Sunday, November 6, 2016

CastleDrama: The Crown - Season 1, Episode 4

Previously on Castleholic: Episode 1 | Episode 2 | Episode 3

Warning: This is not spoiler-proof.

So turns out 'a foggy day in London town' isn't just a song and nobody is worrying about the charm of the British Museum. In other news: Prince Philip is flying and Queen Mary is dying. The fourth episode of "The Crown" focuses surprisingly little on the royal family with Winston Churchill and his secretary getting the most screen time - or at least as much as the Windsors. First though, we see Philip learning how to fly and then a doctor's visit to Queen Mary while the army is rehearsing for her funeral outside, or at least she says so. 

As the smog clouds are about to descend over London, we are back with the scheming politicians. Turns out that Winston Churchill was warned about the Great Smog of December 1952 in advance. Little did he do and so everyone just has to deal with it, no matter if royal or commoner. Queen Elizabeth II is the one to get the show on the road by walking to her grandmother, Queen Mary, as it is too hazardous to drive. She may be on her deathbed but please don't ask her about her health as she assumes she may suffer from a "death by bad conversations" before the lung disease takes its final toll on her. 

Next up is a lecture by Queen Mary about the divinity of the monarchy. She insists that her granddaughter is only answerable to God and certainly not the public. An opinion not necessarily shared by Prince Philip, who prefers a separation of church and state due to his own family experiences. "A royal family of carpetbaggers and parvenus", as Queen Mary likes to call them throwing shade at both Greece and Denmark. (Dear scriptwriters, did you somehow forget that Denmark is the oldest continuous monarchy in Europe?)

The carpetbagger- and parvenu-descending royal, in the meantime, seemed quite grumpy that he wasn't able to fly due to all the fog. However, the fog isn't the only thing (or one) opposing to the Duke's latest hobby. While Winston Churchill isn't too concerned with the fact that you can barely look further than a few metres in old London town, he is no fan of the father of the heir to the throne flying for fun. His cabinet does think though that there are, i.e. the fog, and so they get Uncle Dickie, a.k.a. Lord Mountbatten, involved to speak to the Queen. Then Elizabeth gets another monarchy lesson, this time by her husband's uncle who basically wants her to meddle in politics. And as all bad good, well, things come in three, there is also one by Elizabeth's private secretary, who also was her father's. He is not very helpful though saying, "it's a different situation, a different sovereign" just when Elizabeth thought she had it all figured out.

The untimely death of his secretary Venetia, who we got to see quite a bit of throughout this episode, after being hit by a bus in the fog makes Churchill reconsider his stance. He introduces the Clean Air Act and though not of his action, the fog soon lifts just as he is about to have an audience with the Queen. With the fog gone, she doesn't need to meddle in politics as she had apparently planned. But good thing that it also throws Churchill off his feed and so Philip is allowed to fly again though "he still has to ask cabinet to make rolls and spins". Royals, maybe they are not just like us after all.

Though Elizabeth is still left wondering what might have happened had the smog continued while Churchill still clung to power and the government floundered. To answer the question, she gets another monarchy lesson by Queen Mary. "To do nothing is the hardest job of all, and it will take every ounce of energy that you have", possibly the wisest person in the whole show tells her. That's not going to be an easy task! And while this fourth episode of "The Crown" may have easily become a filler episode, it's among the best yet. Deeply moving and slightly odd at times.

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