Sunday, January 7, 2018

Stuck Together and Torn Apart

Season 22, Episode 36
First aired 4 January 2018

“There’s got to be a morning after,” sings Maureen McGovern in that Oscar-winning song from The Poseidon Adventure, “Flashdance…What A Feeling.” Those words have never been truer than today, and our morning after begins with Tadhg upstairs in the pub pulling down two mugs from the cabinet, then remembering that it’ll be coffee for one today. At Mack and Dee’s, meanwhile, Frances puts the kettle on and starts searching the cabinets for cups, but is doomed to failure because Mack drinks his coffee straight out of the pot and Dee drinks hers only out of champagne flutes. The third part of our trio, an unnervingly upbeat Maggie, finishes packing three small suitcases in the middle of the living room, as one does, and then dusts her hands off brightly, as if to say, “Well, my work here is done! Back to Amerikay!”

Across town, Vince is beginning a long day of comedy hijinks by reading the warning label on the industrial-strength SoopaDoopaGlue he’s going to use to put together some bookshelves. I generally don’t think of glue as the primary method of holding a bookcase together, but I might feel differently if I were building very heavy furniture for Caitríona and Maeve to stand under. Speaking of Maeve, she’s in the same Ralph Wiggum mode that recently landed her in 18th place in a science fair with 12 entrants, first holding the bottle of glue up to the side of her face and listening intently to it as if it’s a telephone, then taking the top off and sticking her eyeball in it. Just as she’s about to spray glue in her face, Vince grabs it away from her and scolds that military-grade glue is very dangerous and should therefore only be sprayed in your face under the supervision of a parent or guardian. She’s annoyed and whines that she was “only looking at it,” which of course with children is the first step in a two-step process that ends with “only eating it,” but Caitríona is, as always, only interested in herself. She announces that she’s off to Galway for the day, or as it’s being renamed in her honor, Caitrionaway, and she coos in Maeve’s general direction that she should be good and stay out of Vince’s way, but Maeve is too busy shooting daggers at Vince to pay attention. Well, it’s been nice knowing you, Vince.

Back at Dee and Mack’s, she’s fuming because he offered to let Frances and Áine stay there without asking her, as if he was going to say yes to Frances but tell Áine to leg it. Dee’s really phoning the argument in here, half-heartedly saying something about needing quiet to study for her geography exam, and you can tell it’s because at this point these two feel compelled to disagree about everything on principle, because it’s kind of their thing. They start hypothesizing about what Tadhg might’ve done, but before Mack can suggest “slept with Katy, probably,” Frances wanders in, smiling bravely but with no more than 20 percent of her hair pointing in any one direction. Mack offers to make breakfast, and Dee runs her “Sympathy” program, but Frances is mostly operating in a parallel dimension at the moment and kind of evaporates from the room soundlessly.

Pádraig is looking at the magazine rack in the shop, which we’ve noticed usually happens to have magazines Domhnall O’Donoghue writes for right in front for some reason, but this time he’s in search of Soccer Weekly Monthly, which we will care about later. Elsewhere, Gráinne is filling her basket with packages of something that goes by too quickly for us to see what it is, so I’m going to say it’s cat diapers. David complains that they already have plenty of cat diapers at home, to which Gráinne replies, “But they’re on sale!” as she puts 50 more boxes in the basket. I think the point of this is to remind us that they’re on a tight budget in spite of their recently discovered wedding account that has enough money in it that David could withdraw €3500 without Gráinne noticing, but also that cat diapers don’t go bad, so you should stock up when there’s a sale. Annette sticks her oar in in a way that doesn’t make any sense in English but probably does in Irish, or else somebody got their script pages in the wrong order and they all decided to just plow ahead. Anyway, there’s something about them needing to buy a rope for their Wiccan ceremony, which they’ll be holding at the Makes Downton Abbey Look Crap Inn unless Annette doesn’t manage to repay the money she “borrowed,” in which case Gráinne will use the rope to strangle David.

Back at DIY HQ, Maeve makes Vince a peace offering in the form of a cup of coffee, which she hands to him with the handle pointing away from her and while wearing protective gloves and a welder’s helmet in a way that is not suspicious at all. He takes it and explains that he’s just had to spend 10 minutes washing off a bit of glue he’d gotten on himself, and that he’s afraid he’ll never be able to get up the puddle of glue he’s just spotted on the counter, but she’s clearly busy wishing she’d had the bright idea to apply glue to the rim of the mug rather than the handle. Yes, it seems that not only is the handle now stuck to Vince’s fingers, but the bottom of the cup is also stuck to the counter, and Maeve does a disappearing act even though I think she’d be much more likely to stand around throwing cutlery at him while filming it on her phone.

At a field or pitch or wherever soccer is played, we find a local small children’s team, their coaches, and—not oddly at all—Pádraig. There’s a break in the action, such as it is, and Pádraig calls over Sam, whom we met last episode and who has mysterious ties to Pádraig. I’m currently operating under a theory that Sam is a time-traveling clone from the year 2500 sent here by Future Cyborg Pádraig to prevent his post-apocalyptic timeline from ever happening, but it’s also possible Past Organic Pádraig boned Sam’s mother at a Girls Aloud concert during a transitional period in his life. Anyway, they chat for a while, and Pádraig offers Sam the soccer magazine, but he explains that he’s not supposed to take gifts from strangers, and let’s face it, from Sam’s perspective Pádraig has done everything but drive up in a windowless van offering candy and asking for help finding his lost puppy. Pádraig first tries to explain that he’s not a stranger, and that they in fact know each other, but then he trails off before finishing that sentence and agrees that it’s not a good idea, but that he hopes Sam plays as well in the second half as he did in the first. Sam scampers off and Pádraig looks wistful, and it’s really all very well done, and I’m thrilled to finally see Pádraig get a story, but it seems it’s not going to be the sexy romp we were all hoping for. Paying for the rights to the Benny Hill music was a total waste.

At the pub, Gráinne and David’s wedding has just become “Ticketmaster Presents: An Evening with Bobbi-Lee Ní Neachtain, also featuring support act Gráinne and David’s Wedding,” in exactly the way you’d imagine. The discussion then turns to the fact that Maggie has been removed from the invitation list because Gráinne, who’s her new BFF now that things have gotten awkward with Frances, was just over there and discovered that Maggie is moving back to America. Of course Bobbi-Lee’s response is that she should still be invited, because she’d probably give a great gift, like a Keurig coffeemaker or that yellowed drawing of JFK. Tadhg’s interest is piqued, and he suddenly remembers that he’s supposed to be at a meeting across town being held in Conference Room B of Maggie’s pants. You can tell things are serious because he puts on his coat and leaves without even stopping to insult Bobbi-Lee along the way.

Over in our other story, Maeve has sent help Vince’s way in the form of Colm, evidently because Liam Óg was not available. Vince is embarrassed, and Colm is smug and smirky and says, “Well, well, well” a lot, so of course karma immediately rides in on the number 424 bus, delayed by getting off at the wrong stop and having to walk from the Texaco station. I’ll gloss over the exact series of events that leads us here and just tell you that by the end of the scene, Vince is still stuck to the mug, which is stuck to the counter, whereas Colm has cut out the middleman and is glued directly to the counter.

On the pitch at Nando’s Stadium, Pádraig has become Sam’s personal soccer coach and is giving him advice like “kick it in the other direction” and naming ancient players whom Sam has never heard of, such as Pelé and Pelé Óg. We’ll assume the coach we keep seeing in the background knows Pádraig and therefore knows he’s harmless, because otherwise you’d think he would’ve come over by now and asked who he is and what he’s doing there. Sam mentions that his mother will be there to pick him up soon, which makes Pádraig nervous FOR SOME REASON, so they work out a custody exchange involving the magazine and say their goodbyes.

Back at the IKEA test lab, Vince and Colm are each accusing the other of being the stupid one here, and I think I have to give the prize to Vince for deciding to glue the bookcase together because using the nails that came with it would “take too long.” There’s an incredibly weak attempt to retrieve Vince’s mobile from the table across the room using a push broom which is frankly embarrassing for us all, and it seems that when Caitríona returns home from Galway later she’s going to find two skeletons mysteriously glued to her countertop.

Frances is furiously cleaning Mack and Dee’s flat, and if I’d known that was how she was going to distract herself, I’d have invited her to come stay at our house. Dee arrives and, after a bit of mandatory complaining about needing quiet to study for her Leaving Cert, shifts into Sympathy Mode and tells Frances that all marriages have their problems, and in fact—brace yourself—things haven’t always been a bed of roses between her and Mack. Well, it was a bed of roses, but Katy was in it. She brightly suggests that Tadhg will probably be knocking on the door any moment, and after Frances realizes she’s crossed a line in biting Dee’s head off in response, she grimly tells her that Tadhg is in love with another woman. I’m really hoping this will be a bit of a redemption story for Dee, because I enjoy her and am not crazy about the way she’s been turned into an avatar of terribleness this season.

Tadhg materializes in Maggie’s yard just as she finishes loading her luggage into her car, and it seems he’s run there rather than driving for some reason. She initially refuses when he asks her to stay, but then he tells her that now they can be together because he’s broken the news to Frances.

After the break, during which we learn there are a lot of teen pop stars we’ve never heard of with names like Sierra Sedona and Hailee Asbestos, Vince and Colm are delirious from hunger and dehydration and are laughing at the irony that two former rivals originally brought together by their inexplicable love for Caitríona are now glued to a countertop and might start making out. That last part is implied. Colm apologizes and says he should be ashamed of himself for making a move on Vince’s wife or girlfriend or whatever Caitríona is, and Vince replies that it doesn’t matter anymore since they are both going to die here anyway.

Back at Maggie’s, Tadhg explains that he and Frances are finished, and that she’s been staying at Mack and Dee’s while Áine has laid claim to the powerful Smokey Bacon Throne and declared herself Empress of Tayto Park. He says that he never wanted to hurt Áine, but declares that she’s strong and resilient and will learn to cope. Frances can just go feck herself, I guess. Maggie muses that Tadhg tried to get rid of her as soon as she came back and that all this is her fault because she didn’t listen to him, but he assures her this isn’t her fault. Yes, I think there’s enough blame here for both of you to make a meal of it, and take some home for lunch tomorrow, too. He says he’ll always be “fond” of Frances, which is big of him, but that he stopped loving her the moment Maggie returned, and asserts that the one who’s really to blame here is Maggie’s father, first for keeping them apart when they were kids and then for selfishly dying. He says now nothing is in their way, if it’s what Maggie wants. Again, this is all very well done, but it’s hard for me to feel too much any sympathy for either Tadhg or Maggie given that Frances is one of my favorite characters and has been a much better wife than Tadhg deserves all this time anyway.

At Gaudi, where Pádraig is now wearing what appears to be a Star Trek uniform of some kind, Berni is complaining to Briain that his new place is disgusting and that she doesn’t want to be anywhere near it. You may recall that she’s the one who kicked him out of her house and keeps complaining about every subsequent place he’s stayed since then. He says Chateau Dysentery isn’t that bad, and that he’ll spray some Febreze on it later if it’ll shut her up, but she says it’s beyond help, and that she’s pretty sure the bed is full of fleas. All right, maybe this isn’t just her being picky. His response is basically if they shag hard enough it will crush all the fleas, and she seems OK with this. Now that would’ve been a good science fair project.

Vince and Colm are discussing how recent changes in the tax code make the Cayman Islands more attractive than ever as both a tax shelter and a holiday spot when Maeve slinks in and says she’s figured out how to unglue Vince. Colm asks, “And what about me?”, and she’s basically like, “Hey, you got into that mess all by yourself.” Snerk. It turns out all they need is some nail-polish remover, which suggests to me this is not the world’s strongest military-grade glue after all.

We check in with Maggie, who you might think would’ve done the decent thing by throwing Tadhg out and would now be watching Despicable Me 3 somewhere over the Atlantic, but no, it turns out she and Tadhg have lit a cozy fire and are lying in each other’s laps on the sofa. I suppose we should be grateful they’ve still got their clothes on. She coos that she’s never loved anyone in her life but him, and he responds “me, neither,” which of course is a big kick in the crotch to poor Frances. She says she’s changed her mind and doesn’t think she should go back to America after all, which is just as well since at this point we don’t want her anyway, and then the pair of them start making out.

There’s a great cut to Dee’s, where she’s gasping in disbelief, “Maggie?!? Like, quasi-American Maggie?!?!?” Frances sadly nods, and Dee hilariously says, “He must not be thinking straight.” Heh. Frances reports that Tadhg told her he doesn’t feel the same way about her anymore, and that she doesn’t know how she’s supposed to carry on after that, but that she feels awful for having to repeatedly lie to Áine about what’s going on. These Dee/Frances scenes really are fantastic, with some particularly subtle but emotionally loaded facial expressions from Máirín De Buitléir that are really worth going back and rewatching.

Caitríona returns home and is surprised to find the bookcase still on the floor in pieces, some of which are on fire, and Vince drinking a beer on the couch. Her complaining is interrupted, however when Colm strolls in from the other room, says hi to her, plops himself down next to Vince with a beer, and puts his feet up on the table. While this is surely a variation of a fantasy she’s imagined many times, she’s very confused, then annoyed, then intrigued when Vince says he’s spent the day with Colm and has a great idea: he should be given a financial-advice show on Radio Money Laundering. Eventually she agrees, but only after being a complete pill about it for a while, since the steps in the Caitríona idea cycle are “Get indignant, complain, consider, accept, take credit for.”

Dee and Frances have had dinner, though Frances has mainly pushed the food around her plate, when Dee clears her throat and asks the $64,000 question: “Did he sleep with her?” Frances replies that he says he didn’t, and that she actually believes him, and Dee sighs and says, “Well, that’s a good thing.” Frances isn’t sure why it matters if he doesn’t love her anymore, but Dee says meaningfully, “Trust me, it’s a big thing.” Yes, if nothing else we don’t have to worry about Maggie being pregnant now. Dee says marriages have good times and bad, and that this is probably just Tadhg having a midlife crisis (?), trying to relive his youth by rekindling a romance with a woman he doesn’t even know anymore. There’s a reason things didn’t work out between them, she continues, and says that if they were meant to be together, they would’ve found a way long before now. This is, like, the best advice Dee has ever given. Frances thinks about it and concludes that maybe Dee’s right, and maybe it does mean something that they haven’t slept together.

So, of course we cut to Maggie’s sofa, where she and Tadhg are like, “Do you want to sleep together?” “Yeah!” “Me too!” and then they rattle off to the bedroom hand in hand. They leave a fire raging in the hearth and lit candles everywhere, so I suppose now we have to hope that they either sex each other to death or the house burns down.


  1. I thought Tadhg's "me neither" might be intentionally ambiguous - that it might mean he never loved anyone but himself.

    1. Well, he certainly has never put anyone before his own wants/needs. The way he's treating Frances right now is simply despicable.


Tell the world what you think! Unless what you think is spam, or porn, or self-promotion, or hateful.