‘The Crown’ Season 5 Episode 5: Recap And Ending, Explained: The Revenge Dress Is On The Way

Episode 5 finally brings “The Crown” Season 5 its much-needed drama. The public’s curiosity was piqued much earlier when Dominic West, who plays Prince Charles in the show, revealed that the season would have the infamous telephonic conversation. Episode 5, titled “The Way Ahead” and directed by May El-Toukhy, covers some of the most notorious scandals that shook the reputation of the royal family to the core. The episode starts with Charles ruminating about his lot as someone whose role is nothing more than an ornament that has been gathering dust. Later, in the privacy of his room, Charles calls Camilla to read her the speech he has written to deliver at Oxford the day after, and the conversation begins to tread in an altogether different, intimate fashion. Far away, as the camera traverses, an amateur radio enthusiast happens upon their conversation and starts to record it. He takes the recording to the office of The Daily Mirror, where it is deemed too risky to be put out, given that it might potentially push the royal marriage to its breaking point. This gives way to the introduction to The Way Ahead, certainly the season’s longest, most memorable yet. We are in for the ultimate drama to play out again. Let us start straight away!


Spoilers Ahead

Charles Shares His Proposed Changes About The Monarchy

Episode 5 of “The Crown” puts Charles at the center, as we see him as an individual who is passionate, enthusiastic, and committed to safeguarding the survival of monarchy and rejuvenating it for a modern era. With the separation from Diana, we see Charles in a different light: focused and determined to do his job and take active steps as the heir to the throne to make the system feel less remote to the public. He dismisses the irrelevant changes, such as the admission of the general public into the Albert Hall, to put forth his own suggestions. Why not make changes in the education sector, or provide some kind of support for environmental science? Even the Queen is quite taken by the energy he brings to the table, commenting that the separation from Diana has changed him for the better. 


The Infamous Telephone Call Breaks Out

Yet, this slightly favorable opinion of Charles does not last long, as he is made aware that a previously recorded telephonic conversation with Camilla will be published. My jaw dropped at the next few minutes devoted to dramatizing the exact conversation that was recorded, as snapshots of the reactions of his family were shown, one after the other. In the call, Charles tells Camilla that he would like to be a tampon to be close to her at all times and feel her. The Queen reads it and is too stunned to speak. Princess Margaret reads it too, as does Anne, who is perhaps the only person who can even try to imagine what an absolute breach of privacy it is. She reaches out to him a few days later and tries to assemble some truth from his overall reaction. “No one deserves this,” she says to Charles.

The character assassination that Charles faced because of this interview is indeed a shameful example of the worst kind of invasion of privacy possible. By revitalizing the conversation with tight closeups on the faces of Charles and Camilla, the series shows us a couple deeply in love yet unable to be with one another. It feels completely natural to express affection in private. They are adults, and they are under no outside exertion to keep an ear out on their intimate personal lives. Each one of us must have had strong desires and felt the need to express them. There is no judgment when it is articulated to someone you love. Taking that conversation out of that intimate, private space and using it as a parameter to judge and nullify an individual’s abilities is what makes it so vehemently problematic.


Diana Returns The Favor With The Revenge Dress

The media thrives on the salacious details of the heir to the throne’s conversation, and it ultimately raises serious questions about Charles’ ability to become King. You cannot help but feel a little sorry for the man whose lifetime’s effort is overshadowed by this horrifying revelation. Charles takes this humiliation and tries to turn it into a chance for him to open up in front of the British public so that they know him for his actions and deeds. Jonathan Dimbleby comes into the picture and interviews him as part of a documentary on the Prince of Wales. It is in this interview that Charles openly admits to having committed adultery during his marriage to Diana. 

This revelation paves the Way for another iconic moment: the revenge dress. Elizabeth Debicki slips into the body language of Diana, who puts forth a defensive and confident display in a figure-hugging black dress for an engagement at the Serpentine Gallery. “The Crown” Season 5, Episode 5 shows Diana strutting her Way to the people and then quickly entering through the gates for a few seconds. Honestly, the scene felt disappointing. I felt that there was certainly no motivation shown in terms of how Diana chose that particular dress that evening. The scene simply exists as a result of Charles’ interview. Diana is not given any space to reveal her fashion choices and the thought process that went into choosing, styling, and complementing a look. I understand that “The Way Ahead” is an episode that overwhelmingly favors the unlikely challenges that Charles had to face, but sidelining Diana’s storyline to such an extent is the episode’s worst creative decision so far. Diana’s fashion has been in the limelight for years, as her choices are among some of the most iconic fashion moments of all time. 


The Portrayal Of Charles In The Way Ahead

Ultimately, The Way Ahead closes with Charles addressing a full house of students, nearly all of them belonging to different minority communities. He shares with them a deep connection of being constantly criticized and subjected to judgment. At a party later, he even attempts breakdancing with the students. I was left wondering how overtly pro-Charles this episode feels, although it does make a valid point about the needlessly harsh criticism he has had to face all his life. Still, the creators of the show have come full circle in detailing how Charles, like any other normal person, has a separate life that is private and another that is public. The Way Ahead can also be seen as a concurrent reminder of the times now that Charles has become King. He is no longer an ornament gathering dust. Dominic West is charismatic as Charles, dare I say excessively so, and brings a persuasive strength to the role. Given how hard it was to follow Josh O’Connor’s excellent performance last season, West truly makes the character his own. Episode 5 also plays quite harmlessly with the audience’s expectations of Charles. The curiosity that still envelopes “The Crown” Season 5 is how his doomed relationship with Diana will be played out. The point is made clear. His personal relationships, as long as they don’t come in between his professional commitments, should not be of anyone’s interest.

See more: ‘The Crown’ Season 5 Episode 4: Recap And Ending, Explained: What Does Annus Horribilis Mean?

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Santanu Das
Santanu Das
Santanu Das is a writer who likes to have Sally Rooney books by the table, and when not reading or writing, you will find the champ clicking pictures of the sky that brightens his mundane days. He believes a film a day can cure almost all feelings of doubt and make everything just perfect.

Latest articles