Verdict: The Crown Season 1 Episode 5 “Smoke and Mirrors”

‘The Crown’ continues to be a behemoth in terms of opulent production design and historical accuracy, with this episode depicting two major events in the early days of the Queen’s reign. Unfortunately the first is simply used as a device to influence the second, with Philip, who continues to be very well-developed in terms of his marriage with Elizabeth, using his wish for flight as a symbol for the freedom he lacks on ground, wanting to modernise the monarchy’s view of a celebration. However, the return of the former King, is able to provide a lot of inner family tension, that contrasts with the majesty and beauty of this episode’s central focus. This realistic look does a lot to humanise these figures, something that the marvellous acting adds upon. Alex Jennings is incredible in his role, able to make a character who is self-centred and narrow-minded, sympathetic. It is also clever to place prominence on his abdication being a result of the tradition of the monarchy, something fought against by Philip. It is these comparisons, contrasts and symbols, a term coincidently (or not) discussed in this episode, that takes a simple but beautiful period drama and gives it power and significance. 8.6/10


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