Back for just one night and full of gems, the Derry Girls came of age in one sick show
When is the end of a series not really the end? The series in question is Derry Girls (Channel 4).
We knew in advance that Tuesday night’s episode was the end of the third and final season, but also that it wouldn’t be the last time we’d see Erin (Saoirse-Monica Jackson), Michelle (Jamie-Lee O’Donnell), Clare (Nicola Coughlan), Orla (Louisa Harland), James (Dylan Llewellyn) and the other characters.
They were back in a one hour special last night. This time it really was the end, and one could not have wished for a better farewell.
If Derry girls had said goodbye on Tuesday with (spoiler alert) the death of Clare’s father — and on the very night she found romance and shared a kiss with “another lezzie,” as the ever-tactful Michelle put it — it would be been the biggest downer to an end since Victor Meldrew’s hit and run in With one foot in the grave.
Instead, Derry Girls went on a dizzying, glorious high. Full Disclosure: I’ve always been a little agnostic about the show. I’ve never felt that it fully warrants the often ridiculously hysterical hype that’s being fueled around it.
Last night was a blast though. We caught up with the gang a year after Tuesday’s events. Clare and her family have left Derry for stranger pastures – Strabane, to be precise – but she plans to return for a very important occasion: Orla and Erin’s 18th birthday celebration together.
Actually, Erin has been 18 for a while, but the girls’ “strict” moms, Sarah (Kathy Kiera Clarke) and Mary (Tara Lynne O’Neill), decided to save a few bobbys by merging the celebrations.
What could possibly go wrong? Many. The girls end up having to share the venue with a group of First Communion children because Mary forgot to book ahead of time.
To add salt to the wound, hated school prefect and lollipop Jenny Joyce (Leah O’Rourke) also throws an 18th birthday party, a lavish affair complete with champagne, karaoke, a magician, fancy gift bags for guests and more river dance“This is practically the Oscars,” Erin wails, “our party doesn’t stand a chance!”
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At the same time, another, slightly more significant event is taking place: the vote on the historic Good Friday Agreement, the details of which baffle Joe (Ian McElhinney). He’s read the introduction 30 times and still can’t figure it out.
For the gloriously sombre Sarah, however, everything is as clear as crystal. “If you vote yes, you can swing either way,” she says.
It’s as if show creator Lisa McGee was determined to sign off on all the things the series does best with the equivalent of a compilation album. Each character is given a moment to shine.
Gerry’s (Tommy Tiernan) simmering animosity towards a newcomer, a clumsy cousin named Eamon (Ardal O’Hanlon), draws a laugh from anything he touches.
There is conflict as Erin and Michelle have a falling out over the latter’s brother, a murderer who will be released under the Good Friday Agreement, and a solution if they reconcile. It also allows for a rare and touching moment of reflection for the most talkative of the Derry Girls.
As usual, Sister George Michael (Siobhán Mc-Sweeney) gets the best lines, including a scathing disparagement of Jenny Joyce’s genuinely horrific play: “The conflict here has resulted in some horrific atrocities, and now we must add your play to this list.”
But she shows her human side when she learns the authorities are taking her somewhere else.
She won’t go without a fight and has a few choice words:
“I make a difference here. The girls know that, the parents know that. I’m not ready to go Try to force me to do this and there will be a terrible commotion.” Ultimately, however, her fate remains uncertain.
Everything finally crystallizes around the big vote. Erin is skeptical that the deal can really work, making Joe one of the most beautiful pieces of dialogue McGee has ever written.
“What if it works?” he says.
“What if this all turns into a ghost story? One day you will tell your little ones.
“A ghost story you won’t believe.”
That was the real thing Derry girls finale, and it’s rounded out with a today’s coda that I don’t want to spoil with revelations.
https://www.independent.ie/entertainment/television/tv-reviews/back-for-just-one-night-and-brimming-with-gems-the-derry-girls-came-of-age-in-a-cracker-of-a-show-41664430.html Back for just one night and full of gems, the Derry Girls came of age in one sick show