The Crown has captivated me since its first season, but I have to say that Season 3 is my favorite so far. No offense to the original cast, but everyone this season just blew me away.
As the royal family worked to show the world they were like everyone else, the more it became clear just how different they all are. Each of the main characters faced an identity crisis, and though the show sometimes played fast and loose with historical accuracy, the compelling stories kept me rapt all season.
Olivia Colman was a queen to me before this season, but she cemented that role while playing Elizabeth. She did an amazing job picking up the mannerisms that we all came to know and love from Claire Foy in Seasons 1 and 2. Elizabeth is older and wiser in this season – but no less uncertain about her ability to fill the role that she inherited.
The most haunting episode of the season was the third, entitled “Aberfan,” about the coal mine accident that caused the death of 114 children. The Queen waits about a week to visit the site, at first saying that she doesn’t want to be a distraction from recovery efforts, and later saying it’s because she doesn’t know if she can show the proper emotion needed. Her whole life she has been taught to keep calm and carry on, but in the modern era, that’s not necessarily what the people want anymore.
We need to talk about that tear that falls from Elizabeth’s eye during that extreme close-up at the end of the episode. I have so many questions. How many takes did they need? Was that her real tear? How was Olivia Colman able to do that? It was simply stunning!
Communication is Key
I was pleased to see that Elizabeth and Philip seemed to be more on the same page this season. With the exception of that brief jealousy over her horse trip, and his mid-life crisis during the moon landing episode – these two communicated better than ever. I loved the moment where they made the art expert (and Russian spy) turn away so they could kiss.
And while I loved Matt Smith as Prince Philip – Tobias Menzies was simply perfect in the role. Not to mention he is super dreamy.
He carried off the two episodes that focused on his character – “Bubbikins” and “Moondust” with ease. Getting a glimpse at Philip’s history with his mother, and their feelings after losing their throne in Greece, shed a light on how desperate he was to promote positivity about the crown. And I positively loved his face when he realized that the astronauts from the moon landing were just normal guys and not the amazing visionaries he had hoped for.
Helena Bonham Carter was the best possible choice for someone to play Princess Margaret. Her storyline this season was at the same time delightful and sad to watch. I could watch Margaret dance and perform all day, but knowing that she is hiding a lot of pain from being No. 2 slayed me.
She was able to use that to her advantage in Washington D.C. (hello dirty puns) to save her country with a financial bailout, but her efforts to distract herself from the pain of her husband’s actions landed her in trouble.
And can we talk about how absolutely dreadful her family is to her this season? She’s right – her husband was shacking up with another woman and they go on and on about how great he is! And then when she gets upset, they laugh her off. My family would be so canceled if that happened.
Then the dirty cheater gets upset…that his wife is cheating and all of a sudden everything is Margaret’s fault? Ugh, the double standard just made me want to chuck something at the TV.
The final scene between Margaret and Elizabeth was simply breathtaking. Their connection, despite their differences, is truly moving. And I love how Margaret convinced Elizabeth that she should stay strong and not show any cracks, because she was what was holding the nation together.
Princess of Sass
Can we take a moment to appreciate Princess “Zero Fucks Given” Anne? Her snark and sass throughout the season gave me life. And I love how she unashamedly announced in front of her parents and grandmother that she was sexually active.
Erin Doherty nailed the role, and I really hope she gets an episode or two focused on her in the next season, because I would love a more in-depth look into her character.
One Princess Anne moment that was compelling for me was when she was driving and singing in her car, just like any normal young adult would do. But when she gets to her house, she is basically escorted through by people just standing there holding flashlights because of the blackout. Any other person would enter a dark house and scramble for a light to carry. But Anne just kept walking without missing a step, clearly with the expectation that someone would do it for her. It was just a perfect juxtaposition of how the royals both are regular people and are definitely not at the same time.
Charles of Wales
One of my favorite episodes of the season was the one where Prince Charles, played brilliantly by Josh O’Connor, goes to learn Welsh in the months leading up to his induction as Prince of Wales. It gave us a good glimpse into his character, as well as the politics surrounding England’s presence in Wales. When he adds his own words to that speech, it was such a proud moment.
The Charles and Camilla thing is complicated, and I’m sure we are going to get even more of it in future seasons, but I found it interesting how he related to his uncle on the issue. The Queen was right when she said the family had interfered in true love enough and it led to terrible consequences.
Still, Tywin Lannister….oh I mean Lord Mountbatten…could not resist interfering, sending Charles away on a navy ship and encouraging (with the Queen Mother) Camilla’s marriage to Parker-Bowles. Honestly Charles Dance’s character in this season was not far off from the Lannister patriarch in Game of Thrones.
One can wonder what might have happened if things had happened differently. But then we wouldn’t have Princes William and Harry, their lovely wives and adorable children if that were the case.
I’m excited to see his character explored more next season, and of course for Diana to be introduced.
We know there is another season with Olivia Colman as queen in the works, with the amazing Gillian Anderson playing Margaret Thatcher.
And now we know that there is another time jump in the future, with Imelda Staunton AKA Dolores Umbridge from Harry Potter rumored to be in talks to play Elizabeth in Season 5. It should be fine, as long as nobody gets put in detention.
Season 3 of The Crown is available now on Netflix.