The Derry Girls were in fine form last night. Once again McGee’s writing beautifully blends teenage angst and dark Derry humour in an entirely relatable way. So let’s break it down to the highlights. Sláinte mother****ers!
The episode kicked off with the ever smug Jenny’s (Leah O’Rourke) song choices resulting in another banned song from Sister Michael (Siobhan McSweeny). Let’s take a moment to appreciate the serious side eye from the girl to Jenny’s right. Jenny probably gives herself all the solos and this girl is eventually going to orchestrate some kind of school choir coup; hopefully a bloodless one.
A part of me was really hoping this episode would kick off with Sister Michael continuing to wind the girls up with an investigation into the death of the (almost) 98 year old Sister Declan. Her wilfully ignoring the implications of the words ‘dramatic pause’ when announcing the school trip to Paris however was just as good. She knew exactly what ‘dramatic pause’ meant and she was having none of it.
Erin’s ma Mary and her perfect use of the phrases ‘catch yourself on’ and ‘do I look like I came up the Foyle in a bubble’. The woman is the classic Derry mammy.
Tommy Tiernan’s Gerry is every Derry da as he tries to control his family’s chippie order, and Granda Joe is every begrudging father-in-law as he hurls abuse at Gerry’s tight fistedness…until his daughter tells him it’s enough.
The Friday night chippie is an institution in Derry (making it hardly surprising that James is greeted with disgust and outrage when he confesses to hating it), so writer Lisa McGee’s use of it to frame boring Uncle Colm’s story of being held hostage by gunmen is genius and entirely relatable. Of course Colm is traumatised and wants a Steak and Kidney pie and of course they’ll need another bag of chips. Seven bags between seven people is completely reasonable.
We all have an uncle Colm, thankfully only one can exist in every family. It takes a special kind of person to make a story of being held hostage by gunmen sound bland, and nothing beats the reaction of Colm’s captive audience (I’m not even a little bit ashamed of that pun). Shoutout to Sara’s segue into discussing the economy 7 heaters Colm just got installed and Erin’s plaintive ‘Mammy make it stop’. It should be a dark tale, we should be feeling sorry for Colm, things like this used to happen all the time. It’s hard not laugh though when McGee so perfectly captures the Northern Irish spirt and sense of humour here.
Everything Michelle did in this episode: her fearless attitude towards Fionnuala, the most powerful woman in Derry; her drunk thieving; trying to put a fire out with alcohol; her quick jibes at James at every opportunity; Sláinte mother****ers, which will undoubtedly be repeated in bars across the country this weekend. It’s hard to pick a favourite scene with Michelle.
Lastly, can we all acknowledge that, despite being constantly victimised by Michelle, James (Dylan Llewellyn) becomes oddly attractive in this episode? It started with the bordering-on-arrogant smile when Erin describes gardening as a job for someone with ‘muscles’ and was confirmed with the impressed and speculative expression on Orla’s face when he put out the fire in Fionnuala’s living room. His burgeoning heartthrob status is well balanced with him not being able to tell window cleaner from mayonnaise though. Not to mention the fact that he hates Fionnuala’s chippie. James is definitely going to have his very own ‘Mr Mullen’ incident. Here’s hoping the Derry Girls are the one’s saving him rather than instigating it.