Review by Dan Skip Allen
The Crown has always been one of my favorite Netflix shows ever since it premiered in 2016. I had always been fascinated by the Royals, but this show let me and millions of others into the inner circle of the royals like never before. Sure, Peter Morgan took some liberties with the narrative and the truth of what happened, but that is what we like about the show. It's not the definitive story of these people's lives. Season 6 is a hard one to digest because the true events were only about twenty years ago. Fans of the show will eat it up anyway. I loved it, like I did with previous seasons of the show.
Season 5 of The Crown left fans of the show with Diana Spencer (Elizabeth Debicki) and Prince Charles (Dominic West) getting divorced and going their separate ways. Season 6 Part 1 starts with the framing device of a car racing down a Paris street, with a pack of men on motorcycles following it very speedily. It then flashes back to eight months before this moment in time, where Diana is with her boys and others swimming in a lake. This starts the relationship with Dodi Fayed (Khalid Abdalla), the son of a Middle Eastern billionaire, Mohamed al-Fayed (Salim Daw).
The Crown Season 6 is split into two parts. The first four episodes of Season 6 focus mainly on the burgeoning relationship between Diana and Dodi. There are two seemingly outcasts in their respective circles. They start to become acquainted because of their outcast status. They find they are kindred spirits, and unbeknownst to them, they were photographed on Fayed's father's yacht. This started the news cycles swirling as a bidding war for the photos to get underway. Paparazzi is nothing new to Diana, though. As a member of the Royal Family, she dealt with this frequently. Now, she doesn't have the protection of the Royal Family's security force. The paparazzi would be her undoing, as the world already knows. They didn't stop her from having a fun summer in the Caribbean with Fayed, though.
Peter Morgan, the creator of The Crown and its head writer, along with the directors Alex Gabassi and Christian Schwochow, decided to do something a little different with the narrative in episode four of Season 6. They made a distinct effort to try a different narrative approach that serves the audience watching at home on Netflix. I feel this choice was well warranted. Morgan and company put the dialogue of various characters into first-person style. How they were thinking and feeling was a key to these scenes in the series. The viewers needed to see this aspect of the story. Everybody knows how this story ends, but it's the narrative decisions Morgan uses that make for interesting television for fans of the show.
The Crown has always had great technical aspects, and this season is no different. There is a dichotomy of two of the main three characters in the Caribbean, where they are on the water with sunny backdrops with beautiful vistas surrounding them. Then there is the rainy, cold, and damp of Scotland, where the third main character lives in his castle. When members of the Royal Family venture outside, there are beautiful green hills with a stream flowing at the bottom between them, or wooded areas where characters go for walks and get air from stressful moments in their lives. The two locations are fascinating because of the characters and the situation they are in. The emotions of the characters also have an interesting juxtaposition regarding the location they are in as well. Morgan did a nice job with this plot point.
One episode in particular shows the true nature of what all these people were dealing with, and that's where two photographers were being interviewed in a documentary style. They feature heavily in episode two. The paparazzi and the local photographer, who does their job in different ways. One is looking for the next payday, and the other is looking to show the Royal Family respectfully. Each has their own way of going about their jobs, but have different motivations entirely. Thus, the episode truly showed what the Royals were dealing with 24/7, 365 days a year. And Diana, more than all the rest, felt it once she divorced Charles. She was fair game after that, as far as the paparazzi were concerned.
The Crown Season 6 Part 1 is dubbed at the beginning of the end of this great show. We all know the story of Diana and what happened to her on that Paris road twenty years ago. It's just how all this transpired, and what led to that fateful car ride that is what's most interesting. The little details and why she was there that fretful day are what makes Season 6 Part 1 so good. All the little minutiae that goes along with them is why this show works. Morgan knows how to infuse the little things into each episode and season. This season will go down as one of the best, and surely will gather awards consideration next summer at the 2024 Emmy Awards and maybe the Golden Globes in January. Debicki is surely going to blow people's minds with her performance. She once again gives a tour de force performance as this world famous woman, Diana Spencer.
The Crown is now streaming on Netflix, with the second part streaming December 16. Four out of ten episodes reviewed.