Saturday, January 13, 2018

The Wicked Witch of the West of Ireland

Season 22, Episode 37
First aired 9 January 2018

We open with Tadhg sitting alone in the empty pub looking pensive and unsettled, so it seems Happy Tadhg, who on the box was depicted whistling in unison with the bluebirds perched on his shoulder, has been backordered, and we are unable to provide a delivery estimate at this time. Maggie, on the other hand, bounces in through the unlocked door in her jaunty scarf and hopefully faux fur coat, smiling brightly and clearly thinking she’s rull cute. He seems surprised and nervous to see her in a way he hasn’t been previously, so perhaps the sexing-up didn’t go as planned? She’s here to deliver his phone, which she located under the bed, and when she purrs that it was nice to “finally be able to spend that time together,” i.e., DO IT, he semi-agrees in a vague way that involves making no eye contact with her whatsoever. She asks him if he regrets his decision and he pants Níl with the lack of enthusiasm of someone who’s just tried a new detergent and found it cleans OK, but is scary because sometimes when you open it, a ghost flies out.

Outside, Postman David is on the phone arguing with Annette about when she’s going to pay him back the money she indirectly stole, and eventually she hangs up on him or her phone gets repossessed or something. Meanwhile, Gráinne bops out of Loinnir and hands him a giant stack of wedding invitations she wants him to deliver while he’s out on his rounds. Somehow I suspect An Post would frown upon a postman delivering a bunch of personal mail with no stamps on it that has not gone through the system, especially while he’s on the clock, but David seems more concerned about how this relates to the missing money and makes up an imaginary rule about not being allowed to deliver things while he’s working. I’m sure there are a number of actual rules prohibiting this exact thing, but of course he doesn’t know any of them because he has never spent more than five consecutive minutes working. Her attitude is basically that she doesn’t want to get bogged down in the intricacies of his job, such as committing fraud and getting fired, so she orders him to deliver the invitations and also reminds him that the deposit on the Makes Downton Abbey Look Crap Inn is due today, which gives him instant diarrhea since there are no imaginary postal rules he can hide behind here.

Pádraig has a lot of snazzy new running gear and happens to jog past Sam’s school at recess, and I have no idea whether the school is supposed to be a reasonable jogging distance away or if this is like when we see Mo off jogging casually through rural Norway. Anyway, he arrives just as a bunch of bullies kick Sam’s soccer ball into the parking lot, so he fetches it and runs it over to him. He asks if the baddies were picking on him, and Sam says they haven’t been too bad today, explaining that most days they throw his lunch on the ground, but today they couldn’t because he forgot to bring it. I am being 100 percent serious here, this is the saddest thing I’ve heard in ages, and I genuinely find the mental picture of the bullies throwing poor Sam’s lunch on the ground every day way more upsetting than anything that’s going on with Tadhg and Frances right now. Pádraig asks Sam if they hurt him, presumably meaning physically, and Sam says no, and then Pádraig promises to come back later and bring him some lunch. Sam hesitates, but Pádraig says he’ll tolerate no protests here, because after all, Sam’s mother wouldn’t want him to go hungry. This seems to assuage Sam’s doubts and he toddles off, and I’m usually not enthralled by kiddie actors, but the boy who plays Sam is very, very good and natural and believable, and I sure hope his mother shows up soon and is a wretched demon from the bowels of hell to distract me from how unbearably earnest Sam is.

Over at the House of Broken Dreams But Tasteful Décor, Frances gets off the phone with Tadhg and reports to Dee that he’s requested a meeting. With Frances, I mean, not with Dee, although that would be fun, too. We see hope in Frances’ eyes for the first time in weeks as she tells Dee that perhaps she was right the other day about Tadhg crawling back with his tail between his legs, but the conversation is interrupted when Áine, who is home “sick” yet again today, wanders in. Considering how often she misses school it seems Frances does not use the same threat on Áine my mother used on me, which was, “If you don’t go to school, they’ll put Mommy in jail.” Maybe Áine figures her expert legal team would have Frances out on a technicality by the end of the day. Áine hounds her until she admits that it was Tadhg on the phone, and then her little face lights up with the hope that it means détente is on the horizon, because—as she pulls Frances aside to stage-whisper—she hates it at Mack and Dee’s and wants to go home. Given how many sleepovers Áine has at random friends’ houses without complaining, Mack and Dee’s must really suck. My guess is that Áine doesn’t like ironing the towels and praying to the Nigella Lawson altar every night. Frances swears that everything will be back to the way it was very soon, which seems like a dangerous promise to make, especially since children hold grudges and Áine just did her end-of-term project on cutting brake lines.

At Gaudi, Colm is practicing his radio voice for Vince, who stops him and tells him gravely to NEVER DO THAT AGAIN because he sounds like a sportscaster who’s taken a side job as a phone-sex operator to support his crystal meth addiction. Colm is unsure how to talk on the radio other than as if it’s 4am and he’s introducing 30 minutes of nonstop Stevie Nicks to sleep-deprived horny truck drivers, so Vince tells him to just be himself and talk in his normal voice, and to imagine he’s having a conversation with someone who is an actual person and not Siri on Quaaludes. After a couple more false starts, Colm seems to settle into a groove that approximates a normal human being, although I am unclear whether we’re supposed to snicker like thirteen-year-olds over the fact that he keeps announcing that we’re all now going to look at the most important thing in Vince’s pocket.

Tadhg has moved his pensive sitting upstairs to the kitchen table, and the fact that Gráinne wanders in unimpeded to deliver a wedding invitation makes us think that security has gotten rather lax at the pub lately. Maggie strolls in like she owns the place, causing Gráinne to exclaim that she thought she would have been back in America by now, or at least stranded in the Reykjavik airport because her low-budget Icelandic carrier with a name like “WHEE!” or “POO” went out of business. Maggie stammers that she has to stay for a while longer because she “didn’t have everything in order,” as if she’s in charge of a busy corporation or is not allowed to enter the U.S. due to her subversive activities as a member of the Jimi Hendrix Experience. Gráinne tells Tadhg to make sure Frances comes, and then adds a side of awkwardsauce by telling Maggie she hasn’t got an invitation for her, but that she can just piggyback on Tadhg and Frances’ invitation and she’ll be sure to put them all at the same table. Hopefully Maggie’s seat is not within Frances’ arm’s length of the wedding cake.

On the stone wall by the school, which we expect is not the first time Pádraig has been at the Stonewall, he and Sam are eating lunch and commiserating over their mutual dislike of cucumbers, which I agree are disgusting. Sam is clearly still sad over being bullied, and Pádraig confesses that he was bullied at school, too, and then proceeds to give Sam lessons on how to stand up to them, which literally involves instructions on how to stand up. There’s the usual “stand up straight, head up, shoulders back thing,” though he leaves out the end, which is, “If that doesn’t work, punch them in the nuts and run.” Just then we hear a woman yelling, “Stay away from him! Don’t touch my son!”, and it seems the honeymoon is over as a furious woman with an aggressive ponytail marches up and orders Sam to go inside so she can scream at the nice man. Look, sister, we gays stick together, so I suggest you pull yourself together and show Pádraig some respect or else these recaps are not going to be an enjoyable experience for you.

At the pub, Bobbi-Lee returns from her daily pretending to clean the toilets and asks Annette what she wants, and it seems what she wants is a job. Bobbi-Lee sighs that it’s too bad she didn’t come in twenty minutes ago so she could’ve been the one in the Hazmat suit cleaning out Cóilí Jackie’s cage, so Annette hands over her six-page CV, sets her voice to “quaver,” and starts begging for any work she can get, even if it’s only a couple of hours. Bobbi-Lee says they do need extra help, but she doubts Scrooge McTadhg will want to cough up any extra money. Well, Annette can always work for free and call it an “internship.” David arrives, pulls her aside, and demands to know where the money is, sounding a bit like this is a stick-up, and Annette tells him she can give him €500 today, and will earn the rest via a thoughtful investment portfolio combining medium-risk mutual funds and long-term treasury bonds, and also a lot of lottery tickets. For some reason David does not seem to think this strategy is going to prevent him from being murdered by Gráinne later today, which he expresses by bugging out his eyes and acting surprised that previously financially solvent Annette is suddenly unable to come up with €3500.

We return to the school, where Sam’s mother Sonia, who is being a wagon and a half, is still yelling at Pádraig. It comes out that Pádraig lives in Ros na Rún, which it seems Sonia did not know but finds surprising and personally offensive for unknown reasons, and that Sam did a radio interview in Ros na Rún recently, and then when he weakly explains that he just wanted to give Sam this new soccer magazine, she goes crazy all over again. She ominously says that they’d agreed that she wouldn’t say anything about “what Pádraig did” if he stayed away from her and Sam, and then she sneers that it disgusts her that Pádraig even lives in the same area as them. Nice. She snatches the magazine away from him, hits him in the chest with it, and spits, “Stay away from my son!”, to which he calmly replies, “Sam is my son too,” which it seems may shut up the 2018 Vauxhall Super-Wagon long enough for us to get through the commercials.

After the break, Tadhg invites Frances to have a seat at the kitchen table, which shows how unbearably awkward this whole thing is since she probably picked out the bloody thing. He sits down, but before he can finish his first sentence, she interrupts to tell him that if he’ll just admit that this was all a big mistake, she’s willing to give him another chance, and that it’ll take time, but all Áine wants is for things to go back to the way they were, but he grimly tells her that’s not possible.

Over in the other production of Kramer vs Kramer that’s going on, Pádraig insists to Sonia that as Sam’s father, it’s his right to see him, but she hisses that it’s rich that now all of a sudden he wants to be a father, and that he doesn’t even know what that word means, or how to think of anyone other than himself. He counters that she’s not exactly mother of the year herself considering she doesn’t even know that Sam is being bullied every day at school, which mercifully shuts her up for a minute.

Back at the pub, Frances either doesn’t get or is choosing not to accept what Tadhg is telling her, continuing to carry on about how this little break has been good for them and that they’ll be able to put it all behind them in time, especially once Maggie has been ground into a fine paste. “It’s not like you slept with her,” she says, and when he tilts his head down and looks up at her meaningfully, like Princess Di without all the blonde hair, she swallows her teeth and stammers, “Why did you ask me here?” He calmly tells her that they need to talk about Áine, and how they’re going to tell her about this “new arrangement,” so Frances jumps up and snaps that he can tell Áine about the “new arrangement” all by himself, since he’s the one who created it by being a total skank and ruining everything, and she storms out.

Sonia is still being terrible over at the car park, and it would be delightful if while she’s standing here screaming we saw her car being towed. The actress here is actually very good, so please don’t send me nasty emails telling me I’m being mean to her by talking about what a high-speed nuclear-powered asshole Sonia is. She venomously sprays that Sam was only two years old when Pádraig ruined their lives, and then she throws around a bunch of vague threats before getting in her car and driving off. Well, I'm sure that's the last time we'll see her.

Back at Tigh Thaidhg, Bobbi-Lee is mocking Annette’s CV, which brags about how she has a B.A. Hons in Sociocultural Transcommunication (i.e., Talking) and also a certificate in Frivolous Lawsuits. Of course Caitríona, who we’re sure is supposed to be working right now, is sitting there and snootily interprets all the acronyms and abbreviations on the CV for Bobbi-Lee’s benefit, since she, like Annette, has a B.A. in B.S. Too bad Caitríona and Annette were absent the day they learned about STFU. Turning the page, we discover that Annette has also put on her CV that she’s “interested in reading, classical music, and walking,” and I guess that last bit is a good thing since she is not, as far as we know, able to levitate. Also, you’d think that somewhere along the way in her many educational endeavors somebody would’ve told her that nobody cares about your hobbies, favorite color, or star sign and none of that should be within 500 feet of a CV. The gist of all this is that Bobbi-Lee hates Annette, which will come as no surprise to anyone who has ever met either of them, but that she’s intrigued by the thought of hiring her, mostly so she can watch her wipe puke off the dartboard and slip in urine. Mack arrives for lunch and orders soup, which we assume Dee only lets him have at home if he eats it standing over the kitchen sink, and when Caitríona casually mentions that Frances has been staying with him and Dee, Bobbi-Lee starts harassing him for all the dirt on what’s going on. He refuses to say anything, and then Mo wanders through to announce that she’s going home early because she just threw up. I guess that means she already tried the soup. She leaves, and Bobbi-Lee yells that she’s tired of having to do all the work around here while everybody else comes and goes as they please, and it does suggest labor issues when Bobbi-Lee is Employee of the Month.

At Gaudi, the onscreen layout of which I have trouble reconciling with the layout I have actually walked through, Pádraig is keeping himself busy with some napkin origami when David arrives looking glum, even by his standards. He doesn’t waste any time with niceties such as “That’s a gorgeous blue plaid shirt you’re wearing” or “So, any long-lost children re-entered your life with their screaming lunatic mothers in tow lately?”, instead immediately saying he’s here to talk about airgead, and specifically the fact that he teastaíonns a lot of it within the next ten seconds. Pádraig pulls a €20 or something out of his wallet and David clarifies that he needs a bit more than that, namely €3000. Surprisingly, Pádraig agrees, and says he thinks he can get that much from the bank by the end of the day, and David leaves, showing a lot less excitement or gratitude than one would imagine, probably because he’s dehydrated from wetting his pants all day at the thought of Gráinne murdering him.

Back at the pub, titan of industry Bobbi-Lee is filing her nails into the customers’ food and looking bored when Laoise emerges from the ladies’ and informs her that one of the toilets is backed up and spraying sewage-covered rats everywhere, but is careful to clarify that she didn’t do it. I think we’ve all used the “it was like that when I got there” technique before. This is the last thing Bobbi-Lee needed today, what with her being in Norma Rae/Erin Brockovich/Jane Fonda-in-9 to 5 mode, so she complains to Tadhg that if he’s going to flit in and out like, well, her, they’re going to need some more staff, and if he won’t hire someone, she will. He is completely over this entire plane of existence and says OK without even making eye contact with her, which of course shocks her, because she was expecting him to call her a dozy cow and throw mop water on her. He says Frances isn’t going to be around because of her work at the community center and all of Áine’s various court cases, so they’d better hire a new employee, and since he doesn’t give two shits about any of this, he’s putting her in charge of it. Laoise chimes in with some irrelevant nonsense about teenagers that is intended to remind us that she lives with noted teenager Réailtín these days, and after Bobbi-Lee and Tadhg look blankly at her for a while, they pick up their conversation where they left off, and in the process Bobbi-Lee manages to get Tadhg to agree to give her a raise. Whether he is paying enough attention to this to remember any of it later will remain to be seen, but in the meantime, Bobbi-Lee looks very pleased with herself and her new salary, which is now closer to the minimum wage than ever before.

Gráinne returns home all abuzz about her wedding dress, which Máire has taken over construction of now that Fia has gone back to Australia. This combination of designers ensures that it will be a tie-dyed sports bra on top and a Hessian burqa on the bottom. Gráinne gripes to David about Fia for a while, making sure he understands that she has no patience for anyone who stands in the way of her fairytale wedding, and then mentions that she accidentally invited Bobbi-Lee to sing, which he doesn’t care about because he knows he will be dead long before then. She asks if he paid the deposit at the hotel, but he’s noncommittal and changes the subject to how interesting it is that in ancient Sanskrit, the word for “forgiveness” is the same as the word for “getting married in a Burger King.” She flutters off to the bedroom wittering on about how her veil is going to be made from candy floss spun by faeries, which gives him a chance to ring Pádraig and then poo a lot when he finds out that he’s not going to be able to lend David the money after all because his car fell in a sinkhole. David may have emptied out his wedding fund, but hopefully he didn’t touch his funeral fund.

Sonia and her angry scarf stroll into Gaudi like they own the place, and while I of course never condone violence, it would be OK if someone accidentally slapped her so hard it made her ancestors say “ow.” It seems Pádraig phoned her and asked her to come over and make everyone miserable by being a complete snot, and she complied, but only grudgingly, because she usually charges a €100 appearance fee to go somewhere and ruin everything.

Colm comes home from his triumphant debut on Radio Try Not To Burp Into The Microphone Too Much, but it seems Mo forgot to listen because she was busy lying on the couch being pregnant. I mean, this is just conjecture on my part based on the fact that no woman in the history of TV has ever vomited unless she’s pregnant. He offers to get her a hot water bottle, which is one of those things from across the pond that we do not understand in America, like beans on toast and bedroom doors that lock from the outside.

Back at Gaudi, Pádraig has wrangled Sonia into sitting down and shutting up for a minute, for which we are all grateful. He apologizes for whatever he did before, which we’re sure has nothing to do with the fact that he owns every record the Pet Shop Boys ever made, including the rare mis-pressed Australian “It’s A Sin” picture disc that actually plays “The Final Countdown” by Europe. He continues that he “didn’t understand it [himself] until it was too late,” which refers to the time [write your own joke here: __________________________], says he wouldn’t have married her if he’d known, and begs her not to keep him from his son because of one mistake. I have no idea what the sequence of events is supposed to be here—Did he not know where Sam was until last week? If so, why did he wait until just now to get all worked up about it? If not, how did he recognize him considering he hadn’t seen him since he was two? What the fuck is happening here?—but anyway, he is very upset about it now, and it seems Sonia is very upset too, and not just because she has just gone ten seconds without complaining about something, which we suspect is a first for her. She calls him “Pat,” and then snottily adds, “Pádraig, or whatever you’re calling yourself these days,” which we’ll admit is intriguing, and it does seem she’s finally slowed her roll, having shifted from “industrial-strength banshee” to “sad pain in the ass,” and muses that she never really knew him. They argue for a while, with him pleading with her to be reasonable and her acting like her entire life has been a turd in a punchbowl, and eventually she spits that she’ll never forget walking in and seeing her husband in bed with another man. Well, it’s true that it’s difficult the first time, but if you relax and breathe, it gets easier.

And now, in the part that is completely exasperating, she informs him that he has a week to leave town forever or he’ll regret it. He’s confused, because of course this makes absolutely no sense, and then she explains that she can make up any story she wants about him and people will believe her, which still makes no sense. What is she even talking about? Who the hell does she think she is? This is infuriating. Anyway, eventually she disappears in a cloud of putrid green smoke, and he looks alarmed, presumably because he’s trying to figure out where and how quickly he can find a house to drop on her.

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