Welcome back to the fourth and final season of The Durrells in Corfu! For the next six weeks I’ll be recapping the adventures of this quirky family of English expats who started a new life in Corfu with the help of a handful of devoted friends.
As you may recall from the end of last season, the Durrells joined the circus, Gerry had to contend with a despondent sloth and Larry was supplementing his serious writing with travelogues for the English papers. Louisa learned that her inheritance from Aunt Hermione had been much diminished by the disastrous investment strategy of her cousin Basil.
Several hearts where bruised or broken as Leslie discovered he wasn’t actually the proud papa to-be of Daphne’s baby, Margo’s beau Zoltan was forced to return home to Turkey and Louisa’s bliss with Spiros was snatched away when his wife and children returned from Athens. If you care to refresh your memories, all the details can be found here.
But now Season 4 has arrived and we sound the exciting new gong! And this season premiere is all about transformation and moving on.
In an attempt to “heal the sadness of the past”, Louisa (Keeley Hawes) has spent the last of her meager inheritance to have her ramshackle home transformed into a high-grade guesthouse complete with penthouse floor. Cousin Basil (Miles Jupp), the source of her financial shortfall, is a long-term tenant as well as a pair of Australian dancers who can’t afford Louisa’s rates. They flirt their way into rooming with Larry (Josh O'Connor) and, though he delights in having two “girlfriends”, spends most of his time writing on the veranda to escape their distracting and expressive bodies. Clearly to make this guesthouse thing work, Louisa is going to require more paying lodgers.
After the grand opening, Spiros (Alexis Georgoulis) drops by to deliver a package. We discover the taxi driver has not been to the Durrells’ place since his family returned to Corfu, an arrangement not dictated by his wife, but by Louisa who finds it too painful to have him around. The entire family misses Spiros a great deal as he is a generous supplier of connections, support and transportation.
Leslie (Callum Woodhouse), meanwhile, is attempting to heal his emotional scars by “reverting to his more basic self” – i.e., engaging in shooting and manual labor.
Gerry (Milo Parker) has changed quite a bit since we last saw him. While noticeably taller and with a voice that seems to have dropped an octave, he has not outgrown his love of animals. Gerry has plans for a proper zoo complete with breeding program and wildlife area enclosures. He’s even adopted a mascot – a barn owl named Ulysses.
Elsewhere, Durrell daughter Margo (Daisy Waterstone) also has dreams of revamping her life. Bored with her job as an x-ray technician, she has a lightening bolt moment when Florence Petridis (Lucy Black) enters the clinic, sporting a disastrous perm. Miss Durrell asks Theo ( Yorgos Karamihos) for a few days off and announces to her family that she will open a hair and beauty salon. When Larry belittles her plan, she schools him on female emancipation.
"It's about the right to choose. Not the right to stick at a boring job her brother thinks she should do."
Luckily for Mrs. Durrell, Spiros has referred a paying lodger to her establishment She shows Lazaros Vangelatos (Konstantinos Symsiris) to the newly appointed and rather swish room. The timid man seems unimpressed, telling her only that he is a writer who wants to be left alone.
Larry goes up to meet their new boarder, obviously expecting some intellectually stimulating conversation. Unfortunately, Mr. Vang (as we’ll call him from here on out) isn’t interested in talking about much of anything.
As a cheeky nod to the show’s source material, The Corfu Trilogy by the real Gerald Durrell, Vang asks if Larry writes about his family. He responds, “No, I should, really. But they don't deserve it. Maybe Gerry will. He's kinder than me.”
The next morning Larry informs the family that their jumpy new guest isn’t a writer and his name is surely fake. Eager to use his police training, Leslie delivers Mr. Vang’s dinner and immediately starts badgering him about why he’s there. The man responds that he’s only trying to make his way through an unjust world and Leslie ends up on the chase lounge spilling his guts about Daphne and the baby. Vang wisely advises Leslie to embrace change however painful it may be.
Louisa drags Leslie along on her shopping trip into town. First, he comes upon Spiros and thanks him for sending Mr. Vang their way. Then he notices Daphne walking by and follows her over to the café. They have a friendly chat about the baby until Leslie awkwardly blurts out that he dreams the baby is theirs and they live in a little house together.
Back at the house, Margo is still trying to recruit some brave souls to let her practice her beautician skills. Mr. Vang foolishly trusts Margo cut his hair, but balks at shaving off his beard. He says he needs it because he’s made a big mistake and then begins to cry. To make things worse, Mr. Vang realizes Margo’s done a hatchet job on his hair.
In the meantime, Les’s old boss, the lecherous police superintendent (Kostas Krommydas) stops Louisa in the street suggesting they go for a drink. She explains she’s too busy with the guesthouse, so he says he’ll have to stop by personally to make sure things are in order. As she walks off, he makes a comment about her not seeing her crooked taxi driver anymore.
Later in the day, Theo comes to the house to get a haircut from Margo and recognizes Mr. Vang from a wanted poster he saw in town. Theo confronts him then explains to the family that their lodger is wanted for an attempted murder which targeted a brutal fascist. Mr. Vang pleads that he didn’t try to kill, but he did want to make a statement by shooting him.
Larry sympathizes with the fugitive, expressing his hate of the spread of fascism to Greece. Mr. Vang passionately asserts that radical solutions are required, and people must join together to stop it. Louisa is not moved by his jumped-up idealism. She tells Vang that by staying in her house, he endangers her family and livelihood and she wants him out by tomorrow.
At dinner, the family discusses Mr. Vang’s fate if he is caught and no one seems comfortable with Louisa’s expulsion of their revolutionary. As he goes to take his leave, Vang reveals to Mrs. Durrell he committed his crime to win over a communist woman. He begins to cry again thinking of who he loves but can never have. Louisa can relate and so allows him to stay until they find a way to engineer an escape.
The planning takes on great urgency when Louisa remembers her talk with the superintendent who could be stopping by at any time to look over the guesthouse. Leslie goes to Spiros for help in acquiring a motorboat to transport their friend away from Corfu. A grumpy old racist Spiros argued with earlier overhears then informs on them to the police.
Soon thereafter, the superintendent shows up with two officers. Larry is on watch and loudly announces their arrival. From this point family and lodgers alike try to stall, misdirect or out-and-out impede the officers from searching the house for Mr. Vang.
Larry and Leslie move on to the escape phase of the operation, placing two ladders tied together with rope at the penthouse window, but the wobbly contraption collapses before Mr. Vang can begin to climb down. They move on to throwing a rope from the ground to their fugitive friend, but they never quite hit the mark.
Gerry, his mouse-vomiting owl and Louisa have been keeping the superintendent occupied until his suggestive comments anger her enough to refuse his advances and stand up for Spiros. Insulted, the super tells them the are suspected of harboring a communist desperado. As the three officers close in on their man, Basil, Gerry and the dancers distract the police while Mr. Vang uses the windows and other cornices of the house like a climbing wall to reach the ladder and, finally. the ground.
Louisa leads Mr. Vang down to the cove to meet the boat Spiros is supposed to bring. As they wait, they commiserate on their lost loves. Louisa says she used to confide in Spiros like no one else in her life so now she feels adrift. She knows Spiros wants to be with her, and he should be rescuing her too. Demonstrating his good listening skills and sage advice once more, Vang tells Louisa she must talk with Spiros again for her own sanity and be kinder to herself.
The Durrell boys join their mother at the cove to say goodbye to their new friend and give him some well-meaning gifts. Spiros shows up with a boat that Mr. Vang can sail to Malta and then sell when he gets there. (His friend owes him a favor.) Larry foresees this sort of ordeal happening again if there is a war. Then quietly he asks Spiros to come to the house in an hour.
Though she’s been excluded from the entire escape operation, Margo honors the inspiring Mr. Vang in her own way. She’s dyed a sheep’s fleece in stripes, red for revolution and white for peace. She also announces she opening a salon in Corfu Town and her life’s truly about to begin.
Larry has an announcement to make as well. Also prompted by the example of Mr. Vang, he’s moving to Kalami where there’s nothing to do but write and bring down the forces of literary oppression. Books are important!
He promises to write them brilliant letters. Louisa is shaken by this sudden news, but Larry gently points out to his mother that Spiros is here now and things are back to the way they used to be.
So it’s the beginning of the end for The Durrells in Corfu. How do you think the coming war will affect the life the family has built over the past four seasons? Will Margo succeed as a beauty professional? Will Gerry’s zoo get off the ground? Is Larry really moving away for good? What is Leslie going to do with his life? And the big question, can Louisa and Spiros be just friends? Let’s get chatting! The comments section awaits.