Four years have gone by so quickly! It’s hard to believe that The Durrells in Corfu which brought us such beautiful backdrops, eccentric characters and a lovely, albeit chaotic, family is over.
But before we relive the laughter and tears from tonight’s finale, let’s remember where we left off last time. Margo found romance on a transcontinental train journey, a royal visit to Corfu had the Durrells running in circles, Leslie became a fairly unsuccessful Boy Scout Patrol Leader and Spiro finally learned how deeply the Durrells were involved in his marriage woes. All the recap details of Epican be found here.
On our final visit with the Durrells, we find Larry has returned from France and the family is reunited for the first time in many months. The siblings are enjoying the water while Louisa contentedly watches over her brood from a deck chair.
Winds of War
But as we’ve been witnessing all season, Europe has become a very dangerous place and Greece is not, as Louisa imagines, immune to the threats of fascism and war. Larry, on the other hand, is acutely aware of the state of the world. As he digs their wireless out of storage, he berates his mother for not being interested in what’s happening around her. She suggests if he’d lived through the Great War, he’d be less interested in discussing a new one.
Theo, too, is wary and feels compelled to discuss something with Mrs. Durrell. His ubiquitous “friends in Athens” say the political climate in Greece is dire. He strongly recommends that Gerry dismantle his zoo before things get too bad and he has to suddenly abandon his animals. More on this in a bit.
As it turns out, Larry and Theo’s concerns are valid. A very serious police sergeant arrives at the house demanding the family surrender their wirelesses in the name of the Greek government. Larry protests that they don’t have one then insults the policeman’s size. Not be deterred, the officer says he’ll return tomorrow for it. Failure to comply could mean prison. He confiscates Larry’s typewriter, a tool of propaganda, for good measure and leaves. Louisa worries how Larry will survive without it, but he says some things are more important than writing.
Larry takes this threat to freedom of speech seriously. He hides the wireless then disappears off to a covert meeting with a stranger in an isolated stretch of beach. The man is all business and we hear Larry ask for his orders.
Louisa’s head remains in the sand concerning her family’s safety until the day when she gets some most distressing news via telegram. Cousin Basil has been killed in Albania, just for being a British citizen. Suddenly the urgency to get her children out of Corfu hits her square in the face. Decisions need to be made quickly and many goodbyes need to be said.
Larry says he’s heard of a special chartered ship leaving tomorrow, the only safe way back home. Louisa wants to call off the play they’ve been putting together for days. Leslie and Margo disagree, believing the performance should go ahead as a celebration of their time in Corfu.
The Durrells’ Greek Journey: The Stage Play
Yes, Larry has penned a play that chronicles the Durrells’ story since they came to Corfu. Adapted from Homer’s epic poem The Odyssey, he enlists his family to stage it. (Is it any wonder Louisa bemoans the overeducated?) Everyone is recruited, from Lugaretzia and her treasure trove of family heirloom props to Margo’s new beau Nikos and his questionable musical talent. Spiros, Sven, Florence and Dr. Petridis all have parts in the production as well. As Lugaretzia mutters, there is no escape.
Though Leslie is less than keen at first, he ends up taking on more responsibility for it as time goes on. Beginning as the stage manager making Cyclops masks, Leslie is promoted to director when Larry has unexplained places to be.
Later as the Durrell Players are rehearsing a scene in which Odysseus is visited by his deceased loved ones and heroes from the past, Louisa is having her own "land of the dead" experience. Still in shock from the realization of her suddenly upended life, she encounters Aunt Hermione's admonishment to get on with things and poor Basil too, squealing like wild boar.
Afterwards, Louisa hands the heroic role of Odysseus over to her middle son, Leslie, who always felt he was the odd one out in an arty family. The part was always his and she has matters of the heart to attend to.
The next day the citizens of Corfu are welcomed one last time to experience the quirky Englishness that is the Durrell family. (Argos the gobby postman obviously did his job). A few lines are forgotten, mostly by Leslie but the play appears to be a hit with the crowd. Well, except for Sven’s comic interlude by a priapic satyr representing sexy Corfu. Larry read the tone a bit wrong there.
At the end of the performance, Leslie pulls Louisa up in front of the crowd where she delivers this sweet farewell.
“Tomorrow we leave this enchanted isle. You know it's been good when the idea of leaving makes your heart seem to stop. You have put up with us Durrells like a mother with an awkward baby. You've lost your temper with us at times, and we with you, and now we're ready to leave home. We British are reluctant to Europeans. But if there has to be a war, my one wish is that we realize, when it's all over, that we need to love each other just a little bit more.”
The rest of what happens during this episode is the resolution of relationships and some very sad goodbyes.
Farewell to Gerry’s Zoo
When Theo first approaches Gerry about dismantling the zoo, he suggests “thinning it out” because it’s looking crowded. Being an observant young man, Gerry understands that Theo wants him to release the animals because things are looking ominous out there. He knows too that the end of his time with his very first and best friend on Corfu is coming as well.
The pair send the animals that are ready for release back into the wild like Noah after the ark. Gerry sleeps out with his remaining animal friends on the last night. Then during the interval of the play, Gerry and Theo hand out the rest to members of the audience with instructions on how to care for them and pleas not to eat them. Roger, of course, has been reassured that he’s family and will be going back with Gerry.
Margo’s Winding Road to Womanhood
As you may recall from last week, Margo met Nikos on the train heading back to Greece. They had an instant attraction and their hormones have been rampaging ever since. So it was no surprise when Margo sits Louisa down to make this announcement.
Margo throws herself into her new-found maturity. Besides researching how girls around the world celebrate becoming a woman, she’s apparently told everyone she knows about her approaching deflowering. Florence offers prophylactics while others extend encouragement. Nikos isn’t thrilled that everyone knows about their very private moment and Margo is starting to regret going public about the virginity thing as well. She apologizes to her beau for making their first time a public event, deciding it best to cancel their rendezvous altogether. She feels she might want to be really in love after all.
Turns out Margo’s feelings for her ex-boyfriend Zoltan (Merch Husey) are not in the past. She wrote to him about her relationship with Nikos, saying she hoped he had a nice girlfriend too but not meaning it. On the day of the play, Zoltan makes a grand gesture - arriving by boat, calling Margo’s name and wading through the water to embrace her. Margo looks back at Nikos for a moment, but follows her heart and kisses her true love.
Later during the play's intermission, the young couple do more than kiss. Zoltan declares afterwards that he’ll never be the same, but Margo has learned her lesson and simply states, “I’m saying nothing.”
The Star-Crossed Love of Spiros and Louisa
Still feeling bad about his part in the adulterous plan to bring his mother and Spiros together, Leslie goes looking for the man his mother loves. Young Mr. Durrell finally locates him on the beach, apparently living in his car, and offers him a bottle of wine as a peace offering.
The taxi driver is still cross and proud, but Leslie pinpoints the real problem. He thinks Spiros feels ashamed because he has loved Louisa since he met her and that’s what broke up his marriage. Leslie begs him to stop feeling guilty and be happy with his mother instead. Spiros agrees to come back with Leslie and he and Louisa get the opportunity to talk things out. While they both agree that marriage is precious, Spiros has learned that precious things end. Mrs. Durrell formally and forever asks Spiros to call her Louisa. They almost kiss…and then Lugaretzia interrupts them with a stage call.
Our unfortunate couple continues to have horrible luck in regards to timing. Spiros shows up at the house wanting to to take Louisa on a “drive” just as the telegram with the tragic news about Basil arrives. After briefing the family on their need for a hasty departure, Louisa asks Spiros to come with her to England where they can still have a future. He urges her make everyone happy the way she’s made him happy, then drives off leaving Louisa heartbroken.
The next day while the play is underway, Louisa finds Spiros on the beach as Leslie said she would. She runs to him and they have that long-awaited kiss and confess their love for one another. Alas, Spiros rejects the idea of going to England with her, saying he can’t abandon his children and country now of all times. They will go on being the people they always have been, just not together but always in one another’s hearts. Louisa asks Spiros if the waiting, the crying, the longing has all been for nothing and Spiros replies. “Would you change it for us never having met?”
In the end, the Durrells have their last meal in Corfu at their table in the sea. Not because Larry is a spy and will be staying on Corfu (which he is), but because it’s too bloody hot. Though Louisa implores her eldest child to come home with them, Larry asserts his belief that when governments try to take away freedom of speech, you have to stop talking and help.
Spiros proposes they raise a glass, “To us all and these sacred years and the future.” Then there were all those hugs and tears and that was it.
Now it’s your turn. Was this a fitting ending for The Durrells in Corfu? Which character experienced the most growth over the course of the series? What or who will you miss most about the show? It’s been my pleasure to share this journey with you through these recaps. The comments section awaits your final thoughts on the Durrells and their magical life and loves.