Fleabag S1:E4 The Retreat Recap

Fleabag cover

Welcome back to the continuing travails of Fleabag, will she find some happiness or at least peace? Customers? A loan that doesn't involve ASKING her perfect (if possibly eating disordered) sister? Let's find out, I hear this is a funny one: rolling Fleabag S1:E4 after the break

Flea and Claire are going to Mindful Farm (hard pass); did you know the lesbian Grindr is called TwatNav (really??)? That makes Claire cry - "don't make this fun!" Er

No, she's fine, she's fine

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Claire's totally fine, work is great, Martin is great (really?), she's perfectly fine. She would just like Flea to stop finishing her sentences and taking the piss out of her while driving. Completely losing it on the side of the road seems legit like a perfectly normal response.

Their dad has sent them to a Silent Retreat at Mindful Farms and yay that means no talking! Then they talk at people walking out, who just smile: it's as though they're not even listening to themselves! Flea thinks they're going to be taken for a couple, Claire calls that disturbing but Flea and I think they'd make a cute couple! Of the opposites-attract variety, which only lasts for 10-12 years max and ends in everyone getting with someone exactly like themselves immediately after.

In the distance, a man yells "SLUTS!!!" Flea shouts back "yes?" to no answer. That's it, Claire thinks they're about to be raped and murdered, while Flea muses..."every cloud..." They check into a shared room MUCH to Claire's discontent, not only no wifi but also no newspapers.

Are there still newspapers? I read everything online and have bookmarked three sites I'm thinking about paying for access to, not just reading for free, but the last time I picked up a newspaper was at a hotel and it was 78% ads and 22% stock news, which seems like it should be read online anyway. Sad, though, my grampa and gradma were both journalists and I made an attempt while quite young to join their ranks and now they're practically obsolete.

Flea can't stop teasing her sister even for a moment; why has Claire brought such tiny batteries?? Changing remotes? Garage door openers? But no. A quick flash back to Boo fishing some extra AAAs out of an alarm clock for Flea's vibrator.

There's a fella at the Female Only Breath of Silence Retreat Yoga Opener, he runs out to the "F*CKING SLUTS" Retreat apparently right next door. Flea mourns the loss of peni

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Flea gives an excellent line about why she's here; Claire glares at the side of her head like "I'm not with her!" while Flea preens. They'll be putting their ideas in Thought Prison for the weekend and then concentrating on menial tasks, all while Not Speaking. No matter what happens: a word must not be heard.

Now. I'm not an expert and in reality probably a terrible feminist (I don't think they let SAHM even stay for the tea and biscuits after) but don't women NOT TALK enough? And do enough menial tasks in silence? Wouldn't a Shouty Class be more apropos for wimmenz getting what they want?

Flea and I think that sounds unsafe; writing "FIRE!!" or "I'VE BEEN ATTACKED BY A GROUP OF MEN YELLING "SLUTS"!!" on a chalk board doesn't sound like Best Practices.

Flea can't concentrate on trimming the lawn with scissors (not a euphemism), she keeps getting distracted by all the "SLUTS!!!!" being shouted over the hedges. She investigates.

It's the Better Man Weekend Workshop and seems to mainly consist of men shouting at sex dolls dressed as mid-level managers. These dudes are working through their anger at women who advance ahead of them and the like, sort of like Men's Right Advocates that still want to have sex, so they're learning to hide the bile. And not yell "f*cking slut" at the newly promoted.

Hey! One of them is the loan officer Flea tried to get money from in episode one! They left on not awesome terms: "perv" "slut" "WOW" but now he waves tentatively at her. One of the angrier ones spots her "SLUT!!" and she gets shoo-ed away for her own safety.

Bedtime! Which is vibrator time! Of course The Burrower is metallic pink and of course Flea has stolen it from Claire's bag to tease her. Because she's not "30 and angry" but rather 11.

Claire thanks Flea for the "really thoughtful present;" and Martin bending over backwards in giving her the statuette so Flea has to tell her the truth about how Martin got the piece.

In the Yoga opener, everyone is directed to think of a moment of tension (Flea unbuttoning pants frantically with a wine glass in hand) then a moment of peace (cuddling with Boo discussing her face / nose).

They're sanding the floor in sorta silence, until Flea makes Claire burst out laughing with "we've paid them to let us clean their house. In silence." Then Claire cries.

The sisters get a one hour timeout in the Headteacher / Class leader's office; Flea lasts approximately 2.6 seconds. What's going on?? She went through Claire's bag and didn't see anything, spill! Claire got the Finland promotion, but she's turning down becoming a millionaire because Martin thinks it would affect her stepson Jake adversely. As in, 15 year old Jake wouldn't be able to try to get in the bath with Claire any more. Sad days indeed.

It turns into a shouting match, Flea knows EXACTLY how much Claire's wanted this and she can't let other people and it's not just other people, it's Martin and MARTIN TRIED TO KISS ME AT YOUR BIRTHDAY PARTY and oh. Claire leaves.

That was bound to come out, I'm glad it did sooner rather than later. I think it's entirely appropriate that these two would have to come to a Female Only Breath of Silence Retreat to TALK about all the things they should be.

"SLUTS!!!! SLUTS!!!" draws our Flea over to the window, it's starting to sound like the Ricola commercials sans lederhosen. She wanders over to their bonfire where poor promoted Patricia the sex doll is getting apologies AGAIN.

Flea smokes as the bank manager (Hugh Dennis) is encouraged to talk to her; go on, he can do it. Flea pretends she's observing the vow of silence while the bank manager explains his presence at the SLUTS workshop. He touched a colleagues' breast at a party, more than once, he's just "a very disappointing man." Flea and I feel bad for him, so she offers him a breast to grope

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"No thanks, I'm trying to quit." He'll take a cigarette, though, he just wants to go home, protect his family, move on, apologize: to EVERYONE and something about coffee cups and he wants to make his wife orgasm. And again. And again and somewhere in there I started crying and I don't know WHY! Those things sound nice! Flea just wants to cry all the time.

Flea gets back to her room late and crawls into bed with Claire, who grabs her hand and finally Flea has a bit of happiness. She wakes up the next morning to find the tiny batteries on the night stand. She's gone. I hope the tiny batteries mean Claire has come to a decision about her life and not that she is rejecting Flea's super thoughtful gift.

Flea digs her phone out of her underwear to call Boo's voicemail. Someone should probably disconnect that. We're oot.

This show is all Phoebe Waller - Bridge, but I am finding myself really impressed by Sian Clifford as Claire. She does brittle / poignant / exhausted / fragile / happy and devastated all at the same time and so well.

We've moved past the over the top sexualized humour of the first couple of episodes. I was called on the carpet for treating this show as a comedy, but you don't really know until you get to the end of E3, do you? How much darkness is under that light. There are peeks of it, but now you can see that all that has been an attempt to showcase pain and self-destructive behaviour as entertainment, which I think we've all done at some point. Who hasn't told the hilarious story of waking up with vomit-caked pigtails after having a super duper great time propositioning a drummer? Okay, maybe just me, but I think this show does really well at portraying the layers of grief and panic under Flea's winky facade.

Until next time, you lot, keep your tiny batteries well stocked.