Diving into Derry Girls: The Final Season

A recap and review of the final season of Derry Girls

The wait is finally over. After five and a half months, Derry Girls season 3 has made its way from the UK to Netflix US. Following the lives of five teenagers (Erin, Orla, Clare, Michelle, and James) during the Troubles, the show does a terrific job of capturing the emotions that involve growing up — filled with dry humor that juxtaposes the horrors the characters witness living in Derry, Northern Ireland (the location of Bloody Sunday). This season, the “girls” are in their fourteenth year of school (the equivalent of senior year). As they navigate passing their GCSEs and the end of the Troubles, this season left me howling with laughter and sobbing as the final season of Derry Girls came to a close in a poetic way, especially with the musical accompaniment of iconic 90s songs (like “Dreams” by The Cranberries and “Rockefeller Skank” by Fatboy Slim). Each season contains 6 20-minute episodes (with a 45-minute special at the end of season three), which is the perfect amount to binge over a weekend. If you haven’t watched it yet, I highly recommend it. I have yet to hear of someone who has disliked this show. My only complaint is that there are only 6 hours of content. Having rewatched the entire show multiple times, I often wish for more, but I respect the creator’s choice to end the show on her own terms, without risking a rushed ending because of cancellation. If you haven’t watched the show or season three yet, go watch the trailer and click off of this article, because it will be filled with spoilers from this point on.


Here are my reviews of each episode from season three. Spoilers ahead!


Episode 1: “The Night Before”

Uncle Colm to the rescue

This episode focuses on the girls receiving their GCSE scores. As they anxiously await the results, they run into Sister Michael (their headmistress), who informs them that the school received their scores a day early. Instead of waiting to read them with everyone else, they decide to break into their school and steal their score reports. While James is filming the entire scenario for his movie on living in Derry, the girls stumble upon two men who claim to be removing computer equipment to make room for new technology. The girls happily help, so as to not get in trouble for breaking in. When they finish moving all of the computer equipment into a sketchy van, they realize that the men were in fact stealing the school’s new computers. The girls are promptly arrested and brought in for questioning, led by Chief Constable Byers, played by none other than the man himself, Liam Neeson.

This episode was a great season opener. Incredibly hilarious and relatable (what doesn’t scream Magnet like breaking into school to get your test results early), this episode was simply fun. With Michelle’s witty banter with Neeson’s character, especially concerning the robber’s backside, Uncle Colm’s surprise appearance to save the girls from prison time, Erin claiming, for the tape, that they were arrested because they are “Fenians” (a political group that supported the unification of Ireland), and Grandpa Joe and Jerry Quinn secretly burying a rabbit murdered by the Quinn’s newly adopted cat, this episode perfectly captured the chaotic humor found in this show. While it is not my favorite of this season, this episode left me in stitches over the completely obscure nature of this episode.

Rating: 8.5/10

Episode 2: “The Affair”

James as Posh Spice, Erin as Ginger Spice, Michelle as Scary Spice, Orla as Sporty Spice, and Clare as Baby Spice

In this episode, the Quinns’ boiler broke, leaving them to call the plumber in hopes of getting hot water. Instead of their usual plumber, a handsome lad shows up, ready to get the job done. Ma Mary, frustrated with the amount of work she does for the family, becomes infatuated. After he fixes their boiler, Ma Mary is seen whispering with him in the foyer and receives a number and a place to meet up. Clare, after running off from dance rehearsals in Erin’s room, overhears the conversation and runs to tell the rest of the group. They suspect that Ma Mary is having an affair, but they table it for later, as they have to rehearse for the charity talent show run by their school. As the girls walk onstage to perform “Spice Up Your Life,” dressed as the Spice Girls, of course, Erin notices her mother and the plumber sitting next to each other in the crowd. She runs off stage to confront her mother about cheating on her father when it is revealed that they were attending night classes to go back to university. The argument comes to an end when Da Gerry gets upset with himself that Ma Mary would have to hide that she was taking classes from him.

This episode was absolutely hilarious. Perfectly filled with hilarious banter from the girls when rehearsing for their big number, great lines from Sister Michael and Father Peter, and classic gripes from Grandpa Joe about Da Gerry, it captured realistic family and friend dynamics not often seen in media. I also loved the “Spice Up Your Life” dance and Jenny Joyce’s rendition of FIND SONG. Before the final reveal, I felt shocked by the idea that the writers would have Erin’s mother cheat on her father. But when it was revealed the true nature of her meetings with the plumber, it was quite a sweet moment, punctuated by Grandpa Joe telling Mary that it would be ok if she cheated on Gerry, leaving everyone with a good laugh. When Erin exclaims that her mother was ruining her dream of being the first person in her family to go to university, it allowed common teenage selfishness to seep through, which makes the show incredibly accurate. While it was not my favorite episode of this season, it was by far one of the funniest, with a lot of the banter coming from Joe and Gerry (one of my favorite pairings in the show).

Rating: 8/10

Episode 3: “Stranger on the Train”

Grandpa Joe and his surfboard enjoying a rollercoaster

This episode is run a bit differently than normal, with most of the main cast being stuck on a train in the middle of Northern Ireland. The episode opens in the Quinns’ house, with Grandpa Joe holding a surfboard so that he can bring it with him to the fair (this is important later). As they make their way to the train station, Erin and Orla’s friends in tow, with way too much stuff to have at an amusement park, they realize that they are on the wrong platform. As they rush to the other side, they accidentally leave Clare behind. Realizing there is nothing they can do, they settle in on the train and hope she makes it there after them. While everyone else is on the train, Clare must sit in the waiting area with none other than Sister Michael. When the rest of the group is stuck on the train due to a blockage, Mary and Sarah meet a childhood friend who recently got out of jail, and the girls discover a suspicious bag filled with money, a gun, and a bag of chips. After all of the drama is concluded, the girls and the Quinn-McCool family (and Grandpa Joe’s surfboard) enjoy a day at the amusement park.

Out of all of the episodes, this one might be my least favorite. While it was still enjoyable (all of DG is enjoyable, but alas one cannot like all of them equally), I found that it lacked in the usual humor that the show has. I’m not sure if it was because the setting stayed stagnant for most of the episode or because Clare only interacted (awkwardly) with Sister Michael in the episode. Regardless, it did tap into the awkward and relatable humor that Derry Girls capitalizes on. Between the receptionist’s phone conversation and Sarah and Mary not recognizing their childhood friend, it did leave me with a few laughs.

Rating: 7.5/10

Episode 4: “The Haunting”

Sister Michael and her DeLorean

In the fourth episode, the girls’ and the parents’ stories are completely separate. Per Sister Michael’s request, the girls make a trip over the border to Donegal, Ireland to prepare her great aunt’s house for her wake. The girls see this as an opportunity to spend the night without parents, drinking and having fun with “hot farm boys.” Instead, they meet a woman speaking Gaelic and saying that she has seen the devil up the road, James gets knocked out by a stationary vehicle, and they must spend the night in a creepy house. But, after three seasons, Erin and James finally kissed. James claims he was inspired by “seeing the white light” when he was knocked unconscious. After Sister Michael arrives and they realize that they have done nothing to prepare, they also find out that the house they spent the night in was in fact not Sister Michael’s great aunt’s. Switching back to the parents, they are on a much different path surrounding death. The Quinns and McCools have decided to visit a psychic to communicate with Mary and Sarah’s mother on the 10-year anniversary of her death. While Mary wants to know if her mother is alright and Sarah wants the American WWII veteran to stop haunting her, Grandpa Joe has a burning question for his late wife: Where is his electric razor? Although the psychic (played by Game of Thrones actor Conleth Hill, who played Varys) cannot make contact unless they provide more payment, Grandpa Joe gets his answer after 10 years. In an emotional ending, set to “Black is the Color” by Cara Dillon, Joe finds his electric razor under the sink, finally receiving a sign from his beloved wife.

This episode was absolutely hilarious. Between James not understanding the Gaelic woman, Sister Michael’s incredible entrance in her flip-up sunglasses, and Gerry thinking his wife and in-laws have gone absolutely off the rails, this episode was jam-packed with jokes. HOWEVER, the best part of this episode was THE KISS. Erin and James, hiding from each other no longer. Although at the end of the episode they decide to not move further in order to preserve the dynamics of the group, I felt that it was fitting. Michelle put it well, saying if they broke up, “[Erin] may be [her] best friend, but James is [her] cousin, and ****head or not, [she’ll] have to stick with him.” I absolutely loved this episode. The juxtaposition of the humor and the sadness really made it, leaving me sobbing at the end.

Rating: 9/10

Episode 5: “The Reunion”

The young mothers (and Dierdre’s Canadian cousin Rob) at the leaver’s disco

In this episode, the viewers are taken back 30 years, to the girls’ mother’s senior year dance. Bouncing back between their 30-year reunion and the dance, it is hinted that the mothers did something completely horrible that fateful night. As the mothers dance around the subject and the fathers realize they are wearing the exact same suit, the readers come to understand that the core group of the show is actually a second generation of friendship, with their mothers being as close as they were. However, there is one difference. The mothers were close friends with the girls’ “nemesis,” Jenny Joyce, until she married a surgeon who doesn’t speak. At the end of the episode, it is revealed that the so-called horrible thing the mothers did 30 years ago was give each other stick and pokes of a skull. As the mothers make up with Janette Joyce, they look back on all of the fun they had in high school, paralleling their own daughters’ experiences.

While this episode lacked the main teenage cast, it was an endearing episode, filled with the typical awkward humor of the show. One of my favorite parts was the mothers completely irrational feelings about their tattoos and Aunt Sarah studying up on her Russian war history to sound accomplished, things we have all probably done at some point. I have to give major props to the casting department. The actors who played the young mothers were spot on, nailing both the looks and personalities of the characters. Because of this episode, the viewers got to see the root of the main girls’ personalities: their mothers. It was a very heartwarming episode and was a great way to bring another layer of depth to the less prominent characters of the show.

Rating: 8.5/10

Episode 6: “Halloween”

The girls on the way to the concert, driven by Clare’s dad

Anticipated to the series finale (before the special was announced), many viewers anxiously awaited what would be in store for them. Just before the holiday, the girls discover that Fatboy Slim would be playing at their local Halloween festival. As they reach the ticket counter at their local music shop, they discover that they have purchased the last five tickets. A group of five adults then challenge them for the tickets, claiming that the girls cut them in line. Instead of verbally working out the problem, Michelle suggests that James fights the leader of the other group. Instead of fighting him, James grabs the last five tickets and rips them to shreds, leaving both groups without options. However, Michelle decides to go on the local TV station and tell the town that James was beaten up over the Fatboy Slim tickets, leaving him with a broken leg and a black eye. Out of compassion, the festival gives the group a set of tickets. Realizing that they must keep up the act, James must spend his time at the festival on crutches. Meanwhile, Gerry receives an invitation to an engagement party for Aunt Sarah and her boyfriend Ciaran. Realizing that she did not understand that she had been proposed to, they must devise a plan to tell Ciaran that there was a misunderstanding. While Gerry and Joe agree to tell Ciaran the news, Aunt Sarah comes up to him in a nun’s habit, telling him that she had found her faith in the convent. Back to the girls, they arrive at the concert and find out that they get to meet Fatboy Slim due to the horrific story Michelle told them. They are ecstatic to meet him, they realize Clare is missing. When they find her, she is looking for the lesbian who worked at the music shop. The music shop worker told her to meet her at the bar, and that she’ll be dressed as a clown. The girls decide that the best way to find her is to rip the clown masks off everyone at that bar. James, unfortunately, happens upon the man he had almost fought at the beginning of the episode and runs away – but without his crutches. Realizing that they have been scammed by the girls, the event coordinators throw them out, but not before Clare has her first kiss with the music shop worker. But, in true Derry Girls fashion, the season finale can’t be 100% happy. As the girls leave the venue, Gerry is there waiting for them. The girls are told that Clare’s father has suffered an aneurysm and has passed away. The episode closes with her father’s funeral, the girls holding onto Clare and the mothers holding onto Geraldine, Clare’s mother.

This episode destroyed me. For most of the episode, I was so happy. So full of joy, if you will. But then the final minutes tore it all to shreds. Due to the high stress of the Troubles, an aneurysm would not be entirely surprising, but they are still very tragic and scary. I think it was a very impactful end to the story. While many of us may forget the tragedies these characters lived through when we watch the funny parts of the show, it is important to end the show on tragedy, because that was the truth of the situation.

Rating: 9/10

Special Episode: “The Agreement”

The cast posing after the last episode wrapped

In the final installment of Derry Girls, we find the characters a year later, nearing Orla’s 18th birthday. As they prepare for Erin and Orla’s party, they realize that Jenny Joyce is hosting her birthday at the same time, at a much greater scale. At this same time, Northern Ireland has to vote on the Good Friday Agreement. As the girls decide how they will vote on the issue, one big problem comes up: the part of the agreement that states that those in prison for crimes committed because of the Troubles will be released, regardless of which side they were on. This is a problem because Michelle’s brother is in prison for killing a man. Erin believes that he should not be released because he murdered someone, but Michelle is conflicted. On one hand, she wants to see her brother walk free again, but she also understands that there should be consequences to his actions. This causes a deep rift between the girls and leaves the rest of the group floating in between, knowing that this disagreement should not ruin their friendship. While Erin and Orla spend their birthday with the First Communicants of their local church, Clare is left to figure out the bus system going from her town to Derry, and Michelle and James attend Jenny’s party. After all of the arguing, Michelle and Erin realize that life is too important to argue over something that does not need to polarize them. In the end, all of the characters eligible to vote check “yea” on the Good Friday Agreement, and as Erin would say it, “for peace.” But, that is not the end of the episode. It ends in current times, with a postman delivering a lost letter to Chelsea Clinton, which is a reference to the season 2 finale, when the girls write a letter to Chelsea and address it to “The White House, America.”

While this episode beautifully wrapped up the series, I felt as if it lacked in girth. While it was a long episode, it really did not have a whole lot of content. However, I still enjoyed it and found it poetic and funny. I really liked the way Orla (my favorite character) was showcased in this. However, I felt that Chelsea Clinton’s appearance was almost out of touch, as shoeing in an American politician’s daughter into a story surrounding a tragic long fought battle in Northern Ireland.

Rating: 7/10

How many pieces of communion do you think you’d need to swallow to eat a whole Jesus?

— Orla McCool

Season Recap

While I felt that this season did not exactly live up to the potential it could have had, I thouroughly enjoyed watching it. The humor was once again top tier and the power behind the messages of peace were truly felt.

As as season I would give it a 7.5/10. It is my least favorite out of the show, but as my favorite show, it is still wonderful.


If you made it this far, thanks for reading. That was a lot. I highly reccomend rewatching this show again and again and again. Leave a comment telling me your favorite episode of this season!

Peace out.