and as soon as it’s over, she rushes into her car for a good cry.

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The Crown: Scientia Potentia Est

You guys, Elizabeth is kind of awesome here.

It turns out, her loving but perhaps not-so-smart parents didn’t think the future Queen of England needed to know anything beyond table manners, French, and the constitution. As a consequence, Elizabeth was never given anything like a basic education: she knows nothing of maths, literature, science, philosophy–and that’s starting to become a problem. She’s dealing with statesmen, and finding herself embarrassingly in the dark about just about everything. It’s time she did something about that, so after getting cross with mummy, who’s all, ‘Why would a girl need to know maths?’ (the Queen Mum was pretty poorly educated herself and didn’t value education at all. She was very much a woman of her class and time.) Elizabeth hires a tutor.

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The Crown: Gelignite

Previously on The Crown: Elizabeth ascended the throne and started negotiating some tricky waters, both personally and politically. Meanwhile, her sister, Margaret, started secretly seeing Peter Townsend, a divorced man.

We’ve seen Elizabeth the Daughter and Elizabeth the Wife struggling with her role, and now we get Elizabeth the Sister. Because it’s time for Margaret’s life to get a little crappy.

Poor Margaret. She’s so happy for most of this episode! She’s deliriously in love with Peter, and totally looking forward to this trip to Rhodesia she’s bringing him along on. She’s young! She’s pretty! She’s a princess! She has a handsome war hero devoted to her! Who wouldn’t be happy, under those circumstances?

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The Crown: Smoke and Mirrors

Previously on The Crown: Elizabeth came to the throne, and the changes that came with it made her husband feel very emasculated.

It’s time to get this queen crowned! But first! Complications and religion!

We head back to 1937 to watch a really sweet moment between father and daughter. George wants to practice for his coronation and asks little Elizabeth to pretend to be the Archbishop. During their practice, he explains that the anointing part of the ceremony is the most sacred part, the bit where the monarch becomes something holy and divine. Elizabeth clearly soaks up the lesson. And, when she practices wearing the crown, she’s got her own children there with her. Traditions.

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The Crown: Act of God

Previously on The Crown: Elizabeth came to the throne and almost immediately found herself browbeaten and bullied by, well, everyone.

It’s a fine, clear day, but trouble’s a-brewing. At the Meteorological Society, some disturbing results are being uncovered and, in a bid to cover various asses, a report is sent to the PM’s office. There’s an anti-cyclone forming, which is bad, because a similar weather event in the US some years before trapped toxic fumes from a nearby factory close to the ground, poisoning a lot of people. And London’s power stations have a LOT of toxic fumes to trap.

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The Crown: Wolferton Splash

Netflix has really pushed the boat out with this one. Everyone buzzed about that massive budget, and I will say: it was well spent. This is beautiful to look at, and it boasts a really top-notch cast. Even the one-liners are people you recognise. And that top-notch cast gives some wonderful performances. I’m going to particularly call out Jared Harris as George VI. He may not have George’s handsomeness, but he does convey his quick temper, brought on by endless frustration and stress, his tender side, and the naked fear of a suffering man who clearly wants his misery to end, but knows that having it over with also means saddling his fairly young daughter with serious responsibilities she may not be ready for. And he’s trying to hide all that because he’s a king, and a father, and he doesn’t want to alarm anyone. Can’t alarm anyone. This is a country and a family still trying to dig its way out of a devastating war, after all.

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