Friday, November 24, 2017

Dial N for Niall

Season 22, Episode 23
First aired 21 November 2017

We start out in the street, where Mack’s giddy mood is dampened by Dee’s arrival, as usual. He tells her he’s just gotten off the phone with a very very dear old friend of his from childhood, who’s arriving for a visit today. Gee, I wonder if this has anything to do with Vanessa’s casual revelation last episode that her husband Niall, who is also Fia’s babydaddy, just happens to be a very very dear old friend of Mack’s. Dee asks why this guy wasn’t at the wedding to watch everybody having a fistfight with everybody after enjoying their choice of chicken or fish, but Mack explains that this friend has been “away” for many years. “Away” is what my late grandmother always called it when one of my cousins was in jail—“Joe won’t be at Christmas again this year because he’s away”—but in this case “away” means Australia, which I suppose is basically the same thing.

At the pub, Caitríona innocently announces, apropos of nothing other than the fact that Mo is standing there and this will get a reaction out of her, that Colm seems to be getting on well in his new job. This is Mo’s cue to freak out and pour coffee in Caitríona’s purse, which still makes her the best service-industry employee in town. Once the mess is cleaned up, using what I’m sure is the same rag Bobbi-Lee uses to wipe the toilets, Caitríona explains that Colm is working just up the road in Galway as a financial advisor. Just the other day I read that hiring in Ireland’s money-laundering sector increased this year for the first time since the Celtic Tiger, so this makes sense. Satisfied that she’s stirred up trouble, Caitríona wanders off, and when Mo goes to have one of her nervous breakdowns in the corner, Tadhg follows her and tells her she needs to a) forget about that blackguard Colm and b) get her act together, because she’s been as useless as Bobbi-Lee around here lately. She tells him to mind his own business and leaves to take her third break of the morning, which means her transformation into Bobbi-Lee is complete.

Frances arrives and reminds Tadhg that he’s been promising to fix a table with wobbly legs for ages and still hasn’t done it, but his attitude is that it hasn’t exploded in a fireball and killed anyone yet, so she needs to stop nagging him. Meanwhile, Coílí Jackie has joined Maggie at one of the non-exploding tables to tell her how terrible Pól is, and he informs her that if he sees Pól skulking around his land again, he’ll sic his team of trained attack rats on him. Tadhg orders Coinín Jackie to shut up or he’ll throw him out of his pub, and I’ve decided that for Christmas I’m going to give Tadhg a sign that says “Shut up or I’ll throw you out of my pub,” to save him the time and effort of having to say it all the time. There’s some banter that probably makes more sense in Irish than it does in English translation, and then Maggie and Tadhg exchange flirty glances, which seems to give Frances some food for thought. And that food is mussels that have been in the freezer for three years.

Over at the café, Briain is carrying on about how he’s hardly getting any sleep these days, wink wink, while Berni stands around making butter-wouldn’t-melt faces and saying “Stop, maith an fear!” and smacking his arm and so on. Anyone with half a brain would immediately recognize this means they’re Doing It, but the audience is Dee, who only cares about herself, and Mack, who has a dancing cartoon pig playing a concertina on a constant loop in his head, so their secret is safe for the time being. Mack tells Berni he’s meeting up with an old friend in the pub later and invites her to join them for some reason, because if there’s anyone two young lads like Mack and Niall want to share a pint with, it’s Berni. She says she can’t because she’s, ahem, “made plans” for later, and she bugs her eyes out on stalks at Briain while he humps the counter and sticks his tongue out like Gene Simmons from KISS. Oh, FFS. Dee pulls Mack aside and starts complaining that he and his friends always make her feel excluded, which I guess means we’re back to this storyline again, but he tells her it’s all in her head. He promises that if she comes out with them tonight she’ll have a great time and everyone will constantly scream, “Oh, Dee, you’re so funny!” and “You give our lives meaning, Dee!”, but she makes a face like she’s just found an ear in her soup. Bobbi-Lee arrives to complain to Berni that everyone’s in a good mood today and it’s really pissing her off, because first Briain was singing “Me So Horny” in the shower and now Berni doesn’t have a face on her like a wet weekend, which I think we’ll all agree is disconcerting. Berni giggles and blushes a lot, but Bobbi-Lee ignores her and announces that she’s solved the mystery of why Briain isn’t interested in her: he’s gay, obviously. She sadly proclaims that All The Hot Ones Are Gay, which of course is true, while Berni makes googly eyes over her head at Briain the whole time.

Mo is over at Gaudi looking at photos of herself and Colm on her phone until the battery goes dead, but then Pádraig produces the appropriate charger out of nowhere and she “borrows” it. I’m not sure what this dead battery/charger-warehouse sequence has to do with anything, but the important thing is that Pádraig continues to have the best haircut of the season. Vanessa arrives just as Fia is concluding an important business meeting that turns out to be with a pub owner who wants her to make some him some new curtains. She’s not thrilled because he wants them all in one color rather than her usual array of vividly clashing patterns, but she supposes it’s a start, and hopefully she’ll be able to move on from curtains to dresses before long. I’m pretty sure Stella McCartney got her start making pub curtains, too.

Back at Tigh Thaidhg, Tadhg is about three inches away from Maggie’s face and warning her to steer clear of Cóilí Jackie because he’s trouble. She, of course, says she feels sorry for him because he’s alone and scared, and because her new role is adopting all the local strays. She armchair psychologizes him for a while until Tadhg concludes that Cóilí Jackie’s problem is that he’s an idiot. That’s definitely a condition that seems to be going around lately. She says she’s been thinking of asking Cóilí Jackie to come fix her cupboard, which may or may not be a euphemism, so jealous Tadhg says she’ll do no such thing and that he’ll come by to fix it. Maggie’s relationship with Tadhg is really starting to feel like a cat batting its prey around before it devours it, or possibly a puppeteer who eventually has sex with her puppet and then eats it.

Gráinne appears at the café and literally slings a pile of Loinnir flyers onto a table, which suggests the bloom is off the rose of the new job already. Berni tells her she wants to schedule an appointment, so Gráinne assumes she wants her usual fringe-sharpening and cheek-rosying, but she clarifies that this time she wants “the works,” which includes buffing, scrubbing, and a coat of Turtle Wax. Gráinne loudly announces that women only ever want “the works” for one reason—A MAN—which gives nearby Bobbi-Lee a hearty laugh. Berni insists that there is no man, which Gráinne doesn’t believe, so she starts harassing her for details until Bobbi-Lee proclaims that if Berni had a man, she’d know it, what with her amazing powers of observation, snooping, and gay matchmaking. Mack arrives and accuses everyone of excluding Dee when they’re together, and they’re all basically like, “Well, to be fair, we only exclude her because she’s terrible.” Berni and Bobbi-Lee declare this accusation seafóid, but Gráinne generously volunteers that perhaps they could all make more of an effort with her. Is there an Irish equivalent of “no good deed goes unpunished?” Mack reminds them that they all had good fun with Dee at Halloween, which causes Gráinne to make a hilarious “‘fun’ might be an overstatement” face, and then there’s extended awkwardness in which they all stare at the ceilings and walls to avoid agreeing to spend time with Dee. Gráinne blinks first in this particular game of chicken and says she’ll meet Dee for a drink tonight. Hasn’t Gráinne suffered enough this season already?

Back at the pub, Frances is still in search of Tadhg to fix that table that keeps spraying scalding hot water on people, but Mo tells her he left. We cut to Gaudi, where Pádraig icily greets Bobbi-Lee. She apologizes for putting her foot in it with Adam and messing things up between them, and he plays hard to get, so she gives up and starts to walk away, at which point he realizes he’s milked this guilt trip for all it’s worth and agrees to forgive her if she promises never to play matchmaker again. They really are delightful together.

Over at a table, Fia complains to Evan that having Vanessa around has been OK-ish, but that she’s ready for her to go the hell back where she came from already, because having her around all the time is doing her head in. Right on cue, the Aussie Head-Doer-Inner arrives, which gives Fia the opportunity to tell her that Qantas has some great deals at the moment, but they’re only valid through 4pm today, so she’d better get packing. Vanessa does her “Are you trying to get rid of me?” routine, which Fia of course denies, and by the way, did she know that Emirates, Etihad, and Qatar all offer convenient one-stop service from Dublin to Australia now? Dublin International Airport: Making Getting Rid Of Vanessa Easier Than Ever. Vanessa agrees that she misses Niall, and that maybe Fia’s gotten her shit together enough that she can leave her without her immediately smoking crack with Pól and getting a triple-concussion now.

Mack’s car pulls up outside and we see him talking to a gentleman we’ve never seen before, but who is kind of DILFy and has a comical Donegal accent, and of course it’s Niall, who’s here to surprise Vanessa. If Fia is collateral damage in this process, so be it.

After the break, during which Fia tells Vanessa that Google Flights is her favorite website for booking plane tickets but that Travelocity is good as well, Gráinne shows up at Maggie’s to deliver some lotion that you rub on your lungs to prevent asthma. There’s no mention of whether it’s seaweed-based, but for all our sakes, I hope not. Once again she finds Tadhg there, OF COURSE, and he and Maggie act suspicious for a while until Gráinne puts a stop to it by oohing and aahing over a scrap of lace on the counter. Maggie explains that it’s some old fabric of her mother’s that she just found, and offers it to Gráinne for her wedding dress, which she enthusiastically accepts. It looks like something Stevie Nicks would get married in, which I guess is appropriate since Gráinne is about 30 percent Stevie Nicks anyway. Tadhg calls her a freeloader and also talks shit about David just on principle, and then Gráinne volunteers him to give her a ride back to town, which is kind of their new thing. Once she figures out what’s going on here, she’ll be able to blackmail Tadhg into being her own personal taxi service.

Back in town, Niall returns to Mack’s car and says nobody’s home at the B&B, so Mack suggests they go for a drink in Spiddal to make sure Vanessa doesn’t spot Niall around town and spoil the surprise. This is the most elaborate plan Mack has ever been in that didn’t involve a big dog or a robot from the future.

Back at the pub, HR Manager Bobbi-Lee has helpfully drawn up next week’s rota. Shockingly, however, it seems to give her all the best shifts and has Mo cleaning the toilets every night from 6pm till closing, so Frances says, “Yeah, right!” and rips it in half. Tadhg decides to put in an appearance, so Frances pulls him aside and asks him where the hell he’s been. He makes up some nonsense about alphabetizing the coffin shed, which annoys her, and she snaps that he ought to try spending some of this energy doing things around the pub, such as fixing that bloody table that keeps electrocuting people. He grudgingly turns the table over and demands Bobbi-Lee bring him a Phillips, which of course makes her ask who this “Phillip” is and whether he’s cute and single. Yes, but he’s also gay. He tells her it’s a screwdriver located under the sink, and then makes pirate sounds after injuring himself on the Table of Death. Mo tells him to stop complaining, so he takes the opportunity to again point out that she’s been skittering around like a frightened rabbit zombie for weeks. While of course there’s an element of “and I’m sick of looking at it”—this is Tadhg, after all—there’s also genuine concern here, because he hired the tough, feisty, take-no-prisoners Mo that Séamus was always bragging about, and he wants her back. This seems to give her something to chew on in the foreground as, in the background, we see Tadhg silently and hilariously pointing out to Bobbi-Lee where the “sink” is and what a “screwdriver” looks like, because these technical terms are clearly too much for her.

Over at the community center, Máire has decided to start a public fight with Fia for no reason. The topic is, as usual, that Fia is an out-of-control nightmare and Máire is too old and tired to deal with her. Where was this a month ago when you were letting her carry on endlessly without comment, Máire? Fia, like the audience, is unclear where this is coming from all of a sudden, but then Máire explains that Vanessa will be returning to Australia soon, fetching Niall in Donegal on the way, so she’ll really need Fia to pull it together when it’s just the two of them again. Of course this is the best news Fia has gotten since she heard that macramé vests were back in fashion, and she doesn’t even pretend to hide her joy at the thought of Vanessa slinging her hook and taking Loverboy with her. Oh, dear.

Gráinne has arrived at the pub and immediately reports to Frances that she keeps seeing Tadhg at Maggie’s doing odd jobs and running errands for her, including earlier today. As you’d imagine, this causes Frances to grind her teeth until sparks fly out, and gives Cóilí Jackie, who’s taken a break from destroying the gents’, a good chuckle. Frances asks him what’s so funny, and he tells her she must be blind if she can’t see what’s going on between her husband and “that rich lady” up the hill.

Across the bar, Gráinne and Bobbi-Lee are watching Berni and Briain canoodling at a table, and it’s obvious to anyone who hasn’t suffered a recent head injury that something is going on between the two of them, but our two favorite blondes don’t recognize it. Bobbi-Lee chalks Briain’s giggling squirminess up to his being a laughing idiot, but Gráinne thinks it’s just that he’s related to David, who is also perpetually delighted by nothing. So, that’s two votes for “laughing idiot” then. Gráinne is more interested in the fact that Berni’s not being a miserable wagon, which I think we all agree is the more noteworthy phenomenon here, and repeats her theory that she must have a man. Bobbi-Lee shoots her down once again, pointing out that the only places Berni goes are home and work, and adding that all the men around this dump are loser uggos anyway. She leaves, and just then Berni lets out a loud laugh at something hilarious Briain’s pecs just said, and Gráinne stupidly shrugs as if it’s not completely obvious what’s going on here.

At the B&B, Vanessa’s on the phone with Niall when there’s a knock at the door, and of course it turns out to be him. Surprise! She gives him an enormous hug and kiss, and somewhere in town, the pink Muppet fur on Fia’s coat is standing on end in fright.

Back at the pub, Gráinne and Dee’s girls’ night out is in full swing, by which I mean Gráinne is twiddling her thumbs and staring into space while Dee takes an endless string of work-related phone calls. Poor Gráinne is definitely taking one for the team here. Evan arrives and spots his mother and BFF Briain, who are together FOR SOME REASON, but when he offers to buy them a drink, Briain claims he has to go to the gym and Berni says she has to go home and, umm, iron the butter. Well, I’m convinced.

Tadhg has finished fixing the broken table, which means that now if you jostle it, only a few killer bees fly out and sting you instead of a whole swarm. Frances comes over and hisses that she knows why he’s been spending so much time with Maggie up at her house lately. This gives him nine shades of diarrhea face, but before he can start making excuses or swallow the cyanide capsule he’s been keeping in his mouth for this exact moment, she accuses him of cozying up to Maggie to try to get her money. He thinks this is hilarious, but she angrily tells him it’s not funny and that she’s very upset with his antics. Oh, and then Evan interrupts to point out that he’s going home to grab his phone and will be right back. UH-OH.

And over at Berni’s, she and Briain are on the sofa eating each other’s faces off when we hear the door open, and we all think the shit’s about to hit the May-December fan, but the two of them are able to put their pants back on and fly to opposite sides of the room before Bobbi-Lee makes her entrance. They act suspiciously, but because it doesn’t look like either of them is about to give her money, Bobbi-Lee is uninterested in whatever they’re doing and exits again. Well, that was disappointing, but at least we can still look forward to Evan arriving in search of his phone and committing a double homicide.

We return to the pub, where Fia is over the moon because Gráinne has just asked her to make her wedding dress. Evan returns, explaining that his phone was in the car after all, so BOO. BOO, EVAN, BOO. Fia dashes off home to start sketching, and will hopefully watch some old Cyndi Lauper and Voice of the Beehive videos for inspiration, and then Mo comes over and they all talk about how awful Dee is until she comes back in and semi-apologizes for having been on the phone for the past two hours. She complains that the coworker she’s been talking to is totally boring because all she does is complain, which causes Gráinne to roll her eyes in at least four different dimensions, and then Cóilí Jackie starts being a belligerent ass to Mo because he’s drunk. She tells him she’s cutting him off, so he calls her a useless hag and demands another pint as he pounds on the bar. Tadhg sees what’s going on and tells Frances he’s going to put a stop to this, but she tells him to wait and see how it plays out. Just then, Classic Mo returns in the form of her calling him a nasty, rude old man who’d better shut the hell up if he wants to live to drink another day. He sputters in disbelief before slinking away, and Tadhg goes over and pats Mo on the shoulder approvingly. She looks down at her hands and, seeing they’re not trembling, looks pleased with herself.

Fia bursts into the B&B kitchen to tell Vanessa about Gráinne’s wedding dress, but her joy turns to gastrointestinal despair when Niall appears and says hello. Vanessa beams that the whole family is finally together under one roof again and tries to pull them all in for a group hug, but Fia manages to slip through her armpit so she’ll be as far away from Niall as possible. Well, this is the most awkward family reunion since, well, every Thanksgiving dinner in America yesterday.

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