A recurring, albeit minor, critique regarding the near-flawless first season of Netflix’s sumptuous historical drama The Crown is that the now multi-award-winning series lacked any serious perforation – especially when it came to chiseling away at the monarchical members’ seemingly impenetrable personal lives.
A ridiculously lavish serial, featuring a steadfast ensemble delivering formidable performances from start to finish, earning John Lithgow (Winston Churchill) a Primetime Emmy and Claire Foy (Queen Elizabeth II) a Golden Globe for their efforts, The Crown’s first season was a deluge of pomp and circumstance and enchanting personalities that made for highly watchable TV. However, some found creator Peter Morgan’s initial sculpting of the Monarchy more ideal for the powers that be as the royal family were more so seen, rather than heard.
Triumphantly, in its second season, The Crown does away with deference and protocol, unspooling the tightly coiled yarns of several of the sovereign’s closest kin with vehemence and voluptuousness. Grievances that the show was without bite, whether you believe it to be true or not, hold no weight in the sophomore run of arguably Netflix’s best original program to date. Keeping with tradition of course, The Crown’s luxuriousness continues to know no bounds, but in season 2, the structure of Buckingham Palace is starting to deteriorate, revealing the sought after struggles and imperfections behind the opulence.
“Never let them see that carrying the crown is often a burden. Let them look at you, but let them see only the eternal.” Winston Churchill’s words of heed to Queen Elizabeth II in season 1 swiftly haunt Her Majesty as the responsibilities of donning the crown begin to take their toll on the relationships she holds most dear. The coronation now a thing of the distant past, the sovereign’s prominence and obligations cast an inhospitable and inescapable shadow that her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh (Matt Smith), and sister Princess Margaret (Vanessa Kirby), and those alike, suffer under greatly.
Their marriage very much so on the rocks for a healthy portion of season 2, Queen Elizabeth II and Phillip find themselves not only scrambling for marital rectification, but at the mercy of the media and public as well. Individually, the Duke of Edinburgh has seen his presence in the show’s spotlight grow significantly. A five-month world tour via a naval vessel in order to promote the Olympic Games offers insight into Phillip’s upbringing in Nazi-occupied Germany and the troubled relationship he has with his first born. As a result of the Duke’s expanded narrative, Matt Smith has been given a chance to dramatically sparkle. An opportunity the thespian has seized with grandeur convincingly. So impressively in fact that Smith appears destined to follow John Lithgow’s path to conquering some award season hardware.
Another character to see a boost in front of the camera is Princess Margaret, portrayed by Vanessa Kirby. The Royal Highness’ ill-fated engagement to Peter Townsend (Ben Miles) is still very much an open wound. The impeded marriage serves as not only a painful reminder of her lost love, but a broken promise made between the Princess and her sister, vowed in the presence of their late father. Consequently, Margaret adorns a lewd and reckless behaviour, catching the eye of a renegade photographer, leading to a whirlwind romance. Not to mention the unnecessary public snafus that the Monarchy’s PR must scrub and spin. Still, Margaret remains the only kinship that can render the Queen utterly decimated with simple discourse, thanks in large part to Kirby’s conveyed fervency.
With John Lithgow’s Churchill out of the picture and Pip Torrens’ Tommy Lascelles taking on a more relaxed position to the crown, Claire Foy is relatively unchallenged as the series’ top performer. Juggling a decaying union, an unruly sister, and a revolving door of prime ministers, all whilst being a mother to her own children and the entire commonwealth, the Queen fulfills every aspect of her duties, no matter what the cost. Her Majesty’s portrayer, Claire Foy, surpasses her own Golden Globe-winning brilliance, making a repeat victory look like a sure thing. Foy is instrumental in The Crown’s success and throughout season 2 never fails to deliver a performance worthy of the “eternal.”
Unafraid to delve deep into the Monarchy’s turbulent history, in its second season The Crown has once again set the bar for Netflix Originals. The series’ regal production design, sublime writing, and ravishing camerawork frame the ensemble’s consistently impeccable theatrics in pure gold. The biographical drama has justified its minutely dull setup and indeed shown viewers that heavy lies the crown.
Scandalous, seductive and stately, season 2 of Peter Morgan’s The Crown will have viewers begging for a third helping.