Part 1 of the historical drama's sixth and final season dedicated the bulk of its four episodes to Princess Diana's brief summer romance with Dodi Fayed, the son of ambitious business tycoon, Mohamed al-Fayed.
After Episode 3 ends with the tragic car crash that resulted in Dodi and Diana's deaths, Episode 4 not only shows the ghost of the late Princess of Wales but also Dodi's as well.
The Crown's Ghost Decision Defended by Season 6 Star
In both Season 5 and the first block of Season 6, Dodi Fayed, played by actor Khalid Abdalla, is controlled by his father and feels pressure to live up to his plans and expectations, including his goal of gaining the respect of the Royal Family.
After Dodi and Diana's death in Season 6 Episode 3, Diana appears to Prince Charles and then-Queen Elizabeth II in Episode 4 while Dodi appears to his father, allowing the latter two characters to finally be honest with one another.
While the decision to feature the ghosts of two real-life individuals (particularly Princess Diana's) has been met with controversy, Khalid Abdalla explained The Crown's decision to Netflix, saying, "There are things that we always feel that are unspoken:"
“When people die, there is a certain energy of them that remains very close — and there are ways in which they speak. There are things that we always feel that are unspoken, that somehow after death become incredibly resonant and speak in a way, too.”
Salim Daw, who masterfully played al-Fayed, also defended the scene, admitting how important it was for him personally since "Mohamed al-Fayed never said 'sorry' or 'forgive me' to his child" when he was living:
“The scene was so hard and so important for me because Mohamed al-Fayed never said ‘sorry’ or ‘forgive me’ to his child. He couldn’t say that to Dodi when he was alive, and when Dodi died, Mohamed al-Fayed was so broken and so helpless.”
The actor went on to describe the exchange as something a therapist would recommend to deal with pain and regret: “Write it down in a letter, and don’t send it.”
According to Abdalla, the scene, which was performed completely in Arabic, was the last the two stars filmed together and was so emotional that "even on the day of filming it, we couldn't rehearse:"
“The relationship we’ve built over this time filming is one that has brought us so close. That was the last scene we filmed together. And even on the day of filming it, we couldn’t rehearse it.”
The Crown's own head of research, Annie Sulzberger, also weighed in on the why behind Dodi's ghost decision, saying, "If we're going to show Dodi's death, we need to understand Dodi:"
“If we were really going to show Diana's death, that means we're showing Dodi's death. If we're going to show Dodi's death, we need to understand Dodi.”
Why Dodi's Ghost Differs From Princess Diana's
Dodi and Mohamed's father-son relationship wasn't the only relationship that Episode 4's surprising scene touched on.
In fact, their conversation begins with al-Fayed questioning his and Dodi's relationship with the West as the media blitz following Diana's death dedicated far less attention to Dodi.
Mohamed's question of "Why do they hate me? Is it the fate of Arabs to always be hated by the West?," followed by Dodi's response, brings to light some of the racism they experienced.
Still, while the decision to use Dodi's ghost was effective in more ways than one, it's important to note that the public knows little about Dodi and Mohamed's relationship than Diana's with Prince Charles and the late Queen.
Therefore, the exchange between Dodi's ghost and his father is closure for The Crown's fictionalized version of these individuals and their relationship.
Also, while racism was indeed present in the conversation surrounding Dodi and Diana, Dodi was relatively unknown before dating Diana and the two only dated for a few weeks before their deaths.
Overall, the use of Dodi's ghost worked in terms of the story The Crown set out to tell. But audiences should approach it as an emotional narrative that leans into the series' label of a fictionalized drama as opposed to a historical one.
Part 1 of The Crown Season 6 is streaming now on Netflix; Part 2 premieres on Thursday, December 14.