In the first episode of this new season sees Olivia Colman replace Claire Foy as Queen Elizabeth II, Helena Bonham Carter replace Vanessa Kirby as Princess Margaret and Tobias Menzies replace Matt Smith as Philip the Duke of Edinburgh. Showing us the time has jumped to 1964.
We start with the true reflection of aging for Queen Elizabeth II, where she has accepted she is getting older, which changes her image in the public eye. We have a new prime minister in Labour party’s Harold Wilson (Jason Watkins) who has a rumoured past with the Soviet Union.
The Queen is getting ready for a big gallery display, while still finding time to see her rock Sir Winston Churchill (John Lithgow) on his death bed, while Princess Margaret still enjoys the party lifestyle socialising and entertaining people all the time.
Harold Wilson becomes the new Prime Minister and must go through the typical procedure that any Prime Minister throwing out his new ideas, despite the Queen having spent her whole time supporting the opposition, seeing the work thrown away because of the changes Labour want to bring into play.
With the death of Winston Churchill, Queen Elizabeth II must face one of her darkest days, seeing her mentor and strongest support being around no more, all as the man hunt for the KGB agent in England goes across the pond to America, where a man claims to be a sleeper, with information of an agent in the British hierarchy. Outside of the Queen’s problems, Philip finds himself at the wrong end of a blackmail which could see his reputation dragged through the dirty once again.
This episode puts a clear spotlight on aging, it shows of Queen Elizabeth II first came to losing two of her closest members of her inner circle, facing a government leader that wants to see her out of Buckingham Palace, needing to make big decisions which wouldn’t be as morally correct, but would keep the country together in the eyes of the rest of the world. We also see how Queen Elizabeth II must learn to trust people she never thought she would, continuing to learn to evolve like society unlike any royal before her.
The new cast shines, with Olivia Colman taking centre stage looking like she has been performing this role since the start, we don’t get as much time focusing on Tobias Menzies or Helena Bonham Carter yet, while they show glimpses of what we are going to get later and John Lithgow was a welcome appearance as always.