It’s the beginning of the end: The Crown has released the first part of its sixth and final season on November 16.
This season of The Crown starts with a man walking his dog.
It’s a peaceful minute; we are shown quiet streets, a late-night biker, a calm river and a few shots of the Eiffel Tower. For those who couldn’t yet tell by the man’s French, we are in Paris. Upon learning where we are, the setting doesn’t feel quite as serene anymore. We know what comes next.
Cars and motorcycles race past the dog-walker, into what we know could only be the Pont de l’Alma tunnel. The car’s tyres screech and we hear a crash. The car honk drones on as the man calls for help, and softly blends into the intro.
I love this beginning. It’s subtle, but it sets the scene and time frame masterfully. We are made aware of what this four-parter will focus on – and, with a pounding heart and sweaty palms, we dread it, because it is indeed summer 1997.
Diana’s last summer
We are taken back eight weeks, to the beginning of the summer. The atmosphere is significantly lighter compared to the start, but this doesn’t last very long.
Following last season‘s villainous media, this season is another level. Paparazzi follow Princess Diana’s (Elizabeth Debicki) every move, interfering with her holidays and her blooming romance with Dodi Al-Fayed (Khalid Abdalla). I felt rage building up within me watching it all unfold.
It was wonderful to see Elizabeth Debicki on screen as Diana again – and for four hours, too! She was as much a marvel in the sixth season as she was in the fifth. From her looks to her voice and mannerisms, Elizabeth Debicki truly becomes Diana. Same with Abdalla. He resembles the real Dodi so much, that it’s quite haunting. Both of their striking likenesses added to the bittersweetness of these four episodes.
Similarly, I enjoyed watching Salim Daw’s performance as Mohamed Al-Fayed. His acting is superb and dynamic. Though we didn’t get nearly as much of Mohamed this season, I never tire of watching Daw play him on screen. I hope we see him again in Part Two.
Here we go. Perhaps the most infamous matter of the newest season so far: the Ghosts of Diana and Dodi.
I don’t understand why people have such an issue with this. It’s not Peter Morgan, The Crown‘s creator, “deviating from reality.” While it may seem strange to have Diana and Dodi posthumously converse with Prince Charles (Dominic West) and Mohamed respectively, it’s completely reasonable and perfectly natural for those grieving to picture having conversations with those they had lost.
Abdalla says it best: “When people die, there is a certain energy of them that remains very close — and there are ways in which they speak. There are things that we always feel that are unspoken, that somehow after death become incredibly resonant and speak in a way, too.”
That’s how I perceived these “ghostly” scenes, too: I saw it as Charles and Mohamed imagining the type of conversations they would have if Diana and Dodi were still alive. Looking at it this way makes me feel slightly better about the dialogue between Diana and Charles, where she says that everyone will be better off without her. I’m not going to lie, I squirmed watching that. I felt uneasy. But after Dodi’s post-mortem conversation with his father, I understood that these scenes were there for Charles and Mohamed to say the things they never got the chance to before. Think what you will about Charles and Mohamed and “the ghosts”, these scenes were painful to watch.
The only ghost scene I have a problem with is the one between Diana and Queen Elizabeth (Imelda Staunton).
I would have found this conversation more endearing had it not been the catalyst for Queen Elizabeth giving her speech after days of silence. The Queen’s staying quiet after Diana’s death was massively controversial. I understand the need to move things along, but I wish we saw the Queen grapple with the event more. Instead, after talking with Ghost Diana, the Queen immediately declares to Prince Philip (Jonathan Pryce) that they will return to London the next day.
Also, they should’ve depicted the timespan better. It took nearly a week for the Queen to give her speech, yet in Aftermath it felt like two days.
What about the rest of the cast?
We didn’t see much of the rest of the Royal Family in this part. Especially Princess Margaret (Lesley Manville), who I miss seeing on my screen. I believe she will play a bigger part in the second half.
In this season, we were introduced to an older Prince William (Rufus Kampa) and Prince Harry (Fflyn Edwards). I adored Edwards’ portrayal of Harry. He’s adorable, and his face when Charles told him the news of Diana broke my heart.
I still can’t see the resemblance between Prince Charles and Dominic West, but West’s acting was striking. His breakdown following Diana’s death was touching.
The second half of The Crown‘s final six will be released on December 14. Click here to find out what’s to come.
Featured Image Credit: What’s On Netflix