The Crown season 4, episode 5 recap – what happened in “Fagan”?

By Daniel Hart
Published: November 15, 2020 (Last updated: November 29, 2023)
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Netflix series The Crown season 4, episode 5 - Fagan


“Fagan” manages to draw up an example of how Thatcherism impacted normal working people as it presents the palace intruder Michael Fagan.

This recap of Netflix’s The Crown season 4, episode 5, “Fagan” contains significant spoilers.

We recapped every episode — check out the archive.

The opening

“Fagan” begins with news archive footage of a male intruder named Michael Fagan, who broke into the palace and spoke to the Queen six feet away from her bed. It was a national shock that the man managed to overcome palace security — Elizabeth watches the report on the news, and the question is, what did Michael Fagan and the Queen talk about? That’s what “Fagan” is all about, linking it to Thatcher’s Britain.

Fagan needs work

It then flits to Fagan waking up to the radio; Thatcher is talking about transforming Britain — he’s annoyed by her words as he navigates around his downtrodden flat. Michael Fagan then visits the jobcentre to get his allowance. He manages to get a cash-in-hand job doing handy work with his friends, but it’s undeniable that Michael is poor. He’s part of the poverty that has been escalated by Thatcher.


Later in the evening, Fagan heads to the pub. He tries to speak to his ex about the flat and his children, but she is dismissive. Michael Fagan starts on his ex’s new boyfriend, and he’s kicked out of the pub.

Thatcher’s update on the Falkland Islands and Palace security

Prime Minister Thatcher tells Elizabeth that they’ve successfully recaptured South Georgia without any casualties — she believes the recapture of the Falkland Islands is nearly in range. Afterward, Elizabeth raises to Philip that Thatcher raised palace security which she disagrees with as she enjoys public engagement. Thatcher seems proud of the Falklands War while Elizabeth does not seem to be engaged with it either way — she’s almost despondent on the issue.

Visiting the local MP

On TV, Thatcher is answering questions about the rise in unemployment. She justifies that the country needs to be more resilient and dig deep to improve themselves. Michael Fagan is still without a job, so he visits his local MP. He complains about the system, calling it unfair. Fagan said they could have spent the money on improving “British living” rather than going to the Falkland Islands. The MP tells him he can either direct questions to Thatcher via the leader of the opposition, or failing that, the Queen.

Fagan took the MP’s advice literally

And of course, Fagan took that advice, and I bet the MP wishes he never even said anything as “Fagan” sees Michael shockingly enter the palace like he knew the place.

Michael Fagan heads to the Palace and jumps over the gates with ease and walks around the grounds. He climbs up the palace walls and opens a window that is unlocked. He manages to move around the palace undetected, drinking wine in the process and accidentally smashing a vase.

Michael gets away

A woman sees Fagan and alerts palace security. Michael manages to get away and get the bus home. The next morning, security updates Elizabeth about the intruder and how he accessed the palace — some of the security systems malfunctioned. Elizabeth doesn’t want Downing Street to know and overreact and considers the matter closed.

What was equally surprising about this scene is how the palace did not improve security protocols after this event.

Trying to see his daughter

The next day, Michael Fagan tries to see his daughter, but his ex-boyfriend Derek fights him and tells him to go home. When Michael visits the social workers, they tell him he cannot have any contact with the mother of his children. On the television, Thatcher announces victory in the Falkland Islands as the Argentinians have surrendered. On the streets, Fagan sees people celebrating the victory and cheering “Maggie, Maggie, Maggie!”.

Break-in part 2

Michael manages to sneak into the palace again unnoticed. This time he finds the Queen’s bedroom — Elizabeth is fast asleep. She wakes up believing he is someone else as he opens up the curtains to let the light in. Elizabeth wakes up, and she’s startled — Michael doesn’t want money; he wants to tell her what’s going on with the country. He is very casual about the situation. He’s bleeding so he heads to her bathroom to sort his wound out. The Queen tries to alert security, but the hoovering outside is masking the bells.

The last resort

He then leaves the bathroom and tells Elizabeth that he’s surprised she doesn’t have an electric toothbrush. He’s also surprised at the state of the paint and says he’s a decorator and that he can help — this scene is ironic in many ways — despite being in the richest estate in the country, Fagan managed to find commonalities with the Queen. Michael Fagan tells the Queen that she needs to get rid of Thatcher as she’s destroying the country. The Queen tells him that she cannot fix that and the country will bounce back.


“Fagan” presents a situation where the Queen listened to Michael better than his MP, which illustrates Fagan’s point; the system is broken.

Michael explains that he did try to bounce back, but now he’s poor, and he’s lost confidence. He gets philosophical about the rights to be human, to be alive. Elizabeth’s tea lady arrives, and she asks her to get a police officer. Before they come, she asks Michael Fagan if there’s anything else he’d like to say. Michael thanks her — I think he feels listened to and he appreciates it. When the police arrive, they both shake hands, and Elizabeth promises to bear in mind what he said. There’s genuineness in her promises. When Michael leaves, Elizabeth is shaken by the ordeal. It reaches all news outlets, and the country is dismayed by the lack of security.

What about the moral economy?

What follows is a scene between two powerful women who disagree on a single issue — poverty.

Thatcher apologizes to Elizabeth for what happened with the violent troublemaker. Elizabeth explains that Michael was not violent, rather he was a victim of unemployment — she wonders about the “moral economy” and not just the economy. Thatcher believes the country can only recover without the outdated and misguided notions of collective duty — she believes self-interested people trying to better themselves is the only way to fire up a nation. Thatcher uses her father as a comparison, but when the Queen raises not everyone is remarkable as her father, Thatcher states she believes that everyone has it within them to be. This scene presents two philosophies battling against each other, creating a fascinating conversation.

The ending

Margaret Thatcher then says Fagan has schizophrenia and he may avoid prosecution, but he will end up in a mental hospital. She then gets up to leave to attend a Victory Parade after winning a war and Elizabeth is shocked.

Philip tells Elizabeth to allow the Prime Minister to enjoy the parade. Elizabeth believes Thatcher is getting ahead of herself. Philip reminds her that Fagan was a lunatic and apologized for not being there to protect her. As Elizabeth watches the TV, she’s clearly still troubled by Thatcher.

The episode ends confirming that Fagan still lives in London after leaving a mental hospital.

The Crown season 4, episode 5 manages to draw up an example of how Thatcherism impacted normal working people as it presents the palace intruder Michael Fagan. This episode is important for many reasons, and it puts the Queen in a better light than her powerful counterpart Thatcher. Once again, this episode is performed to an Emmy-level, honing in on the times and articulating the issues of 80s Britain with ease.

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