The Crown season 5, episode 6 recap – did King George V not save the Romanov family?

By Daniel Hart
Published: November 9, 2022
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While episode 6 works in the major moments, it sometimes feels slightly disconnected.

We give a royal recap of the Netflix series The Crown season 5, episode 6, “Ipatiev House,” which will contain spoilers, so be warned!

Episode 6 of season 5 is certainly a mixed bag for The Crown. It dissects the rocky marriage between Queen Elizabeth II (Imelda Staunton) and Prince Philip (Jonathan Pryce) while raising a significant part of the history between Britain and Russia. Both stories contrast and blend, and while it works in the major moments, it sometimes feels slightly disconnected.

The Crown season 5, episode 6 recap

Episode 6 of season 5 of The Crown opens in 1917 in London. King George received a letter from the Prime Minister asking if they could help the escape of the Romanovs in Russia.

And then episode 6 moves to the Ipatiev House in Yekaterinburg, RussiaThe Romanov family are awoken at night and told they must leave for safety. However, moments later, the Romanov family are brutally executed in the dead of night. It’s a revolution.

In the present, President Yeltsin is elected as part of the new democratic Russia. Queen Elizabeth II learns Yeltsin is obsessed with meeting her, as he’s an anglophile. Elizabeth tries to share her excitement about meeting the President with Prince Philip, but he hurries off as he has duties to attend to.

Elizabeth holds a dinner event with President Yeltsin. The President invites Elizabeth to Moscow to celebrate the “end of communism.”

However, Elizabeth raises the issue of Ipatiev House, where Tsar Nicolas and his family, cousins of her grandfather, King George V, were murdered by the Bolsheviks during the revolution. Elizabeth raises how Yeltsin ordered the house to be demolished, which she found disrespectful. President Yeltsin tells Elizabeth that he was not in charge when it was demolished. Elizabeth insists that the Romanovs deserve a respectful burial.

When the President returns to Moscow, he orders an excavation in the woods near Ipatiev House — they find bones and clothes of the Romanovs family. However, forensic verification is difficult. They’ve asked Elizabeth for the DNA sequencing to occur in Britain and have asked Elizabeth for help. Elizabeth shares this forensic science with Philip, who is animated and wants to know more. He’s annoyed she didn’t ask more questions. Philip shares the forensic progress to verify the Romanov family excitedly with Penny Romsey; he’s used the investigation to connect with his past.

Elizabeth reveals to Margaret how Philip has a shared passion for forensic investigation due to the Romanovs. Elizabeth and Philip get a plane to Moscow to continue their discoveries.

Elizabeth delivers a speech in Moscow to the Russian people. Philip looks disconnected from the room while she delivers her statement. Elizabeth asks for cooperation, understanding, and respect between both nations. A new era of partnership.

After the speech, Elizabeth tells Philip that the burial cannot occur because two bodies cannot be identified. Elizabeth then raises how she had more hope to spend time with Philip, but he tells her how busy he has been. Philip then presents how much he has given up since marrying her; now, they have different interests, passions, and churches. He admits he has been feeling lonely.

Elizabeth presses him on his loneliness. Philip admits he has sought intellectual and spiritual companionship elsewhere — a community of friends. He admits that his closest friendship is with Penny Romsey. Elizabeth is shocked, stating she is half his age. Philip tells Elizabeth that it’s only companionship. Elizabeth tells him that it compromises her as his soulmate. She asks Philip to end his friendship, but he refuses to, saying he’s done nothing wrong. Philip asks Elizabeth to befriend Penny and legitimatize his companionship and suggests that she may learn something like “what really happened to the Romanov family?”

The Crown season 5, episode 6 ending – did King George V not save the Romanov family?

And so, as The Crown season 5, episode 6 ends, Elizabeth meets with Penny Romsey and asks for her theory on the Romanov family. Penny raises how King George had the opportunity to save the Romanov family but chose not to. She says there are sources in the archives in Windsor. She shows Elizabeth the diaries of young Edward VIII, where he describes a breakfast with his parents, and there is a letter to King George from the Prime Minister, asking if he permits to approve the safety of the Romanov family.

Scenes show George asking Queen Mary if they should send a ship, and she says no. Penny states there were rivalries between the women in the family, causing factions. Mary was worried about the “prettier” Alexendra Romanov coming to Britain. Elizabeth disputes that idea and states that Queen Mary was heartbroken when she heard of what happened to her family.

And then the elephant in the room – Penny admits that she and Norton have grown apart over the years but would never leave him. Elizabeth raises how the public cannot get the wrong idea of seeing a younger woman around the Duke of Edinburgh and invites her to Sandringham over Christmas to “nip it in the bud.”

As Elizabeth walks away, she cries a little. The stress of maintaining her marriage is taking a toll.

President Yeltsin confirms the DNA of all the Romanov family members and that the burial could go ahead. Elizabeth tells Prime Minister Major that both countries (Russia and Britain) do better as friends. They then discuss their marriages and ponder why there’s have been so successful. Major suggests that a marriage where neither tries to change the other and accept differences provides a harmonious relationship.

From this episode, will we ever know the truth about King George V and the Romanov family back in 1917? No. But leaving it ambiguous is a significant selling point of the chapter. The real story is about shared interests within a marriage and how years of being in a relationship can cause undesirable loneliness.

What did you think of The Crown season 5, episode 6? Comment below.

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