Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Stairway to Evan

Season 22, Episode 13
First aired 17 October 2017

We open at Stately Gráinne Manor, where David has just learned that he got the job as Ros na Rún’s new postman. He cautions her that it’s only a short-term contract, which means he will be sacked the first day when he panics and throws all the mail down a sewer, but Gráinne is happy for him, presumably because it will involve him leaving the house sometimes, and because we have no idea how they’ve been paying the bills since June. Residual seaweed income, I guess. They discuss how today is her first day back at work, and parenthetically what a pain in the ass Caitríona is, but when David leaves the house, Gráinne picks up the phone and rings her to say she won’t be in today. Well, that was a short-lived comeback.

Over at the B&B, which Evan only visits when he wants to whinge endlessly about Fia, he’s, well, whingeing endlessly about Fia. Máire is today’s unfortunate audience, and his complaint is a two-headed snake involving a) how irresponsible Fia is and b) how it’s all very inconvenient and upsetting to him. Fia and her hangover lurch into the kitchen, which is Evan’s cue to be loud and snotty, and while I’m sure dealing with her has not been easy lately, I don’t think his being a complete tool about it all the time is the best way to improve the situation. Fia ignores him for a while until she can’t take it anymore and then puts him in his place with a one-sentence verbal smackdown, but he’s too high up on his soapbox to realize what’s going on. Máire encourages Fia to go upstairs and take a nice hot shower, which we are going to hope is to sober her up rather than because she smells bad, and Evan just sits there sulking. I like Evan, but the saintly prig act he’s learned from his mother isn’t the best color on him.

Speaking of Saint Berni, she’s standing in the middle of her living room squirming, pulling faces, and making “Ewww!” noises as if she’s just seen a fist-sized spider or found Dracula’s head on the floor. It turns out, however that this is her way of expressing, “The house is untidy and I am unable to cope with it.” She announces that the place is too small for the four of them and that she’s going to have to ask Briain to move out. Well, that didn’t take long. Amusingly, Bobbi-Lee suggests they kick Evan out instead since he’s contributing nothing to the place, unlike Briain, who conveniently jogs in at this moment wearing the world’s tightest shirt and thin, translucent athletic shorts that seriously, erm, lift and separate. She looks on appreciatively as he does squats and bends and nuclear splits while apologizing to Berni about the mess and offering to wash the dishes as soon as he finishes flexing and bulging. Here’s a man who knows his audience. He thanks Berni for letting him stay there, saying he’d be out on the street without her, and I will let you imagine the manner of thing Bobbi-Lee says in response, but will advise you that whatever you picture her saying, you should then make it about 160 percent more sexual. He laments how hard it is to find work these days as he heads off to take a shower, and then Bobbi-Lee tells Berni she can’t possibly throw him and his various parts out on the street, at least until she is finished ogling them.

Back at the B&B, Fia has managed to get herself dressed and brush her hair, so we’re making definite progress. She’s hanging Liam Óg’s laundry on the drying rack, or possibly the extremely tiny compression tops she wears to the club with Adam, and Máire walks in and assures her that things look bleak now, but they will get easier. For example, Liam Óg will grow up and move away in only 17 more years, or maybe the earth will be blown up next month. We live in an age of possibilities. She continues that perhaps it would help Fia to get out and meet people, such as by attending the mother-child group in Spiddal, or working at the imaginary radio station Micheál keeps talking about. Given that the last new person she met was Pól, I think Fia may need to take a break from meeting new people right now. Máire offers to look after the baby so she can go talk to Micheál, which leads to a brief reprise of the circular argument in which Fia pretends not to see the difference between Máire watching Liam Óg for an hour while Fia pops out to the shop and Máire raising Liam Óg for a year while Fia is in another country. Potayto, potahto. She agrees to go talk to Micheál, and we’re sure she will enjoy working as Muireann’s indentured servant.

David runs into Gráinne in the shop and is puzzled when he eventually remembers that she does not actually work there, and should in fact be at the place she does work, which he is pretty sure is somewhere else. The good thing about David is that it’s very easy to follow his train of thought, because it does not speed by so much as it slowly rolls downhill because someone forgot to apply the handbrake. He asks a bunch of questions to determine why she isn’t at work, such as whether the salon burned down or maybe she is traumatized by recent events and not ready to be around people yet, and when it seems to be more the latter than the former, he makes soothing sounds and tells her to take as much time as she needs.

Pádraig, who has yet another spiffy new outfit, has dropped by the B&B to ask Máire if she can help him cater a last-minute event, but she says she’s not up for it right now, what with economic and political unrest both at home and abroad, as well as Fia and Evan’s ceaseless parade of rage-inducing bullshit. Pádraig offers to do all the legwork to help Máire out, and just then Evan arrives and announces that he will help out too, especially if it involves pushing Fia off a cliff. Happily, Máire sternly orders Evan to knock it off, and when Pádraig leaves and it’s just the two of them, she tells him that Fia is feeling depressed and hopeless right now because she had to give up her dream, and that the last thing she needs on top of it is Evan being a complete dick-fungus to her all the time. She asks him to give Fia a break, if not because she’s his sister, or because he’s a decent human being, because his grandmother is asking him to, and because she is the only thing preventing Berni from completely assimilating him like the Borg.

At the pub, Bobbi-Lee, Mo, and Gráinne are complaining about the bread Tadhg is serving now, which looks like desiccated cactus segments somebody drove a car over. He snaps that it’s perfectly good bread, and that a little choking to death never hurt anybody, but they all think Maggie’s homemade bread is a lot better, and he should go back to serving that. Meanwhile, at a table, Fia is overwhelmed by a complicated series of events including texts from Evan and an aggressive Post-It note, and she seems about thirty seconds away from going completely crackers.

And now, for those of you who’ve missed Mack and Dee arguing all the time: this! They’re at Gaudi, and she wants them to do something together tonight, such as see a film or get a divorce, but he reminds her that he has to work, and also that if he squints his eyes really hard and puts his fingers in his ears, he can almost pretend she does not exist. I’m paraphrasing. It seems light and insignificant, but as we will see later, RUN FOR YOUR LIVES! LEAVE THE CHILDREN!

Out in the street, Fia is getting money out of the ATM when Evan, pushing Liam Óg in his stroller, tracks her down to fight with her some more. She seems genuinely on the brink of a complete emotional breakdown, but he’s either too annoyed to see that or just doesn’t care, so he keeps on being a shit about it and then seems confused when she tells him to go to hell and storms off rather than continuing to stand there taking his abuse.

After the commercials, all hell breaks loose! It starts with Fia back inside the pub, slamming some cash down on the bar and demanding Mo give her as much alcohol as it will buy. Evan follows her in, still pushing Liam Óg in his stroller, and starts shouting about what a terrible mother she is, and when Mack tells him to calm down, he basically tells him to mind his own business, and then they all start arguing. While the guys shout at each other, Fia yells at Mo to hurry up and give her beer, and then Gráinne and Evan start screaming at Mo that they can’t believe she’s actually going to sell them to her. By now everyone is yelling at everyone, and Fia grabs her cans and yells at Evan to let her go, and Evan and Mack are trying to have a fistfight, and Gráinne is screaming at everybody, and it takes them a while to notice that meanwhile, behind the bar, Mo is busy clutching her chest and having a panic attack. Well, so much for the miraculous healing powers of jogging.

We cut to the café, where Briain sighs to Berni that he’s looked for jobs everywhere, but nobody is hiring. You can tell he’s serious because he’s wearing, like, a tie over his football kit. He kisses her ass for a while, something Berni can never resist, and then we return to the pub, where in all the chaos, Gráinne has ended up looking after Liam Óg. She’s hesitant at first, but turns out to be a dab hand at it. Mack tells her she’ll make a great mother someday, but when he goes, she laments to herself that she’ll never know. Somebody needs to give Fia Gráinne and David’s address so she can leave Liam Óg in a basket on their doorstep. Maybe she can cram Evan in there, too.

Fia lets herself into the Holiday House of Horrors, but when she sees the place is empty because Pól is off bullying the local flora and fauna or whatever, she turns to leave. Just then, she gets a text from Máire asking how things went with Micheál, which annoys her, so she decides to flop down on the sofa and start guzzling her beer alone.

Gráinne has taken Liam Óg back to the B&B, where Máire is fuming about what pains in the ass Evan and Fia are being and how she’s going to knock their heads together when they get home. Gráinne asks if there’s any way she can help, and admits that she’s just looking for ways to pass the time, because she didn’t know trying to pick herself up and carry on after losing the baby would be so hard. Máire reveals that she knows what Gráinne’s going through, because she gave birth to a stillborn son, and that while you never forget a lost child, it does get easier. Gráinne says she never knew she wanted a baby until she got pregnant, and now the baby is gone and it would take a miracle for her to have another. Máire tells her miracles do happen, and that she can’t give up hope. When she’s not being a total nuisance, Máire really is a gem.

It’s later in the day, or possibly evening. We don’t know, but as far as Mack and Dee are concerned, any time is Fight Time. He finds her in the café and tries to apologize, but she’s sarcastic and distant. David interrupts to ask her to review the employment contract An Post wants him to sign, because it’s full of complicated legal terminology he doesn’t understand, such as “Don’t steal mail” and “You can’t wear your karate uniform to work.” She says it looks fine, although she doesn’t look past the first page, which we’re sure will cause problems later on, because they hide the part about how they now own your eternal soul on page 3. Mack tells David about the scene in the pub earlier, and how Gráinne got stuck with Liam Óg, but that she seemed to be doing OK with him. David looks concerned, so he thanks Dee for her time and then leaves. Given that Mack told her earlier he couldn’t possibly spend any time with her all day because of his extremely busy schedule, she’s upset to hear he was hanging out in the pub, and when he protests that he was busy serving as counselor to half the village, she gets up and storms off, telling him she’s not going to waste any more of his time, because it’s clear she’s the last person he wants to spend time with. As usual he seems confused as to what’s just happened, but it seems this may be bigger than their routine Fight Of The Day.

Pól arrives home to find Fia on her second can, and he’s sleazy and vaguely threatening, as usual. He helps himself to one of her beers, and when she complains that it’s cold and drafty in there, he hands her a stack of newspapers and tells her to start rolling them up and sticking them in the cracks in the windows. She says there’s a better way to insulate the windows, and he agrees, so he tells her to take off her tights. Ewwwww! Then she stands up and looks like she’s going to do it, and let’s all take a five-minute break to go throw up and then we’ll reconvene to finish this recap.

Now that we’re all back, we find ourselves at Gráinne’s, where she’s leaned up against the front door crying softly. Somebody throws something at her head from the other room something falls off the wall in her vicinity, and she picks it up to discover it’s a thing that Wikipedia informs me is a St Brigid’s cross. She looks at it meaningfully, and thinks to herself that many rituals are associated with the making of the crosses, that traditionally they were set over doorways and windows to protect the home from any kind of harm, and furthermore that it was formerly the symbol of the Department of Health and remains in the logo of An Bord Altranais, the Irish Nursing Board. If you would like to edit what Gráinne is thinking about this, you can do so by creating an account at and then clicking on “Edit.”

Tadhg is trying to read his newspaper at the café when Briain interrupts to ask him to look at his CV. At the top, it says his special skills are “kicking,” “running,” and “shakin’ it.” Tadhg tells him he’s not hiring and to buzz off, so he goes over to the counter and bats his pecs at Berni for a while until she decides to hire him as a waiter, presumably in anticipation of the flood of new business she’ll be getting once her adverts start running on Radio Money Laundering. Things seem to be getting off to a fine start in that Briain is able to carry a glass of water and a basket of bread at the same time, which already makes him the most skillful food-service employee in the entire town. Maggie arrives, which reminds Tadhg that he left Bobbi-Lee choking on a piece of bread back at the pub, so he asks her if she can become his official bread supplier again. Unfortunately, she says she can’t, because her oven isn’t working properly, which may or may not be a euphemism. They exchange meaningful glances, and then Briain brings over her takeaway coffee and she leaves. You can tell he’s a trained waiter because he walks around with one arm folded behind his back and the other folded across his torso, like Manuel on Fawlty Towers.

David comes home and Gráinne tells him about being attacked by the Brigid’s cross, which they agree is shocking, because he’d followed all the instructions in the owner’s manual when he nailed it to the wall. His problem was not signing up for the extended warranty. He reminds her that St. Brigid is the patron saint of women, and is the most powerful saint after St. Patrick, and then for some reason she starts counting months on her fingers, ending with October, which is nine months. Maybe we are supposed to know exactly what’s going on here, but I’m busy worrying that Fia is across town taking off her tights for Pól, so I am only semi-paying attention.

Back at the House of Horrors, we’re incredibly relieved to see that Fia’s still got her tights on, and even better, that she’s solved the problem of Pól feeling a draft when he sleeps by dragging his mattress away from the window. Heh. He opens another can and offers her the last one, but she says she can’t stay, because her little boy needs her at home. Pól’s counterargument is “Ahh, c’mon,” and finding no way to dispute this logic, she leans back and pops open another can. Ahh, c’mon.

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