Season 22, Episode 33
First aired December 26 2017
We open upstairs at the pub where it first looks like Tadhg is doing jazzercise, but it turns out it’s just a highly choreographed yawn. Strictly Come Yawning. Maggie, in her night things, sashays into the kitchen, and in the ensuing conversation we learn that Tadhg’s been sleeping in Áine’s bed, which is why he’s so stiff and exhausted. (Get your mind out of the gutter—it’s Christmas, for God’s sake.) He makes a big production out of struggling to put his wristwatch on, which gives her a chance to feel his bicep and stand very close to his whatever, and it looks like they might kiss, or alternatively rake all the dishes off the counter and have sex on it, but then they decide to put the kettle on instead. It’s a Christmas miracle!
Outside, a band of roving—well, I don’t know what they are, but they appear to be the Mamas & the Papas—harass Briain and David until they give them money to go away. This is either a holiday tradition I am unfamiliar with or an elaborate fancy-dress protection racket. Once they leave to terrorize the next batch of innocent pedestrians—hopefully Máire, since she’s about seven-eighths of the way to a heart attack at all times anyway—Briain starts apologizing to David for being constantly underfoot and assures him he’ll move out as soon as he can find his own place. David tells him there’s no rush, but just then a sour-faced Pádraig makes a show out of squeezing past and shooting daggers at them both, so it seems he’s not happy about the new living arrangements. There’s only room for one interloper in that house, no matter how newly gay Briain claims to be. At this, David gives Briain some friendly advice on how to get along with the more persnickety residents of the house, such as putting the milk back in the fridge after he’s done drinking it straight out of the carton and also flushing the bog after doing his filthy, filthy business.
Just then a passing Berni inserts herself into the conversation, wearing one of the elaborate “as seen on the Titanic” hats she and Caitríona are so fond of, but it quickly becomes clear that David is totally pissed off at her for chucking his poor cousin or nephew Briain out on the street. He stomps off in a huff, and Briain remarks that Berni’s brilliant Operation: Gay plan isn’t as easy as they thought it would be. Everybody who thought this plan had any chance of succeeding whatsoever, raise your hand. Berni purses her lips and says it’ll continue being a mess as long as he’s living at David and Gráinne’s, hmph!, so it seems she’s not going to be satisfied until she’s literally got him living in a dumpster. He tries to tell her that he’s not comfortable with all this lying, but she interrupts to volunteer brightly that she’ll look through the “to let” section of the paper to see if there are any rentals going in the area. Great, that’ll save him eleven seconds. He shouts that she’s not even listening to him and storms off, leaving her and her 1920s Olympic swim cap looking confused.
A load of people have gathered by a car for some reason, and eventually we gather that Mo and Colm are going out of town together somewhere and she’s asked Gráinne to pop in and check on the house while they’re away. I guess Uncle Peatsaí has officially Left The Building. She rattles off a list of tasks for Gráinne, such as opening the windows for 15 minutes twice a day to let the evil spirits out and taking the sofa out for a nice walk so it won’t get lonely, and just as it’s becoming clear that Gráinne is not going to do any of this and may in fact burn the house down later today just to save herself time, Berni walks by and starts eavesdropping. Mo huffs off and Gráinne rolls her eyes a lot, and we can tell from the self-satisfied look on Berni’s face that in her head she’s already transformed the place into an Intermittently Gay Secret Sex Hut.
At the shop, Seán and Annette are arguing over which of them has less money and who is more downtrodden. I would say he wins by default because he’s the one who has to deal with her. It seems the bank is after her because she’s missed a mortgage payment, and someone called Mr. Scrimscram or similar is after him because he’s a Dickensian orphan. He encourages her to “borrow” €200 from the till because there’s a dead cert down at the track today, so she acts smug and superior for a while about his stealing and gambling, having forgotten her own checkered past of theft and insurance fraud. Elsewhere in the shop, Mo has a Christmas surprise visitor: Úna! She says her boyfriend/husband/whatever Aiden had to spend Christmas at work, which may or may not be the same way Jason couldn’t come home because he “had to work,” so she decided to come spend time with her daughter Mo, who is of course on her way out of town. I’m glad Úna has turned up in the current episodes so I don’t have to keep being coy about having seen her when I was in Ros na Rún a couple of weeks ago. I sat with my back to her in the café scene in which I was an extra, and she was lovely to chat with, and I can assure you in my 100% gay, totally non-lecherous way that her eyes are STUNNING.
Back at the Asthma Rehabilitation Ward, Maggie and Tadhg have heated up some frozen soup, which fortunately for us all is not a euphemism. She burbles that it was very kind of Frances to let Tadhg skip out on the family Christmas to take care of her, and he lets her keep believing that’s what happened, although we suspect Frances will be correcting that misconception PDQ. I’m curious how Tadhg explained to Mo and Bobbi-Lee why he hung around all Christmas while Frances and Áine went away AND why Maggie was there, and am even more curious where the hell Frances thinks he’s been all this time, but there’s no time to think about it right now, because he’s just realized that he’s forgotten to open the pub for the day because he’s been so busy bringing Maggie's broth to a boil. They exchange meaningful glances for a while, and then she has an erotic coughing fit, so he offers to make some punch to get her drunk.
And speaking of things that are about to get Maggie punchdrunk, here comes Frances! YASSSSS! She’s surprised to find the place shut and the Mamas & the Papas from earlier banging on the door, and is even more surprised when she lets herself in and finds Tadhg at the bar ignoring the ruckus and making a hot toddy in tortoise-like fashion. Hopefully this concoction also has anti-diarrheal properties, because he looks like he’s going to need it when he turns around and sees Frances giving him a brilliant, silent “WTF?” shrug. He stammers that he wasn’t expecting her back until tomorrow, obviously, but before she can decapitate him with her purse, Áine enters, presumably having followed Frances home from Dublin in a stolen bus. So now he’s got Frances and Áine furious at him for skipping Christmas with them and giving him death stares from the doorway. He makes up a story about having to pick up a body and do a funeral over Christmas, which Áine clearly doesn’t give two shits about, so Frances sends her off to the shop to buy sweets and orders Tadhg to get his arse upstairs because he’s got some ‘splaining to do. He looks sick and swallows hard, clearly hoping Maggie has jumped out the window and dragged her broken bones away down the street while all this has been going on.
It seems there’s been no room at several inns, so Úna has been deposited at John Joe’s manger for the duration of her visit. You might think her arrival would solve the problem of somebody needing to look after Mo’s while she and Colm are away, but computer says no. It seems Mack and Katy have decided to spend the day drunk and are already about halfway there, which of course Dee disapproves of, so there are a lot of Scenes from the Class Struggle in Ros na Rún in which Dee wants them to drink beer out of champagne flutes and they want to drink it out of bowls on the floor. Mack and Katy are giggly and practically sitting in each other’s laps on the sofa, which nobody seems to notice except Úna, who of course susses out exactly what’s going on here within thirty seconds of her arrival. It seems her eyebrow-raising muscles are going to get quite a workout during this visit.
Frances has dragged Tadhg upstairs shouting at him, but before she can even shift the warp engines into HyperFight, she’s interrupted by the sounds of come-hither coughing from the bedroom. There’s a fantastic moment in which she and Tadhg are both frozen in silence, and then she asks, “What was that?” Before he can start telling her that sometimes old buildings cough as they settle, Maggie appears from the bedroom, still in her bathrobe, and the two women make long, silent eye contact. OH, SHIT.
After the break, during which we all popped some popcorn because things are about to get GOOD, we pick up right where we left off. Frances brilliantly announces, “I didn’t know we had company,” and when Maggie sincerely replies, “I thought Tadhg told you I was staying here,” there’s a moment of silence and then you can practically see the floor drop out from under all three of them. Maggie apologizes to Frances and flees to the other room, and then Frances hisses at Tadhg, “Did she come out of our bedroom?” He tries to keep cool as he replies calmly that Maggie was sick, with no heat in her house and no way to get oil until after the holidays, and Frances’ slow burn really is a thing of beauty as she tries to hold it together. He then decides to present himself as a good Samaritan who was doing the charitable thing, taking care of the poor and sick over Christmas, but Frances is having none of it, shouting that she and Áine needed him at Christmas, not bloody Maggie. Just then Bloody Maggie re-emerges, having put some clothes on for what we suspect is the first time in several days, and Frances almost runs smack into her on the way out the door, then turns around and hisses at Tadhg, “Get rid of her!” She exits, and Maggie starts to grab her coat and do the same, but Tadhg begs her not to be angry at him. She hisses that he said Frances knew about this, and he lies and says he told her, but she “wouldn’t understand,” whatever that’s supposed to mean. I know I might have been giving Maggie…just a little bit of a hard time lately, but she does look genuinely devastated by this turn of events, and the acting in this scene really is splendid.
There’s a terrific smash cut as Tadhg’s slamming his hand on the table becomes a Christmas cracker popping open, and we’re at the Dalys’, where Mack and Katy are acting like drunk children and Dee, today in the role of Disapproving Mam, is telling them to knock it off and behave at the dinner table. Clearly Mack and Katy’s acting up has gotten in the way of Dee’s Nigella-inspired Posh Christmas. Katy tries to get Dee to pull a cracker with her, but she refuses because she’s no fun and has Got Notions, and so Mack does it in her place and then he and Katy giggle and lean into each other for 15 more minutes. Úna is watching all this warily, because she’s the only one at this table who’s obtained the Rosetta Stone necessary to unlock the secrets of Mack’s indecipherable feelings. She tries to rein things in by noting drily that Katy must miss Jason and Cuán, and after a moment of not remembering who they are, Katy agrees half-heartedly that yes, yes, she misses Jasper and Coocoo a lot and that Easter just isn’t the same without them, but that Mack’s bare forearms have gone a long way towards consoling her. That last part is implied. Úna marvels over Katy’s heroic ability to get drunk and have fun with Mack’s arms in spite of her pain, and then bugs her eyes out at Mack, who hilariously responds by shoving a forkful of food in his mouth and glaring at her. Ahh, brothers and sisters.
A shell-shocked Maggie returns home alone, coughing halfheartedly. You can tell she’s devastated because she can’t even throw herself fully into hacking up a lung anymore. She looks mortified at what’s just happened, and also shivers in the cold. Well, time for her to go back to America.
Back at the pub, Tadhg is knocking back shots and waiting for Frances to murder him. At the bar, Berni tells David that based on his freakout this morning, she suspects he has a problem with Briain being in on top of him, which is funny, because she herself has never minded having Briain in on top of her. Anyway, he interrupts to tell her he knows she’s arranged to have Briain go stay at Mo’s and to stop acting like she did him a big favor because he knows what she’s playing at. We get the first “Gabh mo leithscéal?” in offended disbelief we’ve had from Berni in a while, and David explains that he knows she’s just set it up to soothe her guilt about chucking a man out in the street just for being gay, and to try to save face in the village since everyone has now added “homophobia” to their collective list of reasons they dislike her. She declares this seafóid, and then explains that she has no problem with homosexuals, having in fact accidentally danced to an Erasure record at a wedding once, and points out that Evan is the one who was uncomfortable having a big ‘mo around the house. Which is, you know, exactly what happened, but you’d think most mothers wouldn’t be in such a rush to throw their children under the bus. David concludes that whatever the problem is, Briain has been down in the dumps ever since he came to live with him, which Berni would know if she ever paid attention to anyone other than herself. Kaboom!
Back at the Dalys’, Úna is standing around pretending to scrape food off plates until she and Mack are alone in the kitchen, which gives her the opportunity to ask how long he and Katy have been sleeping together and why hasn’t Dee killed them both yet. She adds that Katy doesn’t seem to miss Jason much, either, and to be fair, Úna probably wouldn’t find that so odd if she’d spent any time whatsoever around Jason lately. Mack says she’s imagining things and tells her to knock it off, but she reminds him that people find their soulmates when they’re already in bad relationships all the time, such as herself and Aidan, and Cher and all of her husbands. He weakly protests that he’s happy with Dee, and after we all finish laughing, he says he can’t just swap her out for Katy, because it’s well past the return period and he lost the receipt anyway. There’s back-and-forthing for a while, and finally John Joe puts a stop to it by coming in and saying that the game of charades is about to start, which is of course always TV shorthand for “dysfunctional relationship,” especially on Christmas.
Tadhg has finally gotten around to opening the pub, and the usual barflies are paying no attention to the fact that he and Frances are having a row, because they learned to tune that out years ago. He spits that he doesn’t know what she wants from him, because she asked him to get rid of Maggie, which he did, and now UNBELIEVABLY she’s still not happy. Yes, Frances is the unreasonable one here. She hisses, “She was asleep in our bed, Tadhg,” and he asks her what exactly she’s accusing him of, and this is an interesting approach he’s choosing to take in this battle, setting himself up as the reasonable one and aggrieved party and trying to make Frances the crazy one. I guess he figures his only hope of survival is to confuse her and get her doubting herself, because if he just plows head on into the oncoming train of her fury, he’s just going to get flattened. He even adds that he was the one who suffered for his good deed, because Maggie blathered on the whole time she was here about how great America is, with its outlet malls and Real Housewives and KFC home delivery. Frances asks why he didn’t tell her about any of this over the phone, and he dodges the question and instead accuses her of being the crazy unreasonable one some more before wandering away. This tactic is either going to save his skin or cause Frances to puree him into a fine froth and serve him to Maggie over ice with some Bailey’s on New Year’s Eve.
Berni stops by Mo’s to apologize to Briain about how self-absorbed she was being, but of course she needs to be more specific since “self-absorbed” is her default power-saving mode. He forgives her because he is young and horny, and the great thing about Berni is that she never learns any lessons from any of her bad behavior, and will do exactly the same thing next time. She admits it was a stupid idea to tell everyone Briain was gay just to hide their tracks, and they keep talking about this fake coming-out as if it’s all in the past. I find it hard to believe Briain would be so blasé about this, especially given that his cousin or uncle David will have obviously called the relatives back home and discussed this with them, so now basically everyone in Ireland thinks Briain is gay. I do hope we’ll at least get to see Pádraig fly all up in Briain’s face over this nonsense. Berni says they’ll have to think of another ludicrous plan to clean up the mess the first ludicrous plan made, which I really hope involves someone dressing up like a ghost to scare Mack, and Briain agrees that they can talk about that later, but right now what they need to do is go have sex in Mo’s bed.
At the shop, Gráinne and Vince are discussing how much money they’ve raised for homeless windmills, and I don’t remember how Vince got involved in this, but the important thing is that he’s waving a big wad of cash around and announcing loudly in front of Annette that he’s going to put it in the safe until the credit union opens. Caitríona shows up and acts obnoxious for a while, bragging loudly to no one in particular that Vince really spoiled her and Maeve over Christmas, lavishing them with gifts such as diamond bicycles and perfume made from smushed unicorns. Gráinne and Annette roll their eyes at each other, and Vince looks embarrassed, and then Gráinne points out that all she got was a pair of wellies, and she was happy about it. She leaves, and Caitríona makes a lot of proclamations to Vince along the lines of “Being rich is fabulous!” and “I had panda tartare for lunch!” Annette fumes, and then she and Caitríona are bitchy to each other for a while, and really, the only time I enjoy Annette is when she’s being a thorn in Caitríona’s side.
There’s an extended charades game that I think is supposed to demonstrate that Mack and Katy are much more suited to each other than Mack and Dee are, but mostly what it shows us is that all of these people are terrible at charades, and also that Dee doesn’t know the difference between singing and projectile vomiting. Katy and Mack jump up and down and hug some more, and she bops past his face a few times in her TOTALLY Christmas-appropriate sparkly top and spray-on leather trousers, and then he and Úna bug their eyes out at each other again and he makes his hangdog “there’s no way for me to win!” face. I do love Mack.
Back at the shop, Annette sadly totals up her sad groceries and then finds she doesn’t have the €6 she needs to pay for them, so she writes an “Annette owes €6” Post-It and sticks it on the till. Well, the important thing here is that Adam will get blamed for this somehow.
Frances has dragged a sulky Áine behind the bar and forces her to give Tadhg the presents she didn’t get a chance to give him on Christmas, though it appears she would be more interested in applying them to Daddy rectally. After much prodding, she shoves the box at his chest and is like, “I would’ve given them to you yesterday, but you didn’t bother showing up, you big shite.” Ouch. It turns out she’s gotten him a little transistor radio, which I didn’t know still existed, and explains that he can use it to listen to the play-by-play commentary when she’s winning the World Cup for Portugal and so on. There’s also a jaunty flat cap of the sort men over the age of 40 all own, including me, but that only David Gandy and Brad Pitt look good in. He says he loves them, and adds, “With gifts like these, you can be sure that I’ll never miss a Christmas ever again,” a line that could go either way, but seems to win Áine back. She makes him pinky-swear and then toddles off to bed, and when Frances says grimly that he shouldn’t make promises he can’t keep, he replies that he’ll be able to keep this one. It’ll be easier since all signs point toward Maggie being dead one way or another before next Christmas.
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