The first episode of Fleabag’s long-awaited second series serves up an extremely awkward family dinner, an eccentric priest and some deliciously dark comedy.
Almost three years have gone by since Fleabag was last on our screens, in which time its creator and star Phoebe Waller-Bridge has, among other things, given us the superlative spy thriller Killing Eve. In the world of the show, however, it’s been just over a year since the events of series 1’s finale, which saw our protagonist cause chaos at her godmother’s “sexhibition”. Over the course of this year, we learn that she has been trying to improve herself − exercising, eating healthier, even turning down sex − and she hasn’t spoken to her family at all.
The occasion that’s got them all back together is the engagement of her well-meaning but clueless dad (Bill Paterson) to her awful godmother (the Oscar-winning Olivia Colman). At first, aside from all of the passive-aggressive comments flying around, things don’t appear to be going too terribly. Wine is flowing, with the exception of uptight sister Claire (Sian Clifford) and her vile husband Martin (Brett Gelman) who are insufferably proud to be six months sober, plus the newly engaged couple have invited along their “cool, sweary priest” (new addition to the cast Andrew Scott) to join the festivities. But we know from the beginning of the episode that something is destined to go very wrong at some point, leaving Fleabag with a bloodied nose in the restaurant bathroom…
Anyone with concerns that Fleabag’s second series wouldn’t be able to live up to its first has, judging from this opening episode, nothing to worry about. It’s a sharply written, immaculately paced half-hour with almost as many moments that will make you gasp as will make you laugh.
Waller-Bridge’s writing is on top form (killer lines include Colman’s loathsome godmother claiming that the fur purse she’s carrying is “ok because it had a stroke”) and so is her sardonic central performance. With plenty of her trademark asides to camera and biting wit, such as an interaction with her sister where she responds to “You look well, where have you been?” with “Boots”, it’s difficult to not feel thrilled that Fleabag is back in our lives.
As for what we can expect from the rest of the series, the BBC’s trailer has revealed that Fleabag will be seeing a therapist at some point, played by Fiona Shaw, and it has been announced that Kristin Scott Thomas is going to show up in a thus far unspecified role. Episode 1 also teases that their godmother is going to force Fleabag and her sister to sit for a portrait together (I can feel the tension already) and that this isn’t the last Fleabag will be seeing of Andrew Scott’s enigmatic priest…
Fleabag series 2 episode 1 is available on BBC iPlayer
Fleabag Continues Monday on BBC iPlayer and 10.35pm on BBC ONE