Another week, another research log on Fleabag Season 2. We watched episode #2.3 and as usual, used the Storyclock Notebook to clock out story beats and analyze the structure.
Revolutionizing the Fourth Wall Break
This episode is an amazing exploration of Claire and Fleabag’s relationship, but what I want to focus on is the ending of the episode. These days, with the amount of content that we have available to us, it’s not often that a cinematic technique truly surprises me. Of course there are things like the gorgeous mix of 2D and 3D animation in Into the Spider-Verse or the sheer scope of the epic Mad Max: Fury Road, but nothing has made my heart drop quite like the ending of this episode.
Fleabag is sitting on a bench outside Hot Priest’s apartment, discussing faith, love, and foxes. The conversation is flirty, but also incredibly sweet. Fleabag is obviously infatuated with Mr. Priest, and though he doesn’t say it, his body language shows the same thing back to her. He tells our titular hero that he’d like to be her friend, and she says she’d like that too, before looking into the camera in classic Fleabag fashion to tell us “it will last a week”. This is when it happens, an act of true cinematic invention– Hot Priest notices her breaking the fourth wall. HE SEES HER BREAK THE FOURTH WALL!
We’ve talked a little about the fourth wall in the past (like in our Ferris Buller research log), but throughout the entire series, Fleabag’s asides to the camera have been strictly a relationship with us, the audience. The simple act of having Hot Priest notice this pulls back so many layers. It’s incredibly surprising for us as the viewer because it makes this tried-and-true cinematic technique a part of the story world. It also means that this entire time people in Fleabag’s life have been able to notice that but haven’t– Hot Priest does. Why?
From a story standpoint, above all else this tells us one thing: he’s special. He cares for Fleabag and can tell when her mind is elsewhere. Fleabag has put up walls throughout the whole story and Hot Priest is the first person that is able to see through those walls. What does this say about Fleabag? Well, the writing’s on the wall folks: This is a love story, and for the first time in the series, our girl’s in love.
With this season lasting 6 episodes, the end of episode 3 marks the midpoint of the story. Typically the midpoint has a big turning point, a raising of the stakes for the protagonist. It’s Indy finding the location of the lost ark, it’s Nedry turning off the power of Jurassic Park letting the dinos out. With this exciting development of Hot Priest and Fleabag’s relationship, I’d say that the stakes have sufficiently been raised. Stay tuned for next week as we dive into episode 4!