Previously on The Durrells in Corfu, the family rode out an unrelenting and unusual storm. Leslie went quite literally stir crazy. Larry, who had scuttled home with a case of the mumps, exasperated everyone with his infertility paranoia. But mostly notably Aunt Hermione returned to the island with a mysterious new friend in tow. Regrettably, her companion turned out to be a fraudulent medium who pounced on Louisa’s yearning for her late husband and attempted to profit from the family’s loss.
Fortunately for the Durrells, the sun came out and the fake spiritualist was unceremoniously run off. And it would appear that after last week’s emotionally harrowing experience, everyone’s attention has turned to love…and cricket.
Three stages of a relationship. Yes, love is in the air on Corfu, from the first blush to the death throes and something a little more complicated in between. Let’s examine each one in turn.
Donald and Margo - You may recall that Larry’s friend Donald has been smitten with Margo since season one. Alas, Margo has a taste for more exotic men than this pale, bookish, very English suitor.
Enter Gerry whose studies of the natural world have given him keen insights into mating rituals. Donald has been taking his frustration at his failure to woo Miss Durrell out on young Gerald including a threat to beat the inattentive boy.
Master of distraction that he is, Gerry suggests that Donald try to act more “foreign”; less like a timid rabbit, more like a slinky tiger. As one would expect, this bit of advice backfired ending in confusion for Margo and humiliation for Donald.
Gerry, however, is not about to give up on his matchmaking efforts. Next he suggests that his tutor attempt to look more exotic by getting a tan like that American film star Al Jolson. Oh. My. Once again, well-meaning yet self-serving advice goes awry, and poor pasty Donald returns with a nasty sunburn.
Finally, after the burn has died down and a tan has started to emerge, Margo comments that Donald is looking rather attractive, “positively Mediterranean" in fact. Without meaning to, Donald seals the deal. Instead of his usual fawning, he calls her superficial and tells her she should like him for being a complex and intelligent person or not at all. At last Margo finds him interesting and sees a possible romance in their future. She even asks to see his workable googly.
Larry and Vasilia- At the other end of the spectrum we find the dying embers of the affair between the eldest Durrell child and his predatory lady love. Larry is tiring of Vasilia barging in on him while he's writing, insisting he propose to her and expecting sex on demand. Well, he doesn’t seem to mind that last one so much. However, when your girlfriend drops by and your first thought is to hide all the sharp implements in the house, it’s time to admit you’re involved in an unhealthy attachment.
On a visit home, Larry tells his mother he wants to end the relationship and is just waiting for the right moment. Margo suggests that rather than anger Vasilia by breaking up with her, he should do things that make her go off him instead. When he tries this tactic i.e. to behave “as dull as buggery”, Vasilia sees through it claiming he is scared of her and so wants to revert to Englishness.
In the end, it’s her desire to possess Hugh again that motivates Vasilia to end the affair herself. At the cricket match (more about that soon), she decides to dump Larry after three months together. She maintains that life is too short and she doesn’t want to be with him anymore. He does his best to conceal his glee and before we know it, Larry has returned home to the bosom of his family.
Louisa and Hugh…and Spiros? – We’ll look at this final relationship as one in flux and through the lens of a ‘friendly cricket match” between the Greeks and the English. It begins thus...
Hugh obviously sees Spiros as some sort of threat to his deepening courtship of Louisa. His jealousy may have some merit as the widow and the taxi driver do have a fairly flirtatious rapport. So all this macho chest beating is surely in aid of winning points with the lovely Mrs. Durrell.
Putting together the teams is a humorous undertaking with a scarcity of talent and experience on both sides. Hugh and Leslie resort to recruiting non-Brits, Sven and Viggo, to their squad. Concerned to discover that Spiros knows nothing about cricket and assumes baseball is basically the same game, Louisa beseeches Theo to return ahead of schedule from a conference to take over the training of the Greek players.
On the day of the match, Countess Mavrodaki provides the (somewhat gruesome) trophy as requested and takes her place as impartial umpire. Due to a controversial call against the Greek team and Dr. Petridis’ threat to stop treating his British and the French patients, the Countess abandons her responsibilities in a huff and Louisa hesitantly takes up the officiating duties.
With Theo spearheading the team, the Greeks are starting to get a bit cocky. This angers Hugh who orders Leslie to bowl an aggressive bouncer at Spiros. Leslie balks at this command since Spiros is an inexperienced player. Hugh relieves him of the ball and proceeds to hit his rival hard in the head, knocking him unconscious in the process.
Louisa is distressed at Hugh’s behavior and concerned about Spiros’ condition. To make matters worse, during a break in the action, Louisa witnesses Vasilia kissing Hugh. What she can’t hear is Hugh proclaiming his commitment to her and England. Rebuffing her advances prompts Vasilia to try to turn the Greeks against the English. Leslie’s clumsy attempts to intervene only make matters worse and a full-scale food fight breaks out with Louisa storming off.
In the end, Hugh invites Louisa over to explain the misunderstandings that occurred at the match. Crazy Vasilia kissed him so she would see. After he confesses his feelings, Louisa compares him to a Prince Charming explaining that she needs someone with soul and heart. Hugh does his best to convince her that he loves her, will cherish her children and never leave her. Then, and here’s the kicker, he mentions his desire for her to return to England with him.
We don’t hear Louisa’s answer to that proposition. She returns home and joins her family, including the prodigal Larry, for a swim in a somewhat dated bathing costume. Spiro, having driven Larry back to the house, watches the family with an expression of great tenderness. Later he apologizes to Louisa for his behavior at the cricket match, and tells her that no matter where she’s from, she is very special to him. Spiro takes his leave without further comment, but Louisa is visibly affected by his words. And just in case we need that moment verified by a third party, Larry comes out of the house and asks Louisa why Spiros is so antagonistic towards Hugh. Larry rejects his mother’s explanation that Hugh is English and seems arrogant. He reckons it’s because Spiro loves her.
So there you have it. Lines have been drawn. You must now choose sides between the rich, charming (and I believe, sincere) Hugh Jarvis or Spiros, the protective local man of demonstrable heart and soul who is supposedly married (we still don’t know the story). The season finale is next week so who knows if we’ll have closure or a cliff-hanger. Have your say in the comments section about this love triangle and any other aspects of the episode or series.