Thursday, September 7, 2017

Coma Chameleon

Season 22, Episode 1
First aired 5 September 2017

Welcome back! I’ve missed you!

So we all had a summer of fun in the sun and falling in love with 40-year-old high school students Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta down at the beach, but it seems David did not have that much fun, as he’s still bleeding from the last time we saw him back in June. He’s being wheeled into the hospital set, which we are going to see a lot of today, on a gurney, but seems to be very confused, even by his standards. As the medical types cart him away, he’s carrying on about the rabbits eating all the crops, which has Gráinne very upset indeed. She’s used to him banging on about things that make no sense, but not when there’s so much blood coming out of him. Mo tries to comfort her, because she’s a good friend, and Colm pops out for a bit to work on his alibi, because he is a sleaze. It’s good to know some things haven’t changed while we’ve been away.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the hospital, we find Eric, who appears to be a lot more alive than we expected him to be, and in fact just has a couple of pieces of sellotape on his forehead. Katy got more seriously injured that time she decided to take a nap on the bedroom carpet! Anyway, Imelda is chatting nervously with the doctor, and for some confusing reason decides to lie to her and tell her that she doesn’t know what happened to Eric, because she was in the kitchen polishing the toaster or whatever when she heard a giant crash from the other room, and then found Eric at the bottom of the stairs. I have no idea why she’s making up this story, because I have trouble imagining any court in the land would convict her, the police superintendent, of anything here, given that she repeatedly asked him to leave her house, then said goodbye, and then he followed her up the stairs and he grabbed her. She continues by explaining that Eric suffered some sort of head injury a few years ago, which I am going to assume involved Caitríona somehow, and that perhaps it contributed to his mysterious fall. The doctor wanders off, and I’m sure there’s no way this is going to come back and bite Imelda in her police arse.

It’s the middle of the night, and Frances has tracked Tadhg down to the kitchen table, where he is about four inches into deep thought, and six inches into a bottle of booze. He explains that he couldn’t sleep, and she tells him that he should’ve told her he’d changed his mind about the windmill thing, because she looked foolish in front of everyone when he switched sides mid-vote. He weakly claims he was swayed by Micheál’s convincing argument, which we all know is a total load, and also that it had nothing to do with frolicking sexily across the bog with Maggie as a boy, that’s for sure. Frances knows is nonsense, and asks him what the actual reason was, so he tells her that windmills would ruin his ancestral land. She’s surprised given that he’s never been sentimental about the place before, and they squabble for a bit. Given that Frances is probably the smartest person on this show, I never know whether Tadhg actually expects her to believe him when he feeds her a load of old shite, or whether he’s just trying to delay the inevitable.

Back at the hospital, Niamh and her luxurious hair have arrived, and Imelda smilingly explains to her that Daddy is asleep right now, having decided to take a little nap on his face at the bottom of the stairs in a pool of blood. Niamh thinks this sounds a little like the time her goldfish died but she was told it went to live on a lovely farm with other goldfish, but Imelda assures her that Daddy has not actually been flushed down the toilet, but instead just has a concussion. Just then Mo and Gráinne arrive, asking where Anto is, because they saw him being loaded into an ambulance back at the polytunnel. Imelda says he’s being treated up on the third floor, in the King Kong ward, and for some reason Mo is surprised to discover that he’s there in the hospital, because she thought the ambulance was taking him for an ice cream, I guess. We’ll cut her some slack here, because we love Mo, and she’s had a rough day. O’Shea assures them that Anto won’t be going anywhere, and tells Mo that the Gardaí will be taking statements from her and Colm, which we hope means an awkward encounter with Dull Tony is in their future.

And speaking of Colm, he’s got Seán by the collar and is shaking him right now, yelling at him about being a traitor and blaming him for this whole mess. This seems to be happening at John Joe’s flat where Colm is living, and I’m not sure why Seán has gone there, but the important thing is that he’s being roughed up, which we are in favor of. Panicky Seán shouts that he had no choice because Anto threatened his children, and the only person he is more scared of than Anto is Annette, who seems very attached to the kids for some reason. Colm hisses that he better not come near him or Mo ever again, and gives him one more shake for good measure before chucking him out.

Back at the pub, Frances and Tadhg are still arguing about the windmills. His latest excuse is that he’s planning on fixing the land up for unspecified purposes, and that having giant windmills there will spoil it. Well, he can always tell the American tourists they are ancient Celtic windmills put there by druids. Frances fumes that Áine is the one she feels sorry for, because they were counting on the windmill money to pay for her college, and now she’ll just have to grow up to be a dullard like everyone else around here. Of course Áine, the captain of the Irish Olympic eavesdropping team, is hiding in the doorway and overhears all this, but she flees back to bed when Tadhg starts pounding his fist on the table and yelling that the land is his, not Frances’, and he’ll do whatever he wants to with it.

Mo is surprised when Colm reappears in the hospital corridor and asks if he’s OK, and he shiftily tells her he’s fine, he just had a little job to do at 3 a.m., which doesn’t sound totally suspicious AT ALL. Tony arrives, and then Gráinne returns and explains to everyone that David is out of surgery and that they were able to stem the bleeding. The bullet didn’t injure his bowels too badly, but “his groin has been damaged.” “Groin” is a rather vague area, particularly on David, but it can’t be good. It seems he’s in an induced coma, which is certainly where I would want to be had I just been shot in the groin with a rifle, but they’ll be bringing him up to the Intensive Screaming Unit later. Tony tells Gráinne her statement can wait till tomorrow, and then Mo strongarms Colm into accepting a ride back to town with the nice policeman and giving his statement along the way, which he is very nervous about since they haven’t had a chance to get their stories straight yet.

It’s now the next morning, and Áine, who is supposed to be getting ready for school, is studying a poster she’s made with a picture of a windmill on it. The subtitles don’t translate the caption for us, but I’m going to assume it says “Greetings To Our New Windmill Overlords.” Frances yells at her to hurry up, so she tears the poster off the wall and balls it up, and then spies the trophy she got for spelling “feidhmeannach” and smiles mysteriously. She’s probably trying to figure out how to turn it into a weapon, the little pixie.

Over at the café, Micheál is telling Caitríona and Berni that he hopes they can still be friends even though he beat them at the Windmill Wars, and they are as gracious as they know how to be, which means they only purse their lips disapprovingly at about a 7 on a scale of 1 to 10. Berni’s going through the mail while this conversation is going on, and she sees something that causes her distress, which we assume is €6000 worth of parking tickets Bobbi-Lee accrued while borrowing her car.

We see Gráinne crying at unconscious David’s bedside, and then we’re back to the café, where a crowd has assembled to listen to Mo tell the story of last night’s adventures. She’s relating it calmly and downplaying her trauma, but of course Máire is swooning and fainting, like that time she had to be tranquilized for three days because Janice got robbed. Caitríona announces, “Oh, look, it’s the hero himself!” when Colm arrives, and at first we think she’s being sarcastic, but it turns out she’s not, so we suspect Mo has told a version of the night’s events that would have made us angry if we’d heard it. When he finds out the Gardaí are on their way to take Mo’s statement, he drags her outside to list all the things she’s not allowed to tell them about, such as the money and the kidnapping and the Anto. By the time he’s done, she’s going to be left with a story that’s basically, “I was in the kitchen when I heard a crash, and I walked in and found that David had been shot in the polytunnel.” He tells her that if the Gardaí find out he kept money from the bank robbery he’ll be in big trouble, but she’s annoyed that with everything that’s going on, himself and his money seem to be his biggest concerns. The Gardaí arrive, and Colm pleads with her that she’s got to back up his story or he’ll go back to prison, which he says as if it’s a bad thing.

After the break, Imelda notices that Eric is starting to wake up, so she shoos Niamh away to go buy coffee and sandwiches, and maybe arrange for the hospital clown to come make some balloon animals. Once she’s gone, he wakes up and groggily asks Imelda where he is, because it seems the last thing he remembers is arriving at her house. Well, the first thing she’ll want to tell him is that Galway just won the hurling by a score of 8.5 hectares to -4 decibels, which Daithí Mac Suibhne tried to explain to me, but I don’t think it stuck. Anyway, she explains that she found him at the bottom of the stairs and called an ambulance right away, and rather than asking why he was going up the stairs of her house, he tells her he was lucky she was there. Well, to be fair, if she hadn’t been there, you wouldn’t have either, but OK.

Back at the pub, Áine plops her spelling trophy down on the bar next to Micheál and offers to sell it to him for €500. Well, it starts out with her offering to sell it to him, but this being Áine, it quickly turns into something more resembling a mugging. She explains that it’s solid gold, and that he could drink out of it, and he plays along nicely until he starts getting the feeling that he’s about to be involved in a hostage situation. Sadly, Frances arrives and breaks up the proceedings just before Áine can pull a knife on him, which is a shame, what with us having a hospital set all ready to go on the next stage over.

Tony has given Mo a lift back to the hospital, and she notes that most people wouldn’t be as nice as he’s being after the way she dumped him last season. You may recall that the two of them had a whirlwind romance, the highlight of which was his telling her she wasn’t nearly as annoying as his previous girlfriend, and also Bobbi-Lee making smoochy-smoochy faces. He tells her to forget it, admitting that he spoiled things with his terrible behavior and personality, and thanks her for making a statement, which couldn’t have been easy for her. She clearly looks rattled, so he sits her down and goes to get her a cup of tea, and maybe a nice comforting taco.

Back at the pub, Frances is asking Áine why she’s trying to sell her trophy after working so hard to earn it, spelling difficult words such as “plea bargain” and “parole officer.” She explains that she overheard last night’s conversation about not being able to afford college anymore, so she’s taken it upon herself to sell her possessions to pay for it. Wait till Frances finds out she already sold the pub to John Joe for €70. Frances assures her that they’ll have the money saved up by the time she’s old enough for college, and besides, money isn’t everything, which is of course an unfamiliar sentiment to Áine, having grown up around Tadhg. It really is a sweet scene, and Ann Marie Horan and Doireann Ní Fhoighil are always a treat together.

Mo seems to have calmed down thanks to Tony’s sedative properties, and ignores a call from Colm. Tony says he doesn’t like her being involved with him because he’s bad news, and starts to enumerate the ways in which Colm’s story doesn’t add up, such as the part where the Joker emerged from a flying saucer and shot David with a flower. She interrupts and insists that Colm is the hero in this story, but Tony points out that Colm is the reason this whole thing happened in the first place, actually. Tony 1, Mo 0.

Over at the pub, Colm looks aggravated and moderately deranged because Mo’s phone is switched off. Meanwhile, at the bar, Frances tells Tadhg about Áine trying to sell the trophy, which he thinks is funny, because a) it was funny, and b) it’s exactly what he would do. To spare Áine having to listen to them fight all the time, at least about this particular topic, she extends the olive branch and says Tadhg can do whatever he wants to with his land, apart from take Maggie there and have sex with her. That last part is implied. Áine toddles up and is delighted that her parents are friends again, giving Frances a big hug and presumably picking her pocket in the process.

Back at the hospital, Gráinne is sitting at David’s bedside looking sad and also somewhat bored, because you can only stare at someone in a coma for so long before you start to wonder what’s on TV right now. Mo shows up, ignoring calls from Colm left and right, and just then Gráinne grabs her stomach, says she feels strange, and collapses. Oh, dear. I knew it was too good to be true that we hadn’t heard about that blow to the stomach all episode, but still.

At the pub, Micheál asks Berni about that letter that caused her to look so stricken back before the commercials. She tells him and Caitríona that it was her solicitor telling her that there’s little chance she’ll be able to get any money out of Kit. Of course neither of them remembers who Kit is, because Micheál is too busy worrying if Réailtín is using a cellphone right now and Caitríona does not remember any story that doesn’t begin with the words, “Once upon a time, Caitríona….” Berni reminds them that Kit is the jerk who was supposed to install a new kitchen in the café last season, but who instead brought in a bunch of cardboard boxes with “OVIN” and “RIFREJERATER” written on them in Sharpie and then absconded with all her money. Micheál makes sympathetic noises and shakes his fist at the injustice of the world, but of course Caitríona has no memory of any of this because it did not involve her, and in fact is not sure she’s ever met either of these people in her life. Oh, and then Maggie wanders in and Tadhg makes ambiguous looks in her direction, to remind us that Maggie is a situation that will flare up at some point in the near future. Hopefully Frances is getting her boxing gloves and burying shovel oiled up and ready to go.

Back at the hospital, Eric has made a miraculous recovery and announces that since the brain scan showed absolutely nothing, ahem, they will probably release him soon. Imelda thinks this sounds lovely, although she is disappointed the scan didn’t show a big cloud of amnesia in there, but Niamh insists that something must’ve caused him to fall down the stairs, so they’d better do an autopsy or whatever to figure it out. Eventually Imelda grows tired of her nonsense and shoos her away, giving her a look as she goes that suggests that if she doesn’t knock it off, Eric may not be the only one in the family who catches a sudden case of falling-down-the-stairs today.

Out in the corridor, Mo is trying to comfort Gráinne, who is slumped over in a wheelchair with her head in her hands. She sobs that this is all her fault, and though we do not know what “this” refers to yet, we have a sinking feeling about it. She cries that she wants to go back in to be with David, and although Mo reminds her that the doctor told her she should go home and rest instead, she will not be moved, except by an orderly pushing her wheelchair in the direction of David’s room. Oh, Gráinne. She’s rolled away, and Mo looks despondent, a condition which isn’t improved any by the sudden arrival of Colm, who’s peevish and annoying and starts nagging her about why she didn’t call him back and what exactly she told the Gardaí about the money. This is the last straw for Mo, who finally snaps out of this Colm-induced spell she’s been under for the past six months. She can’t believe all he’s worried about is the money and the cops, and informs him that Gráinne had a miscarriage and David is in a coma and it’s all down to Colm and the scumbags he hangs around with. Preach, sister! Of course he starts to protest that none of this is his fault, but buíochas le dia, she spares us all the agony of having to listen to it by jumping up and storming out, stopping just long enough to shout at him to stay away from her.

Back in Coma Room #2, Imelda is fussing over Eric, offering him boiled toast and fried coffee and other hospital treats, but he acts annoyed, and eventually tells her that he knows exactly what she did, and boy is she going to be in big trouble when he starts telling everybody, such as Niamh and Graham Norton. She looks worried, and this is a perfect example of one of the things I love about this show: they’ve gone ahead and had Eric remember what happened in the course of one episode—if he’d ever truly forgotten—whereas all the other soaps would’ve strung this out for at least 3 months and then had him suddenly remember at the family Christmas dinner while a bus crashed into the pub in the background.

We shift back to Coma Room #1, where Gráinne is sitting beside unconscious David’s bed and tearfully starts to tell him about losing the baby, but she breaks down before she can say it, and starts pleading for him to come back to her, a nice callback to the end of last episode. It’s truly heart-wrenching, and gut-wrenching, and any other parts you’ve got that are wrenchable, and Brídín Nic Dhonncha is fantastic. We all suspected this is where all this was going, but it doesn’t make it any easier to watch, and my God, I’m glad this show is back.

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