Last week's episode of The Durrells in Corfu saw a split-location episode with Louisa and Larry in England for Aunt Hermione’s funeral and the younger Durrells holding down the fort in Corfu. Spiro took his guardian duties a little too seriously for Margo’s liking, Leslie stumbled upon the career of his dreams and Gerry became a donkey welfare advocate. If you need more details, the full recap can be found here.
This week, we find Louisa basking in the beauty of her adopted home, relaxing with what she calls “sunshine in a glass.” Only Gerry’s ever-present menagerie can harsh her mellow. Soon Margo and Leslie come home from their fulfilling new jobs with talk of furballs and shoplifters. Leslie is also the bearer of a telegram from Larry, currently on holiday in Athens. He’s met Indian Prince Jeejeebuoy and informs them he’ll be arriving for a short stay tomorrow. Though she’s not making any concessions just because he’s royalty, Louisa thinks there’s no harm in a little spring clean. Her children are not likewise inspired.
Tale of Two Houseguests
Louisa’s preparations for the Prince kick into high gear. (The family did live in India after all.) Spiro's offer to get champagne in for their special visitor is initially rebuffed, though Louisa finally acquiesces - after saying it’s actually for Larry. In addition, an increasingly perceptive Margo notices her mother’s drinking has escalated.
When the guest of honor arrives, the Durrells line up to meet the dignitary. Larry has obviously told Prince Jeejeebuoy (Tanmay Dhanaia) all about his family since he can identify each one of them without any introductions. But when Louisa refers to him as “Your Highness” the young man sets the record straight immediately. His mother named him Prince in an effort to make her humble family sound royal, but his friends just call him Jeejee. Sensing Louisa’s disappointment, the visitor formerly known as Prince says he’ll try to make amends by being a most entertaining guest.
Turns out Jeejee is a pure delight to have around. He’s an enchanting storyteller, a patient listener andan adept cook. He credits his attitude to an incident where he escaped being mauled by a tiger and the vow he made to live life fully from that moment on.
At the other end of the house guest spectrum is the drunken, lecherous Captain Creech (James Cosmo). Larry seems intent upon filling the house up with unexpected, and in this case unwelcome, lodgers. (To be fair, it was very kind of Larry not to abandon the destitute and possibly suicidal old sailor.)
You may recall the captain’s inappropriate advances towards Louisa in Season 1, so it’s no wonder she’s hesitant to have him back in her home. However, it is Jeejee’s explanation of karma - rebuff him and it might come back to bite you in the afterlife – that makes Louisa decide Creech can stay for a day or two.
The captain takes full advantage of the family’s kindness (and patience) and quickly announces that he is restored. Louisa acknowledges his improvement and cautions him to stay on the straight and narrow. Creech calls her out saying “I will if you will” pointing out their mutual weakness for “liquid indulgence”. And he’s not the only one who has taken note of their hostess’ drinking habits.
At dinner that evening, Jeejee’s enthralling stories set Louisa to reminiscing about her husband and the family’s time in India. Louisa goes to pour another glass of wine when Jeejee tells her he thinks she drinks too much, an act which prompts Creech to stand up for her right to partake. Margo comments that Jeejee and Creech are akin to their mother’s good and bad angels. Gerry wonders who’s going to win.
Jeejee begins a four-day, trance-inducing fast in preparation for his plans to meet a holy man in Persia. Margo has decided to join in since she too is intensely spiritual. While Jeejee quietly and calmly meditates, the fasting Margo turns irritable. Louisa doesn’t let the unpleasantness go on for long and forces Margo to eat since fasting doesn’t agree with her. This leads to Margo inhaling an entire pie which puts her in another kind of trance. (That being said, Jeejee himself passes out in the yard while tying up sardines and is persuaded to break his fast for lunch.)
It does appear the gracious and enlightened Jeejee is beginning to wear on Mrs. Durrell’s nerves. When Lugaretzia suggests that Louisa doesn’t like him anymore, Louisa says she just doesn’t like being told off in front of her family. But after the concerned young Indian comments on her drinking yet again at lunch, Louisa candidly assures him that she’s old enough to make up her own mind. To prove that point, she samples a strong concoction offered by her bad angel, Captain Creech. Unfortunately, she has momentarily forgotten an important afternoon appointment, and rather foolishly decides to go in her inebriated state anyway.
Afterwards, when Louisa and Gerry return from their less-than-successful interview, they find Jeejee in full trance mode, perched in an open upstairs window. Despite Louisa’s admirable emergency mode reflexes, the spaced out Jeejee immediately falls forward onto the pergola. Fortunately, in his relaxed state, his injuries are minimal.
So minimal in fact, that he thinks to ask how things went at the school. Louisa admits she drank too much at lunch, but she didn’t think it showed. Margo says she has been drinking a lot since she came back from England. Louisa wonders aloud why she is doing this. Gerry thinks that, like Larry, she enjoys the taste. He’s the same with custard. This prompts Louisa to ask if anyone has seen Larry lately. More on that in a bit.
When Larry is finally restored to his family, his mother tells him that Gerry didn’t get accepted at the local school due to her drunken behavior. She finally realizes she’s been drinking to ease stresses brought on by Leslie’s baby news, her aunt’s death and a slew of house guests. She’s decided she must give up alcohol (again) and isn’t sure why she listened to Creech over Jeejee in the first place. Larry, on the other hand, is not abstaining. His sailing adventure left him shaken and he wasn’t really even in danger. For the first time, he mentions the coming war in Europe.
Always willing to uplift, Jeejee becomes something of a meditation guide to the stressed out Durrells, though Louisa doesn’t seem to entirely grasp the concept. She picks “grandmother” as her mantra so Jeejee suggests staying away from things that are heavy on your mind and possibly choosing a word with less syllables.
When the time nears for Jeejee’s farewell, an impromptu party takes shape. Margo and Lugaretzia secretly remove Jeejee’s stinking dried fish and bury them while he’s occupied with Leslie. Zoltan arrives with a gigantic bottle of champagne for Mrs. Durrell and Theo is on hand to take photographs. Daphne and her family pop round. Even Larry’s new-found Albanian friends show up for the festivities.
Louisa realizes that her attitude towards guests have changed - what are humans for otherwise if not to spend time with one another? Spiro comes to tell Louisa he was worried about her and blames himself for bringing the bubbly into the house. She’s assures him she’s fine now. It’s all gone - well, except for what Zoltan brought.
Creech announces he must take his leave and credits Louisa with saving his life which she finds gracious until he ruins it by mocking Jeejee and saying he found her drinking habits very unsavory for a lady. Zoltan asks if he should strike him, Spiro says there’s a line ahead of him, And so the Turk and the Greek band together to run the bounder off.
Jeejee departs Corfu on much better terms. Louisa tells him he has been a joy and is always welcome to be the fifth Durrell child. He’s amazed seagulls managed to eat all his dried fish and he tells Gerry if he comes to India, he’s sure they can rustle up a tiger. And though shipping a tiger across the world is undoubtedly problematic, Jeejee does manage to send his new friends a surprise from Colombia!
In other Durrell news:
For Leslie, his new job on the Corfu police force is a dream come true. He’s as enthusiastic as Barney Fife when it comes to lawbreakers, be they litterbugs or child neglecters. Though being a friend of the family, Florence Petrides gets off with a warning on the latter.
One place his career has not done him any favors is in his relationship with the soon-to-be mother of his child and her family. They are still so angry at him for not marrying Daphne that a respectable job will account for very little in their estimation.
Things only get worse on the Daphne front when Leslie notices some suspicious activity going on down an alleyway. It turns out Daphne’s father is smuggling cigarettes. (Remember Spiro said he was a gangster?) Leslie’s partner says live and let live, but Officer Durrell is frustrated and torn about what to do. If he doesn’t report Mr. Likourgos and it’s discovered he knew about the smuggling, Leslie could lose his job.
In the end, Leslie goes to see Daphne and informs her he’s not going to tell anyone about her father’s illegal dealings, not even if it costs him his job, because they are going to be family. Daphne thanks him, but also says she wants to be a real family. Leslie insists they need to be in love for that to happen.
As a good will gesture, Daphne and her family come to Jeejee’s farewell do. Her father thanks Leslie for not turning him in and they welcome one another to the family. They stay for lunch and Leslie floats the idea of naming the baby King, which Daphne soundly and wisely rejects. Later, looking a noticeably pregnant Daphne, Leslie tells his mother that what’s happening has finally hit him, and he’s glad.
Larry and the Albanians
Larry’s good Samaritan ways continue when he offers to buy Creech’s half-submerged, barnacled boat for twenty pounds. He assumes the captain will teach him how to sail it, but all he gets is a “Will I, bollocks” from the previous owner. Leslie, being the more outdoorsy of the two brothers, agrees to show Larry the ropes, so to speak, but he just ends up aggravated by Larry’s refusal to pay attention to his instruction. Larry calls Leslie a bossy policeman which provokes Leslie to jump off the boat and swim back to shore. Larry’s response is to grab a bottle of wine and a book.
Whether it was the vino or the gently rocking craft, Larry falls asleep and wakes to find he’s drifted quite a distance and is approaching what he assumes is the coast of Albania. Anxious to avoid the shore, Larry accidently breaks the tiller and finds himself helplessly floating towards a trio of unfriendly-looking men. Once he’s reached the beach, Larry attempts to explain that he is British and a friend as he cowers in the stern of his small boat.
Luckily for Larry, his panic was unnecessary because the men turned out to be delightful Albanian fishermen who kindly towed his boat right back to his very doorstep. Perhaps he’ll include them as characters in his next novel.
You may recall that Gerry’s troubles in school were one of the motivating factors for the Durrell's move to Corfu in the first place. Thus far he has outwitted tutors and evaded the traditional classroom setting. But when Louisa checks her youngest son’s exercise books to discover he’s just been drawing animals and writing daft stories with poor spelling, she finally puts her foot down. Her mind is made up and she’s on a mission to find Gerry a school in Corfu.
She begins by going to Theo for advice, but he says there’s only one school available for young Gerald to attend. He adds that both Louisa and Gerry will have to be interviewed by the headmistress. As her son’s mentor, he assures Mrs. Durrell that Gerry is fiercely intelligent.
But on the day of the interview, Louisa is well into her downward booze spiral and legitimately drunk by lunchtime. When Spiro arrives to drive them to the school, Jeejee suggests she postpone the appointment. Not surprisingly, Gerry favors just getting on with it, assured that the bad angels are on his side today.
As expected, the meeting with the headmistress doesn’t go well for Louisa. Gerry identifies biology, animals, insects and flamingos as his favorite subjects and asks if he can bring his dog to class. A tipsy Louisa says it’s all Greek to her, compares a school to a greenhouse and assures the headmistress that Roger is fully flea-free. The headmistress cuts to the chase, telling Louisa that Gerry won’t be coming to her school and the fault is all on her head. And so it’s mission accomplished for the youngest Durrell.
Back at home, Louisa tells Gerry that she was unfair about his writing. While Larry writes to dazzle, Gerry writes to entertain and his spelling makes her laugh out loud. Louisa can’t promise she won’t embarrass him with her behavior ever again, but she can say it won’t be for a while. In a decision that’s sure to please his mother, Gerry brings Louisa along to witness the release of his flamingos because their work is done. When he tries to plant the idea in her mind that there’s room for some more animals now, she declines to respond, merely taking her son’s hand instead.
So it’s all well that ends well this week. With some help from an Indian “prince”, Louisa emerged from a wrong turn that started in London with Bohemians and absinthe and peaked with a drunken parent-teacher debacle. Leslie is starting to accept his role as a responsible adult and family man and Gerry has escaped yet another attempt to structure his educational experience. Seeing as the real Gerald Durrell became a published author, I think our TV Gerry will be fine as well.
Did you enjoy the good vs bad angel storyline? Which are you more inclined to listen to? And I have to ask, did anyone else break out into a big ole AW! when the family got their first look at that adorable sloth? Let’s chat about all of it in the comments!