Nothing like reading a bible in the bathtub is there? Is there?
Apparently not for Fleabag as that’s right where we find her, delving into the pages of the holy scriptures while soaking in the tub, at the start of this, the third episode of Fleabag series 2. I guess, she’s really interested in what that book has to say… Gosh! There’s something shocking in there… too much begetting?
This episode really gets into the dynamic between the sisters, we get quite a lovely progression in the priest plot and the show continues to comment upon its use of fourth wall breaking. In particular we see what may be the true narrative arc for Fleabag this season emerging: does she have friends? Is Claire her friend or her sister? Can she be friends with the priest? Are we her friends and are we healthy for her? What about her relationship with us is holding her back from having friends in the real world and does she feel like she deserves them?
Looks like Claire has kept her word re hiring Fleabag to supply canapes, although do we really think that’s going to be enough? We find the sisters in the elevator on the way up to Claire's office. She’s telling Fleabag not to be funny or smart or herself basically. The one directive that stands out here is ‘don’t be the centre of attention.’ That’ll be important later. For now we just get a great fart joke, when Fleabag lets one rip and one of Claire’s colleague’s enters the lift, noticing the smell and remarking… ‘Oh that’s lovely!’
So, Claire’s office is massive, like massive! Although she doesn’t want anyone to comment on it, like, she’s ashamed of how big it is.
She’s freaking out, it’s a big night, it’s the award for women in business and there’s a trophy, worth thousands on the table in Claire’s office. She asks Fleabag to check it and tells her not to play with it. Genuinely, she thanks Fleabag before leaving the office at which point Fleabag immediately picks up, drops, and smashes the award. Classic.
She runs out of there, going who knows where and when she returns she places the award, in its box, on a table at the front of the party. Honestly, I was racking my brain wondering where she’d gone with such knowing purpose to get a replacement. We find out later in the episode.
Here’s a thing, yes Claire points out that Fleabag has been gone for ages buuuuuut… she also told her to plate up the canapes and do a bunch of other things earlier all of which seem to have been taken care of by the rest of the staff. So, she didn’t need to? She starts handing out canapes like nothing happened, which is excellent and actually it’s all worth it for this exchange:
‘You’re sweating so much.’
‘It’s attention grabbing.’
‘It’s only on one side!’
One of Claire’s colleagues, the woman who is to be presenting the award, Sylvia, approaches and a couple of things happen: those canapes definitely have shellfish in them and a bunch of CEOs have been cancelled due to sexual harassment. This episode is definitely an exploration of what it means to be a woman in business; skewering the idea of awards specifically for women and what a corporate world looks like post ‘Me Too’ movement.
‘We were suppose to be a family.’
‘It’s especially sad when you have to tell your family not to touch each other up by the photocopier.’
Enter Kristin Scott Thomas, who is sassy and direct and loves courgette for how appallingly you can treat them. It’s a quick introduction but there’s obviously more to this character and Scott Thomas slips into the world of Fleabag with astonishing casualness.
Claire, meanwhile is freaking out, and it may or may not have something to with, well, Claire. Well, the fit, blonde Claire, who is a man, from Finland. Who I honestly thought was Tom Felton from Harry Potter for a second. Now, they’re definitely boning right? Seriously, Claire first the lawyer last episode and now Tom Felton?
‘Let’s go fuck like crazy tonight then!’
Waller-Bridge’s eyebrows are literally one of my favourite moments of this episode, so keep an eye out after that exchange.
The recipient of the award for Women in Business is going to be announced very soon and Fleabag is charged with ensuring Sylvia is there to announce the winner, well, she’s in the toilet, being violently ill. Remember the no shellfish? Well… Crab!
Without Sylvia, Claire, after a little round of charades with Fleabag, decides to announce the recipient of the award herself. ‘I can do it!’ Sure, Claire. Which she does by trying to make a joke… (This episode continues to go in on sexual harassment in the best way)
‘Men have been pretty hands on the past few decades!’ It got a laugh out of Fleabag, but nobody else, I’m afraid.
What did get a laugh was when she reused Fleabag’s joke from earlier re family touching each other up by the photocopier. This gets a laugh from everyone. And one might think Claire would be grateful for Fleabag breaking the rules and making a joke so she cold retell it but well, we’ll see how that turns out in a bit…
Kristin Scott Thomas is the winner of course…
‘For fuck’s sake!’ (Actual out loud belly laughs at this response from one of the other contenders.)
And the trophy… well, remember the statue Fleabag stole from Oscar Winner Olivia Coleman last season… the naked woman’s torso… here it is! Claire’s face when she has to deliver the bust to Kristin Scott Thomas is perfect.
Claire, outraged, instructs Fleabag to chase down the stolen piece of art and Tom Felton turns up to say he laughed at the joke which Claire didn’t think was ‘THAT funny.’
Kristin Scott Thomas is prepared to use her basic martial arts training when Fleabag is discovered stalking her, but after sort of explaining the pair end up at a cocktail bar and Kristin Scott Thomas is pretty, I think, proud of the whole statue stealing debacle.
They discuss the subsection of success that is women’s awards (‘children’s table awards,’) driving home the conversion re women in the workplace which this episode is steeped in; Kristin Scott Thomas asks if Fleabag, like herself is a lesbian, to which Fleabag responds ‘not strictly;’ and it turns out Fleabag’s favourite period film is Carrie. The two are getting on like a house that is on fire. It was actually really nice to see a scene with Fleabag and another woman where there was calm, and respect. This is how she could interact in a friendship. This is probably closer to what she had with Boo since then. Lesbian Kristin Scott Thomas has a great monologue re woman holding pain and the wonder of menopause.
‘It is horrendous but then it’s magnificent. Something to look forward to.’
She then laments that the only thing which sucks about growing older is people stop flirting with you.
‘There’s nothing more exciting than a room full of people.’
Fleabag disagrees, finding most people well… shit…
‘People are all we’ve got,’ is the response from lesbian Kristin Scott Thomas, so Fleabag kisses her, her instinct for a sexual relationship stronger than for a freindship as always and unfortunately, a) Fleabag isn’t her type, and, b) she can’t be bothered. She does encourage Fleabag to get out there and flirt. Wonder how she’ll interpret that!
Back at the office Claire is not shagging Tom Felton but is glad it’s been a good night, except really… really… really… NO. Claire is upset that she ‘had to’ use Fleabag’s joke, claiming she has jokes of her own and what she’s really saying is that Fleabag is herself and she’s interesting and funny and Claire, despite the giant office, doesn’t feel interesting. It’s a great conversation which really gives us some perspective as to why Claire struggles with Fleabag, despite all her faults and despite Claire's apparent success, she still feels lacking. Oh and she knows Creepy Martin is the one who kissed Fleabag! That’s not why she hasn’t been speaking her, it’s the other thing… That Fleabag makes Claire feel like she’s failed and when Flebag says she just thought they were hanging out ‘like friends.’ Claire responds:
‘We’re not friends, we’re sisters. Get your own friends.’
I think this speaks to two truths: the fact that a sisterly bond is deeper and waaaaaay more complicated than friendship and also it drives home the fact the Fleabag has no friends, a theme brought up by Therapist Fiona Shaw in the last episode. So, what does she do…
Turn up at the priest's house after his bed time of 9:30pm, with G & Ts. Seriously, Father. Andrew Scott in that Buffalo Bill T-shirt was doing something weird to my inside feelings.
Conversation, turns to the bible and Fleabag begins picking some holes and we learn that Father. Andrew Scott is one of those progressive/reasonable catholics who believe the bible is metaphor and a moral code, not fact. There’s a bit of flirting before Pam, who lives upstairs, lol, is awoken and they have to move outside.
On a bench in the garden now, Fleabag asks is she should convert, although, not too seriously, and Father. Andrew Scott says no ‘he likes that she believes in a meaningless existence and she makes him question his faith,’ what, and?! ‘I’ve never felt closer to god.’ Also turns out Father. Andrew Scott is being tormented by foxes.
They talk around the idea of doubts and Fleabag’s inability to be celibate. For Father. Andrew Scott though, celibacy is easier than romantic relationships.
‘What if you meet someone you like?’
‘I talk and drink and laugh and give them bibles and hope that they’ll leave me alone.’
So he is into her!
‘What if you met someone you love?’
‘We’re not going to have sex.’
So, he’s kind of onto her and has just kind of admitted he’s into her. But maybe his commitment to God is actually more resolute than I first thought, or maybe, this only being episode three, we’re still getting there. It seems that he knows it wouldn’t end well and it seems that he’s not so inexperienced as to be naive about such a thing. The implication being that he’s been there with women, plenty of times and maybe like Fleabag, not a lot of good came from it. I really enjoy that everything is out in the open here. That these characters who truly click aren’t hiding salacious intentions from each other (that we know). It makes it easier to like them and route for them to be friends. As that’s what it seems they both want. We’re not left waiting for it all to be fucked up, which can be quite anxiety inducing. Maybe, the lesson here is that Fleabag can and has made a friend and without using sex even!
Although, maybe she isn’t so sure the friendship will last as she turns to us and says:
‘We’ll last a week.’
Is that ‘we’ll last a week,’ as in before I fuck it up, or ‘we’ll last a week before we fuck?’ Either way, Father. Andrew Scott pulls her up on speaking to us…
‘Where did you go?’
And, uh, excuse me that’s our special time thank you father!
But in doing so he’s continuing the show’s breaking down of the fourth wall breaking convention. Where is she going? Who is she talking to? Why isn’t she in the moment with her friend instead of narrating her life to an invisible audience?
I love how shocked she is that someone noticed, I was pretty shocked too. She gives us a look, confused but also concerned. Is our direct line to Fleabag about to be called into question or threatened? If she makes a real friend will we be ousted? I love that they’re playing around with it and then…
See you next time!