The Crown (Season 4) Review
by. M. Lowe
‘I had to keep reminding myself that this was merely an interpretation of events and not absolute truth.’
Creator: Peter Morgan
Cast: Emma Corrin, Olivia Colman, Josh O’Connor & Gillian Anderson
Summary: We continue to follow the journey of Elizabeth II through her reign as Queen. This season introduces the long-anticipated characters of Lady Diana (Emma Corrin) and Margaret Thatcher (Gillian Anderson) who both take centre stage.
Review: The fourth season of The Crown was my first encounter with the series, and I was a little hesitant at the prospect of watching a historical re-enactment of events that I’d already heard mentioned a dozen times over the dinner table. I needn’t have worried: this was pure, unadulterated entertainment. The richly dressed sets and freshness of the performances distracted me entirely from my vague knowledge of the events as they unfolded. I was glued to my screen.
This was the second time around for many of the cast members, and despite now playing less significant parts in the story, they were able to add more comic elements to their characters. At times – however – I would have found it refreshing to see more of the Queen’s perspective on affairs. After all, she quite literally is the Crown, and I was a little upset that she was side-lined by her younger co-stars. Having said this, it is perhaps only through her lack of insight, that the full extent of the Queen’s alienation from the British public at the time was able to be explored. Hollow smiles of reassurance, disposable gloves worn to greet the nation, and such clear favouritism of Prince Andrew; it was difficult to warm to the Queen.
It’s safe to say that the only people perhaps not looking forward to the fourth season of The Crown were Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall, who might have resigned to believing that time would simply eclipse some of the public’s apparent disdain for them. Not so fast. With the inevitable introduction of Lady Diana, I – little acquainted with the storyline which would ensue – found myself absolutely seething at the actions of this abhorred couple. Bumbling Charles. Cackling Camilla. I had to keep reminding myself that this was merely an interpretation of events and not absolute truth; otherwise, my faith in the future of Britain’s monarchy might have been lost completely.
Despite our first encounter with Diana being through the lens of Prince Charles, the audience instantly knows who we’re rooting for. I was pleased that Emma Corrin was cast in this role, as she brought a youthfulness to Diana that hinted at the almost predatory nature of this doomed relationship. The costume department really did an excellent job at merging Diana’s historically accurate wardrobe with custom-made pieces to convey her fashion evolution throughout her decaying marriage. When she was unable to express herself in words, she rebelled with striking colours and revealing cuts that put the stuffy wardrobe of the rest of the family to shame. I felt that this foreshadowed her exit from the palace.
I found myself empathising with Margaret Thatcher quite a lot during the series. It’s testimony to Gillian Anderson’s exquisite performance that Thatcher – who had once been little more than an ‘ism’ to me – became human. And, yes, she actually did speak like that. I particularly enjoyed the exploration of her relationship with the Queen. The theatrical curtseying and passive aggressive meetings were particularly amusing. On a more sincere note, I was incredibly touched by the Queen’s gift of an Order of Merit which neatly concluded the rather abrupt end to Thatcher’s time in office.
Ultimately The Crown was a superbly entertaining watch, and regardless of your stance on the monarchy, you will certainly find yourself rooting for each character at some point in the series.
The Crown (Season 4) is currently available on Netflix and was rated 16+.