Fleabag, the brilliant show that will forever live in our hearts, is the gift that keeps on giving. The gift given is often Phoebe-Waller Bridge, the creator and leading role of the show. After months of its finale, she keeps sharing tidbits of information about the show that makes it all the more beautiful. Recently, she explains the interesting plot twist that her love interest, the Hot Priest (Andrew Scott) had. Specifically, why the Hot Priest was able to break the fourth wall just like Fleabag herself could. Now, we have the answer.
Why Hot Priest was able to break the fourth wall
Well, we all shook when Hot Priest suddenly looked at the camera just like Fleabag does. Some of us even gasped when we first saw that. It was definitely surprising to see that Andrew Scott’s character could also notice when Fleabag was looking at the camera.
Her looking at the camera, at us, was something that we saw since episode one. It seemed that it would be something that only we could notice and not any of the characters in Fleabag’s life.
Now, we finally have the answer as to why Hot Priest could. In ‘The Making of Fleabag’, Phoebe Waller-Bridge shares some behind the scenes information. And she explains that she wanted the Hot Priest’s relationship with God to mirror Fleabag’s relationship with the audience. It’s to emphasize that they both have a need for a presence to constantly look at what they’re doing and for them to explain themselves to that very presence.
Phoebe Waller-Bridge explains:
“[Fleabag] has a relationship with the camera the whole way through and it was interesting to have somebody who has a similar thing. He’s mirrored ’cause he has God. And she’s witnessed by the camera the whole way through and in the end, the big question for her is whether or not she can let go of the camera. He’s witnessed by God the whole time and is always having to check into that the whole time. And in the end, he has the same question, so I just felt like it would be a really good way to mirror each other’s journeys.”
Ultimately, we see both of them choosing their own unique path. Fleabag decides to bid farewell to the presence in her life (us, the audience). Meanwhile, the Hot Priest chooses to stay devoted to his chosen presence, God. Hence, their relationship with each other ends.
The explanation makes Fleabag more nuanced
It was really interesting for Phoebe-Waller Bridge to add that element in the show. It’s a way of saying that someone we can fall in love with may be completely similar to us but also different. They were both seeking a presence in their life, a need to be validated. They found each other and the connection was instant and overwhelming. It was almost as if they were made for each other. The Hot Priest could see her in a way no one else could (why he could sense when she was breaking the fourth wall). But ultimately, they chose their separate paths.
Waller-Bridge also shares that she does not think her character in the show is speaking to anyone in particular. She thinks it’s more symbolic:
“I felt like it was symbolic of something I can’t really explain… I feel like it’s that pressure of being watched and feeling watched and feeling like if you’re not being witnessed, does what you’re doing count for anything, does it matter? She’s constantly grappling with this need for the audience to be there, to validate her, and also to leave her alone so she can experience things on her own.”
That also explains why that relationship with the camera matches with Hot Priest’s relationship to God. He wanted God to be watching him and observing him, and even assessing him. It gave his life meaning. That’s what Fleabag wanted for herself too but from the camera.
Alas, in the end, Fleabag chooses to say goodbye to the camera. There she goes on a journey to experience life on her own and not have the need to be constantly validated. The show was, after all, a lesson in learning how to love yourself even at your worst moments.