We gave it an A-
Back with Charles: He runs the same mucky cold course his father once did, but it seems to be going less well for him. Uncle Dickie has come to visit! Hooray! Dickie sees (and hears) how rough things are going at this school and tells Charles he can confide in him. Of course, this information goes right back to Elizabeth, who has made a decision: She’s pulling Charles out of there. She says that he’s the future king of the country and Philip just about loses it. He basically threatens the state of their whole marriage if she proceeds: “Honor your word and keep your husband.” Yeow.
Hahn comes to visit Charles and to talk about this big upcoming tournament. Turns out, Philip will be the one handing out the trophy this year, which is just the kind of extra pressure every super sensitive kiddo needs. Hahn gently tells Charles that perhaps the young prince should not compete, it is a very tough competition. But Charles, with a soul-weary sigh, says that he thinks his father wants him to do it.
Flash back to broody teenage Philip. He and the boy who punched him have extra wall-building time, and on the phone to his beloved sister he tells her he won’t be able to come home. She tells him that she agrees with the school and will instead be flying to London for a wedding. DUN DUN DUN.
And man, this plane crash story is so brutal I really don’t want to recap it. Let’s just say it’s awful, with an extra special layer of horror in that Cecile gives birth during the crash (and take a moment to imagine going through labor while your plane is crashing) and so a newborn is found in the wreckage as well. Dr. Hahn tries to walk Philip through the horror but there’s really no way, and he runs out of the room. He can’t stop imagining the crash and he leaves school still in his pajamas and jumps in a boat. When Dr. Hahn and the boys go looking for him, Dr. Hahn calls out that the school will now be his family.
We get to see a really nicely done montage of the funeral in German set to Mozart’s requiem. The Nazis sure know their pageantry, I guess, and here’s where we get to the foreshadowing thing: We watch Philip walk solemnly behind the coffins of his family past the crowds and the cameras. Surely this will come up in The Crown season 17 or whenever when William and Harry must walk behind their own mother’s casket? But anyway, poor Philip. His dad blames him for his sister’s death and also lays it on pretty thick that she was his favorite child.
Philip returns to the school. He’s grieving and raw and gets up in the middle of the night to tackle the wall on his own. Dr. Hahn watches thoughtfully. The young boys are moved, and want to help but Hahn tells them to wait until Philip asks them to. Finally Philip dramatically walks in and asks for help. The boys all rush to help complete the gate. Okay, so it’s understandable why Philip feels so strongly about this school — it really did save him and it really was there for him during the absolute worst moments of his life. Why he didn’t just talk to his wife about this, who knows? His love for his son makes him want Charles to experience something similar, but of course Charles is a different stripe of animal. What father and son haven’t struggled with this lesson?
It’s the day of the tournament and, yeah, this is going to go pretty terribly. Charles is not up to it and the private detective who trails him seems to be the only one who really knows. Philip arrives and is all pumped. The other boys start to return and Philip greets them but keeps looking at the door, waiting for Charles. There’s a young, blond chap who Philip recognizes as being the same kind of dude as himself (imagine if that’s the son he had), and yet there’s still no Charles. Where is he? Crying behind a pillar.
The detective leads Charles in to the hall, and Philip’s eyes narrow just a little, and he hits the word “courage” in his speech just a little too hard. Charles shrinks into the warm embrace of the stranger paid to look after him. He gives his father a profound look of suffering.
Maybe Philip feels badly? He flies Charles back home and gives a little pep talk about being proud of him and of Charles showing great determination and etc., etc. Charles isn’t listening though because he’s about to you-know-what in his pants because the plane is doing that air-hitting thing that feels like crashing. Philip brushes it off and is actually trying to talk to his boy about his sister and flying and how the school toughened him up and it was a gift. Charles is all: What? Can’t hear you through my silent screams. Philip barks at him not to be so bloody weak, and Charles crawls further back into the plane to cry.
Elizabeth watches as they return. She sees Philip pick up their daughter and swing her about heartily, as Charles smiles shyly at the house staff who came out to greet him. She shuts the door.
We get a handy little epitaph to this episode: Prince Charles remained at Gordonstoun for a further five years. He later described it as ‘a prison sentence’ and ‘absolute hell.’ When it came to his own time as a father…Charles sent his sons to Eton College.