Heavenly sunshine reflects off the glorious blue sea, sweetly spilling into a picturesquely rustic room. Louisa blinks her eyes open to this idyllic scene and slowly rolls over – to look straight into the face of a cud-chewing goat.
The Durrells are back.
They may be surrounded by beauty at their rented seaside home, but more prosaic concerns distract them from taking it in: mosquito bites, the heat, a shortage of funds, a pitiful amount of food. Louisa’s widow’s pension can only go so far to support five people.
So she’s off to the market with Leslie and Gerry to hawk the property’s meagre produce. “This is probably how Harrod’s started: with a lot of hope and a donkey,” she says blithely as Gerry slips away with his dog Roger to explore nature. Harrod’s probably had better wares, though; no one will buy from Louisa. A self-absorbed fellow Brit named Hugh Jarvis does take an interest, but not in the food. He offers the use of his olive press to Louisa, then struts away as a fierce-eyed woman glares from afar.
Upon returning home none the richer, Louisa finds the same intimidating woman in her living room. Her name is Vasilia, she’s the new landlord (the old one, her uncle, has retired), and she’s repossessing the furniture until Louisa pays her all the money she owes – or the Durrells can leave Corfu. Bye.
Spurred to further action, Louisa hatches a plan: she’ll make and sell British delicacies, foods unheard of on this island. Given that the dishes have names like “spotted dick” and “toad in the hole,” it’s a good thing most of her customers don’t speak English very well.
Margo brings olives to be made into olive oil to Hugh, who’s clearly disappointed that Louisa herself didn’t come, while Louisa and Leslie again try their hands at the market. At first they have no more luck than before, but after Spyros moves them to a more trafficked location and advises Louisa to be more aggressive and use her charm, people start to flock. Louisa’s attempts at sultry looks may be less than practiced, but they work; maybe the Greek men think this is how British women flirt.
As Louisa basks in her success, Vasilia brings a dark cloud: pay the rent you owe within the week, or you’re out of a house. Later, Hugh appears with oil made from Louisa’s olives and insists that she come over and enjoy a drink with him when she retrieves the other bottles. Given his wealth, that prospect is looking increasingly attractive.
Back at the house, Leslie accidentally shoots Roger and rushes him off to Dr. Petridis before Gerry can see. Why isn’t the dog with Gerry? The boy is out catching otters with Theo so that he can breed them and save them from the locals’ deadly fish traps, and Roger scares the critters away. When Gerry brings an otter home, it isn’t the only foreign creature visiting that day: Margo has invited her monk friend Pavlos over for supper – but her hopes of dating him are dashed when she learns that monks are celibate. Upon failing to goad him into admitting distaste for his vows, she decides to become a nun. If you can’t woo them, join them.
Louisa is having less difficulty attracting a man. When she goes to Hugh’s to pick up the rest of her olive oil, the conceited Brit launches a full charm offensive: champagne on a patio with an enviable view and a serenading guitarist. When she complains about Vasilia, Hugh explains that the two of them “used to be pals” – wink. He paints the Greek woman as dangerous; there are even rumors about her poisoning people. Perhaps she’s jealous of Hugh’s attentions towards Louisa.
While his mom is away, Larry – who has been feeling useless while he suffers from writer’s block – decides to play the man of the house and confronts Vasilia. His demands that she lay off Louisa are met with belittlement, and he leaves emasculated – and perhaps a bit star-struck too.
It soon appears that Vasilia really is a cunning schemer with no moral bounds, when people begin to get sick after eating Louisa’s food. Louisa suspects poison – but the real problem seems to be that she served scotch eggs in the heat, and the meat spoiled. She gives the ailing people their money back.
Unfortunately, now she can’t pay Vasilia. Arming herself with a rifle, Louisa prepares for her landlord’s visit. But when Vasilia shows up, Louisa hands over an envelope of cash. Is she accepting gifts from Hugh? No, she’s just lucky to have a kind friend willing to loan money in Spyros.
Margo, having learned a bit about nuns from Theo, has begun to pray and occasionally wear a veil so she can become peaceable like Pavlos. Gerry has realized Leslie shot Roger but forgives him when Leslie lashes together a wheelchair for the dog. Larry has conquered his writer’s block: the perfect subject is right in front of his face, in the form of his own family’s misadventures.
And Hugh? He’s going to win over Louisa, no matter what. Who could refuse that winning smile, flashy red sports car, and a bouquet of roses? “They have thorns,” he warns as he hands the flowers to Louisa.