Sunday, October 29, 2017

The Mommies on the Bus Go "Puff, Puff, Puff"

Season 22, Episode 16
First aired 26 October 2017

All hell breaks loose this episode, so let’s get to it! It’s a lovely sunny day, but Fia can’t enjoy it because she’s pushing a stroller down the street that unfortunately for her has Liam Óg in it. He’s crying and whining, “Waaaaaah, Mommy! Mommy! Buh, huh, huh, AIEEEEEEEE!” and that sound, plus Fia’s downtrodden demeanor, is the best advertisement for not having unprotected sex with your mother’s boyfriend of all time. She pushes him into the community center, which now has dueling signs by the door, one for the daycare center (in Precocious Crayon font) and one for the radio station (in Millennial Anarchist Who Also Likes Ed Sheeran font). She looks torn by the signs, because on one hand, the opportunity to deposit her screaming toddler in a holding facility is her salvation, but on the other, Amy was a complete wagon to her about the stupid radio station, which we still suspect will be a front for Muireann/Celine Dion to launder some money or traffic some humans.

At her kitchen table, poor Gráinne is once again clutching and stroking the baby outfit with the sun on it from several weeks ago. For her own sake, maybe she needs the Brigid’s cross to fly off the wall and knock it out of her hands.

Meanwhile, at her own kitchen table, Maggie is once again playing with the pages of the book Tadhg gave her back in 1768, 1868, or 1968, and sighing a lot and making ambiguous faces. Her table is covered in about 14 different layers of what appears to be embroidered lace and would win the gold, silver, and bronze medals in the Ireland’s Doiliest Doily contest. As far as I’m concerned, the only people in the world who should be allowed to possess this much lace are Victorian ladies and Stevie Nicks, and to my knowledge, Maggie is not either of those.

Back on the street, Máire is thanking David for the brilliant advice he gave her, which we think was “put Liam Óg in a crèche,” but that seems so obvious and stupid there must’ve been something more to it that we’ve forgotten. He’s wearing his postman uniform, but there is no mail anywhere in his vicinity, presumably because Áine stole his truck and drove off in it. They run into Fia, and Máire asks her how Liam Óg is doing in the crèche, once again spelled “crÁeche” in the subtitles, and Fia is basically like, “I don’t care, I just shoved him through the mail slot and ran.” Unfortunately for her, she was confused about the location of the crèche and instead dropped Liam Óg off at Nando’s. Before I retire from recapping someday, my goal is to convince you all that Nando’s is inherently funny. Máire reminds her she’d best be on time for her first day of work at the radio station, ha ha, and then brightly suggests that afterward, the three of them celebrate by taking the bus to Galway. I should clarify that “the three of them” refers to Máire, Fia, and Liam Óg, not Máire, Fia, and David, although I’m sure David would enjoy going to Galway on the bus, too, and it’s kind of rude for Máire to not even invite him. She burbles about how his little face lights up when he sees the bus, and I should again clarify that I’m talking about Liam Óg here, although I’m sure I’m not the only one who can easily imagine David’s little face lighting up at the sight of a bus. Fia could not possibly be less enthused about this plan, because as far as she’s concerned the only bus she’s interested in is a bus full of marijuana. I believe that’s the Number 420. Eventually she tepidly agrees to meet Máire and either Liam Óg or David at the bus stop at 1:30, and it’s sweet—but also sad—that this seems to be just about the most exciting thing that has ever happened to Máire in her entire life. It’s even sadder because we know there is no way Fia is going to get it together to make this trip, but we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

Pádraig arrives home with some sort of outfit in a zipped-up garment bag and happily informs Gráinne it’s for the upcoming fancy-dress party. For those of you who’ve been waiting to see Pádraig in assless leather chaps, this may be your chance. Gráinne’s doing a tarot card reading, since the last one went so well, and Pádraig looks harried, because he’s not sure he has time to pull up and replace the damaged floors again today. He reminds her of the flood, which seems to have slipped her mind, and then she brightly says that she doesn’t think the cards had anything to do with that. In her defense, it was only about 10 percent the tarot cards and 90 percent the entire bag of cotton balls she shoved down the sink for some reason. He notices the baby outfit on the table and gently asks her if she’s not torturing herself with it, but she explains that she’s sending the universe the message that she’s ready to welcome another little soul. He tells her he knows what it’s like to want something desperately but know there’s no chance of getting it. We assume he’s talking about a relationship, but Gráinne manages to extricate the truth from him, which seems to be that he wants a baby, too.

Fia is working hard at the radio station, by which I mean she’s sitting outside on a bench staring into space. Amy stops by and tries to be non-terrible this time, asking Fia if she’s decided which job she wants and encouraging her to apply early, because there will be a lot of applicants, many of whom she knows from her university days. She has a B.A. in Small-Town Radio Station Start-Up Management and Chinese Pottery. The fact that everyone else has degrees in communications and all know each other gives Fia a moderate case of diarrhea face, so she tells Amy she’ll be in shortly and then wanders off sighing in the opposite direction.

Meanwhile, back at Stately Gráinne Manor, we continue to set up what feels like it’s going to be a big storyline as she and Pádraig argue about babies. She tells him that if he wants a baby he could adopt, or use a surrogate, or buy one of those incredibly creepy super-realistic dolls, but he says he wouldn’t want to do it on his own. Of course, the last time the topic of Pádraig as a parent came up he poo-pooed it as the last thing on earth he would ever want, but in order to move forward we’ll chalk that up to a little two-snaps-in-a-circle bravado for Adam’s benefit, or just say a boy is allowed to change his mind. Anyway, they discuss optimism vs. cynicism as life philosophies, and Pádraig concludes that he has a good life in spite of not having this one thing, and he doesn’t want to talk about it anymore. If it is indeed where we’re going, I find the “gay man and female friend decide to have a baby together” trope a little played out, but I suppose having a straight man who’s infertile in the mix will put a different spin on it. Given that this show usually avoids getting bogged down in any one thing to the point of audience despair, I’m sure this will at least be less tiresome than Pobol y Cwm’s recent interminable Iolo/Kelly/Tyler gay baby storyline.

At the café, Micheál is telling everyone about tomorrow’s big launch of the radio station, and they are all doing a commendable job of acting interested. I should probably be less cynical about this, because based on some of the online listening I’ve done, Irish radio stations actually seem to still be a thing, as opposed to in America, where radio is a vast dumpster-fire of the same three songs over and over and 40 minutes per hour of screaming advertisements for Krazy Eddie’s Used Kar Emporium and BurpMobile’s new Unlimited Dick Pic Plan. Máire asks brightly how Fia’s settling in, and Micheál admits she hasn’t shown up, which of course causes Máire to fall on the floor crossing herself and throwing her rosary at St John of Peel, the patron saint of radio stations, while Evan just rolls his eyes in a “not this again” manner.

Back at her place, Gráinne slowly and ritually wraps the baby outfit in a box, adding what we think is a crystal, but we can’t tell because her arm blocks the shot. She gingerly, tearfully closes the box and kisses it, and this is all far too heartbreaking for us to talk about, so we will just say that eventually she puts it in a cupboard and closes the door, and we’re sure this will not be the last we see of it, but hopefully we will get a break from it for a while, because our hearts can’t take it right now.

Back at the café, Micheál relays to Máire how Amy shot down Fia’s plans of being a journalist over the whole “we can’t send you and your baby down one of this area’s many active volcanoes in the middle of the night” thing. He then adds that he didn’t want to say anything, but he’s seen Fia with Pól a few times lately, and he doesn’t think it’s good for her to be hanging out with him. Hilariously, Máire has to ask who Pól is, and when Micheál explains he’s the yob who burned down An Teaghlach, she understandably loses her shit, and then takes it up a whole other level when Evan admits he knew about it. We see Máire upset and fainting and whatnot all the time, but it’s rare for us to see her absolutely, legitimately furious, especially at Evan, and it’s kind of fantastic. Micheál says Pól has been squatting up at the “empty housing estate,” i.e., Suzanne’s Holiday House of Horrors, and warns Máire that Fia better get her act together, because he can’t hold the job for her forever. He leaves, and then Máire frets to Evan that she might as well cancel their bus trip to Galway. He says they should still go, though, because it would do the three of them good to have a day out, plus David has really got his little heart set on it. I’m imagining a scene later in the day in which Máire, Fia, and David get off the bus, and he’s carrying a stick of rock and a balloon.

We cut to Fia and Pól in an unspecified outdoor location, and she’s doing an impression of Amy that’s pretty good, actually, banging on about her triple B.A. in Imaginary Radio Management, Old Irish Etymology, and In-House Pharmaceutical Sales. She pauses to take a phone call from Evan, who scolds her in his usual way but this time also adds that she better not be with that scumbag Pól, so she pretends to not know whom he’s talking about. Eventually he grows tired of the bickering and tells her that Máire is really looking forward to riding the bus, so he begs her to please pull it together and not let everybody down this one time. She assures him that she’ll be there, and seems sincere about it, which of course means that she is far more likely to try smoking the bus than to actually travel anywhere in it. She hangs up and tells Pól she’ll have to go soon, so he tells her she better start slamming these beers then, because they’re not going to drink themselves, so she pops one open and starts chugging.

Maggie arrives at the pub and tells Tadhg she’s there to see Frances, which of course makes him instantly shit fifty shades of grey. He tries to create a distraction by being pleasant to Mo, which obviously just serves to confuse everyone, and then Frances invites Maggie upstairs for a cup of tea.

After the break, Máire is filling her purse with supplies for the excursion to Galway, such as pith helmets and roadside flares and emergency protein bars behind glass. The phone rings, and it’s someone from the crÁeche reporting that Fia forgot to come pick up Liam Óg, which is a problem, because at 1pm on the dot it becomes a sex club. She assures them that she’ll be over straight away to collect him, and as she puts down the phone, she rhetorically shouts, “Fia, what in God’s name are you doing?” Umm, working on her CV?

Upstairs at the pub, Tadhg is eavesdropping on Frances and Maggie’s conversation from the doorway. Well, now we know where Áine gets it from. It turns out Maggie is not here to ask Frances if it would be OK to sleep with her husband, but instead wants to form a book club, which was my second guess. Frances thinks this idea is iontach, because books are a thing she’s heard about, and she wants to know more. She asks what their first book should be, and because Maggie takes too long to figure out how to say “the one I keep reading to your husband at my house” in a non-suspicious way, Frances suggests the new one by Erotica-Sue O’Sexybottom. This seems somewhat less literary than Maggie’s usual leisure reading, which is more along the lines of the Codex Ardmachanus or at least Finnegans Wake, but on the plus side, everyone does enjoy a good description of throbbing loins.

Back in the Red Light District, Fia exclaims to Pól that the joint they just finished was particularly strong, and then panics when she gets a call from Máire. She tries to dash off but can’t even stand up, and then frantically asks Pól if he has any eyedrops, because she’s sure her eyes are red. Everybody who thinks Pól seems like the type who would carry a bottle of eyedrops around with him, please raise your hand. He tells her the bigger problem is that she smells like a distillery, and there’s no way to hide that from Máire.

Meanwhile, at the bus shelter, Liam Óg is crying and whining, STILL, and we’re starting to understand why Fia drinks all the time. Máire tries to comfort him and assure him that his mother will be there soon, but even she recognizes a lost cause when she sees one.

Tadhg chases Maggie down as she’s trying to leave the pub and asks what the hell she’s playing at with this “book club with Frances” thing. She hisses that she likes Frances, because she’s been nice to her since she returned from Amerikay, and furthermore, she saw Tadhg skulking around her house yesterday. She says she thinks being friends with Frances will put a stop to any shenanigans that may be brewing between the two of them, although another way to look at it is that it will just make things all the more devastating when it all blows up spectacularly, hopefully at Áine’s birthday party. She continues that she’s not willing to destroy everyone’s lives over some seafóid from their youths, but Tadhg, who has declared everything else in the universe “seafóid” at one time or another, resents her characterizing their relationship that way. She says goodbye, leaving him looking stricken, and my main hope for all this is that this book club storyline will give us a chance to see both Dee and Bobbi-Lee be ridiculous in their own special ways.

Fia and Pól, the 24-hour party people, have migrated their festivities back to the Suzanne Memorial Estate, and she says she should just go home, face the music with Máire, and see if they can salvage the day by catching a later bus. He snatches her phone out of her hand and angrily tells her that she’s in no state to be around her child at the moment, and looks like he’s about to tell her something meaningful, but we will have to hold off on that for the moment, because….

At home, Berni is trying to tempt Briain with her hot beef casserole, but we’re going to assume that’s not a euphemism because she’s offering it to Evan, too. They reply that the team is waiting for them at the pub, and besides, her cooking is awful. That last part is implied. They invite her to join them, but she says she doesn’t think hanging out with a bunch of young footballers is her scene. Of course “young footballers” piques a just-arrived Bobbi-Lee’s interest, so after Evan and Briain leave, Bobbi-Lee announces that Berni may be too old for this, but she’s not, so she takes off after them, leaving Berni in disbelief because she has never met Bobbi-Lee before.

Back at the Holiday House of Horrors, which is about to get 700 percent more horrible, Pól grimly tells Fia that he had an uncle who smoked and drank, and that no child should associate those smells with the adults in his life. He continues that the uncle used to babysit him, and would come into Pól’s room, and then we mercifully skip a step, and then he concludes that he knows what it’s like when someone forces themselves on you when you don’t want them to. This is not exactly what we were talking about, but it’s very sad and well done, even though we are opposed to anything that tries to make us feel sorry for Pól, whom we prefer as a foaming-at-the-mouth villain. There’s a moment of silence, and then he’s embarrassed and blames the joint for making him talk too much. She looks sympathetic, and then they start making out. I understand that what’s happening here is that they both feel vulnerable and are clinging to each other for comfort, but it does feel like an odd time for them to get frisky. We see them recline out of the bottom of the frame together, which is of course the universal sign for making sweet TV love.

And now, in the “holy crap, I can’t believe this is happening!” portion of our show, Máire is pushing Liam Óg in his stroller across the rocky lunar surface, and then we see that she’s arrived at the House of Horrors. Inside, the music has shifted from some bleep-bloop thing that sounds like the BBC News music to some kind of sextastic thrash whatnot, and Pól’s shirt has disappeared, and he and Fia are going at it on the mattress. The door opens just as Fia starts shedding her clothes, and then Máire walks in and starts screaming, and this is instantly THE BEST THING THAT HAS HAPPENED ALL SEASON.

Máire runs back outside, and Fia freaks out, jumps up, and starts running after her, at which point we begin the world’s best carless car chase scene ever, which consists of Máire pushing Liam Óg’s stroller down the street at top speed as Fia runs after her screaming. Fia catches up and they start arguing, with Fia weakly apologizing, and Máire calls her a fool who’s made a holy show of herself. They scream at each other for a while, and then Fia tries to carjack the stroller away from Máire, and they start fighting over it, and in the struggle, Fia accidentally backhands her grandmother across the face. They both freeze for a moment, and then Máire silently grabs the stroller and pushes it away briskly, and Fia stands there at the edge of the path watching in horror, wobbling slightly and then almost falling off the pavement into the brush.

This would’ve made a brilliant ending to the episode, but instead we return to the pub, where Bobbi-Lee is screaming with laughter about how Briain is just about the funniest person she’s ever met and is also grabbing his various parts. From the bar, Berni looks on disapprovingly, even by her standards, and then Briain walks off while Bobbi-Lee is in mid-sentence to go flirt with her. Berni sees this as an opportunity to slag off Bobbi-Lee for a while, pointing out that she’s older than Briain’s mother, because Berni and Briain are, you know, the same age.

Máire walks solemnly into the B&B kitchen, and we can hear that Liam Óg is STILL crying in the background. One more episode of listening to that and I’m going to develop a drinking problem, too. She cradles her head in her hands and cries for a moment, and then picks up the phone, dials Vanessa, and sobs into the phone that she can’t handle it anymore because Fia is out of control! Uh-oh, Fia. You better buy some more of those powerful rollies, cos shit’s about to get REAL.

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