The Crown (Season 3)
Throw – Olivia Colman, Tobias Menzies, Helena Bonham Carter, Ben Daniels, Josh O'Connor, Jason Watkins
It took three seasons, but The Crown has finally learned to embrace the aspects of its personality that they tried to hide behind proper manners and primes. Incorrectly perceived for several years as a lavish defense of the monarchy, it is instead an epic family tragedy about the slow erosion of a woman's humanity.
But Elizabeth isn't the only one who goes through a personal count during season three of the fantastic Netflix show; Happiness, in all its forms, is just as difficult for the members of the royal family as a temporary greeting. The years have not been kind to them. Earlier seasons' adorable naivety has been replaced by a gloomy fatigue; the slightest hint of rebellion has been rebuked and locked in, like in a dungeon on a fort. But most tragically, each of the central characters this season seems to have finally been completely indoctrinated in the culture.
Watch The Crown Season 3 trailer here
The crown is not so much a story of old ideas and new ones, as it is about aging fear in an oppressed world. The internal conflicts between the characters are far more engaging than any external threat, and some of the best episodes of season three deal with these personal struggles. My favorite, section three, again puts Elizabeth in a position where she has to choose between the person she is and the person she must be.
When a terrible natural disaster calls for the lives of over a hundred children in the Welsh city of Aberfan, Elizabeth is torn between visiting the mourning towns or visiting The Crown and staying at Buckingham Palace, watching from a cold distance. In section seven, her husband, the haughty Philip, has a spiritual awakening of sorts after witnessing the rest of the world's astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins adventures to the moon and back.
Unfortunately, the episodic nature of the series proves to be an obstacle in organic character development. For example, having experienced great personal epiphanies, both Elizabeth and Philip seem to revert to their old ways in subsequent sections. Philip, having understood his insignificance in the grand plan of things after the moon landing sequence, is back to his petty self when he spreads poison to the Duke of Windsor for not respecting the crown. Elizabeth is meanwhile positive with her oldest son and heir, Charles, and towards the end of the season makes a move so cruel that it erases all sympathy we had developed for her to have regretted a previous, strikingly similar decision.
Olivia Colman in a still image from The Crown.
Courtesy of Des Willie / Netflix
There is almost vampiric quality to her character this season. "The rest of us let go of flies," says her sister Margaret in a scene, "but she goes on and on." And Oscar winner Olivia Colman captures Elizabeth's emotionally oppressed coolness with nervous confidence. Gone is the relatively relaxed energy that Claire Foy brought to the part. Colman is older, yes, but whether she is wiser can be debated.
Regardless of her magnetism, however, no amount of Olivia Colman suffices to distract from the fact that Tobias Menzies, and especially Helena Bonham Carter, are underutilized for dissatisfaction. I hope season four deals with this injustice.
Josh O'Connor in a still image from The Crown.
Courtesy of Des Willie / Netflix
But the biggest revelation of the new season has to be Josh O'Connor, who plays young Charles. While the series switches perspectives fairly seamlessly, two sections from Charles' point of view are exceptional. The story is not very subtle – Charles's stranger from the rest of his family is comfortably reflected in Wales' political distance from Britain – but it has never been. O'Connor's amazing performance, in a show that is positive with them, is outstanding. He is heartbreaking in the penultimate episode as a cursed man, when he incorrectly describes his situation as "Not so much an existence without a problem." "I am both free and imprisoned," he tells Camilla Shand, the love of his life, "Completely superfluous and quite indispensable."
Never in history has the Shakespearean tragedy been more influential than in Charles's scenes. As with the rest of his family, The Crown has robbed him of the freedom to love, laugh, live; An alternative version of his future is there for him to see in his dying "uncle", the Duke of Windsor.
Maybe in coming seasons he will also learn to serve his masters and accept the family he has had the misfortune of being born into. Or maybe, in a welcome twist, he could pass some of his spirit to his children, as in in turn, it can transfer it to their own, until one day the saddest family in the world will finally escape from their self-imposed prison.