Hey there! We are diving right into episode 2 of The Crown, “Hyde Park Corner.” If you missed the Six Things I Loved about Episode One, that mess is here. But I just cannot keep coming up with pithy opening paragraphs for these recaps if I am going to get anything done around here.
What I Loved About The Crown Episode 2
Look guys, I’m a sucker for letters. I’m an even bigger sucker for thematic weather vanes that point the plebs in the right direction of just where this cyclone of drama is taking us. Enter: Queen Mary’s timely letter to her darling Lilybet. It informs the whole rest of the episode, if not the whole season (at this point, I haven’t SEEN the rest of the season, so I’m guessing). This part:
And while you mourn your father you must also mourn someone else: Elizabeth Mountbatten. For she has now been replaced by another person, Elizabeth Regina. The two Elizabeths will frequently be in conflict with one another. The fact is, the crown must win. Must always win.
Well. If that doesn’t split this episode down the middle, I don’t know what will. Everything from here on out can be seen in twos, in grey scale, in direct mirror image of itself. Even this letter itself is perfectly juxtaposed with the end scene – Queen Mary sends a personal missive to her granddaughter, speaks to her cordially, calls her a special nickname, Lilybet, and yet is the first one we see bending her arthritic knees to her in the final shot. Perfect.
Honeymoon in Africa?
I can almost forgive the producers for foregoing Phillip and Elizabeth’s actual honeymoon in this series since they gave us ALL THIS HOTNESS in the African jungle. Could these two BE more charged up watching some hippos chilling?
Don’t get me wrong, I was worried when the episode started. There are ostriches on the runway in Kenya. OSTRICHES. They run on their toes. Did you know that? Fat.Devil.Dino.Birds.
Thankfully they move away from that horror and show us Elizabeth’s Pretty Woman traveling dress and Phillip’s regimental whites. The costume game in this show is SO STRONG.
Additionally in this opening scene, I love how they’ve set up the idea that Phillip must be there for her emotionally, but she needs to bolster him politically and professionally. It’s a reversal of gender roles that shows itself in just two lines of dialogue.
“Love the hat.”
“It’s not a hat. It’s a crown.”
But, of course, at this point in the show there is little reason to worry that all is still not well. Hell, Phillip surely isn’t. Because while Elizabeth is slightly mortified at his faux pas, he’s blithely continuing to grin as if he didn’t even hear her? “Crown, you say? Even better. Cute look, chap.” Oh, Phillip. No wonder they wouldn’t let you keep your surname.
Mountbatten: adj. Goofy AF
Proving this slip up in the opener is even less important than it feels, is ALL OF THE EYE SEX these two engage in in the first half. Apparently saving your princess from a surprised elephant gets her super hot. Proof is in this pudding:
I think the only thing that keeps their African treehouse hotel from being knocked down by the myriad lumbering animals grazing nearby is the force of all that sexual tension. Anyone else think that Bess’ squeals brought them out of hiding for some late night mating? Just saying. And were they just doing it out in the open air … African treetop concierge be damned? #GetItRoyals
Spoiler alert: I am not super into costuming. That is Natasha’s job around here. I like a good costume when I see one, but it’s not usually the first thing I notice in a period piece. I don’t honestly CARE about the costumes in Game of Thrones or The Walking Dead or The Tudors. They’re set dressing IMO.
But when they serve a real story-telling purpose, I get super jazzed up. Once, I went into a long diatribe about how Chris Weisz was MAKING MY LIFE with New Moon because he had Edward in the same exact clothing in Italy that he was in when he left Bella months before. I think I wrote paragraphs about that costuming choice on some long forgotten forum. POINT IS: when your costumes help tell the story in tangible ways, I am going to be into it.
So … bring on Princess Margaret’s sleeveless dress!
We’ve just been treated to several scenes of Elizabeth in dowdy khaki’s and demure blouses in the African wild, and flash to her little sister barely concealing her bazungas at the piano. We instantly know more about Margaret than we did in the last episode: she’s young, she’s sexy, she’s stacked, and she’s willing to be real about those things, even when singing laments with her dear old pop. All things that we can guarantee Elizabeth is not.
I even loved the scene on the airplane when Elizabeth’s ladies maid (are they still called that) is getting her ready to face the press for the first time as queen. The quiet shifting of her back buttons, the delicate silk stockings, her undergarments, and even Elizabeth’s modesty with a woman who knows her intimately. She doesn’t dress down completely. She instead dresses up in parts. It’s informative, is what I’m saying.
Also informative: Phillip’s socks. Venetia’s plaid skirt. And Queen Mary’s mourning veil.
Jeremy Northam is in this
And it’s the only reason I can tolerate the political parts of this show so far. I wish I could express how undramatic and boring I find the cabinet meetings and this little coup they are raising against Churchill. The only good thing about it is Jeremy Northam’s mustache.
Like the radio scene at the end. It’s not just that it’s super anachronistic to see a room full of white men gathered around an antiquated piece of technology trying to muster up their relevancy …
… but it’s that I cannot find the emotional center of this part of the story enough to care. Churchill in the bath is such a slog of scene. All I can think is … this poor Venetia. Someone get her a love interest stat. And while I am on Churchill .. WHAT THE HELL is he doing with his penis? WHO WALKS AROUND WITH HIS HAND IN HIS FLY DURING A CABINET MEETING AND DON’T SAY T/RUMP.
But most of all, I’m just so happy to see Jeremy Northam that I try to focus on that. Until they remind me that he is not anyone’s love interest, and he is meant to be kind of old. I mean, how dare you make Jeremy Northam walk in wellies through the mud without a young damsel at the end of the path for him to make out with???? Don’t you know who he IS?
All the tension
Thank the editing gods! I had tears! And feelings! The dramatic music between the king’s death and the international broadcasts of it and Elizabeth’s happy face with her husband. SO many tears.
The entire build up of letting Elizabeth know what has happened was wonderfully tense. I was so worried she was going to hear it from a servant, or from a stray voice on the radio before she is told by someone who loves her, or without Phillip there to hold her. But then we get this. And no words were necessary.
My thoughts at this moment: She was only 25. And that is literally the hottest he’ll look ever … PERIOD.
And then comes the duality of this episode that I was talking about before. It is sharply cut down the middle, and now everything – Phillip’s growing fondness for the kids in Kenya, Elizabeth’s ability to lean on him for comfort, the reminder that as a couple they are young and hip and modern and her father’s secretary is stuck in an era they’ve grown out of, the discomfort of having people bow and scrape to you and kiss your toes when you’ve just lost your father, Elizabeth’s new relationship with her mother and sister – EVERYTHING hinges on this moment and changes irrevocably.
Can’t wait for episode 3.
What did you love about Hyde Park Corner? Have you finished your binge watch of The Crown?