THIS POST CONTAINS SPOILERS.
This episode follows Elizabeth and Phillip as they embark on the Commonwealth tour, while at the same time party leaders try to undermine Churchill. Throughout we do see glimpses and elements of other characters and stories as well.
Something I never really spoke about in my first review was how pretty the opening credits are. They’re so simple, but the visuals mixed with the music is just so beautiful, and totally in fitting with the series.
Seeing the relationship between Elizabeth and Phillip is actually rather sweet. Particularly that scene where they’re having dinner and they keep smiling at each other and laughing. Matt Smith and Claire Foy really do play so well off each other, and their chemistry is really believable and pleasant to watch.
The scene in Africa when the elephant appears is pretty interesting, the way it all plays out was great to watch. The way Elizabeth and Phillip react, how he’s defensive but also calm, and trying to keep Elizabeth calm too. And Elizabeth, while clearly being scared, also looks very fascinated when she sees the elephant for the first time. The way that Phillip handles the whole thing, distracting the elephant just long enough, but not too much that the elephant will charge. The scene ending with him approaching Elizabeth and kissing her, resulting in her laughing and calling him an idiot just added to the charm of the pair.
Although we knew it was going to happen it was rather sad when they went to wake up King George only to find him dead in his bed. The reactions of everyone from his family to his staff had me tearing up. The whole sequence where Elizabeth, Phillip, and the others are driving along intersected with radio news from around the world reporting on the death was surprisingly intense. It was partly down to the way it jumped about, the music, and the fact that you know Elizabeth has no idea. The scene itself was not that long, but it was powerful.
Throughout, from the moment Elizabeth finds out, you can see the realisation of what happened slowly hit her. There’s that moment where she hears the words “long live Queen Elizabeth” for the first time and she pauses. Her back is to us, but you can tell how much of an emotional impact that must have had on her. Not only is it cementing the fact that her father has passed, but also the fact that she must step up as Queen, which I’m sure is no easy task.
The scene where Elizabeth is walking to the car was incredibly touching and sad. The way everyone who is wearing a hat removes it, and people are bowing, and the man who gets down on the ground and kisses her shoes. Even when the young boy removes his hat and nods to Philip, who in returns nods back. The way the photographers follow the car, but one of them stops and urges them to keep their cameras down and not to take photos. The way the locals follow the cars, and when others walk as a collective among the trees to see the cars passing by. And that final scene with the boy at the airstrip, singing as the plane flies away. You could just feel how sorry they were for her, and how deeply they felt about the whole situation. The emotion came across quite clearly, and I felt it all myself.
When Elizabeth is finally unable to hold in her emotions and finally allows herself to cry, you really feel it. You can see the struggle of her trying to hold in her emotions again when she leaves her father’s bedroom, and how it seems to come to her attention that she’s going to have to stand up to her new role and that things are going to really change. In that last, close-up shot of her face you can really see it hit her that this is it, and you can see that moment, a mixture of fear and determination, cross her face.
Some other observations:
The scene where we see the King’s body was a little shocking and disturbing. Seeing all of the tubes sticking out of him and the doctors was rather upsetting, but the scene, although not very long, felt very important.
The relationship between Princess Margaret and Peter Townsend is a rather fascinating one to watch. On the one hand you know it’s wrong, because well, he’s married, but you start to find yourself drawn into their story and just as invested as you might be with Elizabeth and her story. Knowing the circumstances of their relationship I never know quite how to feel, on the one hand I felt like I wanted to route for them, on the other hand I didn’t know what or who to trust.
The scenes with Churchill were a little awkward and were not the best scenes, however, they were still interesting enough to watch. They never dragged the episode down and were still able to do enough to stop you from skipping. It also helps a lot that John Lithgow plays the part incredibly well.
Overall the episode was beautiful in all aspects and was entertaining from start to finish, even despite the lesser parts of the episodes.
Two episodes in and it’s already holding up amazingly. I couldn’t recommend this series enough to everyone. I have a lot of faith that the rest of the series will hold up, but we’ll have to wait and see!