The Crown Season 5 Episode 3 Recap: ‘Mou Mou’
The Crown Season 5 Episode 3: Some of the most beautiful and moving storylines on The Crown have been featured in season-long arcs, but they’ve all benefited from the show’s episodic structure. As the royal family takes on a more supporting role in The Crown Season 5 Episode 3, we focus on the lives of three men of colour, most notably Mohamed Al-Fayed, an Egyptian Anglophile and self-made billionaire.
In the show, we visit Mohamed’s childhood home in Alexandria, Egypt, in 1946. His dad has a grudge towards the British because of the Anglo-Egyptian War, but Mohamed has it in for his own father. In contrast to his father, he admires the British for their ambition, vision, and power. The waters we’re treading feel iffy to me right now.
Let’s skip ahead to 1979 and visit Paris. The Al-Fayed family has submitted an offer to purchase the Ritz hotel, which is the highest offer received thus far.
The Crown Season 5 Episode 3
In the Crown Season 5 Episode 3, after purchasing the Ritz, Mohamed attends the hotel’s opening night party, where he meets two women who attract his eye. The first is the blonde Finnish beauty Heini Wathén, who he plans to marry (he and his first wife, Samira Khashoggi, divorced shortly after Dodi was born). The second is that the hotel has hired a Black server to handle the event, which, in Mohamed’s opinion, will reflect poorly on the establishment. It serves as a timely warning that anti-Black prejudice persists even among people of colour.
But Mohamed quickly changes his mind after discovering the server is none other than Sydney Johnson, a Bahamian who served for over 30 years as the personal valet of Edward VIII, the Duke of Windsor and former king of England.
When Mohamed sees Sydney in the Crown Season 5 Episode 3, he requests a word from her. After some light conversation about the time the Duke of Windsor visited Alexandria, Mohamed gets down to business: he wants to know the ins and outs of being treated like royalty, or at least like a respectable British gentleman.
He talks about how the world looks up to British society as the gold standard, praising its culture and manners. (Makes you want to throw up, but it’s all right.) The Queen has repeatedly stated that her family is held in high esteem by the general public, and this is further evidence of this.
It’s unsettling to see Mohamed’s attitude toward Sydney shift from hate to friendship after he learns of her relationship with the monarchy (and, therefore, by extension, whiteness). I don’t know how feasible this scenario is, but if it was invented, it seems like it could get chaotic and be superfluous to the story (we can already tell Mohamed is smug and elitist).
But because the Duke of Windsor was so patient and compassionate with him while he learned the ropes back in the day, Sydney uses those same attributes here, coupled with a forgiving spirit. So, Mohamed attends Sydney’s Eurocentric finishing school for grumpy, rich businessmen.
It’s time for a field trip! The queen is expected to attend the horse event that Mohamed and Sydney attend. Sadly, but not unexpectedly, they are stopped and required to show membership proof at the gates while wealthy white individuals breeze right past with no questions asked. While conversing with the VIP next to the queen, Mohamed discovers that this person is the event’s sponsor and the largest stakeholder in Harrods. NBD.
Still, in the end, Mohamed saves the day and helps Dodi realise his ambition. The jogging on the beach scene from Chariots of Fire was filmed with Mohamed and Sydney in sight, and it has since become a cinematic classic. Dodi convinces a sceptical Mohamed that his movie is authentic by explaining the central theme of the episode and the film: “It’s an encouraging story where the outsider ends up becoming an insider.” (It also features one of the greatest movie themes ever.
Adieu, Vangelis. Many months later, when the film wins four Academy Awards, including Best Picture, both Mohamed and Dodi are acknowledged for their contributions. The icing on the cake? Mohamed ultimately decides to purchase from Harrods, therefore everyone wins.
In the Crown Season 5 Episode 3 Sydney receives the sad (or, depending on your perspective, not so tragic) news that the Duchess of Windsor, Wallis Simpson, has passed away. A cup of tea is brought by Mohamed to Sydney, who is coughing slightly (no!) and looking at old photographs, some of which were taken in the Bois de Boulogne, the former residence of the duke.
Sydney laments the condition of the once grand but now decaying Paris mansion, which they resolve to visit in person. Auctioneers have started cataloguing and numbering the duke and duchess’s possessions. Mohamed is troubled by the idea and decides to purchase the villa and repair it, along with its belongings. He justifies his plan by saying, “It will be my present to the British royal family.”
After three years of work, Mohamed renamed the home Villa Windsor and extended an invitation to the queen. The duke’s diaries and evidence suggesting he and his wife were Nazi supporters are among the valuable objects the Crown should acquire, but Elizabeth is not enthusiastic about the idea. The situation is the PR nightmare of a monarchy in the Crown Season 5 Episode 3.
Honestly, The Crown Season 5 episode 3 “Mou Mou” should be a 2 hour movie adaptation about Mohamed Al Fayed rise to power and his dynamics with Sydney Johnson while reminiscing his previous service to Duke of Windsor. I need more from this episode ugh
— Bejeweled 🕛 (@faggherita) November 10, 2022
Keep Sydney’s cough in mind. Of course, it’s been getting worse, and we know that indicates his death is imminent. And not just close by, either; it already exists. We saw Mohamed tenderly assisting his sick pal to swallow his medicine. It’s nice to have someone else serve Sydney for a change, but it’s also a little sad (like when Mohamed served him tea). At the moment Sydney stops breathing, Mohamed throws his slippers onto the bed and lets out a sob. The inscription on his tombstone would later read: “Sydney Johnson, Valet to the King.”
Diana believes the Queen, aka “Boss Lady,” is allergic to both herself and Mohamed, and she’s in the palace to try to win back the Queen’s favour. Someone on the “inside” can yet feel like an outsider, it seems. It’s a friendly meet-cute as the strange couple chats it up.
Before heading off to his party, Dodi swings over to say hello and introduce himself to Diana (he later looks back at her wistfully) in the Crown Season 5 Episode 3. Diana pokes around in a gift bag for the queen that Mohamed had put together as a joke, while Her Majesty watches and is pleased with how her seat switcheroo has turned out. But it’s rare for us to see the queen ignore her sense of duty or obligation. Even though the situation is funny, we know how it will end for Dodi and Diana, which makes the whole thing feel very scary.
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