Saturday, April 14, 2018

Ten Bags of Manure and a Comedy Cactus

Season 22, Episode 63
First aired 10 April 2018

We open with Mack chasing Fia into the shop, assuring her that he’s not here to stick his nose in her business, which she’d understand if she’d just stop and let him stick his nose in her business for a minute. She tells him to buzz off unless this is about something other than his BFF Niall, which is going to put a serious crimp in the conversation, because the only other thing Mack likes to talk about is the time he saw somebody in Aldi who he thought was Ross Kemp but it turned out wasn’t. Anyway, before Mack can fully buzz off, Niall appears outside the shop window carrying his backpack, so Fia shouts at Mack that she can’t believe he did this, although of course it’s really the only believable course of action here. Mack looks sheepish, and Fia’s going to feel bad when it turns out Mack had nothing to do with this and that Niall and his backpack are actually here because Ros na Rún is coincidentally hosting the World Boy Scout Jamboree this week.

Mo emerges from her bedroom in her robe and finds Colm and David, only one of whom is supposed to be at her kitchen table this time of day. Colm should leave immediately! David has of course stopped in on his mail rounds for a light buffet breakfast, and then stupidly decides to put his foot way up in it by joking about how it’s nice for some lazy sods like Mo who are able to sleep late and laze around in their bathrobes when they’re not busy puking up their chemo drugs. Eventually he realizes what he’s said and tries to dig himself out of it, but Mo has met him before and is therefore surprised only by the fact that he stopped himself before saying, “I wish I had cancer!” and putting his head down on the table for a sob. She lets him twist in the wind for a while before he finally throws today’s letters at her, some of which may actually be intended for her or Colm, and runs out the door. Unfortunately for her, one of them is a bill from the hospital demanding she pay €5000 for the chemo she’s had so far. Colm assures her it must be a mistake because her insurance should be paying for it all, but she looks worried. Clearly the solution is for Mo to stop opening letters from the hospital.

At Gaudi, Dee is playing what appears to be a new variant of “Shag, Marry, Kill” with Jason in which the choices are beef stroganoff, chili con carne, and Nicolas Cage. Before Jason can ask “Nic Cage from which era?”, however, Dee explains that she’s asking his meal preference for the dinner party she’s having Monday night, which clearly Katy has forgotten to tell him about, further confirming our suspicion that Katy and Jason’s entire relationship is a slow-motion game of “Shag, Marry, Kill,” in that order. Mack arrives to give Dee the Fia/Niall report, and she says that he did the right thing and then commands Jason to agree with her even though he has no idea who any of these people are and the only emotion he is capable of feeling anymore is vague 360-degree hatred.

At the café, where today’s special is lasagna panini with chips, Mo finishes a call with the hospital and tells Úna that it turns out it was just an administrative error, which when talking to a hospital always means you are going to end up stuck with the bill. Speaking of terrible mistakes, she asks Úna what the latest with the whole Aidan thing is, and Úna replies that she’s decided she’ll just have to take leave without pay until this transfer goes through a year from now. At this, Mo expresses disbelief that Úna has apparently forgotten to tell her that she is independently wealthy and therefore has no need for income, but Úna replies that naah, she just figures she’ll live with Mo rent-free for the next year, eating her food and flirting with her boyfriend. Remember when mother-daughter bonding meant going for a pedicure a couple of times per year? After Mo finishes pooing her pants, she smiles and says this sounds iontach, as long as “iontach” means “terrible” now.

Back at Gaudi, Pádraig is showing Katy a series of paint chips and asking which she prefers, “Questionable Paternity Beige” or “I Hate My Sister Red.” Katy demonstrates her existential despair by voting for “Eggshell White,” which is the color you paint your room when you’ve JUST. GIVEN. UP, and of course this is pointless anyway because we all know Pádraig’s room is just going to end up painted Hideous Puce. Jason floats through and he and Katy pretend not to despise each other until Pádraig is out of earshot, at which point they revert to their usual policy of mutually assured destruction, and then we pan over to Gráinne, who’s entered so Pádraig can tell her how excited he is that she and David are moving out, which based on her googly eyes and labored swallowing is possibly not as done a deal as Pádraig thinks it is.

Out in the street, John Joe tries to guilt O’Shea into helping Úna, and then we’re at the B&B, where Máire is complaining about Niall’s return and trying to beat Laoise in a Sour Expression Contest, which is obviously a losing battle. Fia is also griping about how unreasonable Niall is being, what with his existing and all, and Laoise is clearly torn here, because on one hand, she hates everyone, but on the other hand, she really really hates Fia. Máire exclaims that Fia doesn’t need Niall around because she’s been doing a perfectly good job of taking care of Liam Óg on her own. She’s changed her tune, but we expect she’ll change it back again the next time Fia chases her down the street and slaps her. Listening to Máire really is like listening to a radio that’s tuned halfway between two competing stations. Laoise’s opinion is that Liam Óg will grow up resenting Fia if she keeps him away from his dad, although if Fia were trying to get Niall to spend more time with Liam Óg, we’re sure Laoise’s opinion would be that Niall is Molesty Molesterson and that Fia is an idiot slapper for trying to put them together.

At this point Fia asks Laoise if she doesn’t have somewhere else she could be right now, such as at work or being compressed into a quantum singularity in a black hole at the center of a distant galaxy, and when Laoise asks her why she hates Niall so much, she replies that he’s ruined everything between her and Vanessa forever. It seems that, contrary to the story she told Máire, all Fia and Vanessa did in Australia was fight about everything, such as whether water spirals the wrong way down the sink and whether a kangaroo will let you climb in its pouch, and that she finally had to come back because Vanessa hates her over the Niall thing and will never forgive her. Intentionally getting your mother’s boyfriend drunk so he will sleep with you: the gift that keeps on giving. Anyway, this is all Niall’s fault somehow, and he is a menace to society who must be kept from his son.

Upstairs at the pub, Frances is looking at photos of the children on Jason’s phone and exclaiming that Jay looks like Conall, who is apparently a Daly of some kind. Sorry, Frances, the correct answer would have been, “My goodness, doesn’t Jay look like Mack?” She thanks him for calling her to meet with him, and he tells her that they’ll always be family no matter what happens between her and Tadhg. That’s the nicest thing Jason has said to anyone since, well, ever, which makes us wonder what his ulterior motive is. Maybe he’s going to ask Frances to help him dispose of Katy’s body. He asks if there’s any chance she and Tadhg will get back together, but she sadly says no, because Tadhg was in love with Maggie the whole time, and there’s no point in sticking together if both parties don’t want it. So, you’re saying you don’t think Katy would fit in the bin outside Texaco? What if you folded her in half?

Fia arrives at Gaudi to find Katy, Pádraig, and (for some reason) Laoise having a nice chat about how excited he is to have Sam back in his life. Laoise takes this opportunity to publicly stick it to Fia once again, exclaiming at high volume how lucky Sam is that, unlike some blonde slappers we could mention, his mother thinks it’s important for him to have a relationship with his father. OK, Laoise clearly neither watches this show nor reads these recaps or else she wouldn’t be calling Sonia “reasonable,” or Sam “lucky.” Pádraig agrees, and Fia purses her lips and rolls her eyes like an adorably annoyed kewpie doll and then presents the opposite opinion, which Pádraig also agrees with, so this is all very productive. The final sentiment expressed is that while Sonia was keeping them apart, Sam thought it was his fault that his dad didn’t want anything to do with him, which allows Laoise to zap an “I told you so” look at Fia, which is the only joy she has nowadays.

John Joe is busily counting the gas pumps and taste-testing the various grades of petrol when O’Shea shows up and hands him a slip of paper with the name of some guy who also hates Aidan and will give Úna the evidence she needs to do whatever she’s trying to do. It seems Aidan has been a mover and shaker in the field of police corruption for some time, and this man is, like, the author of the Wikipedia page about it or whatever. She tells John Joe he’s not allowed to tell Úna where this tip came from, though, and it’s unclear whether it’s something to do with secret police business or just that O’Shea wants Úna to continue thinking she’s a stone cold bitch.

Laoise arrives at Keane’s to spread her special brand of pixie dust and mirth. Adam is hard at work painting the stripes on candy canes or whatever they do there, so she criticizes the way he’s doing everything just on principle and tells him that Micheál will be displeased when she tells him about it. Adam, who you may recall is the #2 computer hacker in the world, just above Mark Zuckerberg but below everyone in Russia, explains that he’s busy transferring the shop’s inventory and price list from the 19th-century copybooks Micheál has been using to Excel ‘77, which he found lying around on a floppy disk at the library. Laoise, of course, tells him what a waste of time this has been and what an idiot he is, and also what a total slut he is for having a baby with Niall. It’s possible her Wagon 95 operating system is malfunctioning. Before she leaves, she asks if he’s ever heard the phrase “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” but he’s too busy looking pleased with himself to respond by asking her if she’s ever heard the phrase, “Beat it, ho.”

Meanwhile, Fia arrives home at the B&B to find Máire in a tizzy, even by her standards. Of course the long-term reason for this is that Máire finds the world upsetting and unbearable, but the short-term trigger is that Niall is there, and while she acts as if he’s holding her and the baby hostage with a flare gun à là the best episode of Fair City EVER, no, he’s just sitting around waiting for Fia to come home so he can have a reasonable chat with her. The monster!

After the break, during which we switched off all the lights and closed the curtains so Laoise wouldn’t know we’re home, Mo is on the phone arguing with the insurance company, explaining that she filled out all the forms they sent her and that this is a complete load. This is very confusing for me as an American because I thought everybody in the world had government healthcare except us, but Mo seems to be under the impression that she is officially screwed here, so I’ll take her word for it.

Back at the B&B, Fia asks Máire to scram so she can have a private conversation with her babydaddy. I should point out that Niall seems to have ditched the plastic necklace we all (all right, I) hated during his earlier appearances, and which I was afraid Danny Mac Eachmharcaigh might punch me over when he was sitting there reading one of my recaps while sitting next to me on the couch in the Ros na Rún green room. Once Máire’s gone, Niall asks Fia why she didn’t bother letting him know she was back in Ireland, and she basically replies, “Because I didn’t want to. Bloop!” He says he just wants to get to know his son, and she snots that he “already had that chance.” None of us have any idea what the hell she’s talking about, including Niall, and when he replies that she promised she’d let him have contact with his son and then vanished, she blames everybody but herself. Commendably, he remains calm and doesn’t take the bait, instead calmly telling her that this is a fresh start for them, and that he wants what’s best for their son, demonstrating in the process some quality lenition and eclipsis, referring to Liam Óg first as “mo pháiste” and then as “ár bpáiste.” We all love a man with impeccable grammar, rrrowr.

Jason arrives at Gaudi and Katy immediately picks a fight with him over the fact that…ah, there’s no reason to finish that sentence. It’s nice that they’re taking turns being the aggressor here, since all last week he was the one who started pointless fights with her in every scene.

Out in the street, Mo and Colm are eagerly helping Úna pack up her shit and so she can get the hell out of town. Of course, most of what she’s brought to town seems to consist of scarves, so the packing is going quickly. She promises them she’ll get things settled wherever she lives and return for good soon, to which they reply that there’s no rush and that they hear that autumn a good time to move houses, particularly autumn 2026. Just then John Joe arrives with the magical slip of paper and tells Úna that if she calls the number, she’ll get a pleasant surprise. Oh, I do hope O’Shea has actually given Úna the number of a phone sex line. They thank him and Úna drives off, and then Mo exclaims to Colm, “It looks like things are finally looking up for us!”, which of course is a soap-opera cue for a piano to fall on one or both of them immediately.

Upstairs at the pub, Tadhg tells Jason that one of that Donegal crowd was in looking for him earlier, which leads to his usual diatribe about how terrible the Dalys are, and that Jason’s really stuck now that he’s stupidly married and had a baby with one of them. This clearly strikes a nerve with Jason, who’s all, “Ní stuck mé!”, and Tadhg tells him to keep his hair on, such as it is. (I’m allowed to say this because I have even less hair than Jason.) He adds that the Dalys are terrible, but that they’re better than being alone, he guesses, which is really the nicest thing Tadhg has ever said about any of them. More startlingly, he manages to say it without making fun of their accents, which is a sure sign that the apocalypse is upon us. Jason asks if Tadhg misses Frances and Áine, and when he says he does, Jason asks if he regrets his decision to leave them. Tadhg replies that he regrets a lot of things, such as this conversation, but that there’s nothing he can do about it now.

Back at the B&B, Fia explains to Máire that she’s decided to let Niall spend time with Liam Óg, what with his being his father and all. Máire’s charitable response, of course, is along the lines of him, “Is he forcing you to say that? HAS HE GOT A GUN?”, but Fia ignores her nonsense and calmly states that it will be good for Liam Óg to know his father, especially since his great-grandmother is a lunatic. Máire is passive-aggressive to both of them about it and then starts rattling off the house rules, which she carries around on a laminated sheet of paper for occasions such as this: no kidnapping Liam Óg, no feeding Liam Óg outside the approved schedule, no giving him new foods without submitting a form in triplicate 3 business days in advance, etc. She really has got a nerve. She acts like Niall’s going to be feeding him drain cleaner and razor blades if they give him the chance. Once again he manages to keep his mouth shut in the face of an onslaught of insanity and agrees to all this, which hopefully means next episode he’ll take Liam Óg to a strip club where he’ll feed him raw oysters half an hour before his scheduled dinnertime.

Over at Keane’s, local nutter Cóilí Jackie has arrived to kick some giant bags of fertilizer and ask Adam if they’re on sale. Adam, who is hilariously carrying a cactus around for no reason, tells him that the bags of shit are regular price, but that he’s just lowered the price on this cactus. He looks genuinely heartbroken when Cóilí Jackie informs him that he doesn’t believe he needs a cactus right now, thank you, and instead will just take one of these giant bags of fertilizer, because no matter how hard he tries, he just can’t produce that quantity of poo in a day. Adam says they’re €7.50 per bag, at which point Jackie suddenly remembers that he actually needs ten bags AND the cactus, leaving Adam looking delighted. Oh my God, you guys, I cannot tell you how happy the sight of Adam and now Cóilí Jackie carrying this cactus around is making me, although as a cactus grower myself, I do worry somewhat about Cóilí Jackie’s ability to take care of it/not feed it to a goat immediately.

Back at Gaudi, Dee tries to confirm the time for Monday’s dinner party with Katy, whom Jason clearly hasn’t told about it, even though earlier in the episode it seemed it was Katy who hadn’t told Jason about it. Perhaps all this lawyering, barristering, or solicitoring is starting to get to Dee. Jason wanders past and says he didn’t bother telling Katy about it because he knew they wouldn’t be able to go, because he’s planned a family trip to Dublin to visit someone called Paddy that he also hasn’t told Katy about. Absent lines of communication are so important in a hate-based relationship. Dee leaves in a huff, and Katy starts a fight with Jason about how he’s planned this trip to Dublin just to avoid having dinner with Mack and Dee. Well, to be fair, David will also be there, and he’s not a big draw either. He apologizes for having been so grumpy lately and adds that a few days away from the Tadhg/Frances drama is exactly what they need, and she eventually agrees to go on one condition, which is that he lets her take a photo of him standing VERY close to the edge of the Liffey and will keep backing up to “fit into the frame” as many times as she tells him without asking any questions.

Laoise returns to the spiritual yoga studio or wherever Adam works and, after giving him a combination compliment/insult about the job he did sweeping the floor, tells him she needs to buy a bag of fertilizer. He smugly replies that she’s lucky there are any left after Cóilí Jackie came in earlier and bought ten bags of it at €7.50 each. Laoise whips out the copybook and points out to him that they’re actually €17.50 each, and that he clearly entered them in the spreadsheet wrong and therefore collected, err, some too-small mathematical quantity of money from Jackie earlier. Well, at least this time Adam will get fired for something he actually did.

Back home, Mo and Colm are taking advantage of not having Úna around anymore by making out on the couch. The phone rings, and it turns out to be the hospital, or possibly the insurance company. She listens for a while and then hangs up in disbelief, because not only was their hold music the seasonally inappropriate “Fairytale of New York,” but it seems that because her insurance policy had a six-month waiting period before it would cover anything, she’s going to have to pay every penny of the chemotherapy bill out of her own pocket! Clearly the only solution is for her to get Adam a job at the hospital so he can accidentally drop several zeroes off her bill.

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