Flowers Season 1, Episode 2 (2016)
Written & Directed by Will Sharpe
Nana Flowers is rushed to the emergency room in the wake of the disastrous anniversary party. A romantic rivalry is stoked over Deborah by the skeevy George and the earnest Barry the builder. Amy is having difficulty processing Nana’s imminent death after the doctors deliver a troubling prognosis. Abigail comes to comfort Amy, but Donald sees it as an opportunity to try to seduce their neighbor. Looming in the background of all this drama is Maurice who is having difficulty explaining just how Nana injured himself. He enlists Shun to dispose of his noose so that his attempted suicide will be kept a secret. However, young Hugo draws something that will force Maurice to open up about what happened.
The relationship between Maurice and Shun is given a bit more development in this episode, with the live-in artist becoming the only member of the Flowers household that Maurice is comfortable enough to share his suicidal ideation with. Shun never passes judgment but maintains a comical yet endearing positivity that things will work out for the best. He dutifully agrees to hide the noose and is back in time to visit Nana Flowers, singing an ad-libbed song about “English grandmother will never die.” Shun feels the most out of place in all the best ways in the world of Flowers, everyone else a varying shade of dour while this energetic Japanese man is a source of light.
Deborah seems to have made her mind up about potential suitors when George arrives with condolences and absinthe. He argues that they shouldn’t let the anniversary party end on such a dark note and Deborah happily indulges him. Barry is bandaged like a mummy after Donald’s fondue machine disaster covered him in burning cheese and Deborah kindly asks him to go home while she and George celebrate. Yet, she is dutifully bound to her family. When the doctor recognizes Maurice as the author of the Grubbs Family book, Deborah angrily redirects the conversation to her dying mother-in-law. When Barbara shows up, Hugo and his drawing in tow, Deborah seeks out Maurice for an explanation.
When Donald tries to make smooth moves on Abigail by buying her coffee and a candy bar he’s interrupted by a blood-drenched clown who is waiting for treatment. This Fat Matilda, a school friend of Donald’s whom he quietly dismisses by telling her that he’s doesn’t reciprocate the feelings he believes she has for him. Those feelings are never explicitly stated, but I am hoping we see more of Fat Matilda, who despite the name appears to be of average size. She manages to be even more awkward than Donald in her one scene.
I had forgotten how good Julian Barrett, who plays Maurice, can be. I originally came across him on the cult hit The Mighty Boosh as Howard Moone. I’ve tried to follow him throughout his career, and he manages to find the perfect line between comedic and pathetic characters. With Moone, he exuded an arrogant, pathetic nature, but with Maurice Flowers, the intermingling of sadness and humor is more nuanced. In a single scene, he can navigate between farce and pathos so effortlessly, and it is this skill as an actor that keeps the show anchored in humor rather than descending into bleakness. Olivia Coleman matches Barret at every turn, playing her character between the bouncing extremes of “have no cares” light-hearted and fun against breaking down after being pulled in too many directions at once. When they share the screen during an episode, it is always the best part.