This Country Season 3 review: A poignant and hilarious farewell
Ivan Radford | On 16, Feb 2020
“You can’t save a damsel if she loves her distress.” “And you can’t save someone from a shark who’s insistent on doing one of them shark cage experiences.” That’s the sound of Kurtan (Charlie Cooper) and Kerry (Daisy May Cooper) returning to BBC Three for a third season of This Country, and their philosophical reflections set the tone for a final run that’s as poignant and thoughtful as it is side-splittingly hilarious.
The mockumentary takes us back one last time to the Cotswolds, a part of England purportedly chosen by the filmmakers because it highlights the way “young people feel more marginalised than ever” in modern, rural Britain. The series has gradually delved deeper and deeper into its village, finding wonderful layers to each character who crosses our path. Season 1 gave Charlie a chance to shine as the ambitious, proud and clueless Curtan, while Season 2 was a showcase for Daisy May Cooper, as Kerry had to deal with her relationship with her father. It’s a testament to how rounded and well written the ensemble is that Season 3 shifts its focus to the other central character: Paul Chahidi’s brilliant Reverend Francis Seaton.
Before that, though, Episode 1 is dedicated to another memorable cast member: Slugs, who was played by Michael Sleggs, who tragically passed away last year. Paying tribute the only way the show could, it begins the season with Kerry and Kurtan facing the aftermath of Slugs’ passing, as Kurtan tries to work out how to support Slugs’ partner, while Kerry receives a letter with some shocking, personal information. Director Tom George balances the tone perfectly, the show’s fly-on-the-wall style combining with its long takes to allow for natural expressions of loss and regret, capturing a huge amount of sincere grief just in their facial expressions alone.
And yet the laughs are out in the force, as they would have been if Sleggs were still present, each understated punchline delivered with a flawless deadpan by the cast. A sequence involving Kerry finding money and purpose at the local recycling centre – looking for positive things amid the trash – is one of the show’s most laugh-out-loud to date, while Kurtan falling into an amusing domestic routine highlights how unnatural it is for Kerry and Kurtan to be anything but themselves.
The show promises to continue in that vein, striking an endearingly wistful tone as the comedy prepares to bid farewell on many fronts. But even as it wraps things up, there’s no sign of it running out of steam – This Country’s best episode yet sees Kurtan and Kerry taken by the vicar for a driving lesson, leading to a half-hour that unfolds almost entirely within that vehicle.
Chahidi brings frustration, confusion, stress and hope to the Rev Francis, which, coupled with an unfailing kindness, makes him as lovely a man as he is a fool to be taken advantage of by the Mucklowe siblings. By the time he’s pouring his heart out to his unlikely confidantes, it’s at once hysterically silly and absurdly sweet – exactly the same combination that has made This Country a consistent joy to watch for three seasons. What a shame it is that there won’t be a fourth.
This Country Season 3 is available on BBC iPlayer until February 2022. Season 1 and 2 are also available on BBC iPlayer.