Saturday, December 17, 2022

What I’m Watching: The Crown

The Crown: Season 5, Episode 6 “Ipatiev House” (B+)

There was a moment early on in this episode where I realized I did know the history being portrayed here, something that I had actually seen depicted recently in an otherwise unserious film, “The King’s Man.” The execution of the Romanov family after they had been gathered together under the pretense of taking a photo was a horrific event, and it still had an effect on Russian-English relations in this show’s present. Contrasting the innocent people being shot with shooting for sport was unsettling, and Yeltsin insulting Elizabeth during their own photoshoot was particularly unkind, especially given that she had made an effort to speak to him in Russian. While there’s a greater historical context to all this, the most interesting facet of this episode was how it explored the relationship between Elizabeth and Philip, something that we’ve seen early on in the show’s first two seasons and then again with the new cast members in seasons three and four. Philip seemed to gain a sense of self-importance by being able to help unlock a mystery with his DNA, but then he made it about himself again. We’ve heard him complain about all the things he hasn’t been able to do as a result of his assuming regal duties, but venturing into the idea of having to seek “intellectual companionship” elsewhere was particularly harsh. Elizabeth didn’t like the idea of having to befriend Penny to make his friendship with a much younger woman seem legitimate, yet she did it anyway. Penny had quite the thorough collection of research assembled to show what she had found, and this felt like the most vulnerable we’ve seen Elizabeth in a long time, making her own sacrifices for the role she must serve.

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