Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The Best Scene of the Year, and Also: Windmills!

Season 21, Episode 77
First aired 30 May 2017

I’ve unfortunately had to skip the recap for the previous episode because time didn’t permit, i.e., I am still hung over from a week in Cancún, but I’ll try to fill you in on the highlights of last episode as appropriate during this one. We open at the B&B with a shot of a battlefield-quality first aid kit, which we’re sure won’t come back as a plot point later on, and Máire is tut-tutting over the fact that Adam hasn’t spoken to his awful mother since last episode’s awful homophobic nightmare blow-up. Of course anyone else on earth would consider not having to deal with Penelope St James-Attenborough a good thing, but since poor Adam is stuck with her as his mother, it’s causing him mixed feelings. He volunteers that since his mother threw him out he’s been sleeping on Sorcha’s couch, which is a sitcom I would pay to watch. Máire says it was awful listening to the things Catherine said, which should be carved on Catherine’s headstone when she dies. She’s in mother hen mode to Adam today, which is sweet to see, and he’s so beautifully and heartbreakingly trying to be strong through the despair and brokenness that it makes you want to forget all the terrible things he’s done, by which I mean everything he ever did before last week. He says ambiguously that he’s got a family event to go to today, which Máire assumes is a happy party, and on her own way out  the door, she makes sure to point out the first aid kit she’s just going to leave right here on this table.

At the community center, there’s still tension between Micheál and Tadhg over the big fight they had last episode about which one of them is prettier, and also windmills. Micheál is talking to Mo and Tadhg is talking to Frances, and there’s “tell me more, tell me more” parallel storytelling like in “Summer Nights” from Grease, but instead of going bowling in the arcade or getting friendly down in the sand, there are people punching each other over windmills. Micheál explains to Mo that while the fact that it makes Tadhg insane is an added bonus, the main reason he doesn’t want a windmill on his plot is that Séamus gave it to him, and he’d never agree to have the land spoiled this way. Mo agrees, although surprisingly she doesn’t seem to have a relevant Séamus saying for this situation, such as “never go fishing with a red-headed woman you met at a windmill.” Meanwhile, Frances is tired of hearing Tadhg carry on about this nonsense and begs him to drop it, but he’s furious because Micheál apparently went to the school (?) and subjected the children to his anti-windmill propaganda (??), and he’s not going to let him win. I’m having trouble picturing this school assembly: “Boys and girls, today we have local kook Micheál Seoighe, Réailtín’s dad, to yell at us about windmills, which he suddenly has an opinion about.” Dull Tony is hanging around for no apparent reason, and when Micheál asks him if he could please move his car, which is illegally parked across three handicapped spaces and a child’s leg, he’s completely obnoxious about it and refuses. Tony really is a train running back and forth between Semi-Comatose and Total Arsehole with no stops in between. Mo sees this and decides she’s had enough of dating this boring jerk and is looking for more of a sleazy jerk with a criminal record, so she asks Tony if they can have a word later, at which point the Tony rail line will be extended to Splitsville.

Over at their place, David is confused. Let me be more specific. He’s trying to get Gráinne to explain the pretend lunch she’s throwing as a ploy to fix Mo and Colm up, because she hates Mo now. Mo doesn’t know Colm will be there, Colm doesn’t know Mo will be there, David is convinced Santa will be there, the usual. Gráinne explains that it’s simply a meal for friends, at which she’s serving an oyster recipe from Mary Berry’s Compleat Aphrodisiac Victorian Cookbook & Almanack, and if Mo and Colm happen to end up having sex on the table, it’s nothing to do with her. She continues that for good measure she’s also serving asparagus, which is apparently also famously sexy, I guess because the next day you can share a moment over how bad your pee smells. Rrrrowr. David is confused by this, and still isn’t sure where the juggling monkeys in little suits fit in, so Gráinne concludes, as always, that she’s going to have to pull this caper off solo.

And now, in the grand tradition of when I stopped calling Peatsaí “Uncle Pest,” we will officially begin calling O’Shea “Imelda,” except possibly when she is on very serious police business, or when I forget. At Gaudi, Imelda corners Micheál with some pretense about going to a rave or waterpark with Laoise, the purpose of which is really to get him to confess that he and Laoise are a couple. Of course, they are very much not a couple, which he tells her in an annoyed tone he usually reserves for his arch-nemesis, the windmill. She asks him if Laoise’s seeing another man, and he lies that he doesn’t know, and flees the jurisdiction as quickly as possible. Ooh, I hope there’s money in the budget for a police chase.

Gráinne serves her basket of oysters to David and Colm, which is fortunately for us all not a euphemism. Mo arrives and is surprised to see Colm there, but not repulsed, which is further support for our current theory that she was replaced by an android with no taste while away on Craggy Island. Gráinne pretends to squirt a lemon in her own eye, so she and David go outside to turn the fire hydrant on it, which gives Mo and Colm a chance to drink wine awkwardly and, presumably, to discuss windmills.

Imelda is having lunch alone at Gaudi and starts to call Laoise over when she spots her arriving on her own, but then Eric shows up, and he grabs Laoise’s bum and they dry hump on the table and so on. Imelda, having placed in the top 90% in the police academy, or at least having seen 90% of the movie Police Academy, knows sexcapades when she sees them, and these will do until some real ones come along.

Over at the café, Adam ignores a call from his mother, who’s entered in his phone as “MAM.” I’m sure that’s a typo and he meant “MAD.” Pádraig arrives brightly to give him advice on how to be the newly-out life of the party at family events, but before he can get to the bit where you ride a unicycle while singing “It’s Raining Men,” Adam clarifies that today’s event is his little sister’s remembrance mass. So it’s probably for the best that his big number is not “We Are Family.” Pádraig apologizes and asks if he’ll be all right, and Adam says that he’s had many years of experience of stiff upper lipping and keeping up appearances. Well, thank goodness this won’t present an opportunity for a terrible encounter with his horrible mother later.

Gráinne and David are still off soaking her eye in the Atlantic Ocean, which has given Colm and Mo plenty of time to discuss the windmill and come to the conclusion that it would be a good idea because, with global warming, the constant cool breeze will come in handy. She gets a text from Tony and says she has to go, at which point Colm develops sudden stomach cramps. We don’t think much of it, because that’s the normal reaction to thinking about Tony, but it seems the oysters have hit Colm hard, possibly because Gráinne forgot to take the plastic wrap off them before serving them. David returns and offers to take care of Colm since he already knows where the fire hydrant is and can just hose him down when he’s finished doing whatever he’s doing, so Mo leaves, which upsets Gráinne. She’s worried that Mo will be with Tony when the sextastic effects of the oysters and asparagus kick in, which is starting to sound like the plot of that song “Love Potion No. 9.” Besides, given the look on Colm’s face and the way he’s clutching his stomach, I’d say what Gráinne really needs to be worried about is her furniture.

Imelda tracks down Micheál at the community center to apologize for the earlier misunderstanding and tell him she’s found out about Laoise and Eric, although for reasons that will probably lead to confusion and farce later, she says Laoise told her about it rather than admitting she saw it from across the room while hiding behind a peppermill.  Elsewhere, Tony is a jerk for no reason to Mo when she arrives, which makes it easier for her to break up with him. To spare his feelings she claims it’s because he’s not over his ex rather than because he’s a complete shit biscuit, and somehow her mind is not changed when he protests that Mo isn’t as bad as his ex. Well, flattery will get you everywhere, officer. Mo tells him slán, and having finally freed herself from an insulting dud, she goes off to start her new independent life, which we are sure won’t involve immediately hooking up with someone even worse.

And speaking of the worst people in the world, Adam’s mother Cruella de Vil arrives at the café to yell at him for ignoring her calls. She’s furious that he’s been blanking her, because she’s spent all bloody day trying to blank him, which is yet another example of what a little ingrate he is. Yeah, stop being selfish, Adam! She sees that he’s holding some kind of pinwheel flower thing and asks if he thinks he’s going somewhere, and when he replies that he’s going to the sister’s mass, she informs him that he isn’t. Clearly this woman went to the same charm school as Eoin’s mother.

Keeping up the pinwheel imagery, a meeting about windmills has broken out at the community center, and it seems a whole bunch of the cast were not able to escape in time. Johnny Windmill finishes a boring speech about how we must all welcome our new windmill overlords, and then Micheál stands up to give the tinfoil-hat counterpoint about how the windmills will ruin the village’s history somehow. Apparently they’re time-travelling windmills. He carries on for a while, and Caitríona, who is sitting among the speakers and has made this all about herself as usual, keeps shaking her head angrily and making boo hiss faces. This really is turning into the monorail episode of The Simpsons. Micheál’s speech meanders for a while, addressing Brexit and also how it seems like you don’t get as much cereal in the Corn Flakes box as you used to, but eventually he brings it back around to their obligation to protect the village for future generations, including past generations who have left and might come back someday, such as somebody who’s not here, but who he swears exists. He kills time for a while in spite of Tadhg’s relentless heckling, which mostly consists of yelling “Nonsense!” and smirking a lot, and eventually Maggie Ní Chadhain, the mysterious whatever from Tadhg’s past we met last episode, shows up. Micheál insists the crowd give her a hilarious round of applause, as if she’s Mel B, and Tadhg looks stricken. You can tell Maggie means business because her hair is pulled back so tight her feet are barely touching the floor.

Back at the café, Adam and his mother are sharing what seems like a tender moment in their mutual grief over the sister, but then Cruella remembers that she is a complete dumpster fire of a human being and blames Adam for Danielle’s death. Even grosser, she hisses that not only did he kill his sister, but he’s spent all his time ever since breaking her heart with his gaying around like a total gayzo. Don’t forget the drugs and the theft! He tells her being gay is not a choice, to which she replies that she wishes he’d died that day instead of Danielle. Aaaand there it is. She disappears in a cloud of green smoke and brimstone, and poor Adam is completely devastated and barely holding it together. On the plus side, after all this I am at least 60% sure he didn’t make up the sister.

After the break, Maggie finishes shaking hands and signing autographs for her adoring public, so Tadhg pulls her aside and asks her what the hell she thinks she’s doing. He says she’s been off in America for 40 years, which I doubt given that she does not seem to be wearing a cowboy hat, and accuses her of having no intention of ever living in Ros na Rún again, so she needs to knock it off with this “pretending to care about the windmills” thing. She gives a series of non-answers, and he accuses her of only caring about the windmills for the money—HOW DARE SHE?—and then Micheál interrupts them just as she says some vague things that suggests that she may be Tadhg’s ex, or possibly Wonder Woman. Something secret-like is going on, anyway.

Mo returns to Gráinne and David’s, where they are nowhere to be found, but Colm endures, like the ruins of Chernobyl. She asks how he’s feeling, and he happily pats his stomach and brightly says he’s feeling much better, though they’d better get out of there before David gets back. We are terrified he’s going to say “Because he is not going to be happy when he sees what I did to his bathroom,” but it turns out David’s off at the chemist buying medicine and Colm wants to be gone before he gets back with the suppositories. They discuss what an obvious set-up this was, and she tells him that she just broke up with Tony, so they head off to the pub to celebrate just as David arrives home from the pharmacy with a big cork.

Adam is at the playground sadly batting around an empty child’s swing. Symbolism! This is actually all incredibly sad and poignant, and really well done, and I swear I’ve gone through all these Kleenex just because it’s allergy season, and also: shut up. He sits down on a bench and starts downing a bottle of wine, and when he hears the distant church bells from Danielle’s mass, you can see the last bit of his world crumble away. It’s amazing how much we care about Adam now considering how much time we spent wanting people to punch him.

Back in the storyline we are all most intensely interested in, Tadhg is telling Johnny Windmill that the vast majority of the community is pro-windmill, but Johnny tells him they won’t build unless it’s unanimous. Seriously? They require every single person in the community to agree? How do they ever get anything done? Maggie comes back and she and Tadhg have a lot of abstract talk about families and the past and Cilla Black and so on, which we will all care about later, but right now we want to get back to Adam jumping off a roof into a bottle of pills or whatever.

Oh, and here we go: Máire finds Adam attempting to climb a drainpipe up a tower I personally had never noticed before, but I am assured it’s been there all along. Up till this point I thought the tallest thing in the village was Evan. Anyway, he asks her to be a love and hold his empty wine bottle while he climbs the tower and kills himself, but she tells him to get his drunk behind back down here and knock it off. He does, which is a relief because it would’ve been a shame to ruin his gorgeous outfit, and she takes him by the arm and leads him back to the B&B. Awww.

Colm is cozying up to Mo in the pub, and they start making out. Can we send him up and off the tower instead?

At the B&B, Adam is sitting in front of the open first aid kit, bringing us full circle. Sunrise, sunset. Máire sweetly tells him that she’s made a bed for him and that he’s staying there tonight. She tells him he’ll have an awful hangover tomorrow morning and looks for some tablets in the first aid kit, but MYSTERIOUSLY she can’t find them, so she zips out to the chemist to get more. Two customers in one day: business is booming for Janice! She leaves, and like a magician Adam produces two army-sized boxes of pills from his jacket pocket and looks at them meaningfully. He’s going to be surprised when he finds out they’re Fia’s emergency birth-control pills.

There’s an unnecessarily long scene of someone who is apparently a TV celebrity ordering a cup of tea in the pub, and the best part is that I found an article online about this in which he says he really struggled to learn his lines, which consist of: “Hi, cupán tae, le do thoil” and “Go raibh míle maith agat.” If I am ever on this show, I am going to dazzle them by saying complex and natural things such as “I do not like tennis” and “I’m sorry, the hardware store is closed.” Across the pub, there’s some light-to-moderate entrapment going on, with Imelda trying to trick Laoise into admitting she’s seeing Eric by asking her to go with her to a singles’ night, but there’s no payoff yet.

Back at the B&B, Fia’s arrival startles Adam, causing him to drop the pills all over the floor and try to pretend nothing’s going on. She angrily commands him to give her the pills, but he asks her why she even cares what happens to him. He threw her away when she was of no more use to him, he explains, and now that he’s of no use to her, it’s time for her to do the same. She asks if he really expects her to pretend she hasn’t seen anything and wander off, and let Máire find him dead on the floor later. He says hurting people is what he does, but she tells him his mother is the one who’s hurting him, and has been doing it for a long time, but that it’s not his fault. Yes, she admits, he hurt her, but it’s not because he’s a slimeball, it’s because he’s a wonderful person. Well, I think he can be both.
She says she fell in love with him because he’s smart, funny, and kind (?), and she tells him firmly that he’s a good person, even if everyone doesn’t know it yet. He says he doesn’t deserve her to be so nice to him, and she tells him that he deserves it, and deserves even more, and as she hugs him tightly, he drops the pills on the floor and starts to cry. And I realize I have basically just gone through this entire scene line by line, but I have to say, it really is incredibly moving, and maybe the best scene I have ever seen on this show. I don’t even know what else to say, and will just end here, because this scene is such a perfect gift it can speak for itself.


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