Previously on The Durrells in Corfu, Louisa cracked down on Gerry’s wild boy ways and tried to arrange for some structured learning. Leslie showed some initiative by starting a homemade liqueur business, but no one wanted to buy his booze. Margo decided she liked boys too much to join a convent. And, following a tepid response to his novel from the town and his family, Larry decided to get a place of his own to the dismay of his mother.
Much of this week’s episode is concerned with Mrs. Durrell's birthday and her discomfort with growing older. Her children certainly aren’t making her feel any better about the passage of time.
Several factors have exacerbated Louisa's unease – her oldest child has moved out. Her catty landlady taunts her mercilessly about her attractiveness. (If you ask me, Louisa is far more beautiful than Vasilia any day.) In addition, Margo becomes a stickler about her mother’s inappropriate fashion choices, buying her a black baggy dress fit for Greek widows like Lugaretzia.
Perhaps even more upsetting is the rumor that her ex-fiancé Sven (Ulric Von Der Esch) has a new girlfriend. Considering it was revealed that Sven was gay at the end of Season 1, this new woman’s appearance is quite a blow to Louisa’s confidence. It’s also obvious that she still has feelings for the handsome man who got away.
More about Louisa’s struggles later. Let’s review what her children were up to this time around.
Leslie takes up photography. With Theo’s encouragement, Leslie has found an outlet for his creative energies. As he puts it, photography “is all the fun of shooting with guns plus you get a picture at the end of it.”
Armed with a borrowed camera and a book on portrait photography, Leslie recruits family and friends who agree to let him capture them on film. Some of the more entertaining poses are Hugh with a watermelon, Margo with a lacy veil covering her recently acne-ridden face, and the attempt to photograph Gerry with a very uncooperative pelican.
The most revelatory photos are those of Louisa. Leslie tells his mother she is beautiful and he wants to take her photos of her to prove it. (Is Leslie turning out to be the most sensitive and lovely Durrell child? Perhaps Lugaretzia was right!) The prints from the first photo shoot with Louisa dressed as though she raided Margo’s wardrobe finally knocks some sense into the birthday girl. She sees how foolish she’s been to try to turn back time. The second sitting yields much better results as Louisa decides to take Spiros’ advice and just be more herself.
Gerry 1 – Tutor 0. You may recall at the end of the last episode, Louisa informed Gerry that she had finally found a suitable tutor for him, the learned Mr. Kralefsky (Vernon Dobtcheff). This week, we peek in on Gerry’s first session at the elderly man’s villa. It would be an understatement to say that young Master Durrell came in unprepared. Not knowing the exports of Warwickshire and rudimentary French conversation is bad enough but calling Shakespeare “The Barb” is surely and indication that these lessons are going to be long and painful.
Gerry quickly realizes, however, that if he just flatters his tutor, his attention will be diverted into telling stories about his glorious past and the lesson plans will go by the wayside. I can’t really say that I blame him. I’d want to be getting back to those adorable otters too! This diversionary tactic comes to a climax when Gerry asks Mr. Kralefsky to reenact a wrestling move he employed against a brute. We all knew that would end in tears…or injury. With that, the tenure of Mr. Kralefsky comes to an end.
By the way, did anyone else think that the “go see Mother” bit was going to develop into something more substantial? It just ended up being a funny misunderstanding about what the family assumed was a euphemism for going to the lavatory. And how did that bedridden woman get ahold of Gerry’s hedgehog?
Larry and the obviously treacherous woman. When Louisa first visits Larry in his new abode, we learn he is boxing, smoking and wearing the same underwear for weeks. Louisa brings him fresh pants and Battenberg cake and admits she misses his intelligent conversation. Larry tells her she’s living half a life and should move on after Sven.
But Louisa’s not the only woman showing up at Larry’s pad. Evil, conniving, full-of-herself Vasilia shows up demanding a love poem. When he confides later to Margo that this visit occurred, his sister warns him not to get involved with her.
Alas Larry’s resolve doesn’t hold up and the next time Vasilia darkens his door he barely resists before falling into bed with her. Of course, Louisa stops by to find her son in flagrante with her nemesis who proceeds to mock her for being a mother and not a woman. I must say I was disappointed in Larry for not defending Louisa against Vasilia’s petty attacks.
But not as disappointed as when, at Louisa’s big birthday celebration at the end of the episode, Larry announces he had plans to marry Vasilia! Will Louisa tell him about his fiancée’s offer to give up Larry if she would give up Hugh? The boy needs to understand that he is just Vasilia’s pawn in a game of revenge against Louisa. As Hugh said earlier, she is raving mad.
As for Louisa’s dilemma about the Sven/Hugh issue, she gets closure when she talks to the lovely Swede and learns the woman he’s been about town with is a bossy, old friend from home. His other visitor, Viggo, is actually the one he’s in love with and Sven has decided not to deny who he is anymore. He says he will always love Louisa, but he doesn’t want to stand in the way of her getting together with Hugh (or Huge, as he likes to tease).
So for the time being, it would appear that Hugh is the man in Louisa’s life. He has made an effort getting to know her children and has accepted Sven by inviting him along to the birthday party. We still have to wonder if Spiros isn’t more than a little interested in Mrs. Durrell. He’s obviously suspicious or jealous of Hugh and his family situation is still a mystery- to me at least.
My final thought about this week’s show is to wonder if Margo ever going to get a substantial story line this season. Sure, she thought she wanted to be a nun earlier but that was mainly comic relief. Then this week her biggest problem was that a gorgeous, feminist-friendly man isn’t going to look at a girl with zits all over her face? With the re-appearance of Larry’s friend Donald (Ben Hall) as the Durrell’s new lodger and Gerry’s tutor, perhaps Margo will finally give the poor lad the time of day. I just hope the lone sister in the Durrell clan gets some time in the spotlight before the season is up.
Let’s chat about what just happened and what you suspect might be on the horizon for our favorite British expats. The comments section awaits!