Saturday, January 27, 2018

In These Shoes?

Season 22, Episode 41
First aired 23 January 2018

We open with Mo out jogging, but today she’s in the middle of town rather than out in the remote Sahara Desert like sometimes. She seems to be struggling, stopping to lean against a wall and catch her breath, and just then Caitríona materializes to talk to her about cosmetics, which is of course what everyone wants when they’re already feeling bad. It seems a wedding “make-up trial” has been scheduled for later today, which will consist of Caitríona beating Mo and Gráinne with a powder puff and then chasing them around the room with mascara and probably some kind of grooming device that gets extremely hot. Mo replies that she is able to find the parts of her face without any help, but Caitríona responds with what we in the American South call a “bless your heart” attitude. Example: “Poor Doris actually thought that Dorito-and-ketchup ‘lasagna’ she brought to the church picnic was good, bless her heart!” “Well, she hasn’t been the same since she fell off that waterslide on her trip to Orlando, Florida, bless her heart.” Anyway, after Caitríona informs Mo that for the sake of the photos and of humanity she and Gráinne better let her handle their makeup, bless their hearts, she leaves and Frances wanders up and says an assortment of pitiful things to express how sad she is. Mo replies that jogging is nature’s wedding party or something, which seems a bit odd as a response to the thing Frances actually said, but is here to remind us that running has become very important to our Mo and it would be very sad and symbolic indeed if something were to happen that forced her to quit.

In their kitchen, David and Gráinne are theoretically writing their vows, which mostly consists of Gráinne clicking her ballpoint pen 1,000 times per minute. Of course this would be intensely annoying to anyone with a head, but it’s especially irksome to Pádraig, who we shall say charitably is wound very tightly at the moment, presumably due to economic uncertainty both at home and abroad as well as the fact that Sonia is being a complete horror about Sam, even from her coma. He’s ironing nearby, and as David and Gráinne chatter inanely and the clicking reaches a fever pitch, we all go on a multimedia LSD trip with him in which time and sound telescope into a quantum singularity centered on the fecking pen. He snaps at her to knock it off, and everyone looks shocked despite the fact that it’s frankly a rather muted response to one of the most irritating things in the world. My opinion may be shaped by the fact that I live in a country in which the normal reaction to someone snapping their chewing gum is to drive your car into his or her face. Gráinne flees to the bedroom, David glares at Pádraig, and Pádraig looks like he regrets ever being assembled from a heap of carbon and, err, whatever other molecules people are made of. I want to say zinc.

Frances exits the shop reading the latest issue of Soldiering On Bravely In The Face Of Adversity & Also Ten-Minute Weeknight Dinners magazine when she sees Tadhg wander out of the pub looking pensive down the street. She swallows hard and starts fixing her hair, but before she can go over there, Maggie emerges from the pub and starts swanning around like she owns the place, with her snooty face and smug purse. Tadhg touches her arm lovingly, and Frances turns away, fighting back the tears. Well, I sure hope this is the saddest thing that happens this episode.

Back at Complicated Paternity HQ, David is still glaring at Pádraig, and I like imagining that Pádraig has been going about his business for some time now with David just standing there glaring at the fixed spot on the floor where Pengate happened. Pádraig gets a text he first claims is good news, which we all assume means Sonia has died and now the party planning can begin. Then he’s evasive for a while and David pressures him intensely about what’s really going on (i.e. asks, “What’s really going on?”), and it looks like he may finally spill the beans. So anyway, I was thinking that the official song of Sonia’s funeral could be “Don’t Stop Movin’,” and we can say the “S” in “S Club 7” stands for “Sonia.”

Bobbi-Lee is multitasking at the pub, which means looking at a magazine while playing with her hair. I’m glad last week’s titan-of-industry phase is over. Dee arrives looking for Frances, who left her keys in the toaster or whatever when she left the house this morning, but Bobbi-Lee says she hasn’t seen her, although she thinks hearing some juicy gossip might jog her memory. Caitríona is also sitting there drinking coffee, hard at work at the radio station or salon as usual, and she mentions that Frances certainly looked bet down when she saw her earlier today but quickly clarifies that she means that in a supportive, non-gossipy female solidarity way. Bobbi-Lee is much better at sneakily extracting gossip from people than Caitríona, who is more about burning them with a hot curling iron and then waterboarding them, so she tries her trick where she pretends to already know everything that’s going on so the person with the dirt will accidentally dish it. As a lawyer, solicitor, barrister, and haberdasher, Dee recognizes a big load when she hears one, so she walks off, leaving Bobbi-Lee to tell Caitríona she thinks Tadhg has another woman and that she knows who it is, but she’s going to keep it under her cowboy hat for now. Hopefully she will choose an appropriate moment to confront Tadhg and Berni with her theory, such as by shouting it across the room at them during Áine’s birthday party.

Mo returns home from her run and sighs to Colm that her time is seven minutes slower than usual. I assume she’s not including the time she spent being harassed by Caitríona and listening to Frances mope. Just then she gets a call from the doctor’s office asking her to come in regarding the results of the scope she went for on Friday. OH, GOD. She says she’ll be right over, and the two of them hypothesize that it must be good news, which either demonstrates that they’re very naïve or that things work very differently in Ireland, because in the U.S. the doctor’s office will leave good news on your voicemail or on a scrap of paper under your windshield wiper, but if they want you to come in, it’s ALWAYS terrible, terrible news. She declares that she’ll be running that half marathon that’s on her bucket list in no time, and she’s very happy about it and about life in general, which of course means something awful must be about to happen to her.

Back at their place, David is sputtering in disbelief that Pádraig was married and has a nine-year-old son he didn’t bother telling anyone about until just now. Well, to be fair, he was distracted with the restaurant, his driving lessons, and all those Adam-related shenanigans. He tells David that Sonia isn’t getting any better, keeping in mind that “better” is a relative term when applied to her, and that Sam’s been staying with a friend of theirs. David seems to think that’s the best place for Sam to be right now given that Pádraig is basically a stranger to him, but Pádraig disagrees and says he’s going down to the hospital right now to ambush Helen and give her a piece of his mind. David says he’ll go with him because he has “a lot of experience with things like this.” Pádraig agrees and thanks him for being such a good friend, though he’ll probably change his tune when, thanks to David’s expertise, he gets thrown in jail for non-payment of 9 years of back child support and Sam is deported to Mexico.

Tadhg is reading the paper at his kitchen table when Áine appears and brightly asks him what he thought of her soccer game/spelling bee/hula-hoop contest last night. They’re so cute together that we almost forget that we’re angry with him and not speaking to him right now. Frances arrives and sends Áine to her room to collect the clothes they came over here for, and Áine ignores her and continues asking Tadhg about the part where she scored that goal by bouncing the ball off the head of that old lady in the stands. Tadhg gives her a fiver, and Frances calmly but firmly asks her again to go get her clothes like a good girl, and this time Áine makes a big production out of ignoring her like she’s a buzzing gnat and focusing all her attention on Tadhg. He senses that his presence is not helping things here and excuses himself to whatever other room we are supposed to think they have up there, and when Frances brightly tries to hurry Áine along, Áine acts like a complete snot and does everything but flip her the bird as she walks by.

Mo leaves the doctor’s office in a daze, OH GOD, and looks like she’s completely out of it with shock, OH GOD OH GOD OH GOD.

Back at the pub, Áine is on her knees taking all her little magnets off the fridge. Frances is surprised and asks her what she’s doing, because she’s supposed to be collecting some vests and socks and other essentials, but Áine says she’s packing all her favorite things since she won’t be living here anymore, which is very sad and poignant until Áine turns on her and spits that this is all Frances’ fault because she must’ve done something awful to make Tadhg not want to be her friend anymore. She adds a spiteful “You ruin everything!” for good measure, and poor Frances looks like she’s been stabbed in the gut at this turn of events. Apparently nobody’s told Áine you’re not supposed to hate your mother until you’re a teenager.

Downstairs, Mo grimly sits down at the bar and softly orders a cup of tea, but Bobbi-Lee is more interested in excitedly spreading gossip and speculating on the holy war that’s sure to break out around here at any moment. Hopefully a baby will be taken hostage with a flare gun like on Fair City, which is my new minimum standard for soap-opera excitement. She starts telling her about what foul moods Tadhg and Frances are in, which to be fair has been their default for the entire three years I’ve been watching this show, but then Tadhg interrupts by plopping a parcel down on the bar in front of Mo and informing her that this isn’t a post office. I have no idea why Bobbi-Lee and Mo keep having their mail delivered to the pub, but I suppose it does make things more convenient for storytelling purposes. Berni flounces up and pulls Tadhg aside to have a word, which of course we know is all about this soccer-bus situation she has inserted herself into for no reason, but it certainly pours gas on the fire of Bobbi-Lee’s theory that the two of them are having an affair. In her defense, they are acting strangely flirty and spraying out ambiguous body language all over the place, so if I were in her shoes, I’d think something was going on between them as well.

Over at a table, Mo opens her parcel to reveal it’s a nice new pair of running shoes she’s ordered, in happy nuclear pink and green, and she looks pained. John Joe comes over to admire them and asks Mo if she’s running a marathon, and she’s evasive and distracted and says she will, hopefully. She grabs them up and flees, and he follows her out and calls her name, asking her what’s wrong. She says she’s fine, but he says he can tell she’s not, and eventually she cracks and confesses to him that she has cancer.

After the break, during which we screamed at the TV, sat on the floor rocking back and forth in a fetal position, and ate an entire chocolate cake, we find David and Pádraig waiting to ambush Helen in the infamous corridor of the hospital set, site of such classic moments as Jason choking Mack and everybody screaming at Dee. She arrives, and it turns out she and David know each other from university, although their body language and general shiftiness suggest that perhaps they shared more than their sociology notes with each other. I mean they probably Did It. She’s pleasantly surprised to discover that David and Pádraig are friends, and Helen really seems to be a genuinely decent person, which probably means next week we will find out there’s a pile of torsos in her shed. She tells them that Sam’s doing OK, but there’s a problem: she’s got to go to a conference in Bristol soon, and she can’t take him with her, so she’s decided to put him in foster care. Well, she says something like “get advice from social services,” but it basically sounds like she’s decided to make him a ward of the state because he can’t stay in the hotel room in Bristol watching TV for a few hours while she goes to her conference. Pádraig understandably looks stricken because this is a terrible plan, and a quick Google search reveals that there is an IKEA in Bristol, so she could always drop him off at Småland in the morning with €5 pinned to his jacket for some meatballs and then pick him up at dinnertime.

On a park bench, John Joe does an awful job of hiding his horror when Mo tells him she has bowel cancer, but then remembers he’s supposed to be comforting her, so he adds that he’s sure they’ll get rid of it. She’s still shell shocked, replying that she didn’t even feel sick, just tired, but he reminds her that she’s not alone and has many people who care about her, such as Gráinne, Mack, Colm, Úna, Pól, her ex Dull Tony who said she’s only the second worst person he’s ever met, etc. She says she doesn’t want to bother anyone with her problems when they all have their own burdens to deal with, such as Gráinne having to accept the fact that she’s marrying David and Mack having just started that new dot-to-dot book. John Joe reminds her she can’t keep this a secret forever, especially from Colm, who happens to be in the top 50 percent of town intelligence-wise. That means he’s able to operate a DVD player. She says she doesn’t want to worry him until she finds out exactly what her prognosis is, and although she isn’t threatening John Joe to keep schtum yet, we know it’s only a matter of time.

A small mobile Boots makeup counter has been installed in Gráinne’s kitchen, and like the staff at regular Boots, Caitríona is unhappy about being there and wants to make sure everyone knows it. Among her many complaints is the fact that Mo is a no-show, and just then Gráinne gets a text from her saying she’s sick and isn’t going to make it. Caitríona declares this seafóid since she saw Mo out running earlier today, which is of course proof that she can’t possibly be sick since “earlier today” and “now” are the same thing. She talks a little more shit about Mo and then starts applying foundation to Gráinne’s forehead with a trowel. I hope this turns out like that time Caitríona was doing a photo shoot for the Loinnir brochure and dipped her head in a vat of makeup until she looked like Krusty the Clown.

Back at the hospital, Pádraig is trying to convince Helen that Sonia probably wouldn’t want Sam to be put in foster care no matter how much Helen wants to go on her ski weekend to Brighton. She says she has no choice because there’s absolutely nobody else. Errr, did I miss the part where she was declared Sam’s legal guardian? I don’t think the mother’s friend gets to send the child to an orphanage when there’s a perfectly good adequate father IN THE ROOM. Pádraig replies, “Me! He has me!”, but for some reason does it in a smiling, excited manner as if he’s 7 and has just realized he has enough birthday money to buy the model plane he wants rather than getting indignant and yelling it as if he can’t believe what a complete dumbass she’s being. I love Pádraig, but there are times I wish he’d be more RuPaul and less Archbishop of Canterbury. David puts on his social worker hat and reminds Helen that in cases like these it’s almost always better that the child be placed with the estranged gay father than shipped to Burma to work in a Nike factory, but she frets that she’s between a rock and a hard place and doesn’t know what to do. More like she’s stuck between a dumb place and a dumber place. After 27 minutes of arguing, David volunteers that he’ll be able to help Pádraig keep Sam fed and watered since they’re housemates, which seems to appease her since she doesn’t know that when David cares for children, someone always ends up on fire or having his stomach pumped.

Tadhg and Frances appear behind the bar and start having a custody battle over Áine two feet away from Bobbi-Lee and then act surprised when she leans towards them like a houseplant leaning towards the light. He snaps his fingers and sends her away, and then Frances accuses him of trying to take Áine away from her the same way he’s taken the house away from her. He says he’d never do that, but she spits that she doesn’t know what he’s capable of anymore since she also thought he’d never throw her over for another woman or insult her in front of Áine. Of course Bobbi-Lee is eavesdropping on all this, but in her defense, this seems like a conversation they could’ve had someplace more private, such as the middle of the community center.

Over at Gaudi, David is moaning about the fact that they allowed Helen to believe that he’s still a social worker, which explains why he’s been wearing something other than his postman’s uniform today for the first time in two months. It’s hard to maintain the “social worker” charade when your jacket says “An Post” and you’ve got a bunch of boxes from Amazon under your arm. Pádraig basically tells him to shut up and stop being such a goody two-shoes, and besides, if they find they’re unable to take care of Sam, they can always sneak him into Annette’s house and convince her he’s one of her four to six children and has always been there.

Back at the café, Berni is trying to take Bobbi-Lee’s order, but she’s indecisive and stares at the menu as if she’s never seen it before despite the fact that she has been a part-time employee there for years. Although, given what we’ve seen of Bobbi-Lee’s job performance, it’s entirely possible this is the first time she’s ever actually looked at the menu here. Usually she just writes down “hamburger” no matter what people order. Berni commands her to hurry up and order because she hasn’t got all day, which of course gives Bobbi-Lee the opportunity to ask, “Oh, have you got big plans for tonight?” She means other than Berni’s usual evening routine, which is throwing things at the TV during EastEnders. Evan and Briain arrive and plop themselves down at Bobbi-Lee’s table, and the conversation turns to how generous Tadhg is being with the soccer team, and while Bobbi-Lee is grinning at Berni and asking her if she has anything to do with Tadhg’s good mood, Briain is semi-surreptitiously grabbing Berni’s ass and rubbing her back. In reality it would be completely obvious that something fishy is going on given the fact that, from where Evan and Bobbi-Lee are sitting, you can clearly see Briain’s arm disappearing behind Berni’s bottom, so it’s apparent he’s either rubbing her back or operating her like a Muppet. Berni gets flustered and retreats to the kitchen, Briain looks smug, and Bobbi-Lee smiles knowingly. We can’t see what Evan’s doing, but my guess is that he’s checking Wikipedia to see how many players are supposed to be on a soccer team.

Mo arrives home sadly carrying her symbolic running shoes, and when Colm asks her what the doctor said, she’s evasive for a while and eventually tells him it’s an ulcer. Oh, Mo. We understand he’s trying to be supportive, but when he dismissively says that lots of people have things much worse than ulcers and then jokes about how upset she’s been over something so insignificant, it’s hard not to cringe. He goes off in search of chicken soup for her, which may or may not be the best thing for an ulcer, and after he leaves, she looks stricken and shocked.

At the café, Frances tells Dee that Áine is blaming her for everything that’s going on in spite of the fact that she’s done nothing but try to protect her from it. Well, that’s motherhood, I suppose. Dee tells her she’s got to tell Áine exactly what’s going on, because she spent decades being angry at John Joe for breaking up their family and only found out when she was an adult that it was actually all Noreen’s fault. She continues that her relationship with her dad would’ve been very different if it had been built on the truth, and that Frances and Áine deserve the same opportunity. Dee’s eyes widen when Frances seems to finally wake up from the trance she’s been in for weeks, announcing that she’s not going to have her entire life ruined just so Tadhg can play happy families with some hag. There’s fire in her eyes as she announces that Tadhg has picked the wrong woman to mess with and will live to regret it. Finally, this is the Frances I’ve been waiting to see, and I suspect that somewhere in town Tadhg is wetting his pants right now and doesn’t know why.

Mo is tidying up her living room alone when she trips over the running shoes, still in the package. She picks them up, looks meaningfully at them for a second, and then dashes into the kitchen and throws them in the bin. At this everything that’s happening finally hits her, and she puts her hand over her mouth and tries to stifle the sobs. It’s a heartbreaking scene. I’ve always said that Mo is the emotional center of the show, so it will be fascinating to see what happens to the planets in the Ros na Rún solar system when the sun that’s been keeping them in their orbits all this time breaks down.

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