This contains spoilers from Season 3 of Netflix’s The Crown.

Carrie Willard

Netflix released Season 3 of The Crown this past week, and there is simply too much to unpack all at once. I’ve been enthralled since Season 1, and again in Season 2. This third season is so very good, and so very rich in Christian meaning. Not the kind of “Christian meaning” people refer to when they invoke “good Christian values,” but more the Christian meaning of forgiveness for a broken family in a broken world. There is hardly an episode that doesn’t drip with grace. And so, I’ve tried to boil down the Mockingbird message in each episode, because they were all too good to choose just one. If Olivia Colman and Helena Bonham Carter aren’t enough to draw you in, here’s a snapshot of each of the first seven episodes to get you started.

Episode 1: Prince Philip finds himself, again, peeking around the log his own eye while trying to remove the speck from another’s eye. In other words, people who live in glass palaces shouldn’t throw stones at art historians who live in the same glass palace. Or something like that. That funeral scene for the Great Briton has me re-upping my contract with a liturgical tradition.

Episode 2: “I’m a queen, not a saint,” is the new motto for less-exciting siblings of charismatic people everywhere. Oh, Margaret. Those lashes. Those limericks. We’re going to need this to get through…

Episode 3: Jesu, lover of my soul, crawl into bed with your kids tonight to watch them breathe while you weep in a way that the Queen can’t, and because the Queen can’t. Was there really a time when people knew all the verses to a hymn, by heart? Did it help? That cross. Those babies. If you don’t happen to have a smallish child at home who sings the song in his heart at every turn, I’ll lend you mine, so you can feel the depth of the awfulness of human greed and man-made disasters. All Things Bright and Beautiful. Sweet mercy.

Episode 4: The Queen: “Only God is perfect.” Also, we get Yaya. And then, Yaya and “Sweetie.” And finally, Yaya and “Bubbikins.” Sweet Yaya. Is anyone else afraid that she’s going to burn something down with those cigarettes? But we like her. Also, we might now insist that our beloveds call us Cabbage. Yaya’s wish for her son is that he had faith.

Episode 5: Was there a really a time when men broke into song and remembered all the verses of Auld Lang Syne? So much banking. So much military. So many horses. “She is our Caesar.” And I think she got that flowery dress at Boden, probably with a nice coupon code now that the pound is sinking faster than Porchey’s chances of seeing her take that dress off. “Drink up, Porchey. We’re going home.”

Episode 6: I’ll admit that I fell asleep during this episode. Poor Charles. Poor Charles? The tongue twisters were a nice reminder of his two generations’ removal from The King’s Speech. But really, Prince Charles’ complaints to his mother give voice to the feelings of a lot of family members of clergy, honestly. I don’t want to feel for Charles, but I do.

Episode 7: “To some of us, this is even divine.” This episode unites two of my favorite things: the moon landing and Prince Philip. He is bored in church. Same, girl. “Extraordinary,” he kept saying, of the moon landing. “Oh Christ,” he says, when the priest shows up in a red cassock. Philip shows himself, again, to be more relatable than we ever thought possible. There will certainly be more to come on this episode in the weeks to come, but I think we all need to sit with it for a minute, alongside the Philip in all of us.

David Zahl

Let me just underline Carrie’s recommendation in the strongest possible terms. After a pair of somewhat tentative episodes to establish the brilliance Olivia Colman in the role of Queen Elizabeth, the third season of The Crown vaults into the stratosphere of grace–literally, in one case. I’d go so far as to say that three separate and mercifully standalone episodes this season (3, 4, & 7) capture the beauty and power of the Christian faith–yes, even in its most institutional form–as well as anything I’ve seen on the small screen. I’m not kidding. I had to pick my jaw, and heart, off the floor each time, figuring, ‘well, that’s the grace-note this season. The rest should be procedural eye-candy.’ NOT!

Which is to say, in a sea of extremely well-made but dark-as-hell binge TV (looking at you, Succession and Watchmen), The Crown has achieved something downright subversive in its evocation of genuine goodness and hope. It deserves a breakout session of its own–which it may well receive at our 2020 NYC Conference (April 23-25), earlybird registration for which is now open!–graphics and full lineup still to come. Oh and on the genre front, I’ll add my voice to the throngs who’ve been enjoying The Mandalorian.

Listening-wise, with the exception of excellent new singles from The Pet Shop Boys and Noel Gallagher, I’ve been basically all Paul Williams, all the time. You can find out more in the new episode of The Well of Sound that came out this past week, dedicated to the remarkable career of America’s favorite forgotten diminutive song-smith. Miranda Lee Richards is another recent discovery.

When it comes to other podcasts, after you’ve given Dolly Parton’s America its due (and as Sarah wrote, run don’t walk), I found my friend Nick Bogardus’s recent interview with Australian evangelist/author Mark Sayers about deconstruction and revival to be tremendously helpful. (“There’s nothing more Western than being Anti-Western.”) And the most recent episode of The Happiness Lab, “Making The Grade,” in which Dr. Laurie Santos unpacks the impact of measurement and ranking on personal well-being, couldn’t be more sympathetic–almost eerily so, ht JA. On the sillier front, there’s little that’s more entertaining than listening to David Lee Roth tell stories about his endless adventures.

CJ Green

The Good Place. In its last season, this show almost seemed like its best days were behind it. But some recent episodes (especially 7&8) were chillingly good, plus constantly funny. Episode 7 becomes a parable of Matthew 5:43-48—should someone be rescued if he does not deserve to be? And what impact might such a rescue have on the undeserved?

As for listening, Basement Revolver’s Wax and Digital. A combo of “noisy and graceful” shoegaze/rock/pure poetry. Favorite line comes in “Concussion Pt. 2”— “So it goes, spinning out of my control / there’s nothing I can do…except maybe wear a helmet.” Exhaustion and hope suffuse these guys’ every record. Also Oso oso’s uplifting “basking in the glow” vacillates between doubt and optimism in “something bigger, I don’t know.” Not a dud on the album, though if I had to pick favorites I would say the title track and “a morning song.” But the line I have been most thrilled by is from “the view”: “My eyes lit up when I saw it…a way out of looking for everything I wanted.”

Lastly I am feeling an unexpected overwhelming wave of nostalgia as the 10s come to a close, and have been listening to basically any Spotify playlist that includes “Teenage Dream” and other such hits from the last decade(!).