The finale is here at last! And with it, I must wonder: what actually even really happened this season? Yes, we learned that Philip is a sad man-baby whiner who is prone to emotional blackmail, who had a terrible thing happen to him as a child, and who took that terrible thing and was…terrible with it. Margaret married someone who will be mean to her, but at least he was hot, and also she got to smoke glamorously and look generally pissed at all times. Sure, her life was a series of emotional disappointments, but at least she got to bang Matthew Goode, and she had amazing taste. And Elizabeth sat around and looked pained for the vast majority of the time as people consistently disappointed her. At least we finally, FINALLY got the fight between Elizabeth and Philip that has been brewing all season; we really worked for that, and I wish it had arrived earlier. Claire Foy is absolutely amazing in this part — she does so much with just the tiniest facial expressions — and I wish she’d gotten more varied, concrete things to do with this character. As an acting exercise, The Crown is fascinating — here! See what you can do with a character who only changes in the most minute ways to keep her engaging! — but for this viewer, it’s a bit frustrating. I am sad that this is the end of Foy’s run, but I will be interested to see how Olivia Colman handles a similar challenge, or if her Elizabeth will be a more active player in her own life.
It really says all you need to know about this show’s priorities that it opens the finale with an endless scene of Philip exercising, but rest assured: I also rant at length about how Peter Morgan has no idea how telling a romantic story works, like, at all:
[Philip] goes over to her and gets down on one knee and takes her hand and says, “I’m yours. In. And not because you’ve given me a title and not because we’ve come to an agreement. But because I want to be. Because I love you.” Elizabeth and I both look somewhat surprised by this turn of events. It’s actually quite romantic, but it’s also a bit out of left field; we haven’t seen a single moment where Philip seems to be transitioning from chafing at the requirements of his role to realizing the depth of his love for his wife. If that was his journey this season, it’s actually a very potentially swoony one, but we skipped….all the steps in the middle, and so while this scene is very effective in a vacuum, I’m not sure if it feels emotionally earned. I don’t get the impression that Philip is lying here — Matt Smith plays it very sincerely — but, like, since when? You can’t have your jerkface male protagonist just announce that he loves your heroine after several hours of him being selfish and jerking her around. Honestly, I think that Peter Morgan might just be really bad at writing romance.
Please note: The reason the recap is separate is because they were originally commissioned for Previously.tv, and then we moved them here to salvage them once that site closed. Above, behold the final round-up of Outfits And Toast Racks for this season! See you in the next decade.