Fleabag Season 2 cast: Phoebe Wallace-Bridge, Olivia Coleman and Andrew Scott
Fleabag Season 2 creator: Phoebe Wallace-Bridge
Fleabag Season 2 rating: 4 stars
The opening scene of Fleabag (Season 2), has our dear eponymous protagonist, essayed by Phoebe Wallace-Bridge, cleaning away a rather bloody nose in a washroom. And soon enough she turns to us, looks sideway, quirks her lips and says “this is a love story”. And we know that this is going to be a roller coaster of a finale. After an edgy, raw and rather depressive first season, where we first met a 30-something Fleabag and her highly-dysfunctional family, and wandered with her in London, as she tried to live the single life, drowning out her trauma and grief in meaningless sex, the second season picks up the narrative after 371 days. A lot has happened since the last meeting — there was the ill-fated ‘sexhibition’ by her step-mother-to-be, one that was replete with overabundant male genitalia, crashed champagne bottles and family secrets tumbling out — we can only hold our breath in nervous anticipation as to what’s next. The rather high-energy and eventful first episode sets the tone for the rest of the season and Fleabag doesn’t disappoint. The drama just gets better, and the humour, bleaker and blacker. This time, even God is not spared.
There is a wedding on the cards, (Fleabag’s widowed dad is getting hitched); Claire (Fleabag’s sister) has moved to Finland; and she herself has sworn off sex (the horror), and has made her struggling cafe finally break even. There is a priest in the mix as well — who remains nameless through the six-episode season — played to perfection by Andrew Scott.
While the pace has definitely picked up, and many unresolved story arcs are rounded off, grief, trauma and loss remain the inherent themes in this season as well. After an altercation with the hunky priest, we are transported to funeral of Phoebe’s mother. There, she had her friend Boo at her side, and the two were worried over the fact that Fleabag looked “very good”. A fellow mourner even remarks, that “grief really agrees with you”. But while Boo helped Fleabag deal with the loss, and even offered to “take her heart full of love”, she deals with the loss of Boo alone, who had died in a tragic accident. And your heart goes out to her, as even at the bare mention of a guinea pig, or the question that “if she has any friends”, flashes of Boo’s tear streaked face are shown.
What makes Fleabag so watchable, and relatable, at times, is the fact that it blends the ordinary with the outrageous and keeps it normal. One believes it with sincerity. When Fleabag is in the confession box, confessing her vast range of ‘sins’, she has a whiskey tumbler in her hand, and she rants out, “I want someone to tell me what to wear in the morning”. The priest remarks, “There are people who do that.” She persists. “No, I want someone to tell me what to wear every morning. I want someone to tell me what to eat, what to like, what to hate, what to rage about, what to listen to… I want someone to tell me what to believe in, whom to vote for, who to love and how to tell them. You see, I want someone to tell me how to live my life, because so far I have been getting it wrong.” And she breaks down. In some other time and place quantum, this would have been bizarre, almost bordering as theatre of the absurd. But in Fleabag’s universe, this makes perfect sense. The scene is topped off with the priest asking her to “kneel” right there in the confession box.
In season one, we loved those moments when Fleabag would break the fourth wall and speak to the audience directly by looking at the camera. We assume this is from Wallace-Bridge’s strong theatre grounding, as she evoked the soliloquy format. In the second season, we see that again. The glares into the camera are far more intense, but the dialogues are fewer. And while, the audience felt connected to Fleabag, this time there was a third party involved, almost. The “hot” priest almost discovers her secret. “His beautiful neck,” sighed Fleabag, and to everyone’s horror, the priest heard that. Throughout the season, whenever Fleabag would have her tête-à-tête with us, he’d ask “ where did you disappear”. And we shivered with Fleabag, nervous, scared with the threat that our secret might be discovered.
We finally see her falling in love, and it’s a bittersweet feeling. Because you see Fleabag happy, but given her track record, one is waiting with fingers crossed, and praying under one’s breath, hoping this doesn’t go south.
Watching Fleabag is like watching a car crash, where a fancy, high speeding car is headed for the barricades, and no matter how painful and uncomfortable it is, we continue watching because we are hooked, and we want to know if the driver made it. She did.
(Fleabag Season 2 will begin streaming on Amazon Prime Video from May 17)