Shame, confession, grace, redemption And although most of the fan commentary on the "Hot Priest" has framed the character in the same titillating terms as the name that general consensus has given him — " The Hot Priest In 'Fleabag' Makes Me Weak at the Knees " — the underlying thrust sorry of the second season is a much deeper and more philosophical question than the will they, won't they of the typical rom-com.
In the absence of religious morality — in a secular society where we are basically free to do whatever we want — where does one find forgiveness for one's sins?
Her sin is not sex, I want to hasten to add. This has been lost on some critics, and when the original one-woman show debuted in , a surprising number of reviews managed to praise the performance while sounding surprisingly moralistic, calling her " a monster, of sorts ," and the play an indictment of " the effects of porn on 21st-century women ," " a grown-up girl's cautionary tale ," and a " confused picture of contemporary western womanhood.
Something else is going on. In a sense, Fleabag does need the forgiveness that she was denied the opportunity to ask for in the first season. Sleeping with your best friend's boyfriend is a horrific thing to do, as were the consequences; since Boo died without knowing who it was that betrayed her, how could Fleabag ever be forgiven for what she did?
But a strange thing about the second season is that it isn't really about that betrayal. Perhaps the first season served as a substitute confession — with the camera taking the place of the absent Boo — but the second season picks up with an inspired inversion of the absolute flaming fiasco of the season one ending: the first episode begins with a family dinner in which everyone has silently, Britishly, agreed to pretend that everything is fine.
It isn't. But the truth is somehow worse: when her father asks her why she isn't "being naughty," she tells him, simply "Because it doesn't matter. She hasn't found acceptance or forgiveness, and her celibacy is a sign of resignation, not virtue.
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She's simply given up trying. In the gap between the first season and this one — days, 19 hours, and 26 minutes later, a title card tells us — she accepted her family's judgment, essentially, that she is unlovable. Perhaps because she's never been religious, never believed in God, and never respected the authority that he represents, Fleabag doesn't see him coming either.
He's an enigma to her, as is his faith; when she begins to feel an attraction to him, she has to google basic questions like "what happens to a priest who has sex?
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But though the season begins with the declaration that "this is a love story" — and she does eventually spoiler alert have sex with the Hot Priest — it's his insistence that she is redeemable and his desire to help her that knocks her off her feet and which she fights to resist. What's more, a priest can offer her something that a world where everything is allowed — and where nothing can therefore be wrong — cannot. How can a person find help when therapists — as her disastrous counseling session demonstrates — can only tell you that whatever you've already decided to do is what you will do?
How can they help you when that inevitability has led you to do the wrong things? Having lost all confidence in her own judgment, her own instincts, and her own feelings — having decided that what she needs is for someone else to take over decision-making for her life — she is increasingly fascinated by this man of the cloth who seems to be exactly what she wants to be: a funny, profane train-wreck, wearing great dresses, who lives a mortified and celibate life of subjection and is inexplicably plagued by predatory foxes.
This instinct is wrong, it turns out, because it's still the instinct to give up on herself.
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Love — as she told the therapist — "didn't bring anything good," but as the Hot Priest's absurdly effective and affecting "love is awful" wedding sermon emphasizes, giving up on it was the wrong conclusion. It's frightening. It makes you judge yourself, doubt yourself, distance yourself from the other people in your life," he says. Except that Having sex doesn't ruin his life, it turns out, just as it hasn't ruined hers.
In fact, the revelation is that sex has changed nothing , which might be Waller-Bridge's most radically hopeful suggestion: after their trainwreck of a relationship, the Hot Priest goes back to the church, and she goes back to loving her family and being loved by them. No mistake you can make can change what matters; whatever you've done, it will pass. If the first season was about honestly coming to terms with the damage sex can do, season two is about accepting what comes after confession, about the hard work of loving, even knowing the damage that love has brought and will bring again.
What's difficult is not knowing what to do, but finding the strength to get on with it and do it and the hope to try. In other words, love might not be an airport chase scene; it might be helping your sister up off her knees after she's begged her husband to leave her for good. Or your dad up off his when he's hiding from his wedding. It's a good homily. You can go to cart and save for later there.
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