Saturday, June 10, 2017

Portrait of the Arse as a Young Man

Season 21, Episode 79
First aired 6 June 2017

We open at Laoise’s mobile vegetable stand, which is like Lucy from Peanuts’ psychiatrist booth, except instead of advice, your nickel gets you a radish and a confused look from David. The customers are leaving unhappy and vegetableless because all the produce has been about three-quarters eaten by a rabbit. David fumes that they’ve got to do something about these bloody bunnies, but Laoise seems unconcerned, certain that Micheál can recommend some kind of organic solution, such as kicking them. Alternatively, Adam’s mother can offer them €8,000 to move to London.

Caitríona pops into the pharmacy to sniff disdainfully at everything and also buy some athlete’s foot pastilles and is unpleasantly surprised to find that Vince has volunteered himself as a pack mule for Janice. Well, it’s been nice knowing you, Vince. She reminds him that he’s scheduled to take some photos of her for the next batch of Loinnir brochures, because it’s been a while since she’s terrorized the locals by mailing them pictures of herself. This is what he gets for being the only one in the village who owns a camera. Pádraig arrives and pretends to be aggrieved with her over last episode’s bigmouth blabbery re: Adam, and she’s briefly alarmed, but then he reveals that he’s only kidding, and that he explained everything to Adam and all is forgiven and forgotten. This assessment may turn out to be somewhat different from Adam’s experience of the situation. She leaves, and Pádraig, who is Adam’s personal social worker now, asks Vince if he’ll hire Adam to work in the shop. Vince looks stricken, which is of course the natural reaction to having Adam thrust upon you unexpectedly. In the background of this scene there’s a box on a shelf with a crazy picture of a woman who looks like Pocahontas painting with all the colors of the wind, or, as my husband said, “A cross between Pocahontas and Moana. Pocoana.”

At Mo’s, Colm is being sulky and unpleasant, so it’s business as usual. He eventually tells her he’s worried about his former prison pen pal Seán’s possible gambling problem. Mo helpfully volunteers that her diagnosis is that Seán does not in fact have a gambling problem, although now that she thinks about it, he was always in and out of the bookies multiple times every single day. Clearly Mo never completed her Open University psychology course. He asks her to have her mates in the bookies’ keep an eye on Seán, and presumably beat him with a hurley should he try to enter, but she tells him she can’t do that, and besides, she’s got enough problems of her own right now, such as being in a relationship with him. That last part is implied.

Local wacko Coílí Jackie, who I coincidentally always think is called Coinín Jackie, arrives at the vegetable stand to be crazy and menacing, like a slightly older Charlie Sheen, or Tadhg on a good day. Today’s rant is about the fact that Laoise is trying to charge €2.50 for a half-eaten cabbage, because in his day, for just three shillings elevenpence and a semi-farthing, you could get two half-eaten cabbages, a hat made out of a hollowed-out turnip, and ringworm. David tries to explain calmly that they’ve got a bit of a rabbit problem at the moment, but that they’re trying to come up with a solution, such as a scarecrow. Instead of recognizing the job opportunity that presents for himself, Coinín Jackie cackles madly and says the only way to get rid of rabbits is to shoot them in the face. This really is the worst episode of Bugs Bunny ever. Laoise explains that there will be no shooting in the polytunnel as long as she’s got anything to say about it, which means at least three people will be shot in the polytunnel by the end of the season. Everyone wanders away just in time for Eric to show up and start flirting with Laoise, offering to slip her his carrot and so on, but when she tries to touch his arm, he pulls away and hisses that someone could see them, such as a superintendent with the authority to tase them repeatedly. She’s pooed, so he suggests they have a secret sneaky dinner tonight at the B&B while Máire is away at bingo. Bingo night usually ends with Máire in the drunk tank, so they’ll have the place to themselves till morning. Well, Fia will be there, but fortunately she doesn’t give two shits what Laoise is up to, and is under the impression that Eric is the guy who comes around to read the gas meter. Laoise is semi-appeased by this, and as we all know, European policies of appeasement are historically always successful.

Caitríona has prepared for her photo shoot by applying all the makeup in the salon and consequently looks like she’s been dipped headfirst in the Maybelline factory. Gráinne gingerly suggests that while this is certainly a strong look, she might also consider other options, such as looking like a human being. As usual with any idea that isn’t her own, Caitríona is having none of it, and goes to look for a paint roller to apply a little more lipstick. Vince mentions that he’s decided to give Adam a trial run in the shop, because he’s gotten tired of having that pesky till there taking up valuable counter space, but Gráinne is busy trying in vain to dab away a bit of eyeliner from Caitríona, who at this point looks like Cleopatra’s sarcophagus. Having figured out how to get the lens cap off his camera, Vince instructs Caitríona to act natural, as if she’s waiting for a bus. In this case, like a hooker waiting for a bus. With each shot she increases the duckface by about 30 percent, so by the end of the scene she’s operating at about 25 kiloKardashians, which is twice the legal limit allowed by EU regulations.

At the pub, Bobbi-Lee asks Tadhg and Frances if they’re going to the anti-windmill meeting at the community center tonight. Of course she’s dressed more like it’s anti-windmill karaoke night at the community center, and realizes she’s put her foot in it because the community was very careful not to invite Tadhg and Frances for fear that they might, you know, come. Frances tells Tadhg this is his chance to try and talk some sense into Maggie, given that they’re “old friends.” Well, she’s half right. He doesn’t think this is a good idea, so, as usual, she tells him that if he doesn’t do the thing she wants, she’ll just go do it herself. I’m pretty sure that was the entirety of Frances’ wedding vows.

We see Anto following Seán around the dark streets with a switchblade, which is why you should never let gorillas handle cutlery, and then Tadhg arrives at the community center to harass Maggie. He tells her to sling her hook, because she’s not wanted around here, which she seems to think he made pretty clear 40 years ago. He reminds her that back then she was the one who left, not him, and judging by the expression on her face, after Anto gets through killing Seán, there will be a tale of star-crossed lovers and interfering parents, painted against a sepia-toned backdrop of horse-drawn carriages and the Eucharistic Conference.

Seán wanders out of the bookies and into the waiting arms of Anto. By “arms,” I mean “fist full of switchblades.” King Kong wants his money, which Seán stammers he doesn’t have right now, so Anto puts his arm around him and suggests that they go for a nice, leisurely stroll. Aww, it’s nice that he’s not holding a grudge.

Back at the community center, Maggie reminds Tadhg that it didn’t seem to take him long to replace her once she left, with his hoochie parade of Angela and Carmen Miranda and so on. Tadhg notes that she didn’t seem to have trouble keeping her nose in his business from all the way over in Massachusetts, which he hisses as if it’s an ancient witchy curse. If you’ve ever been to Massachusetts, you’ll know that he’s not wrong. He adds that he certainly wasn’t going to spend years weeping over the woman who made a fool out of him, but she seems to be under the impression that he made a fool out of her. Let’s just agree that you’re both fools, OK? There’s a story of how he asked her to move to England with him, and waited for her at a bridge until dawn, but she never showed up, and broke his heart. She unblinkingly tells the middle distance that her father caught her climbing out the window with her bags packed that night, and that he was supposed to go tell Tadhg that there was a wee change of plans, but it seems this never happened, leaving Tadhg to think that she chose to reject him. He looks stricken, and while this is all very interesting, I think I speak for us all when I say I’m not sure what any of this has to do with windmills.

After the break, Seán is still getting slammed against a wall and headbutted and so on, and we hope Anto stretched well before all this, or else he’s sure to pull something. Back at the community center, Tadhg asks Maggie why she never bothered to contact him and explain herself, but she tells him that her father kept her locked in the house for a while, and then took her to Dublin and put her on a boat to her aunt in America. I think I remember that episode of the Love Boat. Stunned, he tells her he always thought she left of her own accord, but she sadly shakes her head no, and this is all very sad, although it makes us feel better to remember that eventually he ended up with the delightful Peigí, so sometimes things really do work out for the best.

There’s more poorly lit scuffling in the street, and Anto holds a knife to Seán’s throat and demands to know where he got all this money he’s been blowing in the bookies’. Seán tells him he got it from Colm, which does not seem to make Anto feel any better for some reason, even after Seán assures him it’s money from Colm’s heist years ago and has nothing to do with him and their “investments.” Well, this has certainly turned into a mess, and it’s probably not going to get any simpler when Áine gets involved somehow.

Back at the community center, Tadhg asks Maggie why she never wrote to tell him any of this, and she says she sent him a letter every week for a year, but that clearly her father interfered with the postman. Tadhg isn’t sure he believes any of this, but concludes that it doesn’t matter what they say now, because the past is the past, and besides, nothing can happen between them now because he is far more scared of Frances than he is attracted to Maggie. It is quite sad to imagine young Tadhg going through all this, and we wonder how much this heartbreak contributed to turning him into the man we know and love know today, and how much of it is that he’s just an arsehole.

Over at Gaudi, David and Maírtín are in an argument about whether it’s too late for a bowl of ice cream, and unsurprisingly, Maírtín is winning. I should probably clarify that it’s Maírtín who wants the ice cream and David who says it’s too late, since we can all just as easily imagine it going the other way. Anyway, David asserts that Seán will be here to pick Maírtín up soon, so it will be better for them all if Maírtín just shuts up about it. Another option would be for David to order himself a big bowl of delicious ice cream and then eat it slowly in front of Maírtín while making “yummy yummy” sounds. Elsewhere, Pádraig delivers a takeaway bag with two dinners to Laoise, who looks very pleased with herself, but just as she’s leaving, she gets a text from Eric cancelling their dinner and asking for a rain check. She looks sad and leaves, and she’ll be even sadder when she gets home and realizes that Pádraig has screwed up the order and sent her off with a bag of apple cores and uncooked spaghetti.

A shell-shocked Tadhg returns to the pub, and when Frances asks him how his chat with Maggie went, he tells her that she wouldn’t budge on the subject of the windfarm. He’s clearly flustered, but Frances won’t let it go, and when he finally flees, she narrows her eyes suspiciously. I don’t know why, given that he’s never given her any reason to not believe him in the past.

Over at a booth, Vince asks Gráinne what she thinks of the photos on his laptop, and she says they look “very professional.” Yes, I suppose “clown” is a profession. Caitríona can’t quite put her finger on it, but she thinks something doesn’t look right, in that she looks like two surprised drag queens smashed together in all the photos. Of course Gráinne looks for the positive, praising Vince for the colors and lighting and the way they’re all facing the right way up, but Caitríona sadly declares that the problem is that she’s wearing too much makeup. This reminds me of my high school French class in which my teacher explained le partitif as “Do you want some milk, or do you want all the milk in the world?”, and in this case, Caitríona has applied all the makeup in the world. This is a relief to Gráinne, who brightly explains that Caitríona would look more natural if she, you know, had a different face. Caitríona murders her, and then tells Vince that what Gráinne meant is that she looks old, and that she might have to hire a professional model. Well, Adam has lovely skin, and I hear he’s looking for work.

At Gaudi, Mo tries to broker a peace deal between David and Maírtín, but they are at a stalemate, and eventually she realizes this is stupid and she has better things she could be doing, such as sitting at home scratching her arse. She leaves, and Gráinne arrives and tries to make nice with Maírtín, acting all maternal and loving, and not punching him in the head at all. She completely undermines David by taking Maírtín up the counter to see what they have. David is annoyed, understandably, although maybe we’ll give Gráinne the benefit of the doubt and assume she’s planning to fill Maírtín up with ice cream and then send him home to Annette for a night of crying and throwing up in the bed.

Back at the pub, Tadhg and Laoise are looking miserable, even by their standards. Elsewhere, Caitríona is pretending to be friends with Niamh because she wants her to be a free model for the salon brochures. I suppose Niamh is a better option if Caitríona isn’t rebranding Loinnir to cater to strippers and mimes. Micheál wanders up to the bar and tells Laoise he enjoyed the surprise takeaway she left at home for him, though he suspects he wasn’t the one it was intended for. She sadly says that Eric had to cancel their plans, and she tries to convince him, i.e., herself, that she’s happy with things they way they are. Oh, Laoise.

It’s 10:30 p.m., and David is at home leaving Seán a voicemail asking angrily when he’s going to come pick up his stupid kid. Even the giant picture of Jesus over the sink looks annoyed with this nonsense. Gráinne takes Maírtín off to bed, although I might suggest she shove him in a basket, leave him on the doorstep of the B&B, ring the bell, and run.

Laoise has gone to the B&B to confront Eric, whose urgent plans that caused him to cancel their dinner seem to consist of standing around the kitchen staring into space. She suggests they go away for the weekend together, but he says his very important job won’t allow for that, so she asks if they can go to dinner at Gaudi Friday night instead, but he tells her that Gaudi is far too public, but that perhaps they could go to the Nando’s in Dublin, if they both wear wigs and sunglasses and sit at different tables. She finally snaps and demands they tell people that they’re together, but he patronizingly tells her he’s already explained all this to her: he doesn’t want Imelda and Niamh to find out about this and get upset. I’m not sure Niamh would give a crap about any of this, but he may have a point about Imelda, apart from the bit where she already knows and has been toying with them for the past three episodes. He tells her he’d love to make it public and walk down the street holding hands with her, but that it would be too much of a bombshell. I think he’s overestimating how much time anyone in town spends thinking about him. He promises her it’ll come out when the time is right, which in his mind, is half past never.

Seán has been waiting for Colm to leave the pub, and tells him that Anto is back, and he’s pissed. He reveals that he lied when he said he paid Anto back, which Colm is unhappy about, and he gets even unhappier when he finds out that Seán told Anto where the money he’s been blowing in the bookies’ came from. Colm asks if Anto knows about all the money he’s got left over from the bank robbery ages ago, and Seán assures him that he doesn’t, but that he does know that Colm’s got money, and is not happy about it. Well, here’s where we try to decide which of our other storylines this is going to link up with in the season finale: Coinín Jackie’s gun, Tadhg’s windmill, or Maírtín’s ice cream. I know which one I’m hoping for!

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