The Crown 2
There are a lot of expectations going into the second season of a critically acclaimed series. Clearly Netflix continues to spare no expense for The Crown writer/creator Peter Morgan’s ode to the British royal family. The extravagant costumes and sets, smooth camerawork and various shooting locations (South Africa, UK, Australia, Papa New Guinea) are quite exquisite.
This new season, much like the first, opens with episodes that take little notice of Elizabeth (Claire Foy) and shifts focus onto others near her, mostly men. Philip’s (Matt Smith) insecurities and party boy tendencies are on display. Morgan establishes him as a fully fleshed-out character, sometimes sympathetic, sometimes not; it is a shame that Elizabeth is not given the same courtesy. Even the episode about the young Charles is a means to reveal more about Philip. One must wonder, had more female writers been on staff would this have made a difference. Morgan with Amy Jenkins co-wrote episode four, Beryl, which focuses on Margaret (the dynamic and gorgeously costumed Vanessa Kirby), and it is a season standout.
Although marriage difficulties and Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh’s playful banter are often on display, the more engaging storylines are those that revolve around the Duke of Windsor (Alex Jennings), Philip and Margaret. The various connections to Nazi figures – Philip’s family and the Queen’s uncle – are intriguing. Margaret’s romance with charming photographer Tony (the superb Matthew Goode) introduces a modern soundtrack from the 60s and gives some new life to the series. It’s quite fun watching Margaret’s friends mingle with the royals.
Once Elizabeth stands up to a family member in the episode Vergangenheit (meaning past in German) she starts to wield some power. Foy is finally given some meaty lines and once again when she meets Jackie Kennedy. The use of real photos and footage in both chapters are a nice touch. These two history lessons go down easily.
Some episodes might deserve great applause, but as a series The Crown 2 is scattered and uneven. Multiple directors (Benjamin Caron, Stephen Daldry, Philippa Lowthorpe, Philip Martin) are responsible for this season, and it shows. The choice to shoot actors straight-on while bright sunlight shines through the drapes behind them can be off-putting. The drab and muted colour palettes (beige, yellow, grey) of Elizabeth’s clothing practically blends her into the furniture. Later, to symbolise her greater confidence, her clothing becomes bolder.
Foy shines brightly when given the chance. Let’s hope that when Olivia Colman takes over the role of the Queen, her storylines are complex enough to keep her front and centre rather than waiting on the sidelines.
The Crown 2 is released on Netflix on 8th December 2017.
Watch the trailer for The Crown 2 here: