The Crown Season 5 Review
The Crown Season 5 Review

The Crown Season 5 Review: Star Rating:

Cast: Imelda Staunton, Elizabeth Debicki, Lesley Manville, Dominic West, Jonathan Pryce, Olivia Williams, Khalid Abdalla, Salim Daw & ensemble.

Creator: Peter Morgan.

Director: Jessica Hobbs, Christian Schwochow, May ek-Toukhy, Alex Gabassi & Erik Richter Strand.

Streaming On: Netflix.

Language: English (with subtitles).

Runtime: 10 Episodes Around 60 Minutes Each.

The Crown Season 5 Review
The Crown Season 5 Review

The Crown Season 5 Review: What’s It About:

Years have passed but the mess inside the royal palace has only gone messier. While the queen completes 40 years of her reign, she is also in the worst year since she became the Governor of the Church. Add to that the crumbling family where all her kids are on the verge of taking some drastic decisions about their married lives.

The Crown Season 5 Review: What Works:

Peter Morgan and his obsession with the madness of the royals and their way of life is insane. The pristine gaze through which he sees this world is so fascinating that he manages to bring the best in each frame he creates, almost a godly affair. At the heart of it, The Crown was not just about a queen sitting on the throne, but also about a woman who was placed on it while she was naive and she learned the tricks of the trade on the job. It was her coming of age and the immaculate forest she was in that took the centre stage.

But with season 5, Morgan tries to bring a big shift by letting the family have the spotlight, mainly Prince Charles & Princess Diana, and the queen for most of it stays in the background. There is so much to learn in the way he chooses to open the season. Imelda Staunton as Queen Elizabeth ll is now 65, she is aging, her weight is fluctuating, and in that moment of the vulnerability of accepting the law of nature, she isn’t a queen but a woman worried about growing old. And begins season 5 where her children no longer need her guidance, so she needs to shout even louder but never lose her poise.

Season 5 is mainly about the broken relationships inside the palace. The big chunk of the pie is of course Princess Diana and her strained relationship with her husband Prince Charles. While we already know there is infidelity involved and a lot of it is even known to the world in that real-time, now the clear opinion in the minds of the two is that they can’t stay together. But the Queen can’t let this happen so she tries to not let them break the marriage. At one point when Andrew, her younger one talks about ‘Divorce’ & says “I will have to say the ‘D’ word’”, the queen acts like she doesn’t even know what divorce means. She then says, “Being happily married is a preference rather than a requirement” to Charles and you see the politics around a marriage unfold.

Morgan and the team weave their story in this very thread. Even when the castle is falling, metaphorically and literally, everyone just tries to hold it till the last brick is shattered. This takes a toll on Diana, who is now in a relationship where the two are publically attacking each other. In a sequence by the end of the show in Episode 9, Prince Philip played by the incredible Jonathan Pryce goes to have a conversation with Diana after her divorce is finalized. He kind of gives her a flashback of her relationship with Charles and the writing in the part is so alarming, that it hits the right chord. But there are very few scenes like this.

The good part is also that the show now travels outside the palace and in the streets of England where a lot is happening. We are in the 90s, which is closer to the times of the core young audience of the show. Terrorist attacks are being planned against the monarchy, everyone now has mobile phones, and even the characters are somewhat heard of. Like Al Fayed (Princess Diana’s alleged boyfriend) and his businessman father Mohamed Al-Fayed, they get a very interesting flashback and you must watch yourself.

The Crown Season 5 Review
The Crown Season 5 Review

The Crown Season 5 Review: Star Performance:

Imelda Staunton takes over as Queen Elizabeth ll from Olivia Colman. Her task now is to bring ahead the dilemma of aging while being the Queen. It is now that you see the motherly side of her more than ever. Her kids are going through different stages of a bad relationship. She is in her mid-sixties living the worst year of her entire 4 decades-long reign. The world wants her to vacate the throne and let Prince Charles take over. So now there is also insecurity involved even if never spoken about. Staunton while not as sharply as Colman or Claire Foy, does manage to bring out all of those emotions. As for sharpness, didn’t I mention she is aging?

Elizabeth Debicki has a task to compliment the sheer brilliance Emma Corrin brought to Princess Diana. The detailing in the character, the change in her body due to her eating conditions, and even the way she talks because the Crown does change people and the way they behave is amazing. Debicki does look like the real-life Princess at many points and especially in the ‘Revenge Dress’. Place the real-life pictures and then watch Debicki’s version, so similar.

Lesley Manville who I last week saw in Mrs Harris Goes To Paris, the cutest performance of the year, plays Princes Margaret. She has to take over Helena Bonham Carter and she does quite well. There is a chirp in Margaret that makes her the most misfit royal but she also has the attitude to be the perfect fit in the world she owns. It is a tough character and the details are in the mannerism more than the spoken word. Manville gets to perform some of the best scenes. Her confrontation of the Queen for not allowing her to marry a divorced man.

Take the beautiful conversation between Princess Margaret and the Queen, her Lilibet, for Instance. They say I love you to each other and the very next moment Margaret says, “that was so middle class and we will never do that again. She owns who she is without the fear of judgment.

Dominic West as Prince Charles only wants to abdicate his mother and become the King but not with Princess Diana of course. This is the phase of his life that can be defined as greedy and rightly so. His greed to bring in Camilla and push Diana pit, greed for the throne, greed to be the most ‘modern’ ruler. Of course, something good yields out of it too, like the trust he sets to support young talent. But nothing personally.

Jonathan Pryce as Prince Philip demands your attention because even he is aging and turning cuter by the day. Of course, the character has had his own journey of being a very wrong man, to a support system and no one can really ignore his vices. But now he wants to be him and the better version of him who loves to ride horse carriages and give pep talks to people when needed.

The Crown Season 5 Review: What Doesn’t Work:

Remember the old charm of The Crown and the robotic nature of the mannerism it forced everyone to have in the royal vicinity? That is kind of fading in the show now. Maybe the reason for the latter could be the world moving ahead and the need for a disciplined approach to the royals got diluted in the process, or just the sheer decision of the director to not focus on it. But it does bother. There is no longer ‘even the audience bows when the Queen stands’, it is just that they watch it and the scene passes.

The transition from one sequence to another is not smooth this time. There is a haunting sequence of the genocide in Russia which is compared to the royals going on peasant hunting. Such a strong metaphor, so traumatising but used to no concrete conversation so the effect of such a brilliant scene continues. Likewise there are a couple of them. Princess Diana talks about her situation to a novelist who writes a book, followed by Prince Charles giving a triggering interview, leading to Diana wearing the iconic ‘Revenge Dress’. Now this is one of the most stunning moments in the royal history, why is there just 5 seconds of it and not more?

The focus shift from the Queen does work for the most part, but there are also times it bothers because she is the soul of this story. Remember how Philip in his season 4 climax monologue to Emma Corrin’s Diana explained her significance? The show fails to give her that pedestal this time.

Scenes after scenes play out without giving audience much time to be with one angle also becomes very tiring. Also, bring back the old music for the show please.

The Crown Season 5 Review: Last Words:

The Crown is not just a show but a jewel in Netflix’s collection at this point, but it is losing its shine and something needs to be done. But one must understand, this is not the end and this season at least has the potential to make you wait for the finale.

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