Questions of propriety concerning the fifth season of “The Crown” first two months later The death of Queen Elizabeth II are largely overshadowed by other issues, as the Netflix series recharges with high-profile new talent in key roles and old issues, while feeling more disjointed than unusual. The result is an uneven campaign that reinforces feelings that the Emmy-winning streak risks prolonging his reign too long.
This theme is among the juiciest palace intrigues of the new season, as Prince Charles (Dominic West) chafes at his status as heir-in-waiting and openly discusses ‘Queen Victoria Syndrome’, a reference to his mother, the Queen (Imelda Staunton), being too steeped in the past and tradition to meet the changing demands of a modern monarchy.
Of course, the season begins in 1991, so there’s the tantalizing knowledge that Elizabeth would retain that title for another three decades, and that Charles is set to do serious damage to his public image thanks to the breakdown of his marriage to Diana. (Elizabeth Debicki), who perfectly captures Diana’s pensive and vaguely sad gaze. The character fare less well in terms of emotional insight, as she’s portrayed with less sympathy this time around, at least in her naivety about the hell that talking publicly about the royal family would trigger.
The discomfort associated with these public outbursts falls to the new prime minister, John Major (Jonny Lee Miller), who recognizes the dynamics of what’s happening better than the key players, which doesn’t make his role any less uncomfortable for him.
Writer/producer Peter Morgan again wades into all sorts of situations over the course of 10 episodes, including the unlikely friendship that develops between Prince Philip (Jonathan Pryce, who plays a big role) and Penny Knatchbull (Natascha McElhone) , the much younger wife of Philip’s Godson, which begins as he seeks to console her for the tragic death of his daughter.
Philip also takes it upon himself to berate Diana for not understanding the institution she married into, reminding her that it is “not a family. It’s a system.
Yet given the focus on Diana and Charles during this decade, the digressions seem more pronounced – and in some cases, questionable – this season, of the fate of Princess Margaret (now Lesley Manville), who does not hasn’t entirely made peace with her past, to a deep detour into the backstory of Dodi and Mohamed al-Fayed (“The Kite Runner” Khalid Abdalla and Salim Daw, respectively), Diana’s eventual boyfriend and her status-obsessed rich dad, in whose eyes the young man can never achieve enough.
Throw in an episode devoted to Russia and the Royals’ sordid history around the Revolution, and it sometimes feels like a bridge or two too far.
Upper lips stay incredibly stiff, even under the most trying circumstances. When Charles privately told his mother about Diana: “I did what you asked, mum. I tried to make it work,” she replies acerbically: “Being happily married is a preference rather than a requirement.
The cast remains a screaming flex on almost every level – Timothy Dalton even appears in a small but meaningful cameo – and for those who can’t get enough of the royal gossip, Morgan is once again bringing the audience up to speed with his version of what’s going on. took place behind closed doors. , like Charles and Diana chatting quietly after finalizing their divorce.
“You were never young, even when you were young,” she told him.
“The Crown” was great, because the Emmy haul for its fourth season attests to this, and it’s still pretty good. Still, given the highs that younger versions of these characters have delivered, borrowing from the Queen, watching the current season feels more like a preference than a requirement.
“The Crown” begins its fifth season November 9 on Netflix.