The Crown: Misadventure

“The option which is open to everyone else—“
“—divorce, yes –is not open to us. Ever.”

The Elizabeth of The Crown’s season 2 is much better prepared to deal with unpleasant matters than the Elizabeth of season 1. Unfortunately, unpleasant matters abound.

The episode opens with a frank, a very frank conversation between Elizabeth and Philip. Their marriage is at a crossroads. Philip is suspected of having an affair and Elizabeth is also tired of his constant complaining. But, as divorce is not an option, she wants to know what can be done to improve the situation. We do not get her husband’s answer, not in full.

The episode then goes back five months, before Philip’s departure. We see some much happier moments between the two of them as he is preparing for a tour of places as distant as Australia. Elizabeth wants to sneak a note and a present into her husband’s case where she finds a picture of a famous ballerina. Certainly looks as if he is having an affair. Her suspicions are given more weight by conversations that she has with her sister and with Lord Mountbatten. Her sister, drinking heavily due to depression, might simply be spiteful, but Lord Mountbatten is not.

In this episode we really only get Elizabeth’s point of view on the marriage, just as we only see Eileen Parker’s (her husband, Mike Parker, is at Philip’s side and bears some culpability. At first I found this rather frustrating, but it actually felt right. She doesn’t know what’s going on with Philip, who is thousands of miles away. We really feel that lack of knowledge.

The other plot – more important to the world if not to Elizabeth herself – is the situation in Egypt. Nasser and his men have seized control of the Suez Canal. Not only is this an insult to Britain, it is potentially injurious. Britain depends on the oil that comes through the Suez Canal and now it can be shut off. Eden, who feels the affront and is tired of life in Churchill’s shadow (who is retired but not dead) arranges for airstrikes instead of working hard towards a peaceful solution.

The scenes of the airstrikes in Egypt really hit home, as did the tanks in the streets. The scenes struck me far more deeply than such scenes in shows usually do. Perhaps because I know this is a representation of reality, whereas the other shows are merely entertaining fiction. Or perhaps because it was done better; I don’t know. At any rate, kudos to The Crown. War is really horrible, and how dreadful to have explosions in the streets because some guy’s ego needs stroking.

Elizabeth has learned how to talk, she has learned how to insist on answers. but she has also has learned when to be silent. She does not respond to her sister’s goading. She does not go to speak to the ballerina whose picture she has found among her husband’s things. She does not give Prime Minister Eden her true opinion about the situation he has caused in Egypt.

Title musings: “Misadventure” is a very straightforward title, applying both to Philip’s presumed affair and the airstrikes.

Bits and pieces

Both Philip and Elizabeth (royals their entire lives) are relaxed and funny when they want private moments. I like how he orders everyone to simply turn around so he can zip up her dress. And how they both order out the servants appearing with coffee and tea so they can have sex.

Elizabeth did not want to listen when Philip was explaining why the Suez requires expertise to navigate, but I really appreciated it.

I did not realize that Lady Mountbatten had an affair with Nehru!

Prime Minister Eden’s assertion that the Egyptians are lousy at sea is based on millennia of observations. The Egyptians historically had no reason to go to sea, as they were the land of plenty – exporters, not importers. Navigation on the gentle Nile was extremely easy. You could let the current take you downstream at a gentle pace, or put up a sail and let the wind take you upstream.

Although the Duke of Edinburgh is certainly rumored to have had affairs, it seems unlikely (according to an article in Vanity Fair) that he had an affair with the Russian ballerina Galina Ulanova, given their very busy schedules.


Elizabeth: The rumors haven’t gone away.

Elizabeth: Boys will be boys!
Philip: Excuse me, sub-zero temperatures! Men will be men.

Eden: And that places like Eton should no longer be seen as the birthplace of Britain’s leaders. To which I, as a fully paid-up egalitarian and progressive member of the Conservative party say, what a lot of absolute nonsense.

Elizabeth: The Prime Minister always has the Sovereign’s support.

Overall Rating

I thought this episode was excellent, giving us real insight into the burden the crown places on a human being. Three and a half out of four indiscreet miniatures.

Victoria Grossack loves math, Greek mythology, Jane Austen and great storytelling in many forms.

1 comment:

Billie Doux said...

Wonderful review, Victoria. I think what jumped out at me were two things -- how many shots there were of Elizabeth all alone and isolated, and how childish and shallow Eden was acting. The latter, possibly because I'm so hyper aware these days about what bad leaders do with their power.