Wednesday, March 2, 2016

It Was the Best of Birthdays, It Was the Worst of Birthdays

Season 20, Episode 54
First aired 1 March 2016

I’m not sure which part of the opening credits I enjoy more: when Micheál appears out of nowhere from behind a bookcase that is too small to obscure him, as if he has phased in from another dimension, or Bobbi-Lee the crazy cowgirl doing whatever she is doing.

Anyway. We open with Berni asking Evan if there’s any news from Fia, and he says there’s not. Berni can’t believe Fia is a mother, especially considering what a scheming little ingrate she is, and tells him that Máire and Peadar are freaking out over at the B&B. She thinks they should call the Gardaí, but Evan says there’s no danger because Fia would never do anything to hurt Nollaig. Berni points out that leaving a baby on a doorstep in the dead of winter probably does not qualify Fia for Mother Of The Year. Berni mentions that Máire and Peadar are going to call Vanessa, who will surely know where Fia is, which sends Evan into a Stage III Strop and he goes flying out the door.

Over at the pub, John Joe is buying Katy lunch because it’s her birthday. Apparently somebody gave her a lot of fuchsia lipstick as a birthday gift. She has to go, but John Joe asks her to stop by his place later so he can give her his present, and she’s pleased. The two of them are getting along swimmingly, so something will probably go horribly wrong later.

Tadgh is reading the obituaries at the bar, and he tells David that he’s been losing a lot of funeral business lately, but he doesn’t know to whom. He also makes a dig about David being an ex-priest, which causes David to give him what I assume is supposed to be a nasty look, but instead it looks like he has gas. David needs to take lessons on giving people dirty looks from Katy. Or Bobbi-Lee. Or Rónán. OK, everybody is better at giving dirty looks than poor David.

Mack has followed Mo to the shop because he’s sick of being stuck at home recuperating from surgery. She tells him to take it easy. He seems to have developed a limp, as one does after abdominal surgery. He spots Dee out in the street, and looks wistful.

Evan arrives at the B&B just as Peadar and Máire are about to call Vanessa. He tells them they can’t call her because it’s not what Fia wants, but Máire says Fia can shove what she wants up her backside. Well, that’s the underlying message, but of course Máire makes it all about herself and how difficult things have been for her. She can’t believe that Fia sat across the table from her all those nights while Máire was taking care of Nollaig and never told her that she’s his mother. Evan, who you may recall has been thirty seconds from strangling Fia for the past few weeks, now defends her and talks about how hard things have been for her. Evan says he’ll find Fia himself, but that Máire has to promise not to call Vanessa. Máire reluctantly agrees, but not before pointing out that if anything happens to them, she’ll never forget it. I really thought she was going to say, “If anything happens to them, I will blame you till the day I die,” which makes more sense than “I’ll never forget it.” As if weeks from now Vince or somebody would say to her, “Hey, Máire, remember that time Fia kidnapped her own baby and then they fell in a volcano and died?”, and she’d say, “Oh, is that what happened to them? I completely forgot!”

At the shop, Jason overhears Katy tell Frances it’s her birthday. He tells her he assumes she’s not busy that night, which is generous of him, and that they should do something special for her birthday. She looks giddy.

At John Joe’s, he, Noreen, and Dee are getting the place ready for a surprise mini-party for Katy. Well, Noreen is working while John Joe and Dee stand around watching. She’s pasting dozens of photos of Katy up all over the walls, like every stalker in every Law & Order: SVU episode ever. They hear the door and assume it’s Katy, so they start singing “Happy Birthday,” but it turns out it’s just poor Mack, in full sad-sack mode. Dee looks at him like a giant dog poo has just walked in. John Joe and Noreen make an awkward production out of leaving the room so Mack and Dee can be alone, but Dee grabs her bag and coat and slams past him out the door with an icy “Slán, a Mhack,” which should be the title of this episode.

At the café, there’s no news about Fia. Berni asks Evan about an app she’s heard of that allows you to track somebody’s phone if you’ve ever “been in contact” with them. Really? Is that a thing? Anybody who’s ever talked to me on the phone can use an app to track me? Evan can’t believe he hadn’t thought of that, and tells Berni she’s a genius, which she will probably put at the top of her CV now.

Meanwhile, Mack has followed Dee into the shop. He wants to know why she was crazy about him and then suddenly started hating him. He wants an answer, and an honest one. She scoffs that he’s one to be talking about honesty, and he doesn’t know what she means. Mo arrives, telling Mack she’s been looking everywhere for him (she should’ve used that Berni Stalking App), which gives Dee an excuse to deliver an even icier, more hilarious “Slán, a Mhack!” and push past him. I am going to start a grassroots Internet movement to make “Slán, a Mhack!” the new “Bye, Felicia!” Mack and Mo exchange sad looks, and I have to say, as much as I take the piss out of Mack sometimes, he really is one of my favorite characters, and this whole thing really is kind of heartbreaking.

At the café, Berni has gotten David’s order wrong because she is so distracted about Fia, or Caitríona’s book, or Evan killing Cathal, or who knows what. Jason arrives to pick up a birthday cake for Katy, who walks in at just that moment to tell him she’s promised to stop by her parents’ that evening, but that she won’t be long and will be back to the flat in plenty of time for him to serve her a three-course meal. He says he was planning on a takeaway and a couple of bottles of beer. She says she thought she was more special than that, but because she’s incredibly cheerful today, it doesn’t bother her much. They’re making such a big deal out of Katy being in a good mood that they’re certainly about to do something awful to her. Somebody take away Eimear’s car keys!!!

At the pub, Mo shouts at Mack just as he’s about to take the first sip from his pint. It’s like a film where somebody shouts “Nooooooo!!!!!” and throws themselves in front of a bullet in slow-motion. She reminds him he’s still got anesthesia in his system and that he shouldn’t be drinking. He doesn’t care, because he always tries to do the right thing, but everything always goes badly for him anyway. It’s pitiful, and Mo is sad for him, and it’s a well-done little scene. She takes him home, and as he leaves he gives one last longing backwards glance at his untouched pint and it’s kind of awesome.

Evan knocks on the door of some random house somewhere and a young woman answers. He asks for Fia, but the woman says she doesn’t know who that is. Just as he turns to walk away, somebody inside the house hits “Play” on that same recording of a baby crying that we’ve been hearing for weeks, which Evan knows means Nollaig is inside. He pushes past Lying Woman and finds Fia standing in the kitchen holding a baby that is clearly not crying even though the “crying” soundloop is still playing. Gasp!

After the break, Evan and Fia argue in the kitchen. She’s wearing a crazy gold jacket that looks like the inside of a knockoff “designer” handbag. Evan says they’re going home, Fia says they’re not, lather, rinse, repeat. She tells him she heard Máire saying Nollaig’s father was on his way and that no one is going to take her baby away now that she’s over that whole thing that made her think leaving him on a doorstep on Christmas Eve was a good idea. Evan explains that Máire was confused and thought he was the father, and that no one is going to take Nollaig away. We’ll see what Máire says about that.

Back in the village, a grumpy Mack is trying to get out of his sickbed, but Mo pushes him back into it and tells him he’s not going anywhere. He says he wants to go to the pub and get a pint, as if he wasn’t just there, and Mo says he can’t drink because he has stitches and then leaves the room. In the last scene he couldn’t drink because of the anesthesia, not the stitches, and the continuity of this bit feels odd, as if this scene got plopped in from elsewhere in the episode. Anyway, Caitríona comes for a visit, which I’m sure will make him feel better. She asks how he’s doing, and he says he’d be better if Mo stopped fussing over him. Caitríona says he should be grateful, especially considering Mo paid for his operation. Mack says she’s mistaken, that he’s paying for the operation in installments, but Caitríona says she just saw the receipt on the kitchen table and that Mo paid in full. You’ve got to hand it to Caitríona: she’s a very efficient snooper, managing to find out everything about Mo and Mack’s personal finances while walking through the kitchen. Anyway, Mack is all “Buh?”

At John Joe’s, Katy arrives and sees the photos of herself covering every surface. She tells him and Noreen that the place looks great, by which she means, “Like a crazy stalker lives here.” They tell her they’re taking her to a posh restaurant in Salthill for dinner. She’s intrigued, but tells them she’s already made plans to have a takeaway at home with Jason, and Noreen tells Katy it’s her birthday and that Jason and his takeaway can suck it. Katy, torn, calls Jason, but he’s vacuuming and doesn’t hear the phone. We can see that he’s going through a lot of trouble to get the place ready for a nice evening with Katy. He finally glances at his phone and looks 20% stricken and 80% annoyed when he sees a text from Katy asking for a rain check. I expect him to pick up the Hoover and throw it in the garbage in a huff because it’s a total “I spent all day making this roast for you and then you went out for drinks with the boys and now it’s RUINED!” moment.

Back at the flat, Caitríona says goodbye to Mack and Mo. Presumably as she walks back through the kitchen she will absorb their entire credit histories. Mack tells Mo he knows she paid for the operation and he wishes she hadn’t spent so much money, but Mo says he’s family, and she’d do it again tomorrow if she had to. Aww. They toast to Mack’s health over a couple of cans she’s brought him. He says he’ll miss her when she moves out into the new flat in town she’s buying, and she is noncommittal and all “Sorry, I can’t hear you, I’m drinking.”

Back at Lying Woman’s random house, Fia has calmed down. She tells Evan she doesn’t know what she’d do if something happened to Nollaig, who really is the cutest baby of all time. Evan prods her for details about Nollaig’s father, but she’s having none of it. He asks if it was a one-night stand, which makes her start breathing shallowly like she’s going to pass out, and then if she was raped, but she says no. He continues asking her questions, but before he can get to whether she was impregnated during an alien abduction, she tells him if he wants her to go back with him he has to knock if off with all the questions.

Back at their flat, Mo is telling Mack that she was never sure about the place she was buying, so she’s going to keep looking. Mack, who amazingly has worked out what’s going on, tells her it’s quite a coincidence that she’s just telling him this now. We’re one step away from this becoming an O. Henry story in which Mack now tells Mo that the only reason he had the operation was that he was selling his hernia to buy her some furniture for her new flat. She finally admits that she lost her deposit because she spent the money on Mack’s operation, but it was worth it, and honestly she’s not sure she wants to move to the city anyway.

At the B&B, Evan shows up with Fia and Nollaig in tow, and Máire and Peadar are relieved. Well, Peadar is relieved, and Máire is relieved but still able to ladle on the guilt. I am enjoying the mental picture of Fia walking in and Máire getting up, walking over to her, and wordlessly slapping the crap out of her. They start in with the questions, but Evan deflects them, and Máire says she loves Nollaig even more now that she knows she’s related to him by blood.

From his sickbed, Mack starts a text to Dee, but is interrupted by Jason’s arrival. He’s brought dinner since Katy bailed on him and he doesn’t want it to go to waste. Mack brings up Dee, but when Jason responds, Mack is all, “Stop talking about Dee all the time!” He tells Jason that you have to watch out for those Dalys, because first they act interested in you, and then they shut you down, Exhibit A being the fact that Jason slaved over this meal all day and then Katy ditched him. He tells Jason the Dalys have left them both high and dry. Jason is building to a slow boil now.

At the pub, Frances is making a big deal about the fact that John Joe is wearing a suit and nice aftershave and looks like he, you know, bathed. She says it’s nice to see a man who cares about his appearance considering the fact that Tadgh always looks like he spent the night at the haunted dump. Tadgh does the thing where he expresses disgust by having all the parts of his face go up and down independently. John Joe flashes a 100-euro note to buy drinks and Tadgh asks Frances where somebody like John Joe would get 100 euros. Could it be because he is running secret funerals?!?!?

We hear what sounds like Minnie Mouse shrieking Jason’s name, and then the lights come on and we discover it’s Katy coming home, and she’s drunk. She’s falling over the furniture and staggering around shrieking like a very special episode of Absolutely Fabulous where Bubble goes to the moon. She finds a handmade card allegedly made by Cuán, who is aged 1 or 5 or something, and then sees her birthday cake, and she starts screaming again about how cute it is. Jason storms into the room and yells at her that Cuán is asleep. Of course, Cuán doesn’t start crying from the other room until Jason starts shouting. He yells at Katy that she should have more sense at her age, and stomps away. We end with Katy, alone on the sofa, looking sad because this is THE WORST BIRTHDAY EVER!

Next time: there is a long, confusing scene where Tadgh is at John Joe’s flat and Mack is hiding behind the door for some reason!

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