The Crown (Netflix Season 4)

4-1/2 Kernels

It took me two days to get through season four of The Crown. The first three episodes gave me an emotional overload, and I had to step away from it for a good four hours before watching more later in the evening. Let me just say that the season was surprisingly different than I anticipated but did bring me to tears on many occasions, especially when it came to Diana. Emma Corrin did a wonderful job in portraying the late Princess, reminding us why she was the people’s Princess despite being unloved by her Prince.

I had thought that season four would contain more of Charles and Diana, but it was interspersed with others such as Margaret Thatcher’s eleven years in office, and continuing struggles of the royal family on many levels with all of the Queen’s children being introduced. If anything is to be taken away from this season is that poor Diana married into Queen’s kingdom of dysfunctional individuals, without a soul really caring for her at all.

You will spend a few good hours watching Gillian Anderson’s brilliant portrayal of the Iron Lady and her political policies that didn’t always sit well with the Queen. Charles Dance will have a short window of opportunity before his ill-fated trip as Lord Mountbatten. Helena Bonham Carter as Princess Margaret will continue to struggle with her physical and mental health in the shadow of her sister. Erin Doherty plays the very monotone and unhappy Princess Anne, only one of four miserable children all bemoaning their existence of being an unhappy royal child. Emerald Fennel plays Camilla, who by the end of the season you want to slap. Josh O’Connor, whose hands are perpetually in his suitcoat pockets, plays the unhappy Prince of Wales. He is both childish and cruel to Diana on so many levels that you pray it really didn’t happen that way. It’s not a pretty picture.

The Queen is the Queen, and Oliva Colman is perfect being the monarch who cannot show emotion. She is unable to return a simple hug to poor Diana so much in need of acceptance and love. In one episode she is concerned about how her children have turned out and their lives as adults. Nevertheless, she continues to demand duty to the crown, especially where whining Charles is concerned about his marriage to Diana.

Prince Philip is well portrayed by Tobias Menzies, who comes across more of a father figure this season. In a family who doesn’t give much attention to Diana, he becomes her approver early on and adviser at the end, clearly making her understand where her place is when it comes to the royal scheme of life – that everyone’s existence revolves around one person – the Queen.

As stated, I wanted more about Charles and Diana, but what is portrayed is so emotional that we’ve been spared additional heartbreak. Supposedly in real life he only saw her thirteen times before they wed. Diana was approved because of her title to be his wife, but he never loved her. He longs for Camilla, married to another man, with an obsession that is unexplainable. You’ll see very little about the birth of William and Harry, although there are a few scenes with the young children with her individually or when Charles and Diana show up as a couple separately to cheer them on, and then leave in separate cars afterwards to go their own ways.

Season four is heartbreaking, astonishing, disturbing, and above all well acted. The ending will leave you feeling like the look on Diana’s face during the last scene – brokenhearted and trapped in a family of dysfunctional royals.

Season five will bring us all new actors as the years go by and the royal family ages. Unfortunately, it’s another year’s wait to watch the family saga continue.

Outlander Season 2, Ep. 205 (Untimely Resurrection)

Well, I remembered to tune in at nine p.m. last night, even though by Friday night at nine I’m feeling like a Zombie from a week’s work.  Nevertheless, for the sake of staying on top of the latest episode my Starz subscription Amazon gives me, I tuned in to watch the continuing Outlander saga.

I must admit that I waffle between bored and interested most of the time.  Frankly, I think because Season 1 (or at least what I watched) kept my interest by the premise of time travel and Claire’s journey back into the past.  However, I’m still struggling to keep my attention during this French portion, except for a few parts that poke at me to concentrate.  Episode 205 and the “Untimely Resurrection” of Jack Randall turned out to be a rather intriguing, if not entertaining, scene.

The earlier part of the episode deals with Mary Hawkins’ aftermath of rape, and Claire’s bid to try and convince the younger Mr. Randall not to marry the disgraced woman.  After all, Claire is now on a bid to make sure that Frank gets born.  It’s quite a conundrum because she loves Jamie, of course, but cannot bring herself to change the future enough to have never loved or married Frank.  What’s a time-traveler to do?

As the episode progresses and Claire and Jamie attend a horse-fair of sorts at Versailles, while Jamie is off checking the teeth of mares and studs, she takes a stroll with Annalise de Marillac.  If you remember, that is the young lady who knew Jamie before Claire.  It’s obvious by her remarks of how much Jamie has changed that she’s not too keen on Claire’s influence in his life.

Then it happens.  Off in the distance, dressed in his British red uniform, comes Black Jack Randall strolling toward her in all his glory.  Naturally, Claire’s jaw sets for the next fifteen minutes in the scene, while Randall enjoys the reunion immensely.  Once again, as much as I hate the freaking sadistic character, Tobias Menzies pulls off an excellent performance.  Unfortunately, Catriona‘s set jaw and words that were spoken through her clenched teeth fall short in comparison.

When the King arrives with his entourage, a rather amusing scene of the French degrading the English occur, while poor Randall endures the humiliation and insults. Better to bend one knee than to lose one’s head.

And then Jamie arrives upon the scene.  Both men place their hands on the hilt of their swords but restrain from carrying out a bloodbath in front of the King and Claire. After the French depart, Jamie challenges Randall to a duel.  Of course, if you didn’t know, dueling was illegal in France at the time.  I know because I researched it for one of my books.  However, duels still occurred in secluded places where one could draw first blood and be declared a winner or one could duel until death. (Extra notes below.)

When Claire learns of it, she becomes unhinged. Jamie cannot kill Randal or Frank won’t live!  Will she convince the young Scot to keep his sword sheathed or will Jamie draw it anyway to get his revenge?  You’ll just have to watch the episode and find out.  If you read the book, I’m assuming you already know.  “You have a choice! Him or me!”

Maybe I should take French lessons.  I might enjoy it better than reading the sub-titles.

The Duel

Of course, there are rules to the game, even if the game was illegal during this period. Nevertheless, duels continued, and not many were prosecuted over the act. If a man wanted to regain his honor from the offender, the first course of action would be the challenge or what is terms as, “throwing down the gauntlet.”

Once accepted, the location and weapons were chosen. Each man brought a representative to witness the act. The challenger set the rules as to location, weapons, and number of steps to pace off. It was his call. I noted, however, in this episode that Randall had the choice.  What I have read, that is not the case unless Starz took some creative liberty.

The type of duel could either be any of the following: (1) to first blood, which meant until one was wounded, (2) until severely wounded and unable to continue, or (3) to the death. Each pistol had one shot, and if there were misses the first round, the guns were reloaded and they would continue until one of the above conditions were fulfilled but usually no more than three reloads.

To learn more, visit Wikipedia.