Friday, February 16, 2018

I Don't Bring Me Flowers

Season 22, Episode 47
First aired 13 February 2018

We open in what seems to be the middle of the night with Frances, in her robe, wandering downstairs into the dark pub for some deep thought and perhaps light karaoke. “Love Shack” always cheers me up. She pours herself a Bahama Mama or similar before thinking better of it and dumping it out, and then takes this opportunity to look meaningfully at her wedding ring and then take it off even more meaningfully. It’s very considerate of her to do this down here where we can see it rather than up in her bedroom where we couldn’t. I don’t care what Tadhg says, Frances is not a complete raicleach. Only 40 percent raicleach, tops.

At Berni’s, Briain has set up a somewhat ludicrous Valentine’s breakfast, lunch, or dinner for her, and he has gone all out, serving her chocolate milk in hollowed-out watermelons and having broken all her best china into shapes approximating hearts and so on. She tells him it’s too much, especially since all she got him was a four-pack of Curly Wurlys and an ego-boosting box of XL condoms, but he says it’s the least he can do, what with all the troublemaking and home-wrecking he’s been doing. Berni assures him that Evan is the one who’s causing all the trouble, not him, and it’s a nice sentiment, but I think we can agree that there’s plenty of blame to go around. She adds that she’s not going to let Evan keep Briain off the Frisbee or Scrabble team or away from the café, and he replies that he doesn’t care about the team despite the extreme thrillingness of Tadhg’s rental bus, but that he does need his job back, especially because of all the child support he has to pay. Remember when Briain had a deep, dark secret that had driven him away from Australia that we were supposed to care about and then they dropped it? Just as Berni starts undoing his buttons with her teeth, Bobbi-Lee enters and makes a variety of snide remarks and pukey faces, setting us up for our special Valentine’s Day theme, which is that Bobbi-Lee is hard up and can’t get a man and everyone in town thinks it’s hilarious. It’s too bad none of the parcels she’s been having delivered to the pub recently contained dynamite, because I can think of a few people she would be completely justified in blowing up, starting with these two.

At Gaudi, Frances is having a meeting with her unofficial solicitor/social worker/BFF Dee, and as with all matters of legal import, they have asked Mack to attend as co-counsel. Well, really it seems more like he’s pulled up a chair and joined them, but they’re not telling him to go away, which to Mack is the same as an engraved invitation. Dee is trying to nicely tell Frances, “Well, you really screwed the pooch on this one,” and she replies that her new strategy is to give Tadhg a few days to cool off and then see if he’ll go back to the original deal in which she gets the pub and he gets everything else, including custody of Maggie. Mack’s expert legal advice is that it’ll be a cold day in hell before Tadhg gives Frances one single cent after the way she ripped Maggie a new one in front of everybody, so Dee does the thing where she glances in his direction and widens her eyes half a millimeter, which he knows means “beat it, Stubbly.” He departs, and for the first time ever Dee says she agrees with Mack on something, which is that the only way Frances has any hope of getting anything out of Tadhg is if she apologizes to Maggie and acts like she means it. Well, goodbye, pub.

Out in the street, Vince is cleaning the shop window using a bucket with actual water in it, unlike every time we have ever seen Bobbi-Lee pretend to clean anything. Caitríona materializes and is excited to tell him about the Valentine’s Day gift she’s given him: an app she’s installed on his phone that will allow him to order booze for the shop. Uh, yay? He seems delighted, anyway, proving once again how far poor Vince has lowered his expectations in order to endure his miserable life. For good measure, she clarifies that she got Adam to install the app for her so she wouldn’t have to, and the only reason she did it was that she was sick of hearing Vince talk about it. Love means making your husband shut up by getting one of his employees to install a free app and calling it a Valentine’s Day present. Bobbi-Lee’s “I Hate Love” tour makes a stop, and while even I as her biggest fan will admit she’s being a bit of a pill today, Caitríona responds in a mean, out-of-proportion way that’s fortunately interrupted by Mo bursting out of the shop and barfing guacamole onto the sidewalk in the middle of their conversation. Rather than being worried or asking if Mo, usually the model of responsible behavior, is all right, Caitríona is personally offended and storms off in an eye-rolling huff as if this is just another sordid day in the life of Mo, the town drunk. I would say, “Caitríona is the worst” if not for the fact that someone much, much worse is going to be inflicted upon us in about five minutes. Anyway, Vince goes to hose the sidewalk down while recently arrived Mack asks Mo if she’s all right, hilariously staring at the pile of puke on the ground as if he’s reading her tea leaves, and she explains that she drank too much last night while seeing David and Gráinne off on their honeymoon to Craggy Island. This would all be quite amusing if we didn’t know that Mo is very, very sick, but we do know, which makes us feel bad about laughing at Mack’s reaction and wide-eyed puke-staring.

Back at Gaudi, Dee is coaching Frances on how to pretend to be sorry when she apologizes to Maggie when in walks the famous husband-stealing semi-American herself. Dee tries to drag Frances out by the arm before the carnage starts, but then Maggie has the nerve to make a big production out of saying she forgives Frances for being mean to her in the pub. Oh, snap! Frances is, of course, completely livid over this, and shouts that Maggie should be apologizing to her, not the other way around, given which of them is the husband-stealing, home-wrecking, windmill-opposing, Pól-encouraging floozy here. Dee finally manages to drag Frances out the door, and somehow it does not seem to make a stunned-looking Maggie feel any better when Amy and Pádraig do an incredibly terrible job of trying to look like they haven’t been eating a tub of popcorn while watching every minute of this whole thing go down.

Evan comes home and makes a big deal out of being disgusted by Berni coming out of the bedroom with her blouse on upside-down and Briain giggling about how chafed his various parts are. He storms out and Berni calls after him to “Wait!” for the 10,000th time this week. Well, if I didn’t know the command form of the verb “fan” before, I sure know it now, although I will instinctively say it as “Evan, fan!” no matter the name of the person I am talking to.

Back at Gaudi, Laoise is begging John Joe to fix her car, which has just broken down in the middle of the street, and then asks Máire if she can borrow hers in the meantime. This gives Máire a chance to revive her famous “Laoise is a slapper” medley, which we luckily haven’t heard in a while, and this time it’s in the context of what a no-good deadbeat Eric is and that Laoise’s car wouldn’t have broken down if she weren’t constantly driving to Dublin to do unspeakable things with him, such as watching EastEnders. Instead of engaging with Máire on this topic, Laoise instead takes this opportunity to turn on John Joe, insulting him for being a loser who’s useless at relationships and also completely sucks before storming off. If this is how she talks to someone she’s just asked to do her a favor, I’d hate to see how she talks to someone she’s not trying to butter up. Laoise makes it really difficult to like her when she’s in this mode.

Over in the 18th century, Maggie is darning socks by candlelight while hoping not to get the plague and Tadhg is complaining about how stupid his lawyer is. So, business as usual. Maggie’s run-in with Frances at Gaudi SOMEHOW comes up, which sets Tadhg off and sends him dashing off into town to start a big fight with her, or at least as much as he dashes anywhere, and Maggie stands there looking pained as if she has NO IDEA how any of this happened.

And speaking of pain, that’s what we all feel when today’s visit to the hospital set reveals that Sonia is awake and talking. Oh, Christ. Sam, the only person in the entire world who is happy about her recovery, goes bounding into her room joyously, but Pádraig stands out in the corridor watching worriedly through the window because he knows this is a huge steaming cow turd and we have all just stepped in it together.

Back in the Valentine’s hijinks portion of our story, Bobbi-Lee is on a personal phone call while she’s supposed to be working, which is less “Valentine’s Day” than “any given Tuesday.” This time she’s on the phone with the florist ordering herself a gigantic bouquet of flowers, presumably because she saw Jan Brady do it one time and it turned out really well for her. She says she wants them delivered shortly after 5 o’clock and then muses to herself that this will really cram it up Caitríona’s arse sideways, ha ha, and then has to explain to the person on the other end of the line that she does not want “This will really cram it up Caitríona’s arse sideways, ha ha” written on the card. That’s really more of a Christmas-card sentiment, anyway.

Upstairs, today’s matinee of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? is underway, and while Frances is doing her best to force herself to apologize to Tadhg, he’s being a complete tool and really making her beg. He lets her twist in the wind for a while and then tells her that in spite of what he’s implied, he’s not going to be signing any papers and has instead come over just to torture her. At times like this we feel sorry for Frances, but also remind ourselves that she married him and we doubt he has undergone a complete personality transformation since then.

And now it’s time for some absolute nails-on-the-blackboard torture in the form of Sonia. She’s smiling and acts like a human being as she sends Sam and Helen, who has finally deigned to return from her two-week-long conference in Brighton, off for sweeties, but then as soon as she and Pádraig are alone in the room, she reverts to her usual “screaming banshee who is here to consume our souls and then bitch that they gave her indigestion” persona. She’s a total nightmare who insults Pádraig in a variety of ways, then tells him to stop acting like a hero because Sam could’ve just as easily stayed with Helen in spite of the fact that bloody Helen left the country for weeks and Pádraig’s the only reason Sam didn’t end up in bloody foster feckin' care. She screams for a while about nothing in particular, and then he rhetorically asks her to imagine what would’ve happened if things had turned out even worse after the accident, which confuses us deeply because we were all under the impression that Sonia waking up was the worst possible outcome of all this. Eventually we realize he’s suggesting it would’ve been worse if she’d died, and she’s even a complete asshole about this generous sentiment, and then he says in an annoyed tone that there’s no point trying to talk to her when she’s like this. Anyone who’s ever seen her be anything but this, raise your hand. She’s completely awful for 27 more minutes, but then just as we are about to go make ourselves a snack and hope she’s gone when and if we come back, she has an attack of some kind that sends Pádraig running for a doctor. The show is very smart, because it knew we were about five seconds away from turning the TV off and therefore it needed to win us back by giving us hope that Sonia might die.

After the break, during which we think that Sonia would’ve saved us all a lot of trouble if she’d just been going a little faster when she crashed her scooter into the side of that Pizza Hut, Tadhg and Frances are still being passive-aggressive to each other at the pub. Well, she’s being pretend-reasonable and he’s being outright passive-aggressive, but I think faux civility + passive-aggressive = passive aggressive. Just then Áine arrives, with Máire in tow for no particular reason, and she’s excited to see that Daddy is back and he and Mommy are friends again. Mommy clarifies that despite what it looks like, Daddy is not actually back, but then he clarifies her clarification by asserting that he is indeed back, and that the suitcases he’s plopped down in the spare room prove it. Of course Máire is eating all this drama up, and says she’d better go about three times without actually leaving, and then Tadhg makes a point of acting like a pig, shoving an entire pie in his mouth and wiping his hands on Frances’ coat before strutting out, leaving Frances peeved and Máire crossing herself furiously.

At the shop, the world’s largest coffee machine, which is like the Death Star but square, is being operated by Evan, the only person in the village tall enough to reach it. Berni arrives in one of her lovely “Ask me about my recent voyage on the Titanic!” felt hats and tries to make conversation with him, but he’s rude, even by his standards, and when she tells him she knows it must have been awkward for him to see her and Briain together this morning, he repeats his ultimatum: if you keep seeing Briain, you won’t see me. Is there a way she can stop seeing both of them? She hisses at him to keep his voice down because she doesn’t want anyone to find out, which is a pattern on this show: run down the street screaming about something and then imagine that it’s still a secret, or alternatively, demonstrate how desperate you are to keep something private by running down the street screaming about it. Exhibit A: that time Jason was banging on Katy’s door screaming, “You better not be having an abortion in there!” at the top of his lungs. Anyway, Evan tells her that she’s just another conquest to Briain, and that she’ll be the laughingstock of the entire town, which is actually printed on her business cards as her occupation anyway.

Speaking of laughingstocks, several of them are assembled at the bar at Tigh Thaidhg, where Caitríona is telling no one in particular that she is on an all-baby-carrot diet for Lent. Vince notes that they’re supposed to be going out for a romantic Valentine’s dinner at Gaudi, so she explains that if she eats these 5 kilos of baby carrots now, then she’ll be full and won’t eat anything at Gaudi. I know if I were Vince, I’d be thrilled that my carefully planned romantic Valentine’s Day dinner at Gaudi turned into me eating while Caitríona sits there drinking water and burping carrot fumes in my face. Máire comes downstairs grousing about what a pig Tadhg is, as if that comes as news to anyone here, and then she embarks on a rant about how Lent has gotten so commercialized that we’ve all forgotten its true meaning, but mercifully it’s cut short by the arrival of the deliveryman with Bobbi-Lee’s flowers. Caitríona is skeptical and snotty, especially when Bobbi-Lee announces that it’s from one of her squadron of secret admirers, and then Máire tut-tuts that it’s a shame people don’t buy plants that will last instead of cut flowers that will wilt in a couple of days. At this Bobbi-Lee, who is apparently the only person on earth who has never been around cut flowers before, exclaims with surprise that they better last more than a couple of days considering how much they cost, and everyone starts ganging up to make fun of her, led by ringleader Caitríona.

Now it’s no secret that I love Bobbi-Lee, and I recognize that a big part of what makes her so loveable is her collection of flaws and weaknesses, which sometimes lead to her being the butt of the joke or some light mocking. But I don’t like it when it feels like she’s being humiliated, especially over something deep-rooted like this rather than something silly like “Boobi-Lee.” I guess what redeems this is that rather than appearing genuinely hurt at a core level, she tells them all to go eff themselves and then starts concocting her next scheme. Anyway, Caitríona grabs the card out of the flowers and does a dramatic reading of the poem Bobbi-Lee has written about herself, which I’ll admit is pretty cringe-worthy, and just as I start wishing Bobbi-Lee would reach across the bar and punch Caitríona in the mouth, John Joe says he’s the one who sent the flowers and wrote the poem. Caitríona doesn’t believe him, but at least she gives it a rest, and John Joe gives Bobbi-Lee a sly wink. Aww, chivalry isn’t dead, but sometimes it takes a kick in the hole from Caitríona to wake it up.

Back at the hospital, we are all devastated to find out that Sonia is still alive, though she’s asleep after her earlier “attack,” which Helen explains to Pádraig was caused by high blood pressure. Helen is all of a sudden being a passive-aggressive ass now that her awful friend is awake, which shows that Sonia is a creeping evil that taints everything it comes in contact with, like wood rot. Helen priggishly announces that all Pádraig’s arguing and rudeness is going to kill Sonia, and I’m not sure which is the bigger problem with this statement: the idea that Pádraig is the one responsible for the arguing and rudeness or the concept that Sonia dying would be a bad thing somehow. Anyway, she orders Pádraig to pack up Sam’s things and bring them to the hospital tomorrow, because he’ll be staying with her until Sonia’s well enough for him to come home, or at least until Helen has a month-long “conference” in Barbados she needs to go to and she leaves Sam in a basket on Máire’s door.

At the pub, Bobbi-Lee gives John Joe a pint on the house as a thank-you for saving her from the bullies earlier, but tells him not to expect anything more from her. Nice. He starts trying to make pleasant conversation with her, which Bobbi-Lee turns into a soliloquy about how she’s going to say she’s giving up men for Lent, and then Laoise and Berni wander up. The little black cloud that’s been following Laoise around all day has intensified into a Code Red Wagonstorm, so she viciously insults John Joe some more and then concludes by saying the problem with this place is that people are always sticking their noses into your business. I think Laoise may be overestimating how much of a crap anyone on this show gives about her at this point. Anyway, you may recall that being the target of gossip has been an ongoing theme for Berni since this Briain thing started up, so this unhinged rant from Laoise gives her something to chew on, and unlike the food at the café, it’s not full of gristle and hoof.

Mo, Colm, and Mack are having a drink at a table, and when Mack brings up Mo's multimedia guacamole extrusion out in the street this morning, Colm looks concerned. After a brief foray through Mack thinking this means Mo is pregnant, which she fortunately does not disprove by whipping the wee stick out of her pocket and telling the story of the false positive, she eventually tells him that she has bowel cancer, but that she’s having an operation next week that will take care of it. She swears him to secrecy, which is usually a losing proposition with ol’ Mack here, but his stunned silence and the worried look in his eyes tell us he’s really rattled by this.

Upstairs, Frances has packed Tadhg’s bags and says it’s time for him to sashay away, but he informs her that he’s not going anywhere and continues making a big mess just to annoy her. She tells her they’ve got to cut out this nonsense and act like grown-ups, but he spits that after her little performance the other night, everyone in the village knows what’s going on and Maggie is very upset. Oh, boo hoo. He says he tried to settle things fairly and even offered to give her the pub, no strings attached, but she threw it back in his face so now she’s getting nothing. She asks what’s going to happen to Áine, and he replies that Áine is Daddy’s pet and likes Maggie, so there’ll be no problems there. Also, Maggie carries her purse on an easily slashed strap and can't run very fast, which are definite points in her favor in Áine’s book. He plops down and turns the volume on the TV up to “747 engine,” and Frances asks if his strategy is to deafen her until she leaves, and he replies that he doesn’t care why she leaves, but he’s going to do whatever it takes to get rid of her, and that she will go. Uhh, Happy Valentine’s Day?

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