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  • Writer's pictureWill Scarbrough

Review: The Crown - Season 5

The fifth season of The Crown, which follows the life and reign of Queen Elizabeth II.

Elizabeth Debicki, Dominic West, Imelda Staunton, Jonathan Pryce, Claudia Harrison, Lesley Manville, Olivia Williams & Jonny Lee Miller.

The Crown returns with a complete new cast of extremely talented actors to explore a new era of the monarchy. As much awaited as it was from a filmmaking standpoint and Diana. People were eager for the controversy surrounding the show & its decisions on how to portray the royals. As someone who is very much against the royals and the monarchy itself, I was quite satisfied with how they were portrayed in season 4, which heavily sympathised with Diana. However, this season took a more sympathetic turn with the family as a whole. Though as captivating as ever with his filmmaking and performances, this season of the Crown was definitely a step down over last season in story and emotion.

Just like last season, Princess Diana was the obvious standout, with the forth proving us captivating scenes with her that had people worldwide glued to her and Emma Corrin’s portrayal. As clear as it is that the show-runners love Diana, the lack of overall focus on her certainly hurt the show. Each scene with Debicki is powerful and heartbreaking, yet joyous and admirable. This season takes a turn with its storytelling by focusing more on politics & the monarchy as a whole, its history, the system. Rather than giving us more scenes with people, the “characters” in the story that deserve more fleshing out.

Before the release, the show runner stated that people were very critical of the royal family during the 90’s, but when watching the show, it was rather dismissed. Giving us this impression through only TV broadcasts, rather than sequences involving the people themselves and what they thought. I think without it, which was present last season, it removes a lot of emotional weight to everything.

The easiest compliment to give is how incredible everyone is at their portrayals as the royals. While some are not perfect, such as Dominic West whom I believe didn’t perfect Charles’ voice, like Josh O’ Connor did. Everyone played their roles with such confidence and vulnerability that I forgot that these roles have been recast. However, I do believe the writers didn’t give too many characters a lot of scenes to really commit to. The Queen is far less engaging this season, of course due to her age, but she wasn’t given any time to shine from a performance standpoint, despite mannerisms being to perfection. Elizabeth Debicki & Dominic were the only ones to be given enough to earn an Emmy.

Onto Charles. They were far too kind to him this season, following the terrible treatment of Diana, they really let him off the hook. I wasn’t particularly fond of how pro-Charles they appeared to be this season. Pushing his political agenda as if he had even done anything about it to this day. Attempting to bring the audience around to him, but not me. I found it rather laughable that the royal family were so critical and afraid of this season, as they were treated better than they have before.

We all know of how incredibly well the directors and everyone involved have brought everything to life on screen, proving more than cinematic moments that are enough to convince anyone that they are looking at a big budget motion picture. This again, is as impressive as ever, proving once again why it is one of the best directed shows on TV today. I couldn’t get enough of how everything was constructed and how much weight a lot of shots had on the story & certain characters. While, the screenplay could have been improved by more sequences with better “characters” and less of certain storylines, the rich cinematography is almost enough to forgive it all. Complimented by the captivating score that is more powerful and beautiful than it has been before.

Before concluding, I’d offer one more gripe I had with the structure of the season. While I appreciated the flashbacks and how they were handled. The story structure of this season felt all over the place, constantly confusing me with where in the timeline we were & how they related to each other. They were jumps that weren’t entirely needed, nor did I believe that they were handled too well. The constantly flashbacks and weird structure of events put a big halt on the show and the pacing.

Overall, The Crown season 5 is rather disappointing but still proving to be a fantastic continuation of the show, with gorgeous filmmaking and a perfect portrayal of Diana by Elizabeth Debicki. I do hope they are a lot more strict and critical of certain people next season & provide us much more Diana scenes, as she’s proven to be by far the best part.

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