Phoebe Waller-Bridge achieved TV greatness with touching finale of Fleabag, by Jim Shelley 

Fleabag ended in triumph – for its creator certainly, if not necessarily her heroine.

The last-ever episode saw her bow out not by walking into the sunset, arm-in-arm with the priest (!) but into the night, down some generic London High Street, on her own.

She paused seconds before the credits, to wave us goodbye: her only ‘friends’, as she’d told Fiona Shaw’s stern psychotherapist.

The end: Fleabag ended in triumph – for its creator certainly, if not necessarily her heroine

The end: Fleabag ended in triumph – for its creator certainly, if not necessarily her heroine

The end: Fleabag ended in triumph – for its creator certainly, if not necessarily her heroine

As for Phoebe Waller-Bridge meanwhile, with Fleabag’s finale she ensured the show sealed its place in the pantheon of great British television, such was the calibre of her performance and above all the script.

With only two series (of just six episodes each, unlike anything American) PWB had also quit in the classic manner, emulating the likes of Fawlty Towers and The Office rather than risk the type of decline suffered by, say, Alan Partridge.

It may sound like hyperbole but it’s hard to see the ending as anything other than perfect, and certainly the best there’s been since Lena Dunham’s in Girls.

Solo: The last-ever episode saw her bow out not by walking into the sunset, arm-in-arm with the priest (!) but into the night, down some generic London High Street, on her own

Solo: The last-ever episode saw her bow out not by walking into the sunset, arm-in-arm with the priest (!) but into the night, down some generic London High Street, on her own

Solo: The last-ever episode saw her bow out not by walking into the sunset, arm-in-arm with the priest (!) but into the night, down some generic London High Street, on her own

It was also a brilliant bookend to the way the season had started: a dinner (introducing the family to the priest who was going to be ‘marrying’ Fleabag’s father and godmother) and now the wedding itself.

So it concluded by going full circle, bringing so many elements from the opener to a close, and making references to everything from the priest’s fear of foxes to ‘creepy’ stepson Jake’s bassoon.

Fleabag returned the stolen bust to its artist, and the astute rebuke ‘f**k you then’ that the priest had made outside the restaurant. She shared another cigarette with her father and once she was accused of planning ‘a little show’ (not by her brother-in-law as before but her Godmother).

Wedding bells: There was a  brilliant bookend to the way the season had started: a dinner (introducing the family to the priest who was going to be ‘marrying’ Fleabag’s father and godmother) and now the wedding itself

Wedding bells: There was a  brilliant bookend to the way the season had started: a dinner (introducing the family to the priest who was going to be ‘marrying’ Fleabag’s father and godmother) and now the wedding itself

Wedding bells: There was a  brilliant bookend to the way the season had started: a dinner (introducing the family to the priest who was going to be ‘marrying’ Fleabag’s father and godmother) and now the wedding itself

Finale: It may sound like hyperbole but it’s hard to see the ending as anything other than perfect, and certainly the best there’s been since Lena Dunham’s in Girls

Finale: It may sound like hyperbole but it’s hard to see the ending as anything other than perfect, and certainly the best there’s been since Lena Dunham’s in Girls

Finale: It may sound like hyperbole but it’s hard to see the ending as anything other than perfect, and certainly the best there’s been since Lena Dunham’s in Girls

This time mention of Claire’s miscarriage came not with her covering it up but shouting it out and using it as the weapon against her husband to bring about her escape.

‘I guess it was your baby’s way of saying it didn’t want you as its father!’ she raged, quoting his original insult towards Fleabag and redirecting it back against him: ‘like a goldfish out of the bowl sort of thing…’

The big issues were immaculately well judged by Waller-Bridge: measured and authentic without being predictable.

Drama: Claire’ shouted about her  miscarriage-  using it as the weapon against her husband to bring about her escape

Drama: Claire’ shouted about her  miscarriage-  using it as the weapon against her husband to bring about her escape

Drama: Claire’ shouted about her  miscarriage-  using it as the weapon against her husband to bring about her escape 

It didn’t have a happy ending – not quite anyway. But Fleabag’s relationships with her father and sister for example were all played out in virtually the same way, only this time with positive resolutions.

She even reached a kind of peace with her Godmother, despite the occasion bringing out the very worst in her.

‘This is my very interesting friend Daniel who’s deaf. I picked him up at a student gallery opening,” she trilled, as if he were a vase. ‘Utterly fascinating! Can’t hear a thing.’

Other guests included ‘my extraordinary friend Francine – she’s a lesbian’ and Asif ‘my bisexual Syrian refugee friend.’

Scene stealing: Olivia Colman had some hilarious moments as the Godmother

Scene stealing: Olivia Colman had some hilarious moments as the Godmother

Scene stealing: Olivia Colman had some hilarious moments as the Godmother

She accepted Fleabag’s present, telling her: ‘I’m going to open it over a bin – so I’ve got somewhere to put the paper!’

Nonetheless there was an element of détente. Fleabag generously delivered her dad back to the ceremony from the attic (‘come on buck up, smiles, charm’), accepted his admission that his bride was ‘not everyone’s cup of tea but neither are you’, and successfully re-claimed the bust that her new mother-in-law had cruelly revealed was based on Fleabag’s beloved mother.

‘You’re the way you are because of her,’ Bill Paterson (Fleabag’s father) told her. ‘And it’s those bits that you need to cling to.’

This was one of several touching, powerful, speeches.

Amends: Fleabag’s relationships with her father and sister had positive resolutions

Amends: Fleabag’s relationships with her father and sister had positive resolutions

Amends: Fleabag’s relationships with her father and sister had positive resolutions

Fleabag’s sister Claire dismissed the notion of leaving to be with Klare, her boss from Finland, declaring: ‘the only person I’d run through an airport for is you.’

Fleabag’s dad had sweetly considered: ‘I think you know how to love better than any of us. That’s why you find it all so painful.’

‘I don’t find it painful,’ she quipped to camera, probably protesting too much nonetheless.

The speech Phoebe Waller-Bridge wrote for Andrew Scott was remarkable, summing up love as: ‘awful, painful. frightening. It makes you doubt yourself, judge yourself, makes you creepy, makes you obsessed with your hair, makes you cruel, makes you say and do things you would never do.’

Love: Fleabag’s sister Claire dismissed the notion of leaving to be with Klare, her boss from Finland, declaring: ‘the only person I’d run through an airport for is you'

Love: Fleabag’s sister Claire dismissed the notion of leaving to be with Klare, her boss from Finland, declaring: ‘the only person I’d run through an airport for is you'

Love: Fleabag’s sister Claire dismissed the notion of leaving to be with Klare, her boss from Finland, declaring: ‘the only person I’d run through an airport for is you’

‘There’s something wrong with your priest,’ muttered her sister, superbly.

‘People say: when it feels right it’s easy. But I’m not sure that’s true. It takes strength to know what’s right. Love isn’t something that weak people do. I think what they mean is: When you find somebody you love it feels like… hope.’

I suppose this meant that even when he cast her asunder, ending any notion of them being together it represented a kind of happy ending for Fleabag.

She had lost out, and lost him, to God.

Love is: The speech Phoebe Waller-Bridge wrote for Andrew Scott was remarkable

Love is: The speech Phoebe Waller-Bridge wrote for Andrew Scott was remarkable

Love is: The speech Phoebe Waller-Bridge wrote for Andrew Scott was remarkable

‘Damn!’ she sighed, laughing but her eyes filling with tears. ‘You know the worst thing is, that I f**king love you. I love you.’

‘It’ll pass,’ he shrugged, suggesting he had done this before.

Even the bus she had been waiting for was cancelled.

Fleabag may be damaged, slightly desperate, and sometimes deranged but she is nothing if not a survivor.

Quip: ‘There’s something wrong with your priest,’ muttered her sister, superbly during the speech

Quip: ‘There’s something wrong with your priest,’ muttered her sister, superbly during the speech

Quip: ‘There’s something wrong with your priest,’ muttered her sister, superbly during the speech

She had taken back the bust of her mother and grasped it tightly as she set off down the road.

Brilliantly, Phoebe Waller-Bridge didn’t say anything. Resisted ending it with one last quip to camera.

Instead she looked round and just shook her head, as if to stop us from saying anything about what had happened (like ask ‘are you OK?’, as friends do).

No romance: There was a kind of happy ending for Fleabag. She had lost out, but lost her Priest to God

No romance: There was a kind of happy ending for Fleabag. She had lost out, but lost her Priest to God

No romance: There was a kind of happy ending for Fleabag. She had lost out, but lost her Priest to God

‘I’ve been having a real hard time. But it feels so nice to know I’m gonna be alright,’ sang Alabama Shakes.

Waller-Bridge is such a fantastic writer we tend not to notice her acting.

The way she conveyed Fleabag’s emotion(s) at this point was exceptional, with an expression on her face that was part fear and part confidence, still strong but really vulnerable, letting us decide how she was really feeling for ourselves.

The little wave she gave us said it all. 

That's all folks: Brilliantly, Phoebe Waller-Bridge didn’t say anything. Resisted ending it with one last quip to camera

That's all folks: Brilliantly, Phoebe Waller-Bridge didn’t say anything. Resisted ending it with one last quip to camera

That’s all folks: Brilliantly, Phoebe Waller-Bridge didn’t say anything. Resisted ending it with one last quip to camera

Link hienalouca.com

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