The Crown recap: Season 1, Episode 9
PREVIOUS: Episode 8, "Pride & Joy"
Lord Porchester (or, Porchy, as Elizabeth calls him) proposes to a woman at a posh restaurant. Before she accepts, she wants to know if he's still hung up on Elizabeth. Porchy assures her that he is not. "For her, there was only ever Philip," he says. This interaction sheds some light on the beginning of Elizabeth and Philip's relationship, which we didn't get to see on the show. Meanwhile, at Buckingham Palace, Philip is not earning that love. He comes home drunk, and Elizabeth pretends to be asleep. Their marriage is on the rocks now more than ever.
Elizabeth calls Porchy late at night to talk about her horses. She does love her horses, but does she love Porchy? When the two next meet at the racing track, Philip apparently thinks they're getting a little too friendly because he can't stop glaring at them from a distance. Later, Porchy invites her to meet his fiancée, so it seems he really is over her. Of course, Margaret gets in Elizabeth's face about this. She says that when Porchy was drunk, he confessed to her he still loves Elizabeth. Elizabeth doesn't let it bother her. Why would Margaret even say anything? Just to mess with her sister in hopes that it'll lead to a fight with Philip? She's probably still stewing from when Elizabeth chastised her about acting totally inappropriately when she was briefly in charge during the last episode.
Meanwhile, Winston Churchill is getting his portrait done by English Modernist Graham Sutherland for his 80th birthday. He makes it very difficult as he does with everything. Churchill is an amateur painter, and he butts in with his technical knowledge while sitting for the portrait before further annoying Sutherland with unsolicited advice about the execution. During a later session, Churchill is a little more accommodating. The men begin to talk candidly about their painting, and they realize that they've both lost children and took that pain and turned it into art. Churchill paints the fish pond in his yard over and over because he had it put in when his daughter Marigold died. We get a peek behind the great man's gruff veneer and see that there's something haunting him.
At his ceremony unveiling the painting, Churchill jokes about standing down but still refuses to actually do it. Hahaha, so funny! But actually, please retire. When the curtain is swept aside, the audience applauds at the work of art, but Churchill is angry. In the next scene, we learn why. He confronts Sutherland, telling him he hates the portrait and that it makes him look old and frail. Really, he's in denial that he is old and frail, and Sutherland calls him out. Churchill knows he's right and it's that night that he decides to finally retire. Anthony Eden will be the new prime minister.
Elizabeth and Churchill have their final audience, and it gets sentimental. "However will I cope without you?" she asks. He replies, "You will be fine, ma'am. I have nothing more to teach you, which is why it's time for me to leave." Then he kisses her on the forehead. Aww. Of course, it was time for him to leave ages ago, but let's not ruin a sweet moment. As his car pulls away, he sees Eden pulling up. He stops the car and gets out to shake his hand. Churchill is making a surprisingly graceful exit from the title of Prime Minister.
NEXT: Elizabeth and Philip have a major fight
Elizabeth and Porchy have been talking about breeding horses for this whole episode, but what comes next is still a surprise: a horse sex scene! The Crown seems to have taken a page out of Silicon Valley's book. While the trainers get the horses ready, Elizabeth and Porchy exchange meaningful glances from across the stable… Philip glowers. And, of course, he can't be serious about this like everyone else. "Rather like us, darling, when we were courting?" he teases his wife.
After the horse breeding, Philip questions Elizabeth about giving Porchy a direct line to call her on, which leads to this exchange:
Elizabeth: Porchy is like family.
Philip: Is he?
Elizabeth: Yes. Part of the furniture.
Philip: Well as long as you don't sit on him anytime soon.
At a dinner ringing in the new Prime Minister, Elizabeth makes a speech about how no one will ever take the place of Churchill, her first P.M. In flashbacks, we see Elizabeth and Philip fighting in the car outside the stables. We also see the portrait burned in a bonfire, per Churchill's orders. Meanwhile, in the present, Philip mouths "sorry" to his wife across the table.
Episode Grade: B-
NEXT: Episode 10, "Gloriana"