Ensemble casts can be tricky. Tricky because more often than not a character or two get left behind and can’t seem to get their due in a season. Often, that is acceptable but to me, The Crown failed its main character with the fourth season. Over three seasons, the show has evolved a lot, going from a singular point of view with Claire Foy’s Queen Elizabeth II in the first season to a full-fleshed out assemble cast by the third season with Olivia Coleman’s version of Queen Elizabeth II. But that was never a problem because no matter what happened, the story always related back to Her Majesty and her crown. This is why going into the fourth season of The Crown I was excited. Finally, the show was going to introduce Princesse Diana and Margaret Thatcher and probably continue with the storylines established for every character in the previous seasons. The problem? Is that along the way the show lost itself and failed Olivia Coleman and The Queen. For the first time, she felt like nothing more than a side character and in a show about The Crown and Her Majesty, she should never be a side character, she should always be at the center of everything.
The thing is, the fourth season of The Crown is good, excellent even. But it does such a disservice to The Queen and Olivia Coleman that it is so hard to enjoy it after finishing it. Once I realized when it ended that not only would I never see Olivia Coleman again in this role but that she somehow didn’t get a lot to do this season, disappointment began to creep up. Disappointment because even in the episodes that you can say focused on The Queen, she still wasn’t the main focus. To me, this season really became the Princesse Diana show. And I’m not saying that this is a bad thing, it’s about time that Princesse Diana gets her justice and her side of the story told but the show shouldn’t just be about her, I felt like almost all of the season revolved around her and her tumultuous marriage to Prince Charles. Princesse Diana and Prince Charles were always going to become an integral part of the show and we already started seeing Charles role grow in the third season but the problem is that now, they became the center of it all. Maybe you can argue that nothing really happened with The Queen during the years covered but an assassination attempt happened during the time covered in the fourth season and yet not a word was said about it. It’s a shame because the show continues to operate at such a high level and continues to be one of the best shows on television.
My disappointment in this season doesn’t mean that it isn’t good. The opposite really, maybe it is why it is such a disappointment that Olivia Coleman doesn’t get her due in her last season. Because The Crown is good, excellent, it’s everything it needs to be really. Emma Corrin and Gillian Anderson are both impressive in their debut as Princesse Diana and Margaret Thatcher respectively. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see both be frontrunners come Emmy season this year, with Anderson being a clear favourite to win in a role that is so far from what we have ever seen from her and yet she became the former Prime Minister. Josh O’Connor and Helena Boham Carter continue to bring Prince Charles and Princesse Margaret to another level and just like Corrin and Anderson, I would not be surprised to see them make a run during Award season. The Crown has never disappointed with their acting and this season proves how the show benefits from having strong actors and how without their top performances it wouldn’t be what it is.
The Crown only has two more seasons to go, now with a new cast coming to the table just like this cast did at the beginning of the third season. At the end of the second season, Claire Foy got a proper sendoff with an image that still stays in my head and a speech giving by Matt Smith’s Prince Philip. I was expecting something similar for Olivia Coleman and in a way she does get a standoff but not in a way I would of hoped for. Just like the season, she once again falls in the background and isn’t the main focus of her last episode, the show keeps repeating to us that The Crown and The Queen are the most important family member of the show and yet, doesn’t seem to know it themselves, giving the focus to everyone else but her.
Am I disappointed at how this season, in my opinion, failed it’s Queen? Yes, but that doesn’t take away from everything this show has done. I wish that Olivia Coleman could have gotten another turn so she could get another episode like Aberfan in the third season. But there’s nothing I can do about it. Maybe it’s because the third season, to me, had no low point and was the strongest the show had ever been and season four just couldn’t keep up with it but I wish I had found it better. The show continues to strive for greatness and it achieves it multiple time but while I enjoy the Royal Family and its member, The Crown is really one person and yet the show seems to have forgotten that and that is such a shame because maybe then season four would have been the perfect sendoff.