Streaming on: Netflix
Episodes viewed: 4 of 4
The Crown's reign is coming to an end, but Queen Elizabeth (Imelda Staunton) is no longer the main draw. All anyone can think of going into the final season is how the death of Princess Diana (Elizabeth Debicki) will be portrayed. But is the blockbuster Netflix series equipped to handle such a delicate event? Series writer and creator Peter Morgan, fully aware of the interest that surrounds this season's biggest talking point, deals with it immediately, beginning the opening episode with Diana's crash happening off screen. The story then flashes back a few months prior, with the events leading up to the catastrophe.
Other royal-family members are side-lined for most of the first three episodes, as Diana's relationship with Dodi Fayed (Khalid Abdalla) takes centre stage. By eschewing various one-off stories in favour of an ongoing slow-burn towards the inevitable, Morgan — who single-handedly wrote all four episodes — builds tension in even the most mundane moments.
And then it happens. Sensibly, the episode in question, titled ‘Aftermath’, doesn't give in to hysterics. Even in their darkest moments, the royals struggle to deal with their emotions, leading to a huge amount of dramatic tension in the later of these four episodes.
That's not to say the show itself is heartless in this regard. This is the most emotional The Crown has ever been, using a mix of tears, real-life footage and ‘ghosts’ to grieve for the Princess all over again. However you feel about these ghosts — which include Dodi as well as Diana — Episode 4 remains an unforgettable hour that elevates the season as a whole. Or the first part of the season, at least. How the final episodes will fare isn't clear yet, but just as Diana's death represented a turning-point for the monarchy, The Crown's depiction of it transforms the series into a more human story, beginning the end of its reign on a sombre yet moving note.