The Crown S2 E5 Recap
Extra, Extra! Man Forces Queen To Rethink Herself!
This article originally ran on Previously.tv as an Epic Old-School Recap.
With the last episode’s foray into Margaret’s juicy personal life, I thought, “Oh, good, maybe that means Beautiful Naked Matthew Goode will dull the pain of the onslaught of Prince Pillip.” But no. Peter Morgan has offered me up something even better: Hot. Tertiary. Action. Yes, strap in, because your glasses are gonna get fogged up by some STEAMY pontification porn.
We open with an older gentleman buying up every paper he can that details the rantings of “the Queen’s critic.” He studies them over breakfast, then dresses up nicely and puts on all his medals and heads out, as we hear people buzzing that the phrase “her utterings convey a priggish schoolgirl” does sound apt. Blood aboil, the man marches right up to ITN, a.k.a. the Independent Television Network, and pushes through a crowd of reporters just in time for a posh young man to push out into the daylight. “YOU TRAITOR,” shouts Old Man Medals, before smacking Young Dude in the face and then proudly getting carted away by the cops.
Fisticuffs are at least an unexpected start.
Over at Buckingham Palace, Michael Adeane gets a call. “Really,” he says. “Really. REALLLLLLY.” What did I tell you? Excitement. LUSTY! TELEPHONIC! MUMBLINGS! Because Peter Morgan thinks very little of the Queen, she’s just sitting around staring at the wall with the Queen Mum when Adeane comes in to break the delicious news, twitching the lip that until recently was mustachioed but which is now naked as Matthew Goode should have been. “Lord Altrincham has been struck,” he says, “Dumb, I hope,” snarks the Queen Mum, in one of the very few moments where her characterization feels accurate. “Better than that,” says Adeane. “IN THE FACE. Quite forcefully, I’m told.” Elizabeth is amused at what “gallant and chivalrous” person might have defended her thusly. They don’t know, but the details come with a negative side: this Altrincham had just done an interview on an ITN newsmagazine called The Impact With Robin Day, and it’s headed to airwaves that night. So if he was also struck dumb, it’s too late.
Next, there’s a montage of all the palace clocks striking 9.
EROTIC! CLANGING! ACTION! Screw Matthew Goode and his nipples! Although I’m not gonna lie, some of those ARE gorgeous clocks, and I do love an antique. Everyone tucks in separately to see the interview: Martin Charteris; Tommy Lascelles with his dogs; the Queen and her mother and Phil. The interviewer asks his quarry, “Why do you hate her so very much,” as we push in on Elizabeth’s furious, bitter face. I could ask Peter Morgan the same, though it feels like this episode is his answer. It is not Elizabeth at her most rootable.
Backing up: a month earlier, this young whippersnapper Altrincham — pronounced “Altringham,” by the way — pops out of the Tube with a spring in his step and heads into a meeting. He’s on the ed board of a small paper, which we don’t yet know the name of but I shall RECKLESSLY spoil you and say it’s the National And English Review (which Wikipedia tells me he inherited from his father). He has all kinds of progressive ideas he wants to write about, like that the Church of England needs female priests, and the necessity of reforming the House of Lords. In the middle of this, a lovely lady named Patricia sits down with a box of homemade toffees and a hopeful smile, and Altie’s aging and bored staff seems way more interested in chewing on those than on the issues of the day. Altie skips the toffee, explaining to a crestfallen Patricia that he was, as a child, savaged by a toffee and it took SPINE-TINGLING! DENTAL! HIJINKS! to save him. Then he lets himself get guilted into trying one, and what do you know, THRILLING! TOOTH! MISCHIEF! happens again.
Believe it or not, this all becomes relevant in a second, but boy does it take a while. That said: you can see that Altrincham is played by an enormously kind-faced actor, which is how you know he’s the hero of the piece.
Before we rejoin Altrincham’s tooth trauma, we get some TITILLATING! SPEECHWRITING! SHENANGIANS! Michael Adeane is reviewing something he’s penned for the Queen to deliver to a bunch of Jaguar employees, including the line “The upward course of a nation’s history is due to the soundness of heart of its average men and women.” A young dude who clearly can’t be trusted (by Adeane) because he’s clean-shaven AND under age thirty-two clears his throat and wonders if “working” wouldn’t be a more empathetic and dignified substitution for “average.” Adeane rejects this immediately. So the dude goes behind Adeane’s back and delivers the speech to Martin Charteris — kind of like tattling on Dad to his fun younger brother — and Charteris then takes it right back into Michael Adeane’s office. It’s practically an orgy! Who needs actual sex! Something thrilling DOES happen, though. When Martin opens the door, saying, “Forgive me if I’m interfering above my station,” he sees this:
I don’t even need to remind you that they’re Tommy Lascelles’s dogs because they have identical expressions of disdain. It’s great canine casting. Tommy and his dogs are in the hizzy to lay down the sardonic archaic LAW on Martin’s pert ass. Martin tries to be discreet, wondering if Michael is happy with the speech, and he dryly responds that the Queen approved it. Martin wonders if she actually read it, and Adeane bristles: “She didn’t need to. She merely asked if I was happy, and I replied in the affirmative, and that was good enough for Her Majesty. But I can see the really important question is, is it good enough for Colonel Charteris?” This is a very good attempt to out-Lascelles the Lascelles, but don’t worry, soon we’ll get to see the master at work. Martin tries to make the point that, in light of the post-Suez climate, this speech strikes an awkward, old-fashioned tone that will leave Her Majesty vulnerable. Lascelles snorts that if he had a shilling for every time someone clutched their pearls needlessly over such matters, he’d be rich: “The British people adore their Sovereign. It’s what constitutes and indeed defines being British.” What follows is a deeply superior speech from Tommy about how the worst he’s ever run into is apathy, and that he knows the newspapers will comply because (a) in a constitutional monarchy, Liz has no real power, so there’s nothing to fear from her, and (b) any complaints and the media would get frozen out so fast, their mustaches would crack off. “The very people you fear will hate the Queen are the same ones who buy copies [of papers] in the millions. Why? Because they love her,” he says smugly. I do feel like that sort of dichotomy is real today. There are plenty of people who hate the monarchy and don’t give a fig about it, but the entire country will grieve when her day comes. I think it’s a bit of “Yes, it’s an outdated and expensive and unnecessary institution, but it’s our outdated and expensive and unnecessary institution.” Anyway, Martin uncomfortably asks if this means he’s worrying without reason. Lascelles sharpens his verbal knives and says, “Martin, I will leave the drawing of that inescapable conclusion to you.”
Is there anything more terrifying than a Lascelles smile? It’s almost worse than his frown. And I love it. He’s wrong-headed and condescending, but there is something so HOT! RHETORICAL! FIREWORKS! about watching him dismember someone. He might be my soulmate.
Cut to: THRILLING! MAKEOVER! MONTAGE! The Queen’s hairdresser is giving her the iconic helmet we’ve come to know and love even though she’s too young for it at this point, and she doesn’t mind one bit, because we’re meant to find her placid and a bit stodgy. I assume. She’s a bit inscrutable. Sometimes I think the material makes it very hard for Claire Foy, despite her best efforts, to put in layers that aren’t on the page.
And if you’ve ever wanted to throttle Philip, then get ready, because in a second you will want to pull out his intestines through his nose and fasten them like a bow tie around his heinous neck. On the train to their Jaguar event, Phil takes one look at Elizabeth and drawls, “I thought you were hoping for more children from me.” She confirms that she is, and he snarks that if that’s the case, then he can’t imagine why she’d do that to her hair. “It’s tidy. And sensible,” she says, defensively, clearly a bit wounded. “Adjectives to stir the loins,” he yawns. Well, GOD FORBID your PRECIOUS LOINS go unstirred, sir, since surely that is the goal in every single decision Elizabeth makes because her world revolves around your MAGICAL CROTCH CANNON. Ugh. Poor Elizabeth tries to brush this off and argue that it’s very of-the-times, and all the regimental wives have adopted that style, but Philip simply won’t be nice. First he calls it a helmet, and then he suggests that it’ll protect her from falling masonry, before concluding, “If enlarging the family and enticing your husband to procreate is the goal, then you might take a look at Jayne Mansfield or Rita Hayworth.” Ooooooh, you asshole. This show cannot seem to go five minutes without someone shitting on Elizabeth. This is really cruel banter, and it’s presented like Philip is the comic relief, and Elizabeth is made pathetic. If she’d been given any inner life at all — if this show, indeed, were remotely interested in her as anything other than The Human Who Happens To Be Queen and Sometimes Ruins Everyone Around Her — this would hurt terribly and not be easily brushed aside and could actually end up informing more of their relationship. But, sure, whatever, just make her the butt of all your mean jokes, Morgan. I find myself rooting for THIS Elizabeth to pull a Henry VIII and rewrite the rules and dump her husband.
Also, clearly, the HAT is the problem. It’s a giant pincushion. A red tuffet. Watch out for spiders.
At the Jaguar Factory, Elizabeth and Philip both do their share of Polite Nodding and Vague Interest, before she goes inside to speak. And here we rejoin Altrincham, who is listening to the speech on the wireless in his dentist’s lobby, awaiting CONSENSUAL! ORAL! DRILLING! And it’s a terrible speech. It’s obnoxious and elitist and strikes a pitying tone, as she basically tells the workers that their jobs are crappy and boring and their lives are dreary, empty, and seemingly meaningless — oh, but don’t worry, because everyone else benefits from their patheticness, and so yay, thanks for taking all that misery for the team! “May you be proud to remember how much depends on you, and even when your life seems most monotonous, what you do is always of real value and importance,” she says. I can’t figure out whether this speech actually happened. Elizabeth and Philip did visit a Jaguar factory, but in 1956, which would have been before Philip went on his royal tour; conversely, the Altrincham article did run in 1957. So I’m guessing this was imagined for the show and that they weren’t sure which speech he truly heard? The thing is, the speech is so tin-eared and pathetic and snobby that it veers into cartoonish. It’s so hard to imagine the real Michael Adeane being totally unaware of how wretched it was, but perhaps all his judgment fell into the sink when he shaved his face.
I know you’re dying to get back to the dentist, but unfortunately, you will be left unfulfilled: Altrincham is so staggered by the speech, and everyone’s grossed-out reaction to it, that he ditches the dentist and runs straight to sweet loyal Patricia, who agrees to stay up all night typing his every rebellious whim for him. How nice for her. I don’t get the sense that we’re meant to think they’re an item yet, but as we go, they seem to pair off and so it may please you to know that Altie ended up marrying a lady named Patricia and stayed with her until he died in 2001. So all her prostrations will, in the end, lead to SAUCY. MATRIMONIAL. FISHCAKES. And there is at least a little mutual admiration in this hour. This show is so neutered when Margaret isn’t prowling around; we’ll take our sex heat wherever we can get it.
Next, the Queen takes the Hogwarts Express up to Balmoral and goes stag-shooting.
I think this aspect of Elizabeth’s character is the only one Peter Morgan actually enjoys, because he comes back to it throughout his work. Here, after an aide helps Elizabeth set the sights — because I guess she still can’t quite be good at anything without a man’s help? — Elizabeth kills a stag with a crack shot, and the implication feels very much like she, with her talent for ordinary country pursuits, is every bit as regular as the people to whom she just condescended.
When Altie’s editorial comes out, Adeane hears about it unhappily. “This is such a sausage-fest,” my notes read. I also highly doubt that the Queen is so incurious that she doesn’t read the morning papers herself. Margaret, sure, because Margaret doesn’t believe in being awake before lunch. But, the show wants Elizabeth to be as passive in her own life as possible, so she has to hear from Adeane that Altie has savaged her with his pen, concluding that her voice sounds like a literal pain in the neck — as if she’s being strangled — and that with her at the helm, the monarchy can’t survive, let alone thrive. Elizabeth, as usual, pounds the table with her fist and snarls, “I’ll show him PAIN,” before flipping the table. Obviously.
Actually, later, with her mother, Elizabeth does look quite like she wants to vomit all over the sofa. “WHAT GIVES HIM THE RIGHT,” squeaks the Queen Mum. Elizabeth asks her for an honest assessment of Altie’s thesis, because you can tell she’s a little afraid that it’s true, and has no confidence in her own abilities. The QM airily informs Elizabeth that most of Britain disagrees and is disgusted by the whole affair, and suggests that it’s only even getting play because it’s summer and nothing else is happening. This is a delusional viewpoint, and yes, Elizabeth, absolutely take the word of someone who’s wholly biased and even further out of touch than you are.
Altie, meanwhile, has been given a chance to defend himself on ITN’s most popular program with a real defender of the Queen: Robin Day, a real journalist who was known as The Grand Inquisitor. Altie is queasy, and thinks he’s walking into a trap. “You did that when you wrote it,” says one staffer, who then points out that the best thing Altie can do is make his case clearly, sympathetically, and calmly, and that a national platform like this is just the way to turn people to his way of thinking. So we pop over to ITN, and they plonk him down next to Robin Day with zero introductions or fanfare, and they’re off. Day asks Altie why he criticizes the monarchy if he purports to love it so. “That’s like asking an art critic why he criticizes art,” says Altie, and whoo boy, as someone who’s been told I am a traitor to my gender if I don’t unequivocally support every outfit a woman wears on the red carpet, I am Team Altrincham here. “I believe monarchy provides clarity,” Altie explains, praising the consistency of a symbolic head of state who endures amid the revolving door of egomaniacal politicians. He sees that as a unifying power, but thinks the Queen isn’t wielding it. Day snorts that, what, should Altie expect Elizabeth to wield superhuman powers, and be a ribald wit, accomplished orator, and TV personality, as well as a parent and queen? That’s a fair question, too; it’s not like Elizabeth, when she was born first, was automatically endowed with all those qualities. Altie says he just wants Elizabeth to come across more naturally: “I had the misfortune of hearing one [speech] in a dental waiting room, and I was horrified by the indifference and inertia with which it was greeted.” So while Altie concurs with Day that being both ordinary and extraordinary is a nigh on impossible job, “being ordinary doesn’t have to mean ineffectual, or forgettable.” Everyone watches, rapt, including a stone-faced Elizabeth. And THEN Altrincham comes for The Mustaches: he acknowledges that he thinks the problem is an out-of-touch staff, but that ultimately the fault for that lies with the boss who hasn’t fired them. Martin Charteris is watching, all, OH NO YOU DID NOT JUST MAYBE GET ME A PROMOTION. Tommy Lascelles and his dogs greet this with an extremely high level of emotion and anxiety:
In conclusion, Altie thinks the monarchy is clinging to its pre-war routines as though nothing has happened around it: “I believe it would serve [Elizabeth] well to remember monarchies were the rule and Republics were the exceptions. But today, Republics are the rule and the monarchy is very much the exception.” And of course, it goes off without a hitch, and we contrast Altie’s delighted and relieved reaction — and applause throughout the ITN building — with Elizabeth’s quiet fury. Or indignation. Or…something.
And, more bad news: because apparently Liz still doesn’t read her own papers (sigh), Adeane meets her in The Killing Room or whatever — her dead stag is on the table — and tells her that reactions to Altrincham’s interview are not as the Palace had hoped. Worse, the ardent defender who punched Altrincham turns out to be from a white supremacist group, so they don’t even want him on their side. Half the country, including the monarchy’s usual ally The Daily Mail, thinks Altrincham sounded reasonable. It’s so bad that the Prime Minister wants to come up to Scotland for a SWEET! DISCUSSION! ROMP! Elizabeth wheels around and snaps that Adeane certainly owes them all an apology for his fumbling ineptitude: she trusted him so implicitly that she approved the speech without reading it, and now it’s all gone to shit in an ermine-trimmed handbasket. Girl, that’s no one’s fault but your own. Per this show, Elizabeth does nothing all day, yet can’t even be bothered to read a draft of words that will be placed into her mouth. She threatens Adeane’s job, and then turns around and stares at the stag.
Between this and that scene in The Queen, Peter Morgan is really hot for Liz and the stags she’s killed. Maybe in front of a dead animal is where she does her best thinking, and healing. Like when Dylan McKay surfs and/or lands in a terrible coma.
Macmillan advises the Queen to Deal With It before any of their other territories gets any ideas. This is a pretty short recap, as recaps go, because there are only so many times I can share with you that a man in Elizabeth’s life has told her that (a) the world is changing; (b) she needs to keep up; and (c) generally what to do.
At least there is one wise woman here: Patricia. Lord Altrincham tells her — while at the dentist again — that he’s been offered an invitation to meet with Martin Charteris, whom he deems a bit lower on the totem pole than one would expect: “Not quite a pawn, but not a bishop or a knight either.” Patricia kindly tells Altie to cram it and GO already, and not be an ungrateful snot about it — and to arrive with a list of ideas in hand so that it’s clear he meant to help and not harm. He’s so excited about this that he leaves without TINGLY. MOUTH-STUFFING. ACTIVITY.
So, Lord Altie heads into the palace, and is led up a winding back staircase all the way to a garret office. “Good to know I’m seeing the top man, in one sense,” he jokes, but no one cares.
Altrincham walks into Martin’s office with almost an air of sadness, although the room is groovy, with sloped ceilings and a window and two wing chairs. And just think how good Martin’s quads must be from taking the stairs every day. Stop being so judgy, Altrincham. Maybe Martin Charteris needs the calorie burn. As Altie glances around at some school photographs, he hears the door open and says, without looking, “I see we have something in common.” Naturally, the reply he hears comes from someone who is not Martin Charteris at all: “And what would that be?” Elizabeth asks. Astonished, Altie turns and recovers in time to and say he and Martin both went to Eton and Sandhurst. Liz rattles off more of his tony background, before dryly noting that he doesn’t exactly fit the profile of a revolutionary. “That’s the assumption everyone has made,” says Altrincham gingerly. “Because I dare offer an opinion, I must be trying to burn the temple down.” Elizabeth tightly says that those of them in the temple are very excited indeed to hear how they might avoid arson. She and Altrincham sit in opposing leather chairs, and then she can’t resist getting in a dig: “You can understand me? Not too strangled, too much pain in the neck?” Now THAT is the feisty Elizabeth I like to see, and firmly believe exists.
If you had hoped for sped-up pacing, or a breathless flurry of activity, you are watching the wrong show. I don’t always mind the languid pace, but in the previous episode it was used to seductive effect, and this week it’s all upturned noses and defensiveness. Altie launches into his spiel, saying that it’s not so much about changing, as much as making an acknowledgment that change is happening, and that they live in a time when people can — gasp — say whatever they like: “The age of deference is over.” Elizabeth inhales and asks if, without deference, they are left only with anarchy. “Equality,” he corrects her. Elizabeth points out, “How can it be equality when I cannot return the fire?” With a small smile, Altie says he can’t think of a single time a monarch opening fire on his or her own people was ever a good idea. Let’s dive into more SULTRY! TALKY! SITTING! Which I’m sure we can sauce up a bit.
Altrincham whips out his list of observations, and runs his finger down it until he reaches balls…of the debutante variety, which he thinks Elizabeth should ditch because they’re classist and gross. Then he intones that she should open that royal circle wide…to divorced people, who deserve to be treated as human beings. This pretty much kills the sexy mood, because as the head of the Church of England, she’s not supposed to recognize divorced persons, so she doesn’t know how this welcoming orgy can work. (However, as she noted in Season 1, many of her government officials are divorced, so why isn’t that a problem?) Finally, Altie suggests that Elizabeth should clench her fists, throw back her head, and heave…all of the old-school courtiers out of the Palace, because they are halting the monarchy’s evolution. She is not ready for this ejection of the Old Guard, saying they’re actually indispensable for “preservation of tradition.” Altrincham puts down his notes and husks that she wanted this, she asked for this, and he’s just trying to give it to her. She responds with erotic abandon:
This is enough to impel Altie to keep pushing, and pushing…his agenda. “Open up, Ma’am,” he purrs. “Lower the drawbridge. Let people get to know you.” But this is one seduction too many and it drains the room of all its obvious erotic buzz. Elizabeth closes up: “I don’t wish to be known.” Altie then tries again to open her up…to regular, average, working people, inviting them to the palace to make it seem egalitarian and inclusive. This is not enough to rekindle the flames of reformation passion; Elizabeth abruptly halts Altrincham’s mojo and asks him to step into the hall and summon Martin. He does, and Martin disappears into his office, leaving Altie with a raging case of social justice blue balls.
No more than five seconds later, Martin reappears and waves Altrincham inside…and the office is empty. “She was gone. Vanished into thin air,” Altie tells Patricia later. Typical. You think you have a connection with someone, and it gets hot and heavy, and then they just GHOST YOU. Perhaps she’s an animagus. I hope to God we find out the Queen can change into a corgi at will. Think of the eavesdropping. Although, let’s be real: if I were Philip, I would never say anything untoward in front of those corgis because they are NOT on his team and you just never know. At any rate, Altie marvels that he was told never to speak of this meeting, and that the Palace might make one or two concessions to his suggestions. And indeed, there is no record of whether this meeting ever happened, though Altrincham’s editorial did, and in his obituary Martin Charteris is quoted from the 1970s as saying Altrincham did as much as anyone to preserve the monarchy. That’s all very dramatic. The real Altie died in 2001, so we unfortunately can’t call up and ask. Also: where is all this “I don’t wish to be known” stuff coming from? As with many things The Crown does, I don’t think we’ve gotten here with Elizabeth’s character very honestly. In Season 1, she was settling into the job, but she had a warmth to her, if also a slight hesitation. And now she’s just this resentful cold fish? Other than an arch tease about her voice, Elizabeth seemed inflexible and rude in that meeting. It feels like an active attempt to make Altrincham the poor put-upon hero and Elizabeth the uncompromising Ice Witch.
But, there is some compromise, although Liz isn’t thrilled about it: BBC cameras come pouring into the palace to televise Elizabeth’s annual Christmas address. It’s here that it occurs to me we really are treading old ground: Philip was a big proponent of her televising the coronation to bring the monarchy to the people, and this is essentially the same argument, and the same intent. And The Queen also had, at its core, people lecturing Elizabeth about how Times Have Changed and she has to accept that things aren’t the same as when she became queen. Is that the only theme Peter Morgan can think of? Here, Elizabeth is super-cranky about all of it, and spits, “I feel like an actress. A common little showgirl.” Well, they’re good enough for you on your stories or at the theatre, Liz. She also complains about wearing makeup, as if she doesn’t wear makeup ALL THE TIME. She’s constantly in great lipstick, and we’ve seen SEVERAL times her sitting at her vanity removing her face paint and moisturizing. This complaint makes no sense.
Liz then goes to her desk, swallows her nerves, and turns to face the nation. They count her in, and she greets everyone by saying that she hopes this new medium will personalize her message, and that she imagines her subjects all gathered together as families the way hers is now — which, by the way, translates to the Queen Mum looking hella pouty and Philip watching with the closest thing to a supportive expression that he has ever mustered.
Elizabeth talks about how she understands what a remote figure she must seem, and hopes that for these few minutes they can be in each other’s personal lives. She then reads from The Pilgrim’s Progress and closes by wishing that 1958 brings them all the blessings in the world, and concludes, “I wish you all, wherever you may be, all the fun and enjoyment of a very happy Christmas.” It’s very short and not overwhelmingly intimate, but I’m sure putting a face to the words was instrumental in making the Queen feel like more of a real human being to the Britons watching. It’s hard to tell how anyone thinks she did, though. It wasn’t snooty, but it wasn’t loose, either. Altrincham’s expression could either be construed as disappointment or a good kind of disbelief. The Queen Mum looks annoyed. Philip looks arch. And though there is applause from the crew, Elizabeth just gets up and leaves, storming off set right past her husband. And there is no further exploration of her feelings. In fact, I could end almost every paragraph about her with that sentence. Maybe I’ll make a t-shirt.
Then, it’s six months later, as the palace gates are opened to visitors. It’s very Willy Wonka. Margaret is watching the people stream in from a window on an upper floor, where she is, of course, smoking, her very favorite hobby.
I don’t think Peter Townsend was nearly as much Margaret’s true love as the Marlboro Man. Philip enters and fully checks her out. “My, my, you look pretty,” he comments. Ew, dude. Matt Smith’s Philip always seems like he might want to screw any given person in a room except his wife. He compliments Margaret’s “unregimental” hair, because he is an unkind shitslice, and Margaret tries to remember the name of the stylist that Tony Armstrong-Jones made her go to: “Vidal…Babboon?” Har. Philip wants her to pass on the stylist’s number to his wife, and they both laugh at Elizabeth, because I guess there’s no loyalty there. Just bitterness. Philip also asks, “Is that appropriate, that a red-blooded man should know the correct hairdresser for a woman?” Margaret, with a glint in her eye, says that Tony has made it his mission to improve her. “Like Altrincham,” says Philip. “Rather better in bed, I suspect,” Margaret replies. Yes, probably. I WISH WE COULD FIND OUT NOW PLEASE.
The Queen and her mother also seem positively sickened by the riff-raff pouring in through the gates. If the idea here was to make us dislike them both, then this scene was a rollicking success; it definitely poisons the well. The Queen Mum is all, CAR DEALERS and BUS DRIVERS and BANK CLERKS, oh MY, and Elizabeth also seems deeply skeptical. The disdain with which the QM says “Harry ‘The Hammer’ Jones” is palpable, and like, lady, Mr. The Hammer — a boxer — has at least gotten where he is with a life skill. Then the Queen Mum launches into a squeaky self-pitying monologue about “the stings and bites we suffer as it slips away. Bit by bit, piece by piece, our authority, our absolutism, our divine rights.” She believes everything is a one-way sacrifice and that nobody understands everything they’ve given up, and protocol is all they have left. “Marionettes,” she all but sobs. This is my first time to complain this season about the Queen Mum as depicted, and…I just really am not a fan. It’s hard to reconcile this whiny creature with, for example, the Helena Bonham Carter characterization in The King’s Speech. I think it’s entirely possible, from what I’ve read, that the QM was a total elitist and probably more, but I also think there was steel in those veins. This version appears to run merely on perfume.
Elizabeth takes all this in, and instead of telling her mother to rot in a classist prison of her own making, she simply puts on her gloves and says they’ll rotate the guests after each course, “so if you get a dud, don’t worry, it’ll be fifteen minutes at worst.” Maybe YOU’RE the duds. Did you ever think of that?
But, they put their smiles on and go greet the unwashed, who are waiting in a receiving line, blissfully unaware that their very allowance into the Palace was just being deeply lamented by one of their hosts. And then some graphics tell us that Lord Altrincham (and this is where I learned how to spell it) eventually saw all his changes employed, to some degree, and did as much as anyone in the 20th century to save the monarchy. Because he is MAN and he is a HERO, saving the little women from themselves. Then we learn that in 1963 he renounced his title and became…and there’s all but a drum roll here…
JOHN GRIGG, which was his actual name at birth. I had hoped the reveal would be that he became SALLY STEWART, or RENOWNED PORN STAR DIRK POKERY, but no. He just became himself.
For more on this episode — and Fug Nation’s reaction! — check out the companion piece we ran on GFY about the fashion and interiors.