SPOILER ALERT: This story contains spoilers for Season 3 of Derry Girls.
Season 3 of Derry Girls opens with a dramatic montage set to the tune of Uilleann Pipes and starring Erin Quinn (Saoirse-Monica Jackson), Orla McCool (Louisa Clare Harland), Clare Devlin (‘Bridgerton’ star Nicola Coughlan ) and James shows Maguire (Dylan Llewellyn) and Michelle Mallon (Jamie-Lee O’Donnell) leaning thoughtfully against walls, playing soccer and doing cartwheels, interspersed with shots of burning cars and armed soldiers. It’s the kind of montage that belongs in a historical play about growing up in Ireland in the ’90s — and, it turns out, the kind Erin, Orla, Clare, James and Michelle want to be remembered for, like them did it themselves with James’ video camera. “They told us we were young,” says Erin in a comically ponderous voiceover, “but we understood the enormity. We got the point. Our fear has been replaced by something far more terrifying…hope. Hope is so much worse.”
Thus begins the wacky final seven episodes of the acclaimed Irish teen comedy created and written by Lisa McGee. The two-time BAFTA-nominated series first premiered on UK Channel 4 on January 4, 2018 and then landed on Netflix on December 21, 2018. Season 3, the last of the series, was released on the streamer on October 7th. Aspiring author Erin, her eccentric cousin Orla, the perpetually panicked Clare, the brashly confident Michelle and her humble, well-intentioned cousin James clash and find themselves in hilarious and inventive predicaments. In Season 1, they try to delay an upcoming test by convincing their principal that they saw a tear roll down the cheek of a statue of the Virgin Mary. In the Season 2 finale, they invite Chelsea Clinton to the Lisnagelvin swimming pool by sending her a letter prior to the then First Family’s visit to Derry. Rounding out the rest of the cast are Tara Lynne O’Neill and Tommy Tiernan as Mary and Gerry, Erin’s parents; Kathy Kiera Clarke as Orla’s mother, Sarah; Ian McElhinney as Orla and Erin’s grandfather, Joe; and a memorable Siobhán McSweeney as Sister George Michael, the principal of Our Lady Immaculate College, the Catholic school the Derry girls attend.
Part of Derry Girls’ charm has always been that it captures the worries of everyday teenage girls who are less concerned about the troubles – the Northern Ireland conflict between loyalists who wanted Northern Ireland to remain under UK jurisdiction . and the Republicans, who wanted the region to be united with Ireland – as, for example, figuring out how to connect with Protestant boys in a Catholic-Protestant camp designed to build “bridges” across the religious divide. Season 3 begins with the girls confronting one of their biggest fears: the status of their GCSE exams. The day before they are supposed to see their results, the Derry girls decide to break into Our Lady Immaculate College to see their results after Sister George Michael reveals to them that the school already has their grades. However, once inside the school, they encounter two men who manage to convince them to help carry the school’s computer equipment into their van.
It’s only when the men have left Clare – the group’s resident mental patient prone to stress-related outbursts – that it turns out they’ve just helped two thieves escape with her own school’s valuables. Then the police arrive and take the Derry Girls into custody, where they are questioned by none other than Liam Neeson, who plays Chief Constable Byers. Their situation looks bleak until an unlikely hero saves the day. When the Derry Girls are asked to call an adult relative to join them at the station, the Derry Girls call Erin and Orla’s great-uncle Colm, who is known for being a non-stop talker. Colm irritates the constable by constantly talking about unnecessary things and delaying the questioning. When the police use the computer to obtain security photos of the actual thieves, the girls are released.
As the Derry Girls embark on ludicrous adventures, McGee uses the final season to expand the show’s world, including adding depth and dimension to the show’s supporting characters. In the second episode, a hot plumber threatens Erin’s parents’ marriage; Episode 5 focuses almost entirely on Erin and Orla’s moms, who go to their high school reunion to confront an old friend with a long-buried secret that stems from their 1977 graduate disco (apparently a term associated with “graduation party” is synonymous). Season 3 also brings tangible romantic elements to the story: James and Erin kiss in a haunted house after James has a near-death experience, and Clare kisses Laurie, a record store clerk, after the Derry Girls were kicked out of a Fatboy Slim concert in the Halloween night. There are also appearances from memorable supporting characters, including Art Campion’s scruffy father Peter, who makes an appearance – this time with a ponytail.
But after the sudden death of Clare’s father at the end of episode 6, the seventh – and final – episode takes on a more serious tone. In addition to dealing with grief, the series finale also provides more of a platform for the political conflict, which while prominent, functioned primarily as a background character until Season 3. In the finale, Erin and Orla, who were born three months apart, are tasked with throwing an 18th birthday celebration together that’s better than that of their nemesis, Jenny Joyce. Erin wants the party theme to be “literary greats”; Orla’s sensibilities are more in line with her preferred choice, “monkeys,” though she says she’s willing to compromise on “gorillas.” At the same time, the looming vote to accept or reject the Good Friday Agreement – a referendum that largely brokered peace between Britain and Ireland over governance in Northern Ireland – has Erin wondering where her life is headed, both as well as as a person and as a citizen. The referendum granted the people of Northern Ireland the right to hold British or Irish citizenship or both, ensured Northern Ireland would remain part of the United Kingdom, and released paramilitary prisoners. But the upcoming vote is causing a rift between Erin and Michelle. Erin wants peace but is unsure if a yes vote will actually lead to a solution and is uncomfortable with the idea of releasing prisoners. Michelle’s brother was jailed for killing someone during the riots and she eagerly awaits his release. The two reconcile after a long night of mishaps in a moment of clarity that shows they recognize the complications of their world.
“There is no answer to any of this, is there?” Michèle asks.
“I don’t think so, you know,” says Erin.
In the end, Clare saves Erin and Orla’s party by poaching The Commitment – a fictional band based on the 1991 film The Commitments – from Jenny Joyce’s party. As the lead singer of The Commitment, played by Bronagh Gallagher in a memorable cameo, Tina croons Turner’s “Proud Mary” as Erin asks her grandfather for advice on how to vote. “What if we vote yes and it doesn’t even work?” she asks him.
“And if so?” he asks. “What if this all turns into a ghost story that you tell your family one day?”
The last few minutes of Derry Girls show footage of the main cast of characters entering the polling station, all voting yes to the referendum. But the final scene of the series finale, set in present tense, picks up a thread left over from season 2 and, weirdly, doesn’t come with the main cast at all. A postman walks down a residential street in New York before ringing the doorbell of a brownstone building. He explains to the woman who answers the door that the mail he delivers somehow got lost in the 90’s but has finally gotten to her now. The camera shows him speaking to none other than an amused Chelsea Clinton, who opens the letter he gives her and begins to read it aloud. “Dear Chelsea, our names are Erin, Orla, Clare, Michelle and James and we come from a place called Derry. We know you will soon be traveling here with your mum and dad, and if you’re anything like our parents, well, you’ll be bored to death.” It’s a triumphant, fitting conclusion to a story that aims to to surprise their viewers with heart and laughter until the end.
https://variety.com/2022/tv/news/derry-girls-season-3-series-finale-recap-spoilers-1235398002/ Derry Girls Finale: Chelsea Clinton, Liam Neeson, Guest Appearances in Season 3