Episode 6 of The Crown season 5 is arguably the darkest one we’ve seen so far, with its storyline focusing ON the slaughter of Russia’s Tsar Nicholas as well as his household. It also raises the possibility of a prequel to The Crown that focuses on Elizabeth’s ancestors in the 20th century.
In the midst of both the Bolshevik Revolution as well as World War I, the tale begins in 1917. Following the recent overthrow of Tsar Nicholas of Russia, the British Prime Minister, David Lloyd George, asked King George V for permission to dispatch a ship towards Russia to rescue the Russian members of the royal family in order to assure their protection during the turmoil of the uprising.
In the midst of the socialist uprising that drove Vladimir Lenin to authority, that plea included bringing Nicholas, his spouse Alexandra, their five kids, and a number of their workers back to England, who had been compelled to reside under house confinement.
While the heir to the throne Edward VIII watches, George ponders over the proposal and leaves it up to his beloved wife, who seems to be Tsarina Alexandra’s closest cousin.
The show switches to Ipatiev House, in which the Tsar and his kin were held captive. The clan was detained there under extreme scrutiny with closed up windows, fed inadequate meals, forbade to converse with outsiders, and confined in the house for 23 hours a day, despite the show portraying it as a simple but nevertheless well-apportioned residence.
The household had been held captive in multiple locations since 1917, although in 1918, after appealing to the king for assistance, they were summoned in the late hours of the night and offered a brief sense of hope when they were notified they were being relocated to a secure place. They believed George had finally sent a ship to save them at this point.
A little while later, under the guise of being photographed, the family is taken into a room where they are brutally shot at by Russian soldiers, who would then stab any survivors. Rather than being buried, their bodies are placed into a truck, ungraciously thrown in unmarked graves, and then drenched in acid before setting the corpses on fire.
In the year 1994, John Major visits the queen. He has arrived back from Russia where he got in touch with a heavily intoxicated Boris Yeltsin. Yeltsin, an admirer of England, has urged Major to let the queen know that he’d like to visit her. Since we already understand, the monarch is thrilled with the idea of unifying Russia and England as this season’s central focus is the head of state being a remnant of a different timeline.
Before the Cold War, there used to be a close bond between the two nations, and now that Yeltsin has been elected president as the nation’s first democratically elected leader, she believes it is time to mend fences.
Initially, they get along well, however, when Yeltsin invites the queen to come to Russia, she mentions the uncomfortable fact that in the 1970’s, Yeltsin personally issued the command to wreck Ipatiev House, which was extremely disrespectful towards the queen’s ancestors given that she is descended from the Tsar. Yeltsin apologizes but promises to try his best to create a fitting memorial to preserve the Tsar’s family legacy.
However shortly after Yeltsin’s arrival, he fulfils his commitment to give the Russian royals a befitting funeral, an excavation of the unmarked graves, and DNA testing of the remains to identify them from getting underway. The queen informs Prince Philip of this cutting-edge DNA research. These weeks, Philip is a bitter man who doesn’t hesitate to express his contempt for his spouse, the queen, in any way.
If Philip’s spouse was a little more well-read and inquisitive like his close friend Penny is, he believes she would be less fascinated by things like DNA. In this episode, Prince Philip’s bleak displeasure and dissatisfaction are an irritant, instead of simply nodding “Okay!” when the monarch informs Philip how his DNA can aid determine some of the corpses due to his own heritage. He further inquires as to what sort of specimen they’ll want from him. “Can you be more specific? Hair? Blood? Saliva? Did you enquire? The fact that her majesty isn’t aware and didn’t ask when she was told frustrates Philip.
Penny is virtually bowing at Philip’s feet once he tells her more about the DNA situation, informing him she believes that he single-handedly made it possible to find out information regarding the Romanovs who were buried. Penny actually goes to the extent of implying that perhaps DNA research will throw light on whether or not our lives are entirely predestined. Philip is captivated by her knowledge on the matter and he cherishes this thought-provoking conversation.
The queen follows through on her word to Yeltsin and both she and Philip head to Russia for much of what she believes will be a tour that’ll enable her to patch things up with her husband once the corpses are discovered and a dignified funeral for the Romanovs can be taken into consideration. It has the reverse effect. He claims that he was required to give up a significant portion of his selfhood after marrying her and their conversation ends up escalating into an unpleasant argument.
Philip reveals to Elizabeth that he has been seeking company with his intellectual equal, his friend Penny. Then he suggests that by spending time with Penny, the monarch might discover the real reason why the Romanovs died.
Penny visits her majesty at Windsor Castle and presents her hypothesis that the reason Queen Mary forbade the Tsar as well as his family from entering the nation was because Mary was envious of Alexandra’s attractiveness and the two women had a lifelong feud.
Thereafter, Elizabeth informs Penny that whilst the czarina, Alexandra Romanov, remained pro-German during England’s battle with them, protecting them would’ve been problematic and conflicting, potentially causing an upheaval.
In some ways, Elizabeth justifies her ancestor’s deeds. She claims that although Queen Mary might have made the final decision, she was saddened when she learned of the mass killings. As a queen, she had no choice but to conceal and suppress those feelings.
Since Elizabeth has pushed quite hard to have her reputation tainted by Philip’s late-life issue, the monarch is aware that controversy will inevitably ensue if the media tries to label Philip a cheater. So, suppressing her jealousy towards Penny, Elizabeth extends an invitation to the latter to spend Christmas with the clan at the church.
The Episode Review
The similarities between Queen Mary, who was forced to make a hard choice regarding how to safeguard the Monarchy throughout 1917, and Elizabeth, who has been battling to protect the monarchy’s reputation in 1994, showcases how the spouses of both women have positioned them in vulnerable situations where they must use their diplomatic abilities to maintain their good reputations.
By connecting two storylines, the show plays with symbolism yet again. For several years, England and Russia were in strife, but through this episode, Elizabeth attempts to bring peace between the two countries. Elizabeth and Philip are having marital problems since they have various interests and do not share a similar pastime or interest.
During his regular meeting, the Prime Minister teaches the Queen a vital lesson. He discusses Fyodor Dostoevsky’s wife Anna Dostoevsky’s story of how she has nothing in common with her husband and how they still have a successful relationship. Despite this, the two don’t force their interests on one another and coexist by doing their own thing.
A similar parallel is used to describe the relationship between Russia and England, as well as Queen Elizabeth and Philip. Russia and England have opposing political views, but if they don’t impose their differences on one other, they can maintain a good friendship. Similarly, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip have little in common, yet they can have a wonderful relationship if they do their own thing and don’t press their interests on each other.