Welcome back to another season ofThe Durrells in Corfu. I'll be recapping the events, both touching and comical, that take place over the next eight episodes. I'm looking forward to hearing your insights and opinions about the characters and storylines. If you need to refresh your memory about what happened during season 2, you can take peruse my previous recaps right here.
Upon our return to Corfu this week, we discover life in the Durrell household hasn’t really changed that much. Larry (Josh O'Connor) is writing his third novel, but his publisher wants him to use a pseudonym because his last book sold so badly. Margo (Daisy Waterstone) has broken up with her boyfriend Zoltan because the family begged her to and now needs to find a new distraction. Love is in the air for Leslie (Callum Woodhouse) and Gerry (Milo Parker) still has his vast menagerie of native fauna. Last but not least, Louisa (Keeley Hawes) has decided to give up on love and content herself with being a happy, busy widow which is code for interfering in her children’s lives when they would rather she butt out.
This is what happened next:
Very early in the episode, Larry trips over Gerry’s dog Roger and is certain he’s broken his leg. Since no one seems particularly concerned, he fashions an elaborate splint. Louisa agrees to go fetch Dr. Petridis, but alas he is out of town. His wife Florence (Lucy Black) says Larry needs an x-ray more than a doctor, but no such technology is available on the island. Mrs. Petridis adds that Larry is no stranger to accidents and illness, so he obviously likes the attention. (Remember his rifle kickback injury in the series' first season that led to a ruptured appendix? Or his miserable bout of mumps in Season 2?)
Miffed by this insult to her eldest son, Louisa goes to Theo (Yorgos Karamihos), the most educated man on the island, for advice. He too questions if Larry is really hurt or if it is a fiction. Louisa concedes she doesn’t know, but it hurts. Theo reminds her he didn’t qualify as a doctor, but he has an idea that requires a trip to the mainland.
Meanwhile, Leslie suggests making his brother a plaster cast. He did deliver a baby last year so he’s practically a doctor. Larry eventually agrees, but the end-product turns out to be heavy, hot and decorated with put-downs such as “Larry is a bastard” and “Bigfoot Bighead”.
Theo returns from Athens, giddy over his new toy, an x-ray machine which he’s set up in Dr. Petridis’ spare room. Larry makes his way into town, whining and whimpering all the way. Florence, imbued with the strength reserved for extremely sleep-deprived new mothers, cuts Larry’s plaster cast off with big scissors.
When the x-rays are finally developed, Theo concludes that Larry has clearly broken the record for how low his pain threshold is which means young Mr. Durrell probably just has a torn muscle.
Margo’s New Hobby
Without a suitor to fawn over her, Margo has fallen into a state of extreme boredom once again. Her mother suggests rather brusquely that she get a ruddy hobby and so she does. Though soap sculpting was probably not what Louisa had in mind, at least it keeps the girl quiet and occupied. The subjects of Margo’s sculptures are unusual representations of what's going on with her family (one of Gerry’s pelicans eating Leslie and a three-headed Hydra to represent Leslie’s trio of girlfriends).
So how fortuitous was it when Margo ran out of soap and ended up scrounging for more at Theo’s place. There she learned about his acquisition of the rather fascinating x-ray machine and subsequently discovered her gift of calming fussy babies to the relief of an exhausted Mrs. Petridis. This plants the seed of a plan that she later announces at the doctor’s surgery. Margo is going to work for Theo and Florence as a radiography assistant/nanny since she’s “good with people and babies, needs to be useful for a change and likes seeing men with their clothes off.”
It should come as no surprise that the youngest Durrell has not lost his fervor for wildlife. Gerry continues to collect specimens to protect and observe, the most recent being a pair of flamingos that are not very fond of Mrs. Durrell.
Louisa, on the other hand, is concerned about the cost of keeping Gerry’s herd fed and so puts her son in charge of animal produce. He’ll still be among animals, but more productive ones that can contribute to the household income. In the meantime, she encourages him to release some of his less useful pets back into the wild.
Alas, we know that Gerry can’t help himself, bringing home every stray bird and snake he comes across. In a facetious attempt to obey his mother, he shoos away the family’s chickens and declares himself a vegetarian. In the end, he teaches his mother the trick to befriending the flamingos – don’t look them in the eye – and for a while, there will be peace in the Durrells' animal kingdom.
Elsewhere, the middle Durrell son is wooing three young ladies simultaneously and it's a full-time job to be sure. Leslie claims he’s making up for all the time he didn’t have a girlfriend. When asked what he likes about them he says Daphne (Elli Tringou) is fiery and confident; Tsanta (Fenia Schina) is gentle and kind; and Dionisia (Erifili Kitzoglou) made him laugh so much he wet himself.
Louisa is concerned about her son's promiscuous ways, so first she consults Larry about the problem. She says Leslie needs special care. Ideally she’d spend all day with him like a bodyguard pointing out hazards. Larry says they’re girlfriends, not landmines and asks her to please not get involved, but she says she needs to protect her most vulnerable child.
Next she appeals to Spiro (Alexis Georgoulis) for help. (His response that he “loves to help and her family gives him so many chances” was priceless). Spiro’s man-to-man talk with Leslie isn’t exactly what Louisa had mind so she recruits him to take her around the island instead to meet the three contenders for Leslie’s affections.
Their first stop is Daphne, a no-nonsense girl who knows that Louisa is checking her out. Spiro tells Louisa that Daphne is tough because her dad is a gangster. He also went out with her mother in his youth but feels there’s no need to mention that to Mrs. Durrell. The second girl is Tsanta who they find working at the church. This unassuming girl is polite and says she can see why Leslie loves his mother. Spiro says Tsanta is a sweet peasant girl who keeps her knees together; he knew her mother well. It’s no wonder she instantly goes to the head of the class with Mummy Durrell.
Finally they go to the bakery where Lugaretzia's niece, Dionisia, works. Louisa discovers the young woman doesn’t speak English and wonders how she and her son make each other laugh. With translation courtesy of Spiro, Dionisia tells her to mind her own business and that she likes Leslie because he is silly. Spiro says this one lives for now and does what comes naturally. Though Louisa has made her mind up and plans to tell Leslie which girl to choose, they all have a laugh over their common understanding of Lugaretzia’s chronic groaning and bad back.
Meanwhile Larry tries to give Leslie some brotherly advice regarding why he shouldn’t have a trio of girlfriends. A. he might mix up their names, b. if they find out he’s cheating they will dump him, c. Mother isn’t happy, and d. how would he feel if his girlfriend had two other guys? When Leslie asks Larry where he gets his confidence, the elder boy jokes at first but quickly notices that Leslie is in need of serious advice. He suggests that in order to feel less nervous Leslie should imagine them naked, but he says the girls have already told him not to. The heart to heart ends in confusion as Leslie keeps missing Larry’s references including “yin and yang” and “can of worms”.
When Louisa makes her preference for Tsanta known, factions within the family are formed. Larry and Gerry back Daphne because Leslie needs a strong woman. They tell her she can win their brother over by talking about guns and shooting and saying she hates books. Margo and Lugaretizia (Anna Savva) favor Dionisia because she’s pretty, jolly and has good fashion sense. (There’s also the free bread!)
Each girl is invited to come the house on the same day and time. (What are the chances, eh?) Tsanta arrives first and asks where Leslie is. Louisa says she told him to be home at five for Sunday tea - a bit of England they have brought with them. Well, that and sarcasm...and a fear of expressing emotions. Shortly thereafter, the other two candidates arrive and then the fun really begins.
When Tsanta askes who the other girls are, Leslie tells her that Daphne is just a mate and denies knowing Dionisia at all. Larry is ranting about his cast and tells Spiro to just cut his leg off because nobody cares. And Louisa makes a blanket apology to all the Greek people.
On cue, Aunt Hermione (Barbara Flynn) arrives early from her travels across Europe. In desperation, Louisa announces that her aunt will decide which girlfriend Leslie should keep. Rather than delivering her traditional, moral judgements, Hermione refuses to make the decision for Leslie, saying that he must listen to the whisperings of his soul. This new, laid back Hermione also tells Louisa her children are strong-minded, and she should enjoy them without judgement. Good parenting isn’t about meddling; it’s about loving them, she says.
Once Daphne and Dionisia catch on to the fact that they’ve been three-timed, they beat a hasty retreat. Tsanta remains behind, but only to tell Leslie that she doesn’t want to see him anymore. Leslie’s plan had been to end up with the keenest girl who would be less likely to cheat on him. Now he has nobody.
Louisa says she has one job - to see that her four children are happy and when he finds someone who cherishes him even more than she does that will bring her joy knowing her job is done. For now, happiness seems implausible, so he reckons he’ll just stay at home with his mother. Later Louisa suggests he go to the one he loves the most and tell her that she’s the only one for him.
In the end, Leslie’s true love turns out to be Dionsinia who shows up for dinner with free bread from the bakery and a few words of English. As the family sits down to a vegetarian meal loving one another any way they can, Louisa says “So, now we are seven” and smiles.
So what did you think of the first episode of Season 3? Do you think Louisa has the resolve it takes to remain a widow forever? Will Larry bounce back to write a best seller? What are the chances Margo gets a substantial story arc this year? Discuss these and any other Durrell related topics in the comments section.
Oh, and my vote for best line of the evening goes to Larry when he tries to soften the blow of Leslie’s heartbreak, “At least you know it wouldn’t have worked out with Tsanta – because Tsanta only comes once a year."