“Finding love is all heartbreak, disappointment, and misery… until it isn’t,” says Dylan (Johnny Flynn), the inept romantic at the center of “Lovesick” in the opening scene of Season 3. He makes this statement while giving advice to his lovelorn friend Luke (Daniel Ings), and the implication is that Dylan has finally cracked the code, found the cure, and is no longer miserable. He’s found love.
At this point, we’re going to take a page from the “Lovesick” handbook of storytelling and backtrack. The Netflix Britcom began with Dylan learning he has chlamydia, and therefore needing to tell all of his past sex partners to get themselves checked out as well. This device allowed viewers to learn about Dylan’s dating history through various flashbacks. What’s emerged from these snapshots in time is the distinct understanding that Dylan and his friend Evie (Antonia Thomas) are madly in love with each other, but due to bad timing and being coupled up with other people, they’ve never confessed their feelings.
All of this frustrated passion came to a head at the end of Season 2 when Evie broke up with her fiancé shortly before their wedding because she realized he wasn’t the one she loved. Unfortunately, Dylan was still happily dating Abigail (Hannah Britland), who is actually super cool and sweet and even inspired Dylan to pursue his passion of landscaping and gardening. She’s good for him, and he seems content. Why would Evie interfere with that?
With Season 3 beginning with Dylan happily in love, it then remains to be seen if he’s still with Abigail or if he and Evie found their way to each other. The show has always been a stealth operator that is far more heartfelt and affecting than its wacky premise initially let on. While everyone on the show is flailing around trying to find love, this doesn’t come off as a soap, but rather an honest look at the messy ways in which we find ourselves, relate to others, and change over time. This season continues that journey for Dylan, Evie, and Luke — who became a playboy after having his heart broken — and Angus (Joshua McGuire) who left his harridan wife and is now engaged to a stripper with whom he’s expecting a child.
Flynn, who showed surprising charm and range as a young Einstein in NatGeo’s “Genius,” is back playing lovable sad sack Dylan. While his hopeful yet ineptly romantic outlook on life anchors the series, Thomas proves to be his equal in energy and wistfulness, if not necessarily mopeyness. Like Dylan, the show doesn’t shy away from really wallowing in raw, painful emotions — in this vein, Britland as Abigail steals scenes in a way that casts doubt on the inevitability of a Dylan-Evie pairing.
Courtesy of Netflix
Fans of Luke may find these initial episodes frustrating after he made some breakthroughs last season, realizing that he had been hiding his fear and heartache behind a party boy persona. He appears to have backslid a bit, reverting back to the show’s raunch-com roots, but there are hints that he too will make some sort of progress this year. Also, viewers’ tolerance for Angus may vary, but he too gets more screentime as his rash decision to wed a woman he barely knows starts to be examined more closely.
Most of the action takes place with flashbacks to help explain what’s happened between Evie leaving her fiancé and Dylan’s present romantic state. Unlike previous seasons’ flashbacks, however — which hopped around in time anywhere from yesterday to six years ago — the Season 3 ones feel far more ordered and purposeful. In the first three episodes given to critics to review, Episode 1’s flashbacks take place 12 weeks previous (directly after Evie calls off the wedding), Episode 2 goes back 10 weeks, and Episode 3 rewinds eight weeks. If this even and chronological progression keeps up, that means by the time we get to the eighth and final episode of the season, we’ll be in the present moment, presumably with all questions answered.
With the time-hopping reaching some sort of goal, “Lovesick” appears to be setting itself up for some sort of ending, but we’d be naive to think it’s going to be a simple happy one. Netflix releasing “Lovesick” on New Year’s Day may be yet another hint that this is the end for the series: Having the characters mature and reach some sort of conclusion will mean a fresh start for them. (Besides, the flashback conceit and missed connections can only go on so long, and Thomas is busy working on “The Good Doctor” right now anyway.)
Among the current rom-coms on TV, “Lovesick” is probably one of the lightest, most winsome ones. Even when it delves into dysfunction and despair, there’s a purity to these emotions because they stem from the characters’ hopeful desire for love. It’s this underlying optimism, reflected in Dylan’s opening statement, that also indicates it may be time for Dylan and Edie to figure themselves out soon. The show can’t draw out this torture and misery forever. If this is indeed the end, then it would have been a sweet and satisfying ride.