Gillian Anderson as Margaret Thatcher in “The Crown.” Netflix photo

They’re back, all of them, and we’re soooo glad to see them. 

The stoic Queen Olivia Colman, implacable and sour as always, is holding the fading empire together, with her consort Prince Tobias Menzies, while The Falklands War, a 10-week undeclared war between Argentina and the United Kingdom is brewing circa 1982. 

Thank God, Prince Charles, Josh O’Connor, didn’t die between seasons. He’s wonderful, even with snapshots of two women in his wallet. 

Helena Bonham Carter’s Margaret, like a ghost of Ava Gardner, returns, one hand holding a cigarette, the other cuddling a martini, and an olive branch for the family tucked in her waist. 

And the big news is all about a sparkling Lady Diana brought to breathtaking life by a young Emma Corrin, who comes to steal every scene she’s in. 

Emma, with one credit on her resume (2020’s “Misbehavior”) is captivating, as delicious as an ice cream soda. Emma is Diana, the first flicker of Elton John’s “Candle in the Wind.” 

Chapter one in this fourth season sets the dinnerware, silver and flowers in the right places, as the camera moves the actors into focus slowly, like sixth graders who have come to tell us how they spent their summer vacations. 

Here’s the big surprise. Margaret Thatcher, the “Iron Lady” herself, trim, proper, mean as Hell. Margaret stuns us all twice, first when it takes us 20 minutes to realize who it really is. 

OMG It’s “X-Files” Gillian Anderson, making a brilliant career-changing move. 

The second shock is watching her entering the royal meeting room to be greeted by the Queen. 

Gillian, gowned in a gray tweed business suit, performs an amazing genuflection, I mean, one knee completely hitting the floor. We had to rerun it three times to enjoy it. 

That’s all I can tell you. My wife had to rip the remote from my hand before we had watched the entire 10 chapters. 

This years’ “Crown,” more resplendent than ever, is like watching a three-ring full-out circus, with all the acts, clowns, elephants in the room and someone special being shot out of a cannon all at once. One simply does not know where to look. 

The sets and cinematography turn our heads that way, the Royal family pulls us back, Gillian and Emma rock our seats. 

Emma Corrin as Diana, and Gillian as Thatcher make this a brand new viewing adventure. Thank you, thank you, Left Bank Pictures, Sony Pictures and Netflix for this rest. 

“The Crown” streams on Netflix. 

J.P. Devine of Waterville is a former stage and screen actor.


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