Be prepared, y’all: I am really not into Tom Hughes’s Albert. If you are, I apologize. Sort of. I am, actually very supportive of my own feelings on this one. Every time I see him I laugh out loud, which cannot be the intent.
Sometimes, for all its high ceilings and fields, the show just feels very emotionally and historically claustrophobic. We move from palace room to palace room with only occasional forays out onto the grounds, and very little connection to the world — an insistence upon which is something I realize The Crown really did get right. When it’s gone you miss it. So I still crave a real sense of who Victoria is, or is becoming, or what she thinks about the world; ditto Albert, who alternately comes off as a cipher or sort of a drip. (There is at least one nice bickering scene, but he whispers so many of his lines that it’s not as effective.) We know Victoria is in opposition to the Tories who are chomping to take over the government from Lord M, but not particularly why – or if she has a reason other than her friendship with him. We know religion is of interest to England, but Victoria seems to blow off why that matters to anyone. We had one reference to the Chartists, and there will be forthcoming stuff about Albert getting involved socially with his new homeland. But there is zero sense of what Victorian England is or how Vic’s subjects feel about their queen any given moment, or what their mutual bond is. And if there IS no mutual bond, that feels like it should be a character point. I know her youth at Kensington Palace was very sheltered and contained, but as queen, did that change? If so, when, and why? The Crown handled Elizabeth’s ascent, and what it meant to her and to England and how that ripped at her personal life, very deftly. As it stands, the past two episodes of this have just been like, “Check it! She’s young and horny!” Which… I mean, I’m sure she was, but was she not also more than that? I don’t know. I realize we’re still early on here, but every journey needs a proper starting point.
A note: Still using the UK episode numbering, to reflect how it’s displayed on Wikipedia and IMDb. PBS referred to this as episode 4.