Sunday, January 7, 2018

TV Show Review: The Crown (Season 2)

The British royalty continues to deal with scandals as this historical show moves into the 1960s and the second decade of the reign of Queen Elizabeth II (Claire Foy). A major theme of this season's story is the Queen's marriage to Prince Philip (Matt Smith) Duke of Edinburgh. The season begins with them having a serious conversation about their marriage and him being a part of the royal family then flashes back to how they got to this position. Feeling restless, Philip sets out on an exposition to explore the world just as Elizabeth learns of possible adulterous behavior on his behalf. History also influences their lives as controversy arrives over the Suez Canal weighing on the mind of Prime Minister Anthony Eden (Jeremy Northam) who struggles to live up to his predecessor's legacy.

As Philip continues his travels far away, Elizabeth reaches out to him through a public Christmas message. The prime minister has health issues and mismanages the international crisis. The scandal grows around Philip as the Queen's assistance work to cover it up. The conversation of the first scene comes back around and Elizabeth and Philip make up hoping to celebrate their ten years anniversary. Princess Margaret (Vanessa Kirby) has trouble with a prospective husband growing confident and entering a duel. The new Prime Minister Harold MacMillan (Anton Lesser) has personal problems of his own as his wife is in love with another man and it is sort of an open secret. 

Margaret does start to form a romantic relationship with Tony Armstrong-Jones (Matthew Goode) but she is unable to announce her engagement since Elizabeth II is expecting another child. The queen delivers a tone-deaf speech written by one of her assistance and Lord Altrincham (John Hefferman) calls her out on it. She makes much-needed changes under his suggestion to become a more personable queen and help the monarchy thrive. Another scandal bubbles up from the past when the former king, David (Alex Jennings) Duke of Windsor. He had secretly conspired with Hitler to retake the throne after being forced to abdicate. The queen refuses to allow him back into a representational role with the government when she discovers the truth. 

A visit by the American president John F. Kennedy (Michael C. Hall) but more importantly his wife Jackie (Jodi Balfour) causes some turmoil for the queen. She decides to take action on a significant issue in Ghana which plays into the hands of the Americans in their Cold War with communist Russia. Prince Charles (Julian Baring) takes center stage in the penultimate episode as his father forces him to attend his alma mater in Switzerland where the boys are forced to live a harsh life, but we learn why this place is so significant for Philip as his past is also dramatized. The finale brings back the scandal of Philip's possible adultery as a scandalous rumor about a mysterious figure in a photograph swirls around the palace. History shows that their marriage does survive as the queen has her fourth child.

The Crown is a brilliant show with gorgeous sets and extraordinary acting. The show makes much more interested in history and I often find myself reading up on the royal family after each episode. It is amazing what happened during Elizabeth's rule and it is still going on so this show could have tons of seasons. Claire Foy is brilliant and Matt Smith really shined this season. The first did a great job introducing the Crown but the second season has really improved the show. I look forward to seeing where they take the show in subsequent years of Elizabeth's life. 

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