‘The Crown’ Season 6 Part 2 Review: Netflix Drama Splutters to the Finish Line With an Exhausting Whimper

The Diana years started off with sly ambition but the series falters through the ‘90s to a disappointing conclusion


And so, the story finally comes to an end. “The Crown” splutters to the finish line and concludes not with a bang but an exhausted whimper. One of the jewels in Netflix’s ever-inflating roster of original series has seen its fair share of acclaim, controversy and speculation. The 21st century is just around the corner for the Windsors, and history has never been more recent for Peter Morgan’s drama. It seems that, the closer the show gets to the modern day, the more the writers struggle to (lightly) fictionalize events and figures who are extremely familiar to their target audience. The Diana years started off with sly ambition but the ‘90s have seen “The Crown” falter, and the end result is a conclusion that feels more like a work of obligation than passion.

After Diana’s death (chronicled in Part 1 of Season 6, released last month), the royal family finds itself entering the millennium with the new generation coming to the forefront. A still-grieving Prince William (Ed McVey) struggles to return to normalcy as he enters adulthood and a new era of promised independence. In a family devoted to tradition, the birth of Will-mania is a shock to the system for everyone, most of all William himself. The dawn of the 21st century means the molding of a new future heir, and with it comes a hunger for a new princess. Enter Kate Middleton (Meg Bellamy), a nice middle-class girl attending St. Andrew’s University.

So much of these final episodes, set for release Thursday, cover events that many of us saw happen in real time. It involves people who are never out of the headlines and who inspire intense devotion or revulsion, depending on your politics and newspaper of choice. Morgan’s gaze always worked best when given some distance from the modern day, or at least through a narrower scope that forces him to get specific with his ideas. As evidenced in the show’s early and still best seasons, Morgan had room to emotionally expand upon well-known figures because they, despite their stratospheric fame, were closed books to the majority of the world. Trying to bring soapy life to the likes of Charles and Diana hindered Morgan because of this, but also due to his steadfast refusal to truly rock the boat.

Lo and behold, this dual problem means that the final episodes of “The Crown” are pretty bland.


Much of the season feels repetitious, with Morgan and company uncomfortable with deviating even an inch from the status quo or well-documented truths. This doesn’t bode well for the elder generation who previously dominated the series. It’s hardly shocking that the Queen (Imelda Staunton), Prince Philip (Jonathan Pryce), and Princess Margaret (Leslie Manville) were sent to the sidelines. That’s how the monarchy works. Still, it’s a shame to see this trio of beloved British actors, who can typically spin gold from straw, have little to do but sit in the background and spout expository dialogue. The cycle has become well-worn now: the royals are struggling to keep up with changing tides, the public’s opinions of them evolve, and we hear about the difficulties of balancing duty with desire. Every new Prime Minister brings with it this pattern, from Churchill to Thatcher to Tony Blair (Bertie Carvel, not quite a patch on Michael Sheen in Morgan’s “The Queen.”) At one point, worried by Blair’s popularity, the Queen is chastised by her own mother for not seeing the ways that this cycle unfolds with every new leader. One wonders how aware of their own predicament the writers were when penning that line.

This doesn’t change much with William, who is given far more focus than Harry, positioned here as the party prince and not much else. Like Diana, he’s obsessed over by the public, but unlike his late mother, a lot of the attention is feverishly sexual. Teenage girls scream at him and fling roses his way as though he’s the member of a boy band. Scenes of adoring fans eager to get to Will echo the press attention that besieged Diana, but now the weight of grief hangs over his head, an awareness of what such demands from the public did to his mother.

It’s all very straightforward in style and dialogue, perfunctory with the occasional good quip thrown in, although this is not a show especially concerned with telling jokes. When it tries to be actively funny, or at least experiment beyond its narrow confines, it falls flat, such as a dream sequence where the Queen fears the monarchy being overthrown and replaced by the Blairs (complete with a boys’ choir cover of “Things Can Only Get Better.”)

The Crown Season 6

The Will and Kate years will undoubtedly soak up the most headlines, with the usual suspects looking for things to be outraged over. They’ll have to give that up pretty quickly because it makes for the dullest parts of an already dragged-out season. The writers have stripped away any semblance of personality or motivation from both of them, with Kate’s mother being positioned as the social-climbing matchmaker who forced her passive daughter into dating a prince. There’s playing it safe and then there’s just giving up, and it’s tough to avoid the sense that Morgan is doing the latter. Well, that or he’s worried about putting a future knighthood at risk.

For all the panicky headlines from British royalists over the series tainting the “good” name of the Windsors, “The Crown” has always been immensely sympathetic towards the royals, often to a fault. Morgan hasn’t done much to rock the boat or really delve into the darker aspects of a monarchy frequently mired in scandal. He also never wanted to speculate or fantasize, even when the plot desperately called for it, and that worked in the early seasons thanks to distance from time that gave the story some mystique. Now, what we have is a series too timid to be anything other than a glossy Wikipedia article.

While the closing moments may inspire a few tears from devoted viewers, the overall experience of watching the final season of “The Crown” is one of tedium. In January 2020, Morgan announced that the series would end with the fifth season, but that changed a few months later to expand to a sixth, purportedly because they needed time to “do justice to the richness and complexity of the story.”

But that didn’t happen here. These final episodes truly feel like Morgan and company wanted to tie things up as quickly as possible. They didn’t feel like the product of invested storytelling, but rather homework produced by bored students. It’s an inglorious ending to a series that had previously proven so captivating.

In playing it safe, “The Crown” rendered itself unnecessary.

“The Crown” Season 6 Part 2 is available to stream on Netflix.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.