And just like that, we have arrived. The final episode of Phoebe Waller-Bridge's Emmy-winning series FLEABAG! We’ve been breaking down the story of every episode of Season 2 to do some research on the structure of an episodic miniseries. We watched the finale and used the Storyclock Notebook to visualize the episode's structure in the form of a clock.
The Wedding is the Perfect Relationship-Drama Climax
I said this in an earlier post, but a wedding is the perfect event for a climax of a relationship-drama like Fleabag. Emotions run high and all of the characters we know and love will be there to interact. Fleabag doesn’t have a traditional “antagonist” acting against her throughout the story, so in Act 3 Phoebe gathers the characters together and spurs their emotional change.
Big Character Breakthroughs
After bottling up her emotions for the entire series, Claire finally blows up. She not only fesses up to the miscarriage to the family, but she finally breaks up with and leaves Douchebag Martin. Fleabag always seems to be more in touch with Claire’s emotions than Claire herself does, and she urges her to go to the airport to catch her true love– Klare. Claire first resists, but eventually gives in to her desires, something she never would have done before. Running through the airport to catch the man of your dreams before he leaves the country? Classic!
Fleabag finds Dad hiding in the attic with cold feet before the wedding. He opens up about Godmother, Fleabag and her mother, and they have an incredibly sweet father-daughter conversation. This conversation really reveals why Fleabag is the person she is– her mother was such a huge part of her life and when she died Fleabag was forever changed. This scene is a much-needed comfort in the finale, seeing Fleabag lovingly interact with Dad.
Hot Priest is a beautifully rich character. He’s immediately infatuated with Fleabag, and spends the entire season battling his temptation to fall in love with her, knowing what it would mean for his faith/calling. Emotionally speaking, it’s incredibly complicated. At the end of the last episode, he gave into that temptation and finally had sex with her. While it looks like he’s gonna choose Fleabag over priesthood, by the time we get to his “love is awful” monologue at the wedding ceremony, we know it’s too good to be true. In a beautifully-tragic ending, with clear vision he leaves Fleabag to cling to his faith.
Fleabag. Oh Fleabag. This entire blog post could be completely about her emotional journey, but we will stick to her breakthrough in this episode. This series has always been about Fleabag learning to forgive and love herself. In Season 1 that’s dealt with as she deals with the guilt of Boo’s death. In Season 2, we see how that journey is inexplicably linked with loving others. Over the course of the series, Fleabag becomes much kinder and more loving, until she eventually falls in love for the first time with Hot Priest. Historically, Fleabag would bury the deeper feeling of love deep down so that she couldn’t be hurt, but at the end of the episode she tells Hot Priest that she loves him, knowing that it wouldn’t be reciprocated. Loving doesn’t make her weak, it makes her brave and strong. (Side note: how amazing is the ending of this series? “It’ll pass” makes me cry every single time.)
The Fox (And How To Do Callbacks To Perfection)
Earlier in the season, Hot Priest is terrified when he thinks he hears a fox in the garden (Fleabag of course gets a big kick out of it). Hot Priest’s other big fear? Falling in love. After Hot Priest leaves Fleabag at the bus station, the fox shows up. Coincidence? I think not! There are lots of other amazing call backs to earlier moments in this episode, too:
- The gold statue from that Fleabag stole from Godmother in Season 1 (and earlier in this season) is back in play. Fleabag gives the statue back to Godmother in an apparent peace offering, when Godmother (in her last act of villainy) drops a total bomb on her: it turns out the statue is molded after Fleabag’s mother. In the last moments of the episode Fleabag pulls out the statue (that she restole) and clings to it. It really brings the show and character back to where it started.
- In the first episode of the season, Hot Priest joins Fleabag outside as she enjoys a smoke break. When she tries to ignore him, Hot Priest lets out a playful “F*** you then”. It immediately catches Fleabag off guard and it’s the first moment she takes notice of the priest. In this episode after Fleabag asks him “Is it God or Me?” and he replies that he doesn’t know, Fleabag hits him back with the “F*** you then.” It’s a tragic bit of narrative symmetry that makes you laugh and cry simultaneously.
Callbacks and narrative symmetry are amazing ways to make your story better, and it happens to be what the Storyclock Workbook™ helps you do best (We couldn’t resist the shameless plug).
- Claire breaks up with Martin / Claire runs after Klare
- Fleabag gives Godmother back the gold statue, finds out it’s based on her mother / Fleabag reveals she took the gold statue back
- Fleabag wakes up with the man she loves / The man shes loves leaves her
When Fleabag walks off at the end of the episode, she signals us to not follow her… but she still checks back up on us a few times before disappearing into the night. Is she making sure we’re still watching her? Or maybe it’s to assure us that while she might not be happy in the moment, that she’s gonna be alright? Whatever it is, I’m thankful Fleabag exists and we got to ride along on her journey. Join us next week as we break down the entire season, analyzing it as a whole and attempting to make a beat sheet of it!