12.10.2017

Television: The Crown, "Misadventure" and "A Company of Men"

Season (or Series) 2 of The Crown is here! Huzzah! I'm trying not to gorge on it because I want it to last. Thus far I've only watched the first two episodes. I've got a very busy week ahead, so it may be a while before I get around to watching more.

In any case, this season begins with Elizabeth and Philip having a tense conversation about their relationship. Divorce isn't an option, so Elizabeth asks Philip point blank what it will take to make it work.

Rewind five months. It's 1956 and Nassar, President of Egypt, announces that they will take back the Suez Canal. Meanwhile, Elizabeth is sending Philip on a lengthy tour of a number of remote places via the Britannica. Alas, prior to his leaving, she discovers a little photo of a ballerina in one of Philip's bags.

While Philip is out carousing on board, Elizabeth is (a) witnessing the Suez disaster as Prime Minister Eden colludes with Israel over how to handle the situation and (b) feels compelled to go to the ballet for a look at this woman whose picture she found in her husband's bags.

Philip is, perhaps, running with the wrong crowd. His private secretary Mike is a terrible influence, and they are also part of something called the Thursday Club, which encourages bad behavior, namely infidelity. Mike's own wife is seeking ammunition for a divorce and receives just that from a waitress at the club who admits to having slept with Mike. "He never mentioned a wife or family," she says.

Are we supposed to feel sorry for Philip? By the end of it all, he certainly appears to feel guilty (or "homesick" as Mike labels it for him). Too little too late? Well, we know from history how it plays out, but still. I feel no compassion for him at this stage in the story. Yes, even after the terrible interview that dragged up all his old family horrors. Buck up, man. There's no excuse for your behavior.

Now Philip is headed home toward his reckoning. And the Suez is under military fire from Israel. And Prime Minister Eden has been advised by his doctor to go to Jamaica. Wish my doctor would send me somewhere nice . . . Maybe I'd eat better and exercise more elsewhere?

These were two fairly Philip-heavy episodes. That's fine for the moment, but at the same time, we get it. You don't have to draw the picture in such detail. We know what he did (and at least he saved that one dying sailor, so . . .) Broaden the scope a little? I'm finding it difficult to breathe amid the cigar smoke and testosterone.