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The Crown Season 6 Part 1: Netflix Review

The Crown returns with season 6 part 1, four episodes of tension-fueled storytelling leading towards the show’s darkest storyline yet.

The death of Princess Diana Spencer was arguably the biggest news story of the ‘90s, and the most important thing that happened to the British Royal Family for decades before it – so naturally, audiences were nervous to see how the beloved Netflix drama The Crown was going to deal with this unavoidable plot point. Ever since the character was introduced in the show’s fourth season, Princess Diana (Elizabeth Debicki) quickly became The Crown’s starring jewel, with her storyline taking up the majority of the runtime. Audiences all knew where her journey would tragically end, but thankfully, Season 6 Part 1 of The Crown does an excellent job of exploring the final months of Diana’s life and expertly setting the stage for the upcoming fallout.

The first episode of The Crown’s Season 6 opens with Princess Diana taking her sons Prince William (Rufus Kampa) and Prince Harry (Fflyn Edwards) on holiday to Saint Tropez with her friend Dodi Fayed (Khalid Abdalla). It’s here where the majority of these four episodes take place, with Diana and Dodi forming a close romantic bond that becomes the focus of her story. Meanwhile, Prince Charles (Dominic West) is forced to deal with an uncontrollable media circus back in England as he attempts to regain the favour of the British public. What’s especially powerful about these few episodes, in contrast to the rest of the show, is how closely they follow an overarching story – each episode of Part 1 is separate, but they feel much more continuous than The Crown’s usual episodic format, and this works wonders for the conclusion of Diana’s story.

It hardly needs saying at this point, but once again, The Crown’s Season 6 Part 1 includes some of the most impeccable acting performances of the year. Debicki continues to explore Diana’s emotional vulnerability in fascinating ways, and Abdalla brings some much-needed complexity and ambiguity to Fayed’s character, but the real surprise is Dominic West, who steals the show with a much more grounded and relatable version of Prince Charles than audiences are used to. He’s given plenty of exciting scenes throughout the four episodes, but Episode 4 (“Aftermath”) sees the character immersed in the spotlight, and it’s here where West undoubtedly proves that he’ll be a worthy protagonist for the show in Debicki’s absence.

loud and clear reviews The Crown Season 6 Part 1 Netflix series 2023
The Crown Season 6 Part 1 (Netflix)

From a narrative perspective, The Crown’s Season 6 Part 1 is already shaping up to be much darker and much more emotional than its predecessors. The show has never been afraid to tackle difficult storylines, with countless marriage breakdowns and political conflicts coming to mind, but these episodes divert the show in a completely new direction. Episodes 1 and 2 serve as a perfect gateway into the season, adopting a familiar format that gets things moving by introducing new characters and relationships. Episode 3 is the season’s most subversive (and best) so far, stripping the show down to its bare bones and transforming into a much more theatrical character piece – and Episode 4 is an emotional rollercoaster that proves just how much fuel is left in The Crown’s engine after five heavy seasons.

There’s a lot of pressure riding on the shoulders of Part 2 of The Crown’s Season 6, and it’s going to need to strike the perfect tonal balance in order to pay off all those emotional moments and dark foreshadowings. Some kind of time jump seems to be in store, with new additions to the cast for older versions of William and Harry, but the show can’t afford to simply gloss over the consequences of these four explosive episodes. In many ways, this really feels like the emotional climax of the entire show, and Part 2 needs to honour that with just as much rich character work and storytelling patience as Part 1.

The Crown Season 6 Part 1 is now available to watch on Netflix. Read our review of The Crown Season 6 Part 2.

The Crown Season 6 Part 2: Netflix Review – Loud & Clear Reviews
Review: Season 6 Part 2 of The Crown draws the curtain on the show’s history while looking to the future in a somewhat misguided ending.
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