Tuesday, January 16, 2018

What I’m Watching: The Crown

The Crown: Season 2, Episode 5 “Marionettes” (B+)

It’s hard to keep track of some of the very supporting players since they often don’t appear on this show for episodes at a time, but I know that Martin, played by Harry Hadden-Paton, who previously appeared on “Downton Abbey,” is one of the more underrated characters. In this episode, he was the one person who rightly anticipated that there was going to be blowback to the speech that Elizabeth gave at the Jaguar factory which made her seem hopelessly and irreconcilably elite, unable to relate to the peasants upon whom she looked down and claimed to understand. Starting with the slap that Lord Altrincham somewhat deservedly got is the latest instance of non-narrative storytelling that this show has been employing, opening with an intriguing scene that is then explained by the filling in of details. What was most interesting about this relatively involving hour, which fortunately featured Elizabeth much more than the rest of the season has so far, was when Lord Altrincham showed up for his meeting and got to be face-to-face with Elizabeth, who listened to his suggestions and roundly rejected each one as he outlined them. She definitely didn’t love the idea of bending to his criticisms, but he made a good argument that he was simply saying what he had been asked to when he had been called to task for airing his observations and objections publicly. Seeing Elizabeth squirm on television was a fitting way to end this chapter, which paid tribute to the real Lord Altrincham, John Grigg, whose influence on royal policy extended far beyond what was portrayed in this episode.

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