Monday, January 22, 2018

Past Imperfect, Future Conditional

Season 22, Episode 40
First aired 18 January 2018

We open at the hospital, where Pádraig is sitting at Sonia’s bedside looking worried. She has a lot of pipes and tubes coming out of her and looks like a swimming-pool filtration unit, which is TV shorthand for “car crash.” Someone named Helen arrives and seems to be Sonia’s friend, sister, or mother, and she looks stricken, and Pádraig tells her that the doctors have put Sonia in a coma “to give her a better chance to breathe.” I imagine that many people who meet Sonia want to put her in a coma, although not necessarily to help her breathe. The strange thing here is that Helen seems pleasant and reasonable, so we have no idea why she has anything to do with Sonia. The doctor explains that they’ll have to keep her on a ventilator for several weeks, and then Helen rather stupidly asks, “She’s not in any danger, is she?” No, being in a coma on a ventilator for a month is just routine. Helen says it’s a shame that it took a tragedy (?) like this to bring them back together after all these years, and then Pádraig says this is all his fault because Sonia was too busy arguing with him on her mobile to avoid crashing into the side of that Pizza Hut or whatever. Fortunately Helen immediately assures him that it’s not his fault and that he can’t blame himself, once again calling into doubt the idea that she is affiliated with Sonia in any way, and then sighs that it could have been a lot worse, in that Sonia could be twins. That last part is implied.

At the café, Berni is complaining to Briain about what a dump the place he’s living in is, and we get the impression this has probably been going on nonstop since the last time we saw them two weeks ago. They keep calling it a “chalet,” which makes it sound like a ski lodge on top of an Alp. He argues that it’s not so bad, and in fact he’s organizing the spiders into a youth soccer league, but she responds by griping some more about how he deserves a decent place to live, such as the place she kicked him out of, or the other place he was in that she also didn’t like. Evan comes and goes to say things about soccer, and Berni and Briain wink at each other behind his back and turn them all into double entendres. Well, they’re really more like an entendre and a half. Finally Briain says they’ll make a love nest out of the chalet yet, and she snoots that it’s going to take some big changes to turn that place into a love nest. My first step might be getting rid of her.

Colm is thundering around the house in a panic because he’s late for his radio show and can’t find his notes, the goldfish ran away, and his car is on fire. Mo seems unconcerned about this, mostly because she had forgotten that he has a radio show, and also helpfully points out that if he weren’t hung over from last night, he wouldn’t need notes. Love means never having to pretend to care about your partner’s radio show.

Unfortunately for Colm, Caitríona has chosen today to remember she works at the radio station, so she’s there shaking her fist in anger at the clock and so on. Gráinne, maintaining her streak of seventeen straight days without setting foot in the salon, wanders into the station for some reason, and after they bat around a few hypotheses about Colm’s whereabouts, such as alien abduction or magic act gone wrong, Gráinne supposes Caitríona will just have to stand in for him. She squawks that this isn’t possible because she has “nothing prepared,” as if she has ever had a problem running her mouth before, and instead announces that the solution is for Gráinne to host the show, because apparently she does have something prepared. I have no idea, either. There is talk of how it will be an opportunity for Gráinne to promote the Ireland’s Villagiest Village competition, which is apparently still going on, and Caitríona helpfully adds that Gráinne will have no problem thinking of something to say because she’s always yammering about some nonsense or other. Flattery will get you everywhere, Caitríona. Gráinne marches sadly into the booth as if she’s headed for the firing squad, and we wish her all the success in the world in this first episode of her new show, Let Me Tell You about This Bitch I Know Named Annette.

Pádraig is still hanging out at Sonia’s bedside for some reason when Helen arrives with Sam in tow. He’s rude and informs Pádraig that his mother said to stay away from him, so they’re not friends anymore. Sonia really is the toxic viper that keeps on giving. Unfortunately Pádraig then tries really hard to make this whole situation about himself when it should really be about the three of them working together to figure out which of these cords is providing electricity to Sonia’s ventilator. Eventually Helen suggests that perhaps it would be best if Pádraig went out to the vending machine for some sashimi or something and that she’ll come fetch him when things settle down, or when they find a way to push Sonia’s bed onto the motorway at rush hour and make it look like suicide.

At the café, Berni is complaining to Bobbi-Lee that the dishwasher isn’t working, and at first we assume this has something to do with some sex-related injury Briain has suffered, but it turns out she’s talking about, like, an actual dishwasher. Bobbi-Lee is only semi-paying attention to any of this, and she agrees that yes yes, it’s very interesting that Berni found a Corn Flake in her Rice Krispies or whatever, but meanwhile, what’s up with the new earrings she’s wearing? She guesses that Berni’s new fancy man must’ve bought them for her because they’re tacky, but not in the way Berni’s jewelry is usually tacky, so Berni gets nervous and changes the subject by asking her if she can bring some clean plates over from Tigh Thaidhg. Oh, like Bobbi-Lee has any idea where they keep the plates at Tigh Thaidhg. She agrees reluctantly, and then on her way out tries to start a conversation with Tadhg for some insane reason about whether he thinks Berni has a man hidden somewhere. I think she means “in a secret romantic sense” rather than “shackled to the radiator in the basement,” but with both Bobbi-Lee and Berni it could go either way. Anyway, Tadhg calls her an old biddy and tells her to mind her own beeswax, but also adds that if an old lady like Maggie Berni wants to get jiggy with it, it’s nobody else’s business. Bobbi-Lee leaves in a vague huff, and Berni thanks Tadhg for taking her side, so he grunts that people around here are too nosy and Berni tut-tuts disapprovingly as if she’s not the nosiest one in town.

Gráinne is still in the radio booth talking about something or other, and Caitríona is delighted, although we suspect her enthusiasm will wane when she remembers Gráinne’s presence here means the salon is completely unattended, giving Annette a chance to load the till into her car and drive off with it. Labhrás, meanwhile, has arrived in his official role as disapprover of everything, in this case Gráinne’s pick ‘n’ mix assortment of grammatical errors interspersed with (shudder) English words. Caitríona rolls her eyes and mutters that not everyone is as exact as he is, and he sighs that it’s true, as if it’s a terrible cross for him to bear to be the only person on earth who still knows how to correctly use the past-future-subjunctive-genitive in the fourth person. He busies himself fainting over Gráinne’s grammar just as she finishes the show with a reminder that Ireland’s Villagiest Village is not just about throwing up mussels in the pub, it’s also about getting beaten up by teenagers in Recycle Pod Park. She and Caitríona give each other thumbs-ups, and then Colm arrives and tells an obvious lie about his car not starting, and he and Caitríona start a big argument about the huge moral responsibility of working for a radio station that’s heard by literally fives of people. Meanwhile, Labhrás pulls Gráinne aside to go through his list of all her grammatical errors, such as her attempts to conjugate adjectives and her overuse of “tá tú go fucksa” as an intensifier.

At the café, an extremely sour Frances grimly carries her plate of food back to the counter and plops it down in front of Berni, spitting that she’s not going to eat a sandwich off a dirty plate. If she thinks the plate is dirty, she should see the kitchen. Berni explains about the dodgy dishwasher and offers to make another one, but Frances makes barfy faces and then says she’s going to go eat at Gaudi, where they care enough about presentation to hide the Band-Aids and press-on nails in the food where you can’t see them. As she’s storming out, Bobbi-Lee’s sneaking in with a load of plates from Tigh Thaidhg hidden under her jacket, and when she asks Berni why Frances was so upset with her, she replies that Frances is just a wagon and it’s no wonder that Tadhg dumped her. Bobbi-Lee can’t believe she’s taking Tadhg’s side, and Berni replies that it’s not fair that Tadhg always gets blamed for everything, and concludes her heroic “I Have a Dream” speech by saying, “Poor Tadhg,” which nobody has ever said before in the history of ever. Bobbi-Lee says it’s very odd that Berni is the only woman in the village on Tadhg’s side, at which Berni shrugs and walks away, and while I think Berni’s sudden switch to Team Tadhg is implausible, the Miss Marple look on Bobbi-Lee’s face tells us where all this is headed, so I’m going to allow it.

Back at the café, Labhrás is still lecturing Gráinne about her grammar, informing her that the “genital case” is not a thing and so on, and the way he’s carrying on you’d think she talks like Jodie Foster in Nell. He complains about how her bad grammar hurts his ears, and instead of taking this opportunity to demonstrate how her foot can also hurt his backside, she tells him that apparently the audience was able to understand her primeval grunting because they’ve sent in a bunch of texts praising her show. He scoffs that texts are no sign of quality, and that in fact his Grammar Garden show never gets tainted by impurities like listeners. Just as it looks like Grammar Gráinne is about to put his nose in the broken case, Caitríona shoves him into the booth for his boring nonsense, and when she sees the pages of texts Gráinne received, only half of which are dick pics, she says Labhrás can get lost, which seems to give Gráinne an idea. You know it’s dangerous when Gráinne gets an idea because usually there’s going to be either seaweed or a fatality.

Pádraig sneaks back into Sonia’s hospital room and Sam sniffs a great bored/annoyed, “Tsk, I thought he was gone!” in his direction that is some serious RuPaul’s Drag Race-level shade. Rather than pulling off his earrings and asking Helen to hold his wig while he settles a few things with young Sam here, Pádraig talks to him in soothing tones about how sometimes when people are upset with each other they say things that aren’t true, or even get into car accidents and go into comas just to make the other one feel bad. He glides fairly smoothly into a discussion about how nice it would be for Sam to have his mom and his dad, but Sam spits that his father ran out on him and his mom years ago, and is also a big poo-poo head. Pádraig says this isn’t entirely true, and Sam—very reasonably—asks, “what does this have to do with you and why are you even here?” And now we’ve reached the point of no return for this Darth Vader moment, so Pádraig finally says, “Because I am your father.” Well, Sam, if it’s any consolation, at least this tells you that genetically you’re going to have really good hair.

After the break, we’re in hour 6 of Grammar Garden, and Labhrás takes a call about the use of seaweed (!!!) from someone who coincidentally sounds a lot like Gráinne. She’s using her best kidnapper-demanding-ransom voice to say she needs advice from a famous expert like Labhrás, and he starts sputtering and short-circuiting because this information is not contained in his Windows 95 operating system. The best part is that she’s making the call from the the next room, making this a very “the call is coming from inside the house” moment, so Caitríona goes over and wrestles the phone away from her. The damage is done, however, as Not-Gráinne has embarrassed Labhrás, whose entire self-worth is centered on the idea that he knows everything about everything and is therefore smarter than everyone else. To be fair, she can’t expect him to be an expert on seaweed, because as a young man during the First or Second or Boer War, once a month he had to trade his entire ration book for either a handful of kelp covered in sea lice or a small potato with a worm in it, but not both. Gráinne finally hangs up, and then semi-apologizes to Caitríona while smirking, saying she couldn’t resist taking him down a peg. Caitríona orders her to get back to Loinnir, although as usual she finds time for a little light threatening first.

Sonia’s sister, mother, or friend Helen has dragged Pádraig out into the corridor and tells him she can’t believe he chose this moment to tell Sam he’s his father. His excuse at first seems to be that Sam’s world is in complete chaos already, so one more thing won’t hurt, but then he clarifies that what he actually means is that he doesn’t want Sam to think Sonia, his only relative, is about to die and leave him all alone in the world. It’s unclear whether Sonia murdered the rest of her family at some point or if they all died of embarrassment. Helen, once again demonstrating that she is far too reasonable to be mixed up in any of this, calmly says she still doesn’t think this was the right time to drop this bombshell, but that she understands the sentiment, and also knows Pádraig has been trying to contact Sam for a long time. OK, I am giving up on trying to figure out where Sam has been all this time and why Pádraig couldn’t find him and Sonia didn’t know where Pádraig was and they were all lost to the mists of time and geography to each other despite all living within jogging distance in a town with 20 people. Helen narrates some more and explains that Pádraig has actually been hanging out at the school gates for years, which raises some more questions, but for the most part makes me feel better because at least it suggests that Sonia is the only clueless one here who couldn’t find her arse with both hands. Helen laments that keeping Sam and Pádraig away from each other is what Sonia wanted, and it’s what she would still want if she weren’t hooked up to that Dalek over on the next set right now. Pádraig looks pained, as if he’s about to fly back in there for another successful father-son chat with poor Sam, but Helen restrains him and suggests he go home and let her try to smooth things over.

In the café kitchen, Berni is stressed out in her usual assortment of ways, at least 30 percent of which are lasagna-based, when Briain pops in with a leaflet of some kind in his hand and starts pointing out the sheets, throw pillows, and doilies he’s going to get for his new place. Berni complains that she’s not in the mood for this right now because she’s got a headache, but charitably does not point out that the leaflet he’s holding is in fact a Chinese takeaway menu. She really is an encouraging mother/lover. He smirks at her for a bit, and we fear he’s going to try to cure her headache by sexing her up on the counter, but instead he puts on an apron and starts helping out despite the fact that she reminds him he’s got a game to be getting ready for. We’re about to marvel at how mature he’s gotten all of a sudden, but then he tries to make out with her a little before he starts spraying Lysol on the dirty dishes and she has to push him off of her. It’s nice to have some consistency in our lives, I guess.

Over at the pub, Annette is mopping the floor and Bobbi-Lee is criticizing the way she’s doing it. It’s unclear whether Bobbi-Lee is raising a fuss just to be a pill or because she genuinely did not know that there’s supposed to be water on the mop when you push it around. Based on Bobbi-Lee’s choking and the customers fainting in the background, it also seems Annette poured an entire bottle of bleach in the bucket, but once Bobbi-Lee regains consciousness, it seems this near-death experience has softened her somewhat and she charitably tells Annette that it’s OK, because we all make mistakes when we’re just starting out. For example, when Bobbi-Lee started working at the café, it took her a year to discover you’re supposed to take the plastic off the cheese slices before you put them in a sandwich. Annette is understandably disoriented, but things get back to normal quickly when Bobbi-Lee, who’s munching on a bag of potato chips and looking bored, asks her, “Your husband left you, didn’t he?” D.I. Ní Neachtain’s next question is whether either of them was having an affair, such as with Tadhg or Berni, but before Annette can answer or faint from the bleach fumes, Tadhg enters and informs Bobbi-Lee that that packet of crisps is coming out of her wages. By my calculations that means she actually owes the pub 20 cents for this hard day of work.

Back at the café, Briain and Berni have finally finished washing up, so he once again tries to climb on top of her. Good lord, I’ve seen guppies that have less sex than these two. Fortunately for us all, Evan walks in just as things are about to get horizontal and starts yelling at Briain that they’re going to be late for the soccer/darts/Scrabble tournament. He wanders off, and having dodged this Evan-shaped bullet yet again, Berni purses her lips and tells Briain for the 3000th time that they’re going to have to be more careful. Alternatively they could go have sex live on the air during Labhrás’ radio show, because that’s the one place in Ros na Rún they can be assured of having no audience.

At the pub, Colm tells Mo that Caitríona has agreed to give his radio show one more chance, especially since her only other programming option is that show where David opens people’s mail and reads it over the air. That really seems more like Radio 4 material to me anyway. He tells her he’ll go with her to the doctor tomorrow morning, where she will be having something scoped, but she says it’s not necessary because she doesn’t want him to know she’s actually just sending Máire in there with a magnifying glass. (Actually I am very traumatized by where this Mo medical storyline might be going because I LOVE MO AND HASN’T SHE SUFFERED ENOUGH??) There’s an extended sequence in which we learn that Bobbi-Lee doesn’t know how to make change, which should come as a surprise to no one, but it does give Annette a chance to be a snot about it. I haven’t had much time for Annette in the past, but I am kind of enjoying this rivalry between her and Bobbi-Lee, especially since it will almost certainly end with Bobbi-Lee grinding her into a fine paste.

At their place, Pádraig tells David he’s had a very hard day because the wife of a friend of his was in an accident. David asks if she has any family, which is an odd question to ask, but OK. Pádraig meaningfully says that she has one son, at which point David concludes that God is good, so she’ll be fine. If David had ever met Sonia he’d know that God Himself is afraid of her. Pádraig gives him a scattershot assortment of details about the incident, which allows David to conclude that the one he really feels sorry for is the son. Again, he'd feel even sorrier for Sam if he'd ever met his mother.

The soccer team are at the pub celebrating their victory, which is quite impressive given that there only seem to be five of them. Berni arrives and Evan makes her kiss Briain, and then through a complicated series of events, she volunteers herself to go ask Tadhg to pay for a minibus to take the team to the Olympics. Of course none of this has anything to do with her, but a) that’s never stopped her before and b) this gives her an opportunity to go whisper to Tadhg while standing very close to him and squeezing his biceps and so on. It seems he’s suffered a head injury, because instead of telling her to shut up and go back to Brigadoon where she came from as he would normally do, he giggles and they clap their hands with delight and do other misleading things that give Inspector Bobbi-Lee more fodder for her theory that the two of them are having an affair. Ooh, this is going to be good.

David and Pádraig are still sitting at their kitchen table, and David, who is the legal expert when Dee isn’t available, advises him that if his “friend’s wife” dies, his “friend” will be legally responsible for the child, and then adds that Pádraig better tell his friend that caring for a child is a serious responsibility. I love it when David gravely says completely obvious things as if they’re profound. Pádraig replies that the father is “happy to accept that responsibility,” so David declares, “Great, then there’s no problem!” Well, that’s settled. Before he can dust off his hands and wander off to play Xbox or whatever, though, Pádraig interrupts him to say that there is one hitch, and that’s that the son hates the father. David wisely says that there’s only one solution to this problem, and that’s to fix it. Wow, it really is a tremendous loss that he’s not a priest anymore. Oh my god, you guys, I just realized, it would be the awesomest thing ever if Helen turns out to be Sonia’s lover!!! If you want that to happen, please write it on a postcard and send it to Ros na Rún Suggestion Box, Ireland. Make sure you get it in by Tuesday, because I’m pretty sure the show goes out live.

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