SPOILERS ahead, Charlie! It's a recap after all...
Devastating news Fleabag friends! The news came out this week, just days before the episode airing, not only will this be the last episode of the season it’ll be the end of Fleabag entirely!
Now, I’m a big fan of a show having a narrative end point. I like moving toward something and not just wandering on directionless. That said. I also like a three act structure and I just felt like there was one more season worth of stories and development for these characters. I wanted more time. I just wanted more time. As great as this wrap up is and as much as it's a satisfying conclusion, the news is heartbreaking nonetheless.
So, let’s take a look back on the final EVER episode of Fleabag and see how they tied it all up.
What was quite clear throughout this episode is that the stakes weren’t crazy high, there was definitely a feeling of resolution, calmness and maturity running through the proceedings. A feeling of completeness in a way. Which makes sense for the conclusion to a story.
We start where we left off last time. Fleabag is waking up next to Father Andrew Scott, she’s stroking him in a pretty loving way. Not in the way she’d interact with a lesser conquest.
‘I can’t believe you just did that.’
It’s the day of the wedding! The guests are arriving, Claire is wearing a ridiculous hair extension, Dad checks in whether he needs to say anything emotional, Finish Claire is leaving and totally obsessed with our Claire and it’s going to be a lovely day. Oscar Winner Olivia Coleman is in her prime, showing off her diverse friends, because she’s progressive and Lols, she can’t remember her fiance’s name.
‘I always call you darling!’
Fleabag has brought a present, which she’;s been trying to get rid of for ages, even though they weren’t meant to but hey, she’s a natural rule breaker.
‘I’m going to open this over a bin, so I’ve got somewhere to put the paper.’
She called Fleabag along and asks if she’s planning a little show. Expecting Fleabag, essential to make the wedding about herself and ruin things. By, say, having a miscarriage. Oscar Winner Olivia Coleman opens the present which turns out to be the bust Fleabag stole, which turns out to be based on her mother. Which is bizarre and infuriating. So much so that Fleabag heads outside, somewhat distressed and runs into Father Andrew Scott.
He’s practicing his homily. They’re awkward and intense and just need to get through this bit. Father Andrew Scott is about to head off and get changed into his gown (?) when they start making out. He’s so clearly into Fleabag and he says he doesn’t know what the feeling is… ‘Is it god or is it me?’ ‘I don’t know.’ This, will turn out to be the big question of the episode. As he leaves Fleabag recalls the first time they met by saying ‘Fuck you then.’
Cocktail in hand, Claire approaches Fleabag and finally admits she’s hates her husband and Finish Claire is the man she loves. About damn time right!
Father Andrew Scott appears in his priests robes and it reprimanded for upstaging the bride. He looks pretty majestic. Oscar Winner Olivia Coleman introduces Father Andrew Scott to the circle .
‘This is my unstable step daughter who’s had a miscarriage.’
At which point Claire lets it out that she in fact, had the miscarriage. And Sleary Martin is pretty upset about it. Claire uses his line from the first episode about a goldfish not wanting to be in the bowl or some such to throw it in his face and declares their marriage is over.
The couple and Fleabag find some privacy in the kitchen where Martin has a little speech prepared. It’s kind a good speech about how he tries, he tries and he does things, chores and such, and can’t help that he’s a douche. Well, one might argue you can help being a douche, but there you go. He’s pretty desperate for her to stay with him. So desperate he tells her to get on her knees and beg him to leave. Claire without missing a beat, gets on her knees and tell him to leave her. And finally, FINALLY, it seems we’re rid of Sleazy Martin.
Now might be a good time to mention that despite pushes the camera away at the end of the last episode, we have been granted a couple of looks from Fleabag. She hasn’t spoken to us, but she’s definitely looked in our direction. We’re not completely shut out. Just yet.
She pops out for a cigarette, repeated the convention from the first episode if you remember. This time she’s alone and cannot stop thinking about Father Andrew Scott, specifically kissing Father Andrew Scott.
The wedding looks as if it’s about to start and Oscar Winner Olivia Coleman is looking around nervously with Father Andrew Scott. They’re standing next to the portrait of the girls which features a pretty bedraggled looking Claire and yes, the back of Fleabag’s head. Fleabag and Claire are having a snack when approached by Oscar Winner Olivia Coleman who can’t find Dad anywhere. She asks for their help and when she says ‘please’ we’re finally given a moment to feel an ounce of sympathy. We finally see a crack in the veneer. A molecule of desperation. And it’s nice and a perfect subtle way to bring this character full circle. She is, it turns out, not a monster. Fleabag looks a little smug but wouldn’t you after all this time.
She finds Dad in the attic with his foot stuck in the flooring. Like literally, he can’t get it out. As much as Fleabag and we think he means he can’t get out of the wedding. This is a great conversation between father and daughter and close up a lot of the threads of their relationship from this and the last season. He makes up an elaborate story about why he’s in the attic, unable to tell the truth., and she agrees to help him out in exchange for one honest sentence, one full sentence. Fleabag persits in helping him escape the wedding but Dad says he knows Oscar Winner Olivia Coleman is not everyone’s cup of tea but that neither is Fleabag. She blames him for her creation and he in turn says that it’s her mother’s fault. But that the parts of her that are her mother are the parts she should cling to. He says he just wants people to be proud of him and Fleabag asserts that they are proud. That he has two daughters who love him even if he doesn’t like them.
‘I like Claire!’ Is his perfect response. They have a little laugh and Fleabag gets his foot out. Which is when he really panics. She assuages his panic by reminding him of his own words at the mother’s funeral. ‘Come on, buck up, smiles, charm. Off we go.’
‘I think you know how to love better than any others. That’s why you find it all so painful.’
‘I don’t find it painful.’
Ot wanting to walk the aisle alone, Dad clings onto Fleabag. The wedding begins with Creepy Jake playing a version of ‘Where is Love’ from Oliver, entitled… ‘Where is Claire?’
Meanwhile, Fleabag tells Claire that she should go after Finish Claire, who is at the airport already. But they agree that her finding out which terminal he’s in, buying a dummy ticket and turning up in boots might be a little intense. She finishes up by saying that Fleabag is the only person she’d run through an airport for.
It’s time for Father Andrew Scott’s homily and ‘fuck me!’ he didn’t get much sleep last night. Wink, wink! He homily is wandering. It starts off as a rather violent missive against love, about how it makes you selfish, creppy, obsessed with your hair. He’s clearly struggling with the throes of love. But if it’s so hard no wonder we don’t want to do it alone. ‘It takes strength to know what’s right. And love isn’t something that weak people do. Being a romantic takes an awful lot of hope. When you find somebody you love it feels like hope.’
Jesus. He got us all in the feels, right?! This speech covers a lot of the ground the show itself is covering. It’s less about atonement and wondering whether one is evil. It’s more about wondering about one’s capacity to love. To hope for better.
His homily is so affecting that midway Claire decides she is going to chase Finish Claire down and she runs off, slipping out the sideway to go and get him. This is where we leave Claire, full of hope that she’ll find Finish Claire in Boots and he won’t think it’s too creepy. Speaking of creepy. Creepy Jake and Sleazy Martin look pretty cut up about Claire running out.
The speech concludes with what I believe is the message of this episode and maybe the entire season… ‘Be strong and take heart, all you who hope…’
After the wedding, Fleabag pops out the front for a cigarette and Dad pops his head out too. They share a puff of a cigarette, so maybe Fleabag isn’t alone everytime she wants to pop out. Maybe the convention is ended. He let’s Fleabag know the priest is looking or her and jokingly tells her not to break his heart. If only he knew. She says her goodbyes letting Father Andrew Scott know that she’ll be at the bus stop, waiting for the bus.
He nails it and turns up. The bus however, is 46 minutes away. A really long time. He says: ‘they always lie, it’s magically come in a minute.’ Because you never know when there’s a bus just around the corner.
They sit, quietly for a second before Fleabag, knowingly says: ‘It’s good isn’t it.’ Meaning, he’s chosen God after all. And then she tells him the worse thing is that she ‘fucking’ loves him. She says it again and she really means it. Really. She doesn’t even want him to say it back, just wants to let it hang out there on its own.
He tells her it’ll pass, in an attempt to comfort and holds her hand. When it looks like there’s no magic bus around the corner, he decides to walk. He makes a joke and then tells her, he loves her too. Still, he walks off.
Fleabag sits and cries for a second then looks at the bus timetable. The bus has been cancelled. So, no bus after all. A (pretty poorly animated) fox comes along and she sends it after the Father then heads off. Going in the opposite direction to Father Andrew Scott. We begin to follow, but she stops and shakes her head. We’re not coming along with her. She walks a little further. The turns and gives us a little wave goodbye. And that’s it.
So she’s discovered in herself the propensity for love. She doesn’t need us, her audience, to perform her life for or too overshare and makes jokes with because she’s if not happy then comfortable.
It’s a solid conclusion, it’s a redemption narrative and we leave everyone in a good place. Not a shocking or sentimental or overly dramatic place. There could be more story but this way we leave everyone with hope. I guess that was the point after all.
It's been swell recapping Fleabag and I hope you've enjoyed coming and relieving and chatting about the series. I'm not sure what if anything I'll be recapping in the future. Maybe something a little less subtext heavy and something a bit more action heavy... like a reality show... maybe one with drag queens? We'll see and I hope you'll come back for a taste of whatever comes next.
Thanks Fleabag cast and crew. Thanks Phoebe Waller-Bridge. And thanks for reading.