Flowers Season 1, Episode 3 (2016)
Written & Directed by Will Sharpe
Deborah has enlisted the builders to help her clear out and burn much of Nana Flowers’ things. Maurice has the pressure put on him by his editors to produce a new Grubbs Family book. Deborah has the family plant sees, and Nana’s ashes in the garden as a way to “heal” them but Amy questions why she keeps telling people lies about how her grandmother died. Maurice allows Deborah to spread his lie of Nana’s attempted suicide while keeping Shun his only confidante. Deborah’s sister Viv comes to visit, fresh off a divorce. George slinks around in an attempt to bed Deborah but ends up with Viv instead. Maurice comes close to telling his wife the truth but balks at the last moment.
The focus of the series here at the halfway mark is pretty squarely on Maurice and Deborah. Their crumbling marriage is the core of the series, so it makes sense that most of our time is spent with them. However, I find myself laughing the most at the bits with Donald and Amy, the twins. Amy does get more of a spotlight this episode as she has a very crucial scene with Abigail. I loved their coded conversation on being “feminists” and going on a “feminist date” together. This was juxtaposed with Donald calling Fat Matilda over to merely use a prop in a failed attempt to get Abigail’s attention. I love that Matilda is not stupid about this matter and knows precisely what Donald is doing. He’s made that much more pathetic for it.
Aunt Viv is an interesting element to drop into the series and feels like the catalyst of the first real cracks in Deborah’s nervously upbeat facade. Viv’s conquering of George does psychic damage to her sister which only compounded by Maurice’s rejection of going to bed with Deborah. Then when the sisters discover Maurice receiving a massage from Shun in the cabin out back, the knife is plunged even deeper. Viv shares an incredibly creepy and hilarious scene with Donald, her nephew, where her sexual advances are entirely transparent. That extra layer of creepiness Sharpe adds to the story, even if the plot doesn’t go anywhere, adds to the depth of this dark, sad world.
There’s a beautiful moment of comeuppance for George at the hands of Barry. The two men plus Deborah and Viv are playing cards, and George just endlessly talks, trying to pose as a witty and erudite member of the party. He relates a story about a man who didn’t take risks at the table during a card game and died a chronic masturbator alone in his basement. Maurice seizes upon how George couldn’t know any of this and in quick detail points out the deep flaws in the story. What seems like a victory for Maurice devolves into a defeat when Deborah and Viv turn the conversation onto why Maurice can’t complete his next book (“You get bogged down in the details”). This turn from triumph to failure is woven throughout Flowers, it’s the root of the pathos and the humor, and is why the series is so odd and extremely British.
The most exciting relationship being developed in Flowers is the one between Maurice and Amy. We haven’t seen much interaction between the two until this third installment. I suspect Maurice is not the only member of the family to suffer from depression and mental illness. Amy is incredibly reclusive and suffers from obsessive compulsions. Her art. Her music. Abigail. These things consume her to the degree that verges on becoming unhealthy. Remember Maurice’s comment to Donald in episode one to make sure Amy was eating. Amy confides in her father with a poem written to Abigail which serves as a coming out to her father. He expresses that this is because she trusts him more than Deborah, but Amy squashes that by stating her mother would turn it into a huge thing. However, this moment is critical because it leads to Maurice finally telling the truth to Amy about Nana, the noose, and what happened.