‘The Crown’ Season 2, Episode 4 Recap: The Return of Mags

*Warning: Spoilers ahead*

Oh, Margaret (Vanessa Kirby), how we’ve missed you. The princess returns to the fore in season two, episode four, scowling at a wedding while a couple ties the knot. The scene is intercut with a mysterious man on a motorcycle, and we just can’t wait to meet him.

The man on the bike is Anthony Armstrong-Jones, a charming British photographer and filmmaker, and he wouldn’t be played by the gorg Matthew Goode if he wasn’t about to become a significant presence in the princess’s life. (If you really want to know what follows, do a quick Google search...but what would be the fun in that?)

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Robert Viglasky/Netflix

On the far less sexy end of the spectrum, Elizabeth (Claire Foy) and Philip (Matt Smith) are reading in bed. Liz takes a quick reading break to pontificate that fights are to be expected after ten years of marriage, and now that Philip is back in their matrimonial bed, they can settle back into marital bliss with the snap of a finger, right? So she suggests they have a big bash to celebrate their tin anniversary. Philip looks like he couldn’t care less. But then again, this is as about as harmonious as these two seem to get lately. 

The phone rings, and it’s Mags wanting to tell her sister about the horror she endured watching two people make a lifelong commitment to each other. She also tells her sister (rather hesitantly) that she has accepted a marriage proposal from a man named Billy Wallace (Nick Hendrix).

Elizabeth gives her blessing and says Margaret can use her ten-year anniversary party to announce her engagement. Margaret looks like someone just stabbed her in the heart, and since her feelings for Peter Townsend (Ben Miles) still linger, she probably does feel like she’s dying.

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Alex Bailey/Netflix

But before Mags can announce her engagement to Billy, she receives a message that he’s been injured. Alas, he’s merely nursing a shiner and a leg wound from a drunken duel provoked by his salacious behavior. It turns out Margaret’s friends casually shot him because he was having a fling with an actress despite his betrothed status. Billy thinks it’s all just a funny misunderstanding, Margaret does not. So it’s buh-bye, Billy.

At the dinner, where no engagement is to be announced, Philip makes a speech about how he had imagined marriage would be two people welded into a combined existence. Ten years has taught him that the secret to a successful marriage is to have different interests, to take the rough with the smooth, because down there in the rough is where you find the treasure. As he makes a toast in the name of love, to another ten years with his dear Lillibet, Margaret can’t keep it together anymore and rushes out. Tears are streaming down her cheeks and we’re not crying, you’re crying.

Margaret is later seen by an employee stumbling around drunk in her room and becoming unhinged to the sounds of Ella Fitzgerald. She decides that from now on she will have entirely new criteria for whom she spends time with: no one who breeds horses, owns land or knows her mother. Solid requirements.

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Alex Bailey/Netflix

That’s when she meets Tony (the guy on the motorcycle)—the first guy who has genuinely interested her since her long-lost love, Peter. She asks him to take her picture, and he agrees as long as she leaves her prestige behind and doesn’t contradict him throughout the session. Naturally, Margaret is intrigued by this man who tells her like it is.

As she relays the encounter to her sister, she admits that what she finds so fascinating about Anthony is his contempt for what the royal family stands for. Oh, and his sexual ambiguity.

She arrives at his studio, and Tony proceeds to do everything but take her picture. (No, that’s not an innuendo so cool your jets.) He leaves her in his sitting area smoking a cigarette, while he throws around furniture in his loft. It’s the oddest foreplay Margaret has ever experienced (or us, for that matter). Eventually, Tony returns downstairs and starts snapping shots of her. 

“You have no idea who you are,” he taunts, challenging her about how poorly treated she has been by her family. The sexual tension between them as palpable, as Tony continues to push her about her feelings for Peter. As Margaret drops the last bit of her facade, Tony proudly announces that he got the picture he needed. A true artist.

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Alex Bailey/Netflix

As they develop her photo together in the darkroom, she says she’s now quite sure he isn’t gay. They marvel over how the picture he has taken of her is a Margaret no one has seen before. “In this photo, you’re not a princess anymore,” Tony says. Margaret is adamant that this is where their relationship ends, but the fact that he drives her home on his motorcycle tells us this is only the beginning.

It’s nice to see Margaret has found someone to get excited about. Unfortunately, her sister is less thrilled as the photo is published in the morning paper and gives the impression that the princess posed nude.

Welcome back, Mags. We’ve missed you.

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