The Crown: Moondust
November 26, 2019 5:44 AM - Season 3, Episode 7 - Subscribe

The 1969 moon landing occasions a mid-life crisis in Prince Philip, who thinks of the adventures he has missed as the Queen's consort.
posted by Cash4Lead (17 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
This was not a favorite episode of mine. Between Prince Philip's endless navelgazing and entitled behavior it just made for hard watching at times.
posted by peacheater at 6:53 PM on November 26, 2019 [5 favorites]

I didn't much care for the first 40 or 45 minutes, but I loved the scene with Philip and the astronauts. You could just feel the air coming out of Philip's little fantasies about them during that scene. He thought they were going to be these Rudyard-Kipling-esque figures of derring-do, and they wound up being these kinda dull, square engineer types with colds.

The scene really underscored the idea that, while Philip seems to believe that he hasn't led the life he wanted to lead because he's married to the Queen - and he's not totally wrong about that - the deeper reason is that that life no longer exists. The Empire is gone, pretty much every inch of the globe has been surveyed. The world has no more need for Rudyard-Kipling-esque figures of derring-do in 1969, if it ever did. Were it not for Elizabeth, Philip wouldn't be an adventurer. He'd be sitting around in some men's club somewhere, waxing nostalgic about his days in the Navy (he seems to do this sometimes, anyway). He was born a generation, maybe two generations, too late to be the sort of man he sees himself as being.

I also liked the very last scene. Yeah it was entitled, but it was relatable. You don't need to be particularly privileged (or male) to to be able to relate to that feeling of "is this all there is?"
posted by breakin' the law at 7:54 PM on November 26, 2019 [14 favorites]

In my rewatch of season one I see how this episode works as a nice parallel to the one where he's learning to fly. There's a little speech that Group Captain Peter Townsend says to Philip about the moment when you're flying above the cloud cover and it's like touching God.
posted by acidnova at 8:46 PM on November 26, 2019 [2 favorites]

Newsreel footage of Prince Philip meeting the astronauts in Houston, 1966 - so he clearly did have a pretty close interest. Here is the footage from the astronaut's 1969 visit to London.

I don't believe The Crown has made any reference to the Duke of Edinburgh Awards . My guess is that the idea for them grew from Philip's experiences while at Gordonstoun and later, in the military. At any rate, they have been going since 1958 and have affected the lives of millions of young people in dozens of countries. That is quite a legacy to overlook in an episode that deals with issues such as perceived loss of purpose and mid life crisis.
posted by rongorongo at 4:57 AM on November 28, 2019 [2 favorites]

I felt Philip was being unfair to the astronauts. First of all, of course they're just people, just as HE'S just a person. But also, he was expecting instant intimacy. Why would you bust out your intimate thoughts on the place of God and Man in the universe during a rushed 15 minute meeting with your coworkers in front of a stranger who not only has a position of authority, but an unnervingly unknowable relationship with the media and who knows whom else.

Why did Philip assume he would be entitled to such intimacy? That's something you MIGHT get to in hour 3 of a private evening of drinking, and an English noble should know that more than anyone, I would think.

I sort of skimmed through this whole season- I'm finding the Queen, Philip, Margaret, and her husband all very unlikeable and it feels a little as though the series has turned on them all of a sudden. Charles is showing promise but so far its only insofar as we feel bad for him. That doesn't mean he won't turn out to be a less entitled goober than Philip, but so far, so good.

As we reach my living memory (late 70s on) the show is losing its nostalgia appeal, too. I'm dreading the Princess Di portion but perhaps they'll find a way to make it all less sordid that it came across in the papers.
posted by small_ruminant at 3:18 PM on November 29, 2019 [6 favorites]

Pedantic Corner: The lunar descent, filmed from the LM and looking down to the lunar surface, was shot on film. It wasn’t broadcast on TV. They had to wait until they got back before anyone could watch it. The TV broadcast graphics were produced by the networks and were much jankier.

Note: my iPhone autocorrected “jankier” to “manlier”
posted by Huffy Puffy at 5:52 PM on December 2, 2019 [3 favorites]

That was the most boring hour of TV I’ve e we half-watched. Men should be kept out of writing rooms — they clearly have no sense of proportion.
posted by dame at 12:48 PM on December 4, 2019 [7 favorites]

This is very superficial, but I could NOT get past the terrible accents on Aldrin/Armstrong/Collins. Especially for a show that is so careful about the fancy posh royals accent. Either they blew the entire "hiring Americans" budget on John Lithgow as Churchill, or this is payback for Dick van Dyke in Mary Poppins.
posted by basalganglia at 5:46 PM on December 4, 2019 [4 favorites]

hey writers anytime y'all want to stop focusing this show about THE QUEEN on all the men and their manly pontifications and manly gazings off into the distance et cetera would be JUST GREAT thanks
posted by MiraK at 12:23 PM on December 6, 2019 [8 favorites]

I actually like the fact that they are all becoming unlikeable. I would have hated a show that made these people more palatable to an audience than they are in real life. Biography, however fictionalized and dramatized, should ideally not be hagiography.
posted by MiraK at 12:27 PM on December 6, 2019

also, he was expecting instant intimacy.

But this is actually kind of referencing that thing that breakin' the law alluded to upstream, and also a thing that kind of echoes through The Crown, intentional or otherwise. That the lives of people circumscribed by strict class-stratified society were only bearable for the participants in it because they involved these sorts of outlets - going to war! Going adventuring! Going flying! And that these intensely lonely, isolated, abandoned people might feel empty, but they would have the Great Brotherhood of Adventurers And Warriors.

But the kind of war that Phillip experienced is not the kind of war that existed then, and the adventures of yore were not the adventures then. The painful part of that scene is not that Phillip wrongly assumed the possibility of intimacy and wasn't granted it - it's that he is granted their intimacy, only to find that their hijinks and hilarity and the things they bond over have passed so far from the derring-do era that he can't even recognize them as being admitted into the brotherhood. That bit about the water cooler is absolutely military-bonding-humor, and the way they're so excited to tell it shows that they are trying to recognize him, to admit him into the fraternity, because they find it so funny and such an example of the absurdity of it all. But they don't think of themselves as Big Adventurers, because the NASA program specifically selected against Big Adventurers, because - as Elizabeth tried ever so gently to note, Big Adventurers take risks, and there cannot be the same sort of risks when so much is riding on things, not now, not any longer.

I also think part of what was the point of this episode was showing how the younger royals got more affection and attention - the kids bouncing down, being woken up in the middle of the night, being zoomed around the room by Phillip - it's all in contrast to how Charles is being raised, and I think it's focused specifically to make him more sympathetic. This is my own #crowntruther moment: I'm convinced now that this show is designed to portray the royal family as things and people and personalities that gave way to Charles, The Good One. I'm betting also that his romance with Camilla is going to be /super/ sympathetically handled and that they are going to be less soft on Diana when she comes too.
posted by corb at 5:37 PM on December 8, 2019 [12 favorites]

Corb- you're probably right about the Big Adventurers. He would have liked Richard Branson or someone bigger-than-life like that, but he wouldn't be admitted to that particular brotherhood anyway, because he is a boring person.
posted by small_ruminant at 1:26 PM on December 10, 2019

corb, that may be so but it's so subtle most viewers won't pick up on it. Instead it will be Americans acting like schoolboys at their first formal dance. ("We heard you had a thousand rooms... Is it true that you have a bagpiper for an alarm clock?"). Others have mentioned a similar bent in previous episodes but this time, it bugged me. Aldrin and Armstrong both had engineering degrees (so yes, for calm and controlled) but they had also been combat pilots during the Korean War. Armstrong and Colllins had been test pilots before joining NASA. I doubt they would've acted like giddy kids in service of Philip's midlife crisis except that's how they were written. A dull episode and as other's have noted, it could have featured a lot more Anne.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 3:53 PM on December 22, 2019 [4 favorites]

it's all in contrast to how Charles is being raised,

I recently rewatched the first episode, when Charles and Anne were born/toddlers, and there are a lot of affectionate family moments. Playing hopscotch with the kids, teaching the kids to ride a trike, home videos hugging the kids, picking the kids up and waltzing them around the room when Charles "presents" Philip with a promotion to being Lieutenant Commander. The only time Philip tells Charles he's too busy to play is when Philip and Elizabeth are in the middle of discussing whether to accept the King's offer of doing the Commonwealth tour -- and even then, Philip's main objection is that they'll be away from the kids for a long time.

It was really weird seeing Philip being so loving with his kids. Maybe it's a young child vs Gordonstoun-aged child thing -- I know men who were raised in a boarding school environment and they are wonderful with babies/young children and sort of awkward/stiff with kids from 6 to about 16, never having had that modeled for themselves.

Charles probably does get an extra dose of "Man up, you're going to be the king one day" but I wouldn't be surprised to see if Andrew and Edward get that same treatment whenever they show up again in the series.
posted by basalganglia at 5:14 AM on December 23, 2019


"I'm finding the Queen, Philip, Margaret, and her husband all very unlikeable and it feels a little as though the series has turned on them all of a sudden. "

Yeah, that. I had sympathy for Elizabeth as played by Claire Foy. This version is unpleasant. Philip is less obnoxious AF but still not all that great. I had sympathy for Charles last episode but we know that's not gonna last.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:20 PM on June 19, 2021

This was one of my favorite episodes. Slow pacing, yes, but I thought Philip did an amazing job with his facial expressions and I felt like I was living his disillusionment as it unfolded and he became aware of what was really going on. I’m 52, so maybe that’s part of it. That’s about when a lot of people hit the wall and realize they are never going to do or be the things they dreamed. I actually teared up as the astronauts were landing.
posted by freecellwizard at 5:09 AM on October 6, 2021 [1 favorite]

I rather liked this episode. I get what people are saying about Philip and his tiresome narcissism, but at the same time I felt the script touched on some very essential truths about the human experience: that we idealize what we don't have; that every life/accomplishment is banal close up; that it's often those whom we overlook who can teach us the most.
posted by orange swan at 8:59 PM on May 2, 2023

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