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The Crown: Dis-Moi Oui

Diana: I can't make your father love you more by becoming your wife.
Dodi: Actually, I think you can.

In this episode, with events leading to the fatal car crash, Peter Morgan tries to please nearly everyone, with the exception of the family of Mohammed Al-Fayed.

The episode opens with Diana on the Fayed yacht, talking to a friend (Susie Orbach). Susie advises Diana to stop seeing Dodi. Diana says Dodi is really sweet, but mostly agrees with her girlfriend. She also talks about a terrible poem, which he has engraved on a silver plaque. (Warning: don't engrave your literary efforts before getting honest feedback.)

Many fans of Diana – and certainly her eldest son, the current Prince of Wales – would prefer that she not have been engaged to Dodi when she died. That is where the episode is taking us, to places that will mostly make the audiences, especially royal audiences, happy. Diana tells Dodi she’s most content when she's acting as a mother, and the episode shows her frustration when she is kept from them (mostly Mohammed but some Dodi, too, to blame). We get the sense Diana adores her boys and that they adore her.

But others, especially Mohammed Al-Fayed, want Dodi to marry Diana, and he pressures his son into proposing. Diana says no to Dodi’s proposal. Actually, this makes sense to me. She has already been in an unhappy marriage; why would she sign up for another? Especially so quickly, after a summer romance! Still, I’m not sure she was about to end the relationship. It’s really hard to tell. The ring featured in the episode was actually found in the car crash.

In a way that can explain a lot, when Mohammed calls, wanting to know if Dodi and Diana are engaged, Dodi says something that makes it sound as if they are, but then discreetly hangs up yet keeps talking. In his soliloquy, Dodi tells his father all the things that he wants Diana to hear. Now let me say that if Mohammed had been cut off by his son like this, there’s no way that Mohammed would not have called back. Immediately. At least not the personality Mohammed has shown. But the way Peter Morgan sets this scene, limiting what Mohammed hears, it gives the owner of Harrods reason to think Dodi and Diana were engaged, while making it clear they are not.

The episode makes Diana, on her last day, both good and clever. She refuses Dodi, because they are not ready. She sees through him; she knows he wasn’t talking to his father, even though he claimed to be. She gives him good advice.

Even Dodi is redeemed a bit in this episode. Yes, he put on that charade for Diana by turning off the phone, but later he admits it. It seems as though they could actually have a real relationship at some time in the future.

Of course, there is no future. The one thing the episode really got right was how terrifying and how invasive the paparazzi were, what with chasing Diana down every alley. She couldn’t go for ice cream. She couldn’t eat in the restaurant of a fancy hotel.

Mohammed – at least the one in the episode – is not any better than the paparazzi with his pressure. He owns the place where the Duke of Windsor spent his last days. And he plans to put Dodi and Diana there, as if he owned his own bit of royalty. I don’t know if this really happened or not, but if so, it is a weak manipulation on his part. The Duke and Duchess of Windsor were marginalized in their exile. Why bring it up? For Diana, it would definitely be a step down. Besides, in the episode, he is responsible for missing a call with her sons. That is unforgivable.

We don’t spend a lot of time in Scotland with Prince Charles and the boys, but the royals take Prince William out in order for him to kill his first stag. He gets blooded; that is to say, blood is literally smeared on his face. It shows that Prince William will be a hunter instead of prey; it also reminds us that death is coming.

This is The Crown and not some exciting series with gore, so we don’t see the actual accident. We just see the car, chased by paparazzi, race under the bridge with its drunken driver, and hear the crash. I appreciate that they did not try to recreate this scene.

Title musings. “Dis-Moi Oui” is the title of the episode, and the translation is “tell me yes” – or “marry me.” We have two obvious references: Dodi is proposing marriage to Diana, and it’s also the name of the ring in question (for real). But there are many times where people say yes. Dodi is pressuring her to say yes – not just to marriage, but to going to town for ice cream, and to going to Paris. And Mohammed only wants to hear yes as well. The paparazzi, too, will not take no for an answer. In the end – at least this version – Diana says no. Still, I think the title works.

Bits and pieces

It makes sense that high-end places, such as ritzy hotels and jewelry shops, would be places where celebrities would take refuge in emergencies.

We meet Trevor Rees-Jones, the bodyguard; he’s the only one who survived the crash. The reason why is plain: he wore his seat belt. Diana, in the back seat, would have easily survived had she worn hers. Seat belts! Wear them! I don’t know why, given all the ink spilled about the accident, this doesn’t get more attention.

Writing poetry that does not make you cringe is hard. I feel for Dodi.

The ring in question was found in the crash, but whether or not there was an actual engagement and whether or not that was considered an actual engagement ring is still being questioned. See this article in Town and Country, which speculates that it was probably just a grand gesture.

I don’t know if this will be covered in future episodes, but I know it’s not covered in the next episode, and basically the Diana arc seems to end, so I want to bring this up here. Anyway, Mohammed Al-Fayed really wanted to blame the Palace for the deaths of his son and Diana. Although how the Palace felt about the death of Diana (shocked? sad? relieved?) may be up for debate, I don’t see how they could be responsible. It’s just such an unreliable way to kill someone! The French determined the crash was due to excessive speed, drunk driving, and the lack of wearing seat belts.

Quotes

Mohammed: Then let me spell out what is at stake. If you were to marry this girl, overnight you would become a giant. A colossus. You will have money and power beyond your wildest dreams. And you would finally be my equal.
Dodi: Your equal? Really? How?
Mohammed: Because I would make you my partner. In everything. The whole company.
Dodi: You've never offered that before.
Mohammed: You never deserved it before!

Dodi: I'm a shy, private person. And I've hated seeing my life play out in the newspapers. Not to mention the insults and the prejudice. "Dump the oily love rat"? "Why can't Di find a nice English boy?"

Diana: Yeah, well, take it from me, it's pretty upsetting knowing the man you love might have feelings for someone else. Although I never realized you could sue someone for falling out of love with you.

Dodi: Look what you've managed to achieve in the year since you've been divorced. A global anti-landmine campaign, raising millions for charity. And yet you're still not satisfied. Stop being in such a mad hurry to find whatever it is you're looking for.
Diana: You know, I think that's been the story of my whole life. Dashing around. And losing sight of myself in the process.
Height of irony as Diana will die in a high-speed car crash. Dashing around. But perhaps the early death means she was right to dash around and to do as much living as she could.

Dodi (pretend call to his father): Cut me off. It'll be a blessing, but let me say this. I love you. But it's killing me trying to be the person you need me to be to feel good about yourself. If you cannot accept me for who I am, it's better we no longer see one another.

Overall rating

For me, this episode has too much wishful thinking about the dead. I just get the sense that Peter Morgan is trying to please the current royals, especially the current Prince of Wales. The episode also dragged a bit for me, although I can understand how many viewers would want to see every moment of Diana’s last day and how satisfying the explanations would be to many viewers. It does explain things, mostly at the expense of Mohammed Al Fayed's character. Given his behavior later, it may be justified. The tension caused by the paparazzi was intense. Three out of four really bad poems.

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

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