And I know what you were thinking! “What we need now is for Beth from That’s Normal to go back to like … episode 3 or whatever she’s on and give us her summarily tardy thoughts! Maybe we will get to episode 6 by the time the SAG awards come around!”
Well, I don’t like to disappoint. So, you get a recap! AND YOU GET A RECAP! Erry’body gets a recap. And this time you get the first time I was truly angry at the showrunners.
Four Things I Noticed in The Crown Episode 4
Top Gun Phillip
Almost nothing is a more welcome sight than Matt-Smith-As-Phillip (as opposed to Matt-Smith-As-Other-Characters) strutting like Edward walking away from a Volvo or into a cafeteria.
It’s a great way to open an episode even if it only highlights what is sure to be sticking point we have had hammered home since episode one: Phillip wants things and Elizabeth is not going to let him have them. And if that keeps happening, well – if everything truly does go back to Twilight, even 60 year old biopics of British monarchs – then Prince Phillip is the Bella of this relationship. And QE2 is just denying him for his Own Good.
Like you didn’t look up the Great Smog, too. I’ve looked up a lot of things since I started watching this show (yes, more than two months ago …. I KNOW). Mostly I just look up pictures of Wallis Simpson, but this was one political event I had to get a grasp on.
Churchill’s insistence that it’s just weather … his attempt to wave it away with jokes about fog and comparisons of “too much sun and they call it a drought” … are even more callous and out of touch when wikipedia tells you that TWELVE THOUSAND people died in 4 days. Over 200,000 injured. His focus on trifles is borderline criminal. The full crisis of the situation wouldn’t have been impressed on me if I hadn’t looked up the statistics. But damn. God bless the Clean Air Act.
As much as I love Queen Mary’s determinative force of personality (she’s the Dowager Countess of The Crown and when she kicks it, I’m not sure the Queen Mother will be able to fill the same shoes; too whiny), I wish her usefulness wasn’t so pronounced. Elizabeth coming to her for advice is seen as quaint and familial, but it has real world consequences, and we aren’t sure whether or not Mary of Teck is a good person to be listening to. After all, she’s outlived the men in her line, but she’s still kicking around with her smoking habit.
Pretty Girl Go Bye-Bye
And here we get to the crux of why this episode made me angry, and in general just didn’t work.
Venetia “all I do is bring you things to sign” Scott is the perfect employee. Not only does she walk to work through what is most likely dubbed “Physical Assault Tunnel #3” and a bunch of other shady locales, she does it in heels, and through soupy smog, about 45 minutes before work actually starts. She spends all day working with a cantankerous, dithering wart whom she hero-worships despite his yelling at her, making her dictate to him while he BATHES, and seeming to only notice her sunny disposition and lack of turkey neck.
And yet she feels personally unfulfilled, “without a personal contribution,” and we ALLOW the writers take us there with her … she’s just “an ornament and a flower” who would rather have some sort of Young Churchill masturbatory fantasy than go out and be the gorgeous co-ed with a high-powered job (well for a female in the 1950s) that she actually is. WOMAN UP, VENETIA.
At least Churchill has the good grace to look embarrassed during her “I had a sex dream about your words and those Napoleonic breeches” speech, because it was cringey. I badly needed her to stop. I get that it was supposed to make her look like she has gravitas, and is ever so impressed with Men Who’ve Done Things, but it makes her instead a woman we are getting to know but can little understand, a fawning fangirl from the ashes of a woman who had an interesting point of view into the workings of the government and with hope – a purpose in this plot.
But her purpose seeps out the hole in her flat’s window as quickly as the smog sets in. She just becomes a superlative. She’s prettier than her roommate. More dedicated than her older co-workers. More heroic than everyone to brave the fog. More determined to make a difference than even emergency room doctors.
And then naturally, bus to the face. BUS TO THE FACE. Of this woman we’ve been narratively attached to for the entire episode. Because of course. Of course she’s just a vehicle through which Churchill discovers his humanity and bolsters his approval ratings. I hope he enjoyed that celebratory scotch and cigar with his wife later. I wonder if he attended poor, fictional Venetia Scott’s wake.
What did you think of The Crown’s win on Sunday night? Were you disappointed with Venetia’s poorly executed plot line as well?