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I’d not heard of “gelignite,” but apparently it is an explosive that lives up to its pronunciation and spelling (“gel” + “ignite”). It refers to the combustible issue of Princess Margaret’s courtship with Peter Townsend, which leads to a LOT of emotional phone conversations in this hour and several very disappointed cheekbones (I didn’t capture it here, but Ben Miles has quite the bone structure, especially when being romantically thwarted). Vanessa Kirby finally gets material she can attack, which is a wonderful counterpoint to the fact that Claire Foy’s Elizabeth only ever hits the same note.

I’ll try to make this the last time I complain about this — part of the problem with Jess and I alternating recaps is that we both need to vent our spleens about similar issues — but: The Crown is beginning to feel like a house built on unprepared land. In Peter Morgan’s haste to tick off the important milestones, he’s forgotten it’s not always about rushing to build toward the sky; you need a foundation first, so that every step forward has support and meaning. The relationships in this series are missing those foundations. We are told things about how Elizabeth might view Margaret, but never shown them. We are never shown NOR told whether they were ever close, especially as they’ve had exactly one conversation prior to this hour. Other than a couple early eye-bangs in episode two, Liz and Phil come off more like good friends in a green card marriage, and I can’t tell if that’s intentional. The point is: It’s hard to ache for the loss of something when it’s unclear if anyone valued it in the first place. And if the experiment is whether you can profile the institution of The Crown without digging into the personal life of the human who wears it, then I think the conclusion six episodes in is: You can’t. They are two halves of a whole, and one informs and affects the other. If speculating on the salacious or sterile private life of a sitting monarch is too daunting a task, then maybe this show came a decade too early to be what it ought. Make no mistake, I’m enjoying aspects of it, but I just have an endless sheaf of notes and imaginings about what might have been.

Eye-banging: One for Philip, COUNTLESS for Peter and Margaret, and zero for Liz. Monarchs don’t get ANY fun.

Tags: The Crown
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