Review: The Crown Season 2 Episode 10 “Mystery Man”

Fundamental to ‘The Crown’ as a television series and the Monarchy as a traditional concept, is the notion of the theatre of altering perception. Symbolically enforced here by both a literal theatre, a courtroom, and the beautiful blocking of key confrontations between Elizabeth and Philip, the writer and director masterfully question the audience’s perception of that key relationship and who we trust or sympathise with. The scandal at the heart of the episode therefore provides an exceptional backdrop for the discussion, with the audience asked whether we believe it is Philip in the photo, signalling the Prince has not changed his behaviour or understanding of his role over the course of the season. Drawing upon the season’s worth of development, this finale therefore conveys a complex, rich and nuanced depiction of characters and the core marriage. It’s a brilliant culmination of ideas and characters moments elevated further by award-worthy performances by Claire Foy and Matt Smith. Significant to this is Elizabeth’s ability to take things into her own hands. Again we see a figure who attempts to make moves and push questions and challenges, but is imprisoned by her position. Unlike the Prime Minister who can bow out as he wishes, or her husband who may partake in luxurious parties in the underbelly of Britain’s elite, Elizabeth is duty bound. This inability to act leading her to try to look away, push events to the side, and attempt to be ignorant. It almost explains her absence. She is not invisible because she doesn’t care, she is invisible because she can’t take action and is hurt by that. While the episode may again abrupt drop or overlook other narratives, most unfortunately the state of Margaret’s marriage, it ends on a near perfect moment as this cast says their goodbyes. 9.6/10

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