This episode of Derry Girls, “Strangers on a Train,” was interesting. What would it be like to go on a holiday with these girls we’ve known for several years? What would it be like to journey with them to one of their favorite vacation spots? If your answer is absolute chaos, then you’re correct. Erin and the girls are headed on a train to a theme park. On the journey, James mistakenly picks up a bag that looks exactly like his but contains a gun, money, and a mask inside. This horrifies the group, and they panic. In a separate train car, Erin’s mom Mary runs into an old school friend that she doesn’t recognize. No one else in the family can recognize her either, and a massive debate ensues as do the mystery woman is and what her importance to Mary is.
Easily the funniest part of the episode involves the giant guessing game between the elder members of Erin’s family. All of them are completely on edge because they don’t have any clue who this person is, but she clearly knows who Mary is based on their experiences from their youth. This is hilarious because it forces Mary to come to terms with how out of touch she is. The entire family begins to realize how forgettable people are in their lives. One other person that happens to be forgotten in this episode is Claire. She is left at the train station because she used the bathroom before the trip. As a result, she stuck with sister Michael waiting on the next train to get to the theme park.
I love this episode because it’s just pure chaos from start to finish. It’s fascinating to watch the entire group panic when something crazy happens equally to the volume that Claire in any given situation. The most hilarious moment in the episode involves a game of Guess Who, where Erin’s father and grandfather are trying to use the game to identify the stranger on the train. Also, there’s a really great small joke about Erin’s grandfather having dementia and being used as an excuse for why he doesn’t remember the stranger. This had me laughing until I had tears in my eyes. It’s such a profoundly easy fix that no one can take advantage of, and it just leaves the audience on pins and needles about whether or not the person they’re with is actually a criminal or just someone who was hurt by them in the past.
Ultimately, this episode truly succeeds because it reminds us that even if we don’t know someone, we can’t take ourselves too seriously. There is no pain in lack of knowledge, but there’s always difficulty in lack of understanding, and as long as we choose to try and understand people different from us, we have a chance at supporting them. The girls learned this the hard way when they had to give back the original bag. Not every episode of the show will be about something valuable, so it was good to see the girls let their hair down. I hope fun like this continues next week.