The Crown season 4 is possibly the most anticipated Netflix series of the year, and that’s down to the introduction of two people – Margaret Thatcher (Gillian Anderson) and Diana Spencer (Emma Corrin).
Thank God it lives up to the hype, with the most captivating episodes to date thanks mainly to these two women.
The period of 1979 to 1990 was a tumultuous time not just for the monarchy, but of Great Britain as a whole, with the widening of the class gap creating civil unrest and unemployment reaching an all-time high.
Then we get into the castle walls, where it appears every member of the monarchy have their own issues to figure out.
Anderson’s eerie interpretation of Thatcher as she continues to clash with Olivia Colman’s Queen Elizabeth II is nothing short of stunning, with both women defiant and immovable in their views.
As the years roll on and patience wears thin, the series does well in showing that it’s their similarities, and not their differences, that will forever cause them to clash. That power struggle is delicious to watch, especially when left in the hands of two of the UK’s best actresses.
As one of the most divisive and disliked Prime Ministers in history, Anderson had a lot to play with here, and creates a fully rounded character that’s not so much panto villain, but rather a woman woefully ignorant to a world that isn’t her own.
That could be the world above her, in the case of the monarchy; those below her, in the case of the working class she continues to leave out in the cold; or even those on her level – with her blind favouritism of son Mark over daughter Carol causing a divide within her home.
But it’s relative newcomer Corrin as a bashful young Diana that really steals the show here, bringing to life one of the most beloved members of the Royal family, who finds herself increasingly out of her depth in a relationship with Prince Charles (Josh O’Connor) – a man who, despite himself, cannot quite shake his love of a now married Camilla Parker-Bowles (Emerald Fennell).
As their relationship spirals and taken out of both their controls, they pair find solace in separate things, with the show pulling no punches in its graphic, heartbreaking, and at times uncomfortable depiction of Diana’s battle with bulimia.
The trigger warnings are there for a reason: and we must warn you take some heed in them, because they really don’t hold back.
Graceful and somehow both childish and older than her years, Corrin’s portrayal of the complicated wife and mother of the soon-to-be King of England is a stunning watch, and awards season must surely be calling.
The same can be said for O’Connor, who’s tug between obligation to crown and country, and what his heart wants, continues to make him both insufferable and yet an entirely sympathetic. His cold cruelty towards Diana at times is never done out of personal malice towards her, rather than himself feeling out of control.
And Emerald Fennell’s understated portrayal of Parker-Bowles is utter perfection, but so quiet it will likely go unnoticed against these two larger roles.
As the series reaches a time period that more people can actually remember, it’s interesting to see how much care they’ve taken into the accuracy of certain key moments of history.
Which is why we are confused by the certain erasure of scenes that we would believe to be there.
The Crown has proved to have one nasty habit over the years, and they’ve done it again – they’ve given away too much in the trailer. In fact, most of the wedding coverage of Charles and Diana you’ve already seen, so don’t expect too much more there.
So too, with the battle of wits between Thatcher and the Queen, and it may have benefitted from reining it in a little to give viewers a little more surprise.
But The Crown also succeeds in showing the darker sides of the monarchy in a way most are afraid to tread.
This includes secret members of the family hidden from public view, the favouritism at play between the Queen’s four children, and the expectations placed upon them all out of nothing but pure tradition.
It seems all of them are constantly fighting between obligation and personal value, their position vs personal feeling, and paying prices they don’t need to for the sake of demonstrating perfection to the country.
But just like the country, they’re crumbling, even with the pomp and circumstance they were born into.
It’s the real tragedy of the Royal family, and season four does well to acknowledge it, while simultaneously have them be almost blind at times to their privilege.
Overall, The Crown creators have outdone themselves this season, and as they prepare for a time jump and a cast change, it’s sad to see such a strong cast go – but we can’t wait to see what they have in store next.
- The team don’t hold back on airing Diana’s eating disorder struggle – you’ve been warned.
- Helena Bonham-Carter’s understated take on Princess Margaret is worth paying attention to, even when bigger plots threaten to drown it out.
- The stunning accuracy of the costumes and set-piece scenes are staggering – and actually pretty haunting at times.
- Every scene with Colman’s Queen Elizabeth going up against Anderson’s Thatcher is an absolute acting masterclass.
The Crown season 4 is the series at its finest – and it’ll be sad to say goodbye to actors who have put in career bests as the show moves forward.
Watching Corrin on screen as Diana is eerie, with the mannerisms of the People’s Princess exactly as you’d imagine, even during hard to watch scenes where her inner struggle is shown to its fullest extent.
O’Connor manages to balance cold and cruel behaviour alongside a torn and lost personality out of his depth incredibly well, making him both sympathetic and unlikeable within the same breath.
And Anderson, as the defiant Iron Lady whose own quest for control comes at increasingly severe costs is a delight, especially when batting off an increasingly annoyed Queen Elizabeth.
It’s the perfect thing to watch as the winter nights roll in. Even, and maybe especially, if you don’t consider yourself pro-Royals.
The Crown launches November 15 on Netflix.
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Credit: Original article published here.