Sunday, November 5, 2017

Back to Blackout

Season 22, Episode 18
First aired 2 November 2017

We open at Maggie’s funeral, where Bobbi-Lee leans over and whispers to Mo, “Well, that was a lot of buildup for not much payoff.” No, no: it’s still Halloween, which makes sense, because otherwise costume and makeup would’ve blown a lot of money on stuff we saw for five minutes in one episode. The town is still having a blackout, like the ones Fia keeps having where she wakes up working the till at a KFC in Derry and doesn’t know how she got there. Tadhg seems happy because this means his power bill will be lower this month, so he tells Mo to plunk down a few candles and muses that the customers can still find their mouths in the dark. Dee wanders past, and Mo tells her how great her scary tale was, awarding her the prize for the best story of the night. Dee beams, and hopefully this is the end of the “Dee is an outcast” storyline, which started out comically but then went terribly wrong when all our favorite characters turned into Mean Girls.

Áine, who makes a much more compelling pirate than Johnny Depp ever did, appears behind the bar waving her sword around and explains to Frances that she is, and I quote, “Getting ready to rob and kill people.” So, it’s basically a normal Tuesday night for our Áine. Amusingly, Frances declares this go hálainn, and then tells Tadhg she’s heard that the power is out all over Ros na Rún. This is what happens when you put Bobbi-Lee in charge of paying the town’s bills. Áine worries about poor Maggie all alone in the dark, and Frances thinks they should ring to check on her, but Tadhg assures them that she’ll be fine on her own, what with her being a semi-American and therefore heavily armed at all times.

And speaking of Maggie, we cut over to her place, where she’s spending a romantic Halloween on the floor not breathing by the light of a jack o’ lantern. Don’t worry: this is an American tradition, too. She comes back to life long enough to wheeze a bit and then roll over onto her back, which as we’ve learned in every rock biopic ever is the best position for unconscious people to be in.

Berni is wandering around the dark café calling Briain’s name, and then he jumps out from behind a turnip and yells “Boo!”, because he is six years old. She screams a lot and bats her ponytail at him, and he flexes his teeth at her, and this is all too much, especially since we’ve been hoping all season Briain was here to be Pádraig’s love interest-slash-sex toy. They stand very close to each other and breathe in each other’s faces for a while, and then Berni gets nervous and suggests they go home, but not to have sex, that’s for sure. He explains that he has to go to a friend’s house to get his costume, but that he’ll meet her in the pub later. She giggles awkwardly and agrees, and I for one hope Bobbi-Lee and her cleavage will put a stop to this nonsense once we move this storyline to the pub.

Over at RTÉ Pulseless, Amy is still storming out, making this the longest exit since Cher’s last farewell tour. She’s boxed up her stuff, which consists of two three-ring binders with nothing in them, and huffs past Micheál, telling him that she’s leaving “Radio Propaganda” to him. He begs her to stay so he can make things right, whispering that he’s got a plan. Hopefully it involves burning the station down.

Evan returns to the B&B from yet another fruitless Fia search expedition, explaining to Máire that he looked in a mailbox, under a tin can, and on the new episode of Bromans, and couldn’t find her anywhere. Máire sadly explains that she went out looking for her as well, but with all the costumes, everyone is unrecognizable. Maybe the mailbox, the tin can, or one of the Bromans WAS Fia! Halloween is the worst. She starts crying that Pól has probably done something to Fia, but Evan hypothesizes that she’s probably just out drunk somewhere and doesn’t give a damn about them. Way to go out on a limb there, Ev. He picks up his phone, so Máire brilliantly asks him whom he’s calling, and he’s like, “I’m calling the radio station to request ‘The Monster Mash.’ Who the hell do you think I’m calling?” She pleads with him to be nice to Fia, because they want her to come home, so he grits his teeth and says into her voicemail, “Hello, Fia, you dumb bint. Get your selfish ass home right this minute, you stupid wagon. This is Evan, by the way. Mamó says hi.” I’m paraphrasing, but not by much.

Muireann and Labhrás return to the radio station, and she explains for everyone’s benefit that they have a generator, just in case we were wondering how all their lights and cappuccino makers are still going. They look into the booth and are pleased to see that Amy has gotten her feckin’ arse in there like they told her to, but their smug pleasure turns to tight-lipped rage when they see she’s interviewing one of the Grateful Dead about the history of recycled hemp. Muireann declares this a coup, and just then local political sleaze Malachaí, a.k.a. the Ungrateful Dead, oozes in, kissing hands and shaking babies and ready to do his interview. Muireann kisses his ass a lot, and he tells Micheál how proud he should be of whatever it is he’s done here, because he truly believes that radio stations, roller rinks, or whatever the hell this dump is are the key to Ireland’s future. Once we all finish throwing up, he walks over to the booth and notices that the person being interviewed does not seem to be him, so Muireann announces that they’ve decided to pre-record his show, which she’s pretty sure is a thing, rather than sending it out live, since there’s a blackout and nobody can listen to their radios. Furthermore, instead of ditzy 18-34 year-old Amy, they’ve decided he’s so important he’ll be interviewed by famous broadcaster Labhrás, who looks panicky, because he thinks this is a telegraph station and he’s forgotten most of the Morse code he learned in school. There is a lot of political grossness during which Malachaí almost punches Muireann and Labhrás in the face but sadly doesn’t, and then they march him out to go kiss his ass somewhere else, preferably on another planet, and one that is about to blow up.

We see someone putting on lipstick and adjusting her utterly fab sci-fi go-go dancer from space costume, and OH MY GOD IT’S BERNI. There’s then a weird cut that makes it look like Fia and Pól are in Berni’s living room, but we suspect they are somewhere else. It’s hard to tell because there’s no light and they therefore appear to be floating in an endless black void. Anyway, we discover that the brilliant plan Pól concocted last episode to solve all their problems was buying some more drugs, which is a letdown, because we were hoping they were going to adopt a baby.

Back at the pub, Áine is firing her “pistol” into the air again, but this time Frances sees it, exclaims it’s an inhaler, and demands to know where she got it. She explains that it ended up with her trick-or-treat loot from Maggie’s, which Tadhg instantly knows is not a good thing. Yeah, Pól and Fia could be snorting that inhaler right now and wouldn’t have had to spend all their money on pills.

And speaking of Sid and Nancy, we return to the squat, where Fia says she doesn’t want to take any pills, so Pól tries to take some, and then she complains that she can’t believe he’s going to take them without her. She’s a pain in the ass and tries to start a fight for a while, and finally he takes her up on it and starts yelling at her, at which point she acts hurt and can’t believe he’s being so mean. Oh, FFS. Eventually she tells him that it’s not his fault his uncle molested him all those years ago, and he’s like, “Of course it wasn’t my fault! What’s wrong with you?” They fight about that for a while, and then Pól asks her to tell him about Liam Óg’s father, which she’s vague about, and then they call a truce for a bit while he goes to get some chips, because fighting over absolutely nothing really works up an appetite.

Tadhg arrives at Maggie’s house in a panic and finds her unconscious on the floor, but just as he’s trying to decide how to dispose of the body, she wheezes to life. He gets down on the floor and sits her up, and then searches for the inhaler among his many pockets for about 45 minutes before locating it and spraying it in her mouth. This seems to perk her up, so they cradle each other’s faces. The fact that this entire episode is lit entirely by jack o’ lantern is making everyone look orange, like Donald Trump.

After the break, Briain has arrived at the pub in his costume, which is “Hairy-Chested Surgeon Who Wants To Bang You,” and is being hit on by Bobbi-Lee, who you will recall is dressed as “S&M Vampirella.” Just then Berni arrives, dressed as Space Twiggy, and everyone’s jaws drop, not just because she looks amazing, but because they have never seen her be fun before, ever. Briain takes off his surgical mask so we can see him smirk and drool (smool? drirk?), and Bobbi-Lee is pissed, because there’s only room for one Wonder Woman around here, and that’s her.

Back at Radio Money Laundering, Malachaí is shaking Amy’s hand and being yucky, and just as it looks like she might tell him what a disgusting piece of shit he is, Labhrás escorts him off to the booth for his interview. “Coming up in a few minutes we’re going to ask Malachaí here why he’s such a disgusting piece of shit, but first, this one goes out to Evan from Ros na Rún: it’s ‘The Monster Mash!’” When they’re out of earshot, Muireann threatens Amy and Micheál for a while—“just wait ‘til the board finds out about this!” and so on—and then Micheál informs her that the board have already phoned in, actually, to rave about how wonderful Amy’s interview with the Jimi Hendrix Experience was. This really crams a potato in Muireann’s tailpipe, so she huffs off, and the best part of all this, besides the mental image of Muireann storming out into the street and being hit by a car, is that in all these scenes there is a sign on the bulletin board in the background saying, with no indication of irony, “Éist leis an raidió!” Snerk.

Back on Maggie’s floor, she seems to be feeling much better now, as indicated by the fact that she is now occasionally blinking. Breathing will really perk a girl up. She collapses into Tadhg's arms, and he shushes and comforts her. Maybe she will go stay at Tadhg and Frances’ for a few weeks months years while she convalesces.

Over at the squat, Fia has decided to tidy up a bit, because the garbage is knee-deep and she’s worried Liam Óg might be buried somewhere in it. She picks up her phone and sees she’s got a voicemail from Evan. She listens to it, and rolls her eyes and sighs a lot as he’s bitching at her, but then Máire takes the phone and tells her not to worry about what happened between them, but just to please come home, and they’ll figure it all out. Evan snatches the phone back and hisses, “Do you hear how understanding Mamó is, even though you’re out slutting around with the douchebag who threatened her, got in a knife fight with Áine, and burned down An Teaghlach?” Fia is shocked to hear this, and just then Pól returns, so she puts down the phone and asks him if all Evan’s accusations are true, and he’s basically like, “Well, yeah, I threatened your grandmother, but as you know, she’s a pain in the ass, so it’s really her fault.”

Just as things are getting good here, we return to Maggie’s, where Tadhg is on the phone with Frances, telling her that it was a close call, but it looks like things are going to be OK. That’s a relative term when applied to this storyline. She offers to come over and help, but he assures her this won’t be necessary, although he’s going to stay with Maggie a bit longer, and maybe do some unnecessary mouth-to-mouth. He hangs up, and Maggie tells him to go home, but he says he’s not going to leave her there looking pale as a ghost. To be fair, Tadhg, that’s kind of just what she looks like. As he goes to the kitchen to fetch her some food, she mutters, “I’m such a burden,” and I’m going to have to call my mother and ask her why she didn’t tell me she’s writing Maggie’s dialogue for Ros na Rún now.

Back at the squat, Kurt and Courtney are arguing again, and he explains that the only reason he threatened Máire was because, you know, it seemed like a good idea at the time. Also, he continues, nobody got hurt when he burned An Teaghlach down, so he doesn’t understand why she’s making such a big deal about it. Well, Fia, you made your bed, or rather your filthy mattress on the floor of a squat, and now you have to lie in it. Eventually something in Pól seems to snap, and like Mr. Potato Head in Toy Story, he takes off his regular eyes and puts on his Crazy Eyes, which he will wear for the remainder of the episode. She tries to leave, so he blocks the door and tells her that, by the way, he made up the story about his uncle molesting him, because he uses it all the time to get chicks to sleep with him. She calls him a psycho, so he calls her a bad mother, and tells her that when Liam Óg grows up, he’s going to remember her as a drunk druggie fighting in the street with her grandmother. She retorts that he thinks he’s a victim who’s been done wrong by the world, but as far as she can see, he’s deserved everything he’s gotten. Ouch! This really pushes him over the edge, so he grabs her by the collar and shakes her, and we’re afraid he’s going to hit her, but instead he storms out the back door, or window, or something, and she looks stunned.

At the pub, Micheál is telling Berni all about the hijinks at the radio station in excruciating detail, including how great Amy is, which of course makes Berni squirm because she hates Amy. She tries to be, err, gracious, but warns him that Amy is a total wagon, so he wanders away and is replaced by Dr Briain, who’s here to scrub in and maybe do a breast exam. They flirt for a while and he trots out some medical double entendres, but just as he’s about to whip out his speculum, some stupid friend of his shows up and tells him about some hot girls who are outside looking for a ride before realizing the hot babe Briain is with is, as he calls her, “Mrs. Uí Conghaile.” Heh. This, of course, brings the age difference into sharp focus for them, and things become rull awkward rull fast, so Briain scuttles away. Micheál returns and is like, “Oh, was that little Briain? Didn’t he grow up fast! He’ll be driving soon, I imagine! Remember when he and Evan were childhood best friends, which we haven’t heard about until just now, but is totally a thing? Wouldn’t it be gross if someone your age were sniffing around him?” That last part is implied. She looks mortified, and if this were anyone other than the Bernbot, we would feel sorry for her, but on the other hand, she looks so good with her fab purple bob that we are going to be extremely disappointed if it is not her new permanent hairdo.

We return to the squat, where Fia is still standing around for some reason instead of GOING THE FUCK HOME LIKE ANY NORMAL PERSON WOULD HAVE DONE TEN MINUTES AGO. (Forgive me, it’s just that I like Fia very much and am frustrated with her decision-making these days.) She gets down on the floor and starts fiddling with the baggie of pills, and cries a little, and: oh, God.

Back at Maggie’s, Tadhg offers her a plate of biscuits in which he has hidden the ring, which we hope will lead to her swallowing it, starting to choke, and needing him to perform the Heimlich maneuver on her. Anticlimactically, she doesn’t even pick the right biscuit off the plate to find the ring, much less eat it, so Tadhg finally just shows it to her and then tells her he knows it’s the same ring, because he’d recognize it anywhere.

Berni returns home, grimaces at herself in the mirror for a while, and then snatches her fab purple wig off and calls herself a fool. We then zip back over to Maggie’s, where Tadhg is taking us on several strolls down memory lane, whether we want to go or not. He reminds Maggie how hard he had to work picking oranges or whatever to earn the money to buy the ring, and how she’d sit outside a teepee in her yellow gingham dress with ears of corn stuck in her hair watching the buffalo roam across the plains, and this is all very Little House on the Prairie. Eventually he gets to the part where they promised each other they’d be together forever, and then we all scream at the TV when he says he’s making her that promise again, and this time he’s going to keep it. She smiles briefly, but then tells him they can’t, reminding him that, you know, Frances is a thing, not to mention little Áine, who may be a hardened criminal but still needs her daddy. She insists she’s not going to break up his family, but he replies that it’s up to him to make that decision, not her. There’s a lot of back-and-forthing, and then he tells her he’s waited all this time for her, so he can wait a bit longer, and then slips the engagement ring on her finger. Well, on the plus side, we’ve already seen that Frances knows how to hit people with her car at high speed when she thinks they’re threatening her family, so she won’t have to come up with a totally new plan from scratch to take care of Maggie here.

We return to the squat, where Fia shudders to life when the lights and bleep-bloop music come back on. She tries to stand up, but then the music telescopes out and her eyes turn into pinwheels, and her feet get tangled up in her purse strap and she falls, her face ricocheting off the table on the way down. When she finally lands, we see that she’s got a giant TV gash across her forehead with blood gushing out. I’m starting to feel like everyone on this show needs to wear crash helmets at all times.

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