Review: The Crown Season 2 Episode 5 “Marionettes”

‘The Crown’ has never been pro-monarchy, instead reserving its spotlight for a more nuanced, historically accurate, and revealing insight into the royal family. Yet, this episode feels distinctively anti-monarchist, not only in its subject matter, but the awkward and often inconsistent framing it employs. The swirling world, again presented through constant movement, reflects a growing progressivism as the questions of is the monarchy forever, absolute and relevant are asked. Yet, as criticisms are propelled, we rarely hear Elizabeth’s stances on the actual issues, but instead simply her thoughts on the manner in which they are expressed and the man conducting the discussion. Consequently, as the episode winds on and the issues do slowly become addressed, Elizabeth is framed as extremely entitled and ignorant to an extent the show has rarely gone. It’s a framing decision that feels extremely jarring, even if this discussion has always been a central, albeit subtle, part of the show. With Lord Altrincham altering the public face of the monarchy, thematically in line with the previous episode’s notions of perception, but not influencing Elizabeth’s personal thoughts, one may debate if pushing Elizabeth to this extreme so quickly was only to make Altrincham the hero. As Elizabeth doesn’t get a say on many of these points it is difficult to say. For a show that emphasises the Royal’s merging of personal and public life, this episode seemed to seperate the two. It raises the question of this is a failure of the season’s structure, in needing an abrupt change to Elizabeth, or the start of a more anti-monarchist view. 7.9/10



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