Season 3 of The Crown has one of the greatest and most heartbreaking episodes in the show's history
If you thought Chernobyl was superb TV, set aside an hour to watch this.
Duty vs personality.
If you were to define the core themes of Peter Morgan's Emmy Award-winning drama series The Crown, that's its essence.
Granted, the historical events are fascinating and the producers have always had an excellent eye for casting, direction and set design, but the biggest draw of the show is when they pull back the veil on the Royal Family.
Truth be told, it's the true life story of these people that continues to fascinate.
Given their penchant for secrecy and decorum, the Royal Family have always been something of an oddity to the rest of the world and while Morgan's show is a work of faction - facts and fiction combined at least - it's the little glimpses of humanity and frailty that continue to compel.
Of course, a historical drama about the English monarchy might not be everyone's cup of tea, but as those who watched the show will attest to, it's a wonderful drama.
Simply put, there's always another story behind the story that you think you know.
Before Season 3 of the show arrived on Netflix, all the talk was about the decision to replace Claire Foy with Olivia Colman in the role of Queen Elizabeth II.
As Season 3 ends, we've a feeling that all the talk will be on the third episode in the series, Aberfan.
The episode depicts the 1966 Welsh mining disaster that killed 116 children and 28 adults and its impact on both the monarchy and Queen Elizabeth herself.
A disaster that the locals knew was imminent, the loss of life was a political disaster for Harold Wilson's newly-elected Labour government. On a more humane level, it was a horrific tragedy that occurred as a mountain of waste that was removed from the coal mines collapsed.
The debris slid into the village of Aberfan and a nearby elementary school, killing over 100 people in the process.
Members of the Royal Family including Prince Philip (Tobias Menzies) and the Queen's brother-in-law, Antony Armstrong-Jones (Ben Daniels), headed to the small village to show their support. The Queen was torn about how to handle the situation.
History dictated that decorum and distance are the best traits for the ruling monarch to show during a moment of crisis and sadness. However, the Queen's decision to not instantly visit and comfort the surviving families continues to be one of her greatest regrets, something reinforced in the closing credits.
Certain people felt that the Queen was incapable of displaying empathy and emotion despite the horrific destruction and death that surrounded her. However, the final scene of Colman shedding a single tear in private was a powerful reminder of how restrictive the crown can be.
In many ways, Aberfan represents a spiritual successor episode to HBO's wonderful mini-series Chernobyl.
Two horrific tragedies that hit a working class community. Two communities that felt betrayed, hurt and ignored by the establishment. A loss of life that was completely avoidable. A response to a horrific disaster that just wasn't good enough.
Since the new season of The Crown was released on Netflix on Sunday, that particular episode of The Crown has really resonated with viewers.
The Aberfan episode of #TheCrown is just superb. Absolutely horrifying, as it should be. Amazes me how few people seem to know about that tragedy nowadays
— Holly '8 Cats' Brockwell (@holly) November 17, 2019
watching the Aberfan episode of The Crown and it’s absolutely devastating. hard not to connect it with avoidable tragedies like Grenfell - the safety of poorer people is still disregarded until something deadly happens, then the cycle repeats itself
— Louis Staples (@LouisStaples) November 17, 2019
— saff 👑 (@saffdavies12) November 17, 2019
I'm very proud to have played a role in the Aberfan episode of the Crown. I grew up a stone throw away from Aberfan and it meant the world to me to help tell that story. It's a tragic but important part of Welsh history and deserves this global platform. Please watch it.
— Jack Parry-Jones (@JackParryJ) November 17, 2019
#TheCrown Aberfan ep is masterful. Don’t recommend watching if you’re feeling fragile. Sobbing. Now the world will remember the 144 lives taken by neglect; remember the 116 children who didn’t come home. But why did it take a TV show? Why isn’t Welsh history taught? Fe gofiwn. pic.twitter.com/oUMr782plz
— LC 🏴 (@LisaCChilds) November 17, 2019
Watching the Aberfan episode of The Crown next to my husband, whose family was decimated by the tragedy, was agonising. But I'm glad a whole new generation of people will be introduced to the evil irresponsibility of the National Coal Board, for which no-one was ever prosecuted. https://t.co/DyRg82mdPu
— Rebecca Reid (@RebeccaCNReid) November 17, 2019
— Dean Nye (@Dean_Nye) November 17, 2019