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TV Recap: ‘The Crown’ Season 6 Part 1 leads to anticipation

Warning: Spoilers Ahead

"The Crown" has created an era in which people have deep-dived into the perceived and assumed lives of the British royal family, allowing people to reanalyze social norms and truths of the periods shown. 

Season 6, Part 1 has given us a look into the lives of Princess Diana, King Charles III, formally known as Prince Charles III and Dodi Fayed. This season has gained criticism on the narratives and assumptions made about important people and situations. 

Honestly, the feedback is deserved. While there are parts of this season that are masterfully done, there are many inaccuracies that butcher important moments in the lives of the people they are portraying. 

The plot is great

The setup for the car accident that claimed the lives of Princess Diana, Dodi Fayed and their driver Henri Paul, and severely injured Dodi's bodyguard, Trevor Rees-Jones, is cinematically wonderful. Introducing us to the accident in the beginning and the choice of seeing the accident from the lens of a bystander establishes your participation in the story as a viewer. 

We start with no deeper connection than being a watcher on the side of the road. However, every episode is used to develop Diana and Dodi as people. Diana has been turned into a martyr against the royal family and Dodi is often treated as an afterthought, a sentiment that Mohamed Al-Fayed, Dodi's father, was shown saying in the show.

We see Dodi as more than just Diana's lover. He was given a personality, traumas and complexity, something that has rarely been done in the public eye of the Western world. 

Seeing the development of their relationship gave weight to the seriousness of their feelings and what they meant to each other, even while being portrayed as companions more so than serious lovers. 

Diana was also given light as a mother. Seeing the lengths she went to to protect the peace of William and Harry was wonderful, especially as many depictions of Diana show her as this helpless, exposed, feeble person. 

She was strong, especially for her children, and willing to sacrifice even herself to make sure they had a sense of normalcy. She looked her fears in the face and still paved a life for herself. Her kindness turned into her life work, and she was loved for it. 

The acting deserves an Academy award

Episode Four, "Aftermath," is one of the best-acted episodes in the whole series. 

Dominic West and Salim Dau, who play Prince Charles III and Mohamed Al-Fayed respectively, acted phenomenally when portraying grief after the deaths of Diana and Dodi. West expresses so much grief in the scene where he views Diana's body that it is truly reminiscent of a widower seeing the body of their partner. 

It also expresses the complexity of Diana and Charles's relationship: even when they split, their agreement to be partners as co-parents meant something to Charles. Even with the grief expressed in Prince Charles's last conversation with Diana's spirit, you can truly see and feel the regrets he will carry for the rest of his life.

Dau's performance as a grieving father was impeccable. His final interactions with Dodi's body at the morgue were heartbreaking to watch. You see a parent losing their baby, and feel the pain of it still being their baby even as an adult. His composed grief at Dodi's funeral and needing help to walk to the burial site are exceptional.

Stellar performances came with Al-Fayed's revelation when talking to Dodi's spirit, the pressure he put on his son and how it affected him. It also is seen in his desperation for Dodi to stay when his spirit leaves. His character is not the same after the death of Dodi. Dau portrays a look of emptiness and constant grief that stays on Al-Fayed. It was beautifully performed.

While the season has great performances, it lacks historical accuracy 

This season has received a lot of criticism due to the historical inaccuracies and misinterpretations of events and personal relationships. 

Many are furious over the portrayal of Mohamed Al-Fayed as a villainous mastermind who forced his son to pursue Diana and virtually forced the creation of their relationship.  

Royal expert, author of "Our King: The Man and the Monarch Revealed" and a former friend of Mohamed Al-Fayed, Robert Jobson, told Newsweek, "To be honest, I think it's disrespectful and it's easy to attack the dead."

Jobson also expressed the falsity in the claim that Al-Fayed wanted British citizenship.

"“He told me he'd never get that, and he knew that as well," he said in the same article. "He wanted his son to be happy. He loved his son. He adored his family."

Al-Fayed was also never confirmed to be the one to hire or call the photographer who took a picture of Dodi and Diana kissing. 

Charles Rae, a former royal correspondent for The Sun, told Newsweek, "Well, I don't know if it was Mohamed who called the photographer but I do know who the photographer was and I know he was called."

There is no proof that Al-Fayed called for the picture or that he plotted to get Diana and Dodi together. Diana and Dodi weren't engaged, and Dodi never got the chance to propose. 

ring sporting the engravement "Dis-moi Oui" ("Tell-me Yes") was found in Dodi's apartment after the couple's death. A receipt that entails the purchase of an engagement ring for the day before the accident was also found. 

Despite outside assessment of their relationship status, they were indeed not engaged. However, Diana and Dodi seemed very much in love despite their depiction as a mere love affair.  

BBC correspondent and one-time spokesperson for Mohamed Al-Fayed Michael Cole told the New York Post that the show was "a travesty of the truth."

 Cole also detailed Al-Fayed's lawsuit against the agent who sold the kissing photograph due to how badly he felt about the backlash of the photo. 

Another assumption the series takes is Prince William's dislike for Dodi Fayed. 

An article by Town & Country tackles the question of what Harry and William thought of Dodi Fayed. It is expressed that the public has never heard either prince say their opinions on any of their mother's public relationships. 

Even in recent years with Prince Harry's novel, "Spare," the closest thing about Diana and Dodi's relationship was Dodi's "eyes plumping into red hearts" when he saw Diana, only alluding to his and William's feelings about the relationship saying:

"He was cheeky, no doubt. But, again, nice enough. He gave Mummy a present. Diamond bracelet. She seemed to like it. She wore it a lot. Then he faded from my consciousness. 'As long as Mummy's happy', I told Willy, who said he felt the same."

Overall, the season was enjoyable

While many leniencies were taken this season, it was enjoyable to watch. There are many positives and negatives to the storytelling of the season. While the season focuses on Diana and Dodi, it was enjoyable to see the plot for the next part unfold. 

It is worth watching because viewers get to learn more about the Fayed family. Dodi is not here to represent himself, and Mohamed is not here to defend himself. However, their love for each other was honored in their depictions. 

The stories of Arab people need to be told in history. The Western world has seen more of Dodi Fayed's story in these four episodes than in much else produced about the accident in the decades since his death. The depiction of these events allows audience members to truly connect with the characters. 

Rating: 3.5/5


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