Last time we visited the Durrells, Leslie was juggling three women, Larry was nursing yet another injury, Margo was exploring her artistic side and Gerry was standing his ground in defense of the many animals in his care. If you desire more details, they can be found here in the full Episode 1 recap.
The theme of this week’s episode of The Durrells in Corfu is the circle of life – a sad, unexpected passing and the promise of a new, also unexpected, life. Much like THE WALL, a mini-ecosystem Gerry is obsessed with at the moment, birth and death are simultaneously occurring all the time.
Unfortunately for poor Louisa, she is forced to deal with the practicalities and stressful emotions of both. Let’s begin with the sudden demise of a dear family member.
Farewell, Aunt Hermione
As you probably recall, Aunt Hermione (Barbara Flynn) always had a knack for popping up at the worst times. Previously no-nonsense and demanding, she has noticeably mellowed this season. Her judgmental tendencies have matured into something more comparable to a sage elder stateswoman. Her demeanor is a strange combination of giddiness and serenity.
In fact, she tells Larry not to “neglect us elders in your writing. We are humanity’s depots of wisdom. We are its Pyramids and its Parthenon. But if you ever describe us as spritely, I’ll ask Leslie to shoot you."
Later, Larry goes to Hermione’s room to check on her only to find his great-aunt has died quietly in her sleep. He breaks the news to Louisa and the necessary arrangements are quickly set into motion. This involves an undertaker (Babis Galiatsatos) who bluntly explains that “the corpse is in the box” and says they’ll speak soon about money.
Afterwards, the family gathers around the living room discussing how they should honor Aunt Hermione. Larry suggests they should mark her leaving with a big gesture which will symbolize kicking death in the ass. (Who else thinks Larry seems just a bit too exuberant about the whole thing?) Leslie proposes slaying the goat that that has stopped giving milk in her honor; an idea to which Gerry is obviously opposed, but which Larry considers appropriate and very “druid.” More on the fate of the goat later…
Louisa goes to the funeral parlor where she learns that her aunt is in the basement lying with a young man who has had his head cut off by a machine – a weird and unnecessary fact to say the least. When she verifies that Hermione is being embalmed for the journey back to England, the undertaker asks who will be escorting her on the ship. Bodies have been known to get lost in transit, so he advises someone accompany the deceased. Spiro says it “looks like you’re off to England” and the increasingly inappropriate undertaker asks her to bring back some marmite.
It is decided that Louisa will take her aunt back to Old Blighty and Larry will join her (mainly because he thinks it might help his writing career). Margo is convinced that Hermione’s spirit is restless because the imprint of her body keeps appearing on her bed. Louisa suggests they hold a memorial service in Corfu ahead of their departure and Larry delegates the task of planning the ceremony to Margo, seeing as she is the most spiritual.
As expected, the service turns out being very Durrellian, a most fitting send-off for a woman who finally learned how to relax, enjoy life and appreciate the quirks of her family members. There was Margo’s bizarre Three Little Maids from School sing-along and Hawaiian lament recitation followed by misguided but heartfelt remembrances delivered by friends and family members. Larry was probably the most entertaining eulogist when he quoted Emily Dickinson.
"Dying is a wild night and a new road. Aunt Hermione is on that road now, and as someone who has been in the car with her, God help the driver.”
Sacrificing the goat remained on the agenda though none of the siblings were willing (Gerry and Leslie) or competent enough (Larry and Margo) to manage it. Even arrogant Zoltan (Merch Husey), Margo’s ex who tries to woo her back with an unneeded x-ray, can’t bring himself to kill the doomed animal. Instead he goes out and buys her a butcher-slaughtered goat, finally regaining her approval and affection.
With the old woman’s spirit finally at rest (Larry admits to laying on the bed to freak out his sister), Louisa, her eldest son and Hermione’s "carcass" are ready to depart Corfu for England. The rest of the Durrells are putting in their shopping orders for ammo and stockings. Louisa requests that Spiro look after her children and then asks what he wants her to bring him from England. He kisses her hand and says simply “yourself.”
Louisa smiles and then says, “Come on Auntie, one last trip.”
There’s a Baby Durrell on the Way
Just as Leslie had pared his trio of girlfriends down to the one special, beautiful Dionisia, it appears his mother’s attempt to teach him about the importance of contraception had been less than coherent. Word of Leslie’s impending fatherhood arrives on the Durrells’ doorstep via Daphne’s imposing father. Mr. Likourgos (Gerasimos Skiadaresis) sternly informs Louisa that Leslie was expected to do the decent thing and marry his daughter.
When Leslie returns home, Louisa has to break the news about the pregnancy which he denies could be his fault because he only slept with Daphne one and half times. Mrs. Durrell loses her cool a little at his failure to understand the seriousness of his situation. Leslie admits he doesn’t love Daphne which breaks Louisa’s heart at the thought of her son having a loveless marriage.
Despite all her efforts, Louisa failed to keep her most vulnerable child from seriously derailing his life. Spiro says not to worry so much, it may turn out well. He married his wife after she was with child. Louisa asks if he has any regrets. He says no, but the way they look at one another you know he does.
When the young parents-to-be finally meet up to discuss the future, Louisa speaks for Leslie since he is still coming to terms with everything. She says they shouldn’t rush into anything, but Daphne’s father insists they marry before the baby shows so there will be no shame. If Leslie refuses, he will shoot him with his army rifle. Leslie being Leslie, he wants to know what type of rifle Mr. Likourgos will be using.
Back at the Durrell estate, Larry tips Leslie off to the phenomena of phantom pregnancies and “wishful thinking” by women dumped by their boyfriends. When Daphne (Elli Tringou) and Leslie next meet, neither one seems thrilled about their situation. Leslie suggests they go see Dr. Petrides to make sure Daphne is well (and truly with child). A long wait ensues, so Leslie must run out on Daphne to attend Aunt Hermione’s memorial service.
After official medical confirmation that Daphne is indeed pregnant, the parents-to-be are still at odds about their future. Louisa tells Leslie that Daphne is a decent girl, but he must make a decision to marry her or not.
In the end Leslie goes to Daphne’s house on his own to offer an apology. Even though an armed father stands before young Mr. Durrell ordering him to marry his daughter, Leslie refuses because he doesn’t love Daphne. But he assures them he and his family will support her and he’ll be a good father. While this decision is greeted with stony silence, Leslie leaves the Likourgos property without being shot.
Once back home, Leslie finally gets emotional telling his mother that things aren’t fine. He feels trapped and not anywhere near ready to be a parent. She commiserates saying she’s not ready to be a grandparent either. When Louisa and Larry are departing for their journey to England, Daphne joins Leslie at the docks. They look like a couple trying to make a fresh start, or rather, like a couple trying to ease into a pair of tight shoes.
So what did you think of this week’s Durrells installment? Anyone else trying to remember how old Leslie is? If you figure it out, let me know.
Also - hands up, those who squeed over those few tender moments between Louisa and Spiro! The funeral was as wacky as you would expect from a Durrell family occasion, but I actually found Gerry’s continually diminishing explanations of how insects don’t fall off the wall just as priceless. Let’s talk about this and anything else you fancy in the comments!