The Crown Season 5 Review: Standout performances aren't enough to save this wobbly royal ride

The Crown Season 5 promises stellar performances from the lead cast but it's the scattered screenplay that hold it back. Read Pinkvilla's review of the Season 5 below.

Published on Nov 11, 2022   |  08:51 AM IST  |  355.7K
The Crown Season 5
The Crown Season 5 created by Peter Morgan releases on November 9 on Netflix.

The Crown Season 5 

Cast: Imelda Staunton, Elizabeth Debicki, Dominic West, Jonathan Pryce

Language: English

Streaming Platform: Netflix

Rating: 3/5

Synopsis:

The fifth season of The Crown captures the Royal family at its lowest point. The dysfunctional setup that once only seemed fractured internally is now being publicly scrutinised in the 90s because the relevance of monarchy is dwindling. The ageing Queen Elizabeth (Imelda Staunton) is struggling with the idea of becoming obsolete not only for her nation but also for her family. As a parent, the Queen finds herself in a massive predicament as her kids seem to be determined to following their own paths now and they don't require her counsel anymore. In terms of a leader, Britain seems more interested in watching her young and dynamic son, Prince Charles take over and believes that Queen may be suffering from the "Queen Victoria Syndrome."

The fifth season of the show follows Queen's "annus horribilis" (worst year) in her regime as she finds herself in a vulnerable position while watching her house burn down figuratively and literally (Windsor Castle fire). The season also puts into display the circumstances of Prince Charles (Dominic West) and Princess Diana's (Elizabeth Debicki) separation and subsequent divorce while also touching upon other family members' storylines including Prince Philip's (Jonathan Pryce) "companionship" with Penny Knatchbull (Natascha McElhone) and Princess Margaret's (Lesley Manville) reunion with the great love of her life, Peter Townsend (Timothy Dalton).

Plus Points: 

The moments in which the fifth season of The Crown truly stands out is when the show digs deeper into the history. The episode featuring the back story of Mohamed Al  (Salim Daw) and his son Dodi Fayed (Khalid Abdalla) are the moment when you realise the storytelling genius of Peter Morgan. His ideas of connecting the past and present in an effortless manner particularly work well in this season in not only terms of the Al Fayed episode but also the first episode itself as we get to see the launch of Britannia and its present-day situation which beautifully echoes the Queen's life itself. In one of the season's strongest episodes which happens to be the third one titled "Mou Mou", Morgan also explores themes of institutionalized racism, and classism but also infuses the story with a tender retelling of a friendship formed between Mohamed Al-Fayed and his valet Sydney Johnson (Jude Akuwudike), who previously long served as the personal valet to Edward VIII after his abdication. 

Minus Points: 

The Crown Season five becomes a let down possibly most in its dramatic sequences where the show moves towards a more soap-like format. For the longest time, the series became one of Netflix's biggest ones thanks to its ability to create a rich retelling of Queen Elizabeth's story that seemed closer to a documentary-style work than drama and it seems the lines get far too blurred with the new one. The creative liberties taken this season seem to make the show look forced when it comes to creating scandalous situations. The screenplay also seems incohesive and disconnected at several points. 

Opinion: 

The Crown Season 5 comes at a time when both Queen Elizbeth II and Prince Philip aren't among us anymore and with King Charles becoming Britain's new monarch in 2022, to watch Dominic West's Prince of Wales from the 1990s being all desperate for change and trying to put pressure on his mother to abdicate seems like a rather bold creative choice made by the makers. All through Season 5, Charles can be seen discussing the need for a real change in the monarchy and the importance of modernising it. The season remains far too sympathetic toward the Prince of Wales in every aspect, be it when he reveals he feels like an ornament gathering dust as he awaits to be King or when the focus shifts to his failed marriage. Elizabeth Debicki's Princess Diana, on the other hand, gets treated as a vulnerable woman seeking love and happiness whose clouded judgements seemingly failed her more rather than the system of the royal family or her husband's adulterous relationship. 

In terms of performances, while Imelda Staunton impresses as Queen Elizabeth from the get-go, it takes a while to see Jonathan Pryce as Prince Philip given how the actor brings subtleties of the Duke of Edinburgh to his role rather than any major imitation or resemblance. Dominic West despite bearing not much physical resemblance to Charles, manages to capture the royal's style of talking and in scattered moments also nails the voice but it isn't nearly as good as Josh O'Connor. As for Elizabeth Debicki, on whom, a lot of this season rests, she picks Diana's tone of talking and her mannerisms perfectly well but does struggle in the scenes where the Princess of Diana is at her most vulnerable and emotional. The cinematography, the background score and the costume department once again outdo themselves with the new season as they nail every minor detail of the time that the season is set in. 

Highlights:

  • Dominic West's impressive performance as Prince Charles
  • Imelda Staunton's brilliant embodiment of Queen Elizbeth
  •  Production design teams' ability to capture the 90s

Conclusion:

The Crown Season 5 doesn't turn out to be the best one for the series. The work of Peter Morgan and his team on the previous seasons has been beyond impeccable and that level of storytelling is missed this time around. While the performances from the lead cast shine, there's something amiss in the screenplay that doesn't make this season stand out despite all the historical elements it has to offer. 

ALSO READ: The Crown Season 5 cast discuss impact of Queen's death, challenges of playing the Royals and more

About The Author

A writer with 6 years of experience, addicted to coffee, films, and sarcasm. Currently exploring all things Hollywood...

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Top Comments
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Anonymous
Nov 13, 2022
It’s a scandalous season! Loved it!
REPLY
Anonymous
Nov 13, 2022
Boring boring………
REPLY
Anonymous
Nov 13, 2022
Spot on!
REPLY