Saturday, November 4, 2017

Nightmare on Maggie Street

Season 22, Episode 17
First aired 31 October 2017

We open on a dark street to the sounds of children screaming, not at the sight of Labhrás and Muireann as you’d expect, but because it’s Halloween. Evan arrives at the B&B to find Máire alone at the table, praying and crossing herself furiously, and when he asks what’s wrong, she cries that Fia is out of control. On the plus side, Liam Óg isn’t crying in the background for the first time all season, so maybe Fia needs to have chemsex with Pól and then slap Máire more often.

We have a quick glance at the squat, where Pól is dead to the world, unfortunately not literally, but Fia is wide awake, or at least in an upright stupor, and looks distraught. Back at the B&B, Evan is ranting that he can’t believe Fia hit Máire, and additionally announces that Fia is a bitch. I can’t decide whether “bhitseach” sounds better or worse than “bitch.” Máire quickly adds that she thinks it was an accident—the hitting, not the being a bitch—and is more upset about the fact that Fia’s “spending time” in the biblical sense with famous hoodlum and sleazecopter Pól. She reminds us of all the yucky things Pól has done, including getting in the knife fight with Áine, burning down an Teaghlach, and the time he forced his way into the B&B and threatened her, which we had forgotten about. Pól’s CV is much more impressive than Fia’s. Furthermore, she adds, the squat is nasty, and needs to be on one of those BBC2 shows like The Cleaners v. an Edwardian Toilet That Has Never Been Flushed, Let Alone Scrubbed. Evan storms out and informs her that he’s going to bring Fia home, which is easy for him to say since he does not actually live here and can just deposit her here to fight with Máire some more and then bog off home.

Back at the Halloween House of Horrors, Pól tries to put the moves on Fia again, but she’s not in the mood for it, so he walks around in his underpants for a while before remembering it is cold and he should put some damn clothes on. Fia is beside herself, and not just because she has double vision. She can’t believe she hit Máire, even though it was an accident, and frets about what she’s going to do. Because her immediate plans to not seem to include riding him, Pól barely cares about any of this and just throws her clothes at her and orders her to get up. He says he has a solution to all her problems, which will hopefully involve them going down to the shore and him jumping off a cliff while she watches. Someone has installed a sticker or something of a giant marijuana leaf on the wall, by the way. I can’t even with this.

At the pub, Áine is dressed as a pirate and Tadhg is literally advising her on how to use trick-or-treating as an opportunity to rob people, mostly Micheál. After him, the banks around Eyre Square. She asks him to take her out in the hearse, because he and it are very scary, but he says he’s too busy, so she whines for a while until he finally gives in, at which point she says he has to take her to Maggie’s because she’ll have lots of sweets for her, and maybe dangerous medications that should not be left where children can find them. Oops, spoilers! Tadhg stammers that he doesn’t think Maggie seems like the type who would participate in Halloween, but Frances declares this seafóid because Maggie spent years in America, where Halloween is one of the holiest days of the year, along with Christmas, Flag Day, the Rhubarb Festival, and Cinco de Ocho. Áine whines for about 11 more minutes until Tadhg decides he has doth protested just enough and can now non-suspiciously agree to go to Maggie’s house.

At the café, Mo, Bobbi-Lee, Gráinne, and Pádraig are establishing the rules for tonight’s costume competition, which include “nothing store-bought or rented” and “at least one of your nipples must be covered.” Surprisingly, the latter rule was not inspired by Bobbi-Lee, but by something Pádraig wore to the Christmas pageant a few years ago. In unrelated news, there is now a court order that Pádraig must stay at least 50 meters away from Christmas at all times. Dee tries to join the conversation, and they are all rude to her in the way they’ve been all season, which is completely out of character for all of them. I’m never a fan of extended out-of-character behavior that’s there just to advance a storyline, in this case, “Dee is an outcast.” Anyway, they all Mean Girl her for a while and eventually make a point of walking off and leaving her standing there, and yes, she’s been kind of a pill this season, but I find it hard to believe any of these people would treat her this way, much less all of them, not just because she’s Mack’s wife, but because she’s, you know, a human being who has not murdered any of them as far as we know.

Evan arrives at the squat, which is extremely well lit from above considering there are only 4 little candles, all of which are below knee-level. Anyway, no one is there, but he’s furious when he finds Fia’s necklace on the table. If only there were some way he could’ve been more supportive of her, such as not scolding and yelling at her all the time and being a total Berni Óg. This is not a compliment.

Radio Money Laundering is preparing for its first night on the air, and Micheál once again demonstrates his lack of understanding of how anything works by marveling that it will go out on the internet all over the country. Amy politely points out that the internet does not end at the Irish Sea and in fact goes all over the world, and I feel that when she was brought back we were promised a lot of bad attitude and troublemaking, and so far all we’ve gotten was her antagonizing Berni that one time and then being a minor snot to Fia. I want my money back. Anyway, it seems tonight’s debut broadcast will be a discussion of “green energy and recycling,” and if that doesn’t bring in the punters on Halloween, I don’t know what will. They seem very pleased with themselves, but outside the booth (note my use of possibly incorrect radio lingo), Labhrás and Muireann are doing their usual Boris and Natasha routine and scheming about something that will turn out to be less shocking than they’re making it out to be.

Tadhg and Áine have arrived at Maggie’s for some trick-or-treating, and it takes us a while to realize Tadhg is wearing a mask of some kind. I’m not sure what it is, but it looks like a Mexican Day of the Dead mask made out of a de-sewn baseball and then left to melt in the sun all day. Throughout this scene Maggie is listening to, like, big band music, and we keep waiting for her to break into the Charleston. How old is she? She produces a shoebox full of sweets and starts shoveling them into Pirate Áine’s plastic pail with both hands, and Tadhg tries to drag her off once he sees there’s enough candy in there to make an elephant throw up. Then Áine smells biscuits in the oven, which was clearly part of Maggie’s elaborate scheme to lure Tadhg there and then show him her Great Pumpkin. In spite of his best efforts to extricate Áine and go home, they end up settling in for the evening, after Áine does a bit of light-to-moderate snooping around Maggie’s house that we hope will not end with a trip into her sex cupboard.

At the café, Dee tells Mack she doesn’t want to go to the pub tonight because his friends don’t like her and are also complete dicks. She accurately reports the way they Mean Girled her earlier, but he thinks she’s just making a big deal out of nothing, like that time she got all bent out of shape just because he got her sister pregnant. She sighs, and I guess on the plus side, this storyline is dishing out character assassination fairly evenly now, rather than just to Dee like in the beginning.

Back at Maggie’s, she’s giving baking lessons to Áine, who keeps trying to eat the flour and so on. Tadhg’s discomfort has faded and now he’s looking on smilingly, as if he’s wondering if Maggie will fit into Frances’ clothes or if he’ll have to buy her a whole new wardrobe when he moves her into the pub. Áine starts asking her a bunch of personal questions such as why Maggie doesn’t have any children, assuring her that not being married is not a problem these days. Tadhg lets this line of questioning go on for a while before telling Áine to knock it off and mind her own business, although of course if this were about anyone other than Maggie, he would proclaim that her getting pregnant at this point would land her in the Guinness Book of World Records and then throw her out of his pub.

Evan has returned to the B&B Fia-less, explaining to Máire that he waited for her at the filhy squat so long he caught Hepatitises A through G, but she never showed up. She starts to wonder if Fia and Pól have run off together, hopefully to someplace where every surface isn’t sticky, and Evan grimly suggests it’s time to go to the Gardaí, because it’s been a while since they’ve been bothered by any nonsense from Ros na Rún.

Áine has decided Maggie’s place is Dullsville and wants to go turn over a few other houses, but now it’s Tadhg who doesn’t want to leave, because he hasn’t eaten half a bag of flour and a dozen eggs and is therefore still hungry. Maggie sends Áine over to ramble through a drawer full of old buttons she had as a girl, inviting her to keep any she likes, which is very sweet, even though we still are Scooby-Dubious about her intentions with Tadhg. Áine toddles off, finding an old ring along the way, and then Maggie sexily pours Tadhg a cup of tea. The soundtrack has moved forward several decades to the ‘60s, but it’s some mopey Eurovision thing and not, say, “White Rabbit,” which would have been much funnier.

Back at Radio Give Muireann Money, Boris and Natasha inform Micheál that Amy’s station-launching interview with a compost pile has been canceled in favor of an interview with famously crooked local shyster Malachaí, who is here to announce he’s running for town sewage minister or whatever and is clearly in cahoots with Muireann. We sense that Labhrás is mostly along for the ride here, just grateful to be out of the house getting some fresh air, though of course if some ill-gotten gains were to splatter on him, he wouldn’t be opposed to it. Micheál retorts that Malachaí won’t be promoting his campaign on this station, reminding them that its purpose to “entice young people,” which again sounds like he’s trying to lure them into a windowless van. Muireann counters that they are doing this for the yoof of today, because 150-year-old Whig party representative Malachaí is all about the children, who he believes are our future. She continues that Malachaí has an in with the VIPs at Ireland’s Villagiest Village, which is apparently still a thing, and that kissing his ass could improve their odds in the competition. Someday I want to walk into Tigh Thaidhg and ask, “Hi, is this Ireland’s Villagiest Village?” so he can hurl abuse at me. Once she finishes rattling on, Micheál informs her that she can buzz off because none of this will actually be happening, and reminds her again that he’s done all this for the benefit of the young people, whom he’s never cared about until this storyline. I guess he needs something to occupy his time until the Winter Olympics start. Muireann acts like butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth to an extent that would make even Berni vomit with rage, and she guilts him some more about how if Ros na Rún doesn’t win Ireland’s Villagiest Village, the young people of the village will be taken out in the street one by one and shot, starting with Réailitín.

The Adulterous Irish Bake-Off rages on at Maggie’s, and Áine produces the ring from earlier, which causes Maggie to freak out, snatch it away from her, and hide it, and Tadhg thinks he recognizes it. She announces frantically that it’s time for them to feck off home now, but Tadhg wants to stay and make a big scene about this, and I’m getting whiplash over who wants to go and who wants to stay at this point.

After the break, people in costumes all along the sucking/non-sucking spectrum are running around the pub screaming for no reason, which reminds me that I hate Halloween. The highlights are, predictably, Bobbi-Lee as an S&M vampire and Pádraig as a disco matador, neither of which is that far from their everyday looks, I suppose, but they look fab. Grainne and David are the sun and the moon, and Mack and Dee have complicated conceptual costumes I won’t bother describing, and I’m not sure what Mo is supposed to be, but the important thing is they are still excluding Dee, which causes her to be annoyed at Mack instead of yelling at them to all to get over themselves and then going home.

Tadhg sends Áine out to wait in the car so he can confront Maggie about the ring, but she tries to shoo him off because she needs to go listen to her “radio drama.” Of course she does. He seems genuinely touched—and rattled—that she’s held on to this ring he gave her all this time, and I’m not sure where in the backstory we’ve heard about their relationship he would’ve given her a ring, but OK. She lies and says it’s a different ring, and that some old lady she worked for gave it to her, because as we all know, employees in America are usually paid in engagement rings rather than cash. She reminds him that Frances will be waiting for him, and after he finally remembers who Frances is and leaves, she exchanges meaningful glances with the ring and looks stricken.

Meanwhile, Micheál tries to convince Amy that letting Malachaí use the radio station as his own personal propaganda outlet will help the town win Ireland’s Villagiest Village, but she informs him this is all a big steaming pile and she refuses to play any part in it. A mini Bolshevik Revolution breaks out, in keeping with the ongoing Boris and Natasha theme, but sadly instead of executing the czar and czarina, Amy just storms out in a huff.

Back at the pub, Áine is explaining to Frances that while at Maggie’s they had to do a signature bake, a technical challenge, and a showstopper, which is why they were gone for six hours. She also volunteers that her dad helped bake, which surprises Frances because in all the years they’ve been married, she’s never seen Tadhg be helpful in any way. She’s going to be really surprised when Áine reports that Mary Berry was also over at Maggie’s, just looking for something—anything—to judge. "Scrummy!"

Evan and Máire return to the B&B looking defeated, and Evan in particular is annoyed that the Gardaí didn’t send over a SWAT team with tanks and helicopters to blow up the squat. Máire, on the other hand, is just sad that they said they can’t do anything, and Evan explains to her for what’s clearly not the first time that the problem is that Fia is with Pól of her own free will, so they can’t send the Kidnap Squad after them. For everyone’s benefit, Máire again recaps Pól’s greatest hits, including burning down An Teaghlach, pulling a knife on Áine, and “The Macarena.” Well, in Pól’s defense, Áine was the one who pulled the knife on him. Anyway, can we go ahead and skip ahead to the part where Fia and Pól drive their car into the Grand Canyon to evade the police?

Back at the pub, the Mean Girls are trying to outdo each other by telling the scariest story, but Bobbi-Lee complains that if they don’t stop, she’ll have nightmares. You’d think she’d have a higher tolerance for horror after all these years of living with Berni. Mack tries to get Dee to tell one of her famous Donegal ghost stories, but she refuses because she doesn’t want to give them another opportunity to reject her right now, and besides, none of them can understand her comical accent anyway. She deflects to her dad and gets him to do it, so he starts telling a story of a scary, possibly haunted house everyone was warned to stay away from, and as he’s telling it, we do an artistic fadeout to Maggie’s house, where she’s sitting by the fire looking at the ring and crying when she decides to have an asthma attack. She grabs her inhaler, but it turns out to be empty, as is the one in her purse, which demonstrates a lot of poor planning on her part, so then she goes to the drawer where Áine was playing earlier and finds—oh, dear—no inhaler. I blame the HSE.

She yanks the drawer out and dumps its contents onto the floor, her wheezing becoming increasing desperate, and meanwhile, the woman in John Joe’s voiceover story is getting her throat squeezed by an invisible hand. This is all a bit on the nose, or the windpipe I guess, but it’s very, err, gripping anyway. Eventually he screws up the story and Dee tells it the right way, which is indeed better, and the lights go out in the pub at the scary part, which causes Bobbi-Lee to scream, because she’s only used to the power going out when she’s emptied Berni’s bank account and caused the check to the electric company to bounce. Anyway, Dee has won everyone over with her quality storytelling, so they all decide they like her now after all. We cut to Maggie’s again, where she’s grabbing her throat and slumping down in a chair, and then we’re upstairs at the pub, where Áine is emptying her Halloween pail and finds Maggie’s inhaler, which she decides is a toy gun and starts firing into the air.

We return one last time to Maggie’s, where the power goes out. She tries to crawl to her phone in the darkness, but of course she collapses onto the floor just short of it, and as the episode ends, she looks quite lifeless indeed, her glassy eyes focused on the ring. Well, so ends the Tadhg/Maggie story, I guess.

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