Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Eric's Gonna Buy You a Diamond Ring

Season 23, Episode 2
First aired 6 September 2018

We open at Gaudi, where Berni, Caitríona, and Máire are discussing Runaway Jay, which Berni charitably chalks up to Katy’s bad parenting. Of course Katy herself walks up behind them just in time to overhear this, so she shoos them all away and then plops herself down on the barstool beside Mack and complains that she sure wishes she had something to worry about other than everybody in town thinking she’s a bad mother. Right on cue, Dee wanders in and sees Mack putting his hand comfortingly on Katy’s, so she decides this is the perfect moment to come over and stick it to Katy by announcing that she and Mack are having a baby for completely non-manipulative reasons. Mazel tov, I guess?

Over at the café, Eric and Laoise are both pretending to care about getting her an engagement ring. The only one in this scene who is at all excited about this prospect is Bobbi Lee, not because she gives a crap about either of them, but because it gives her an opportunity to be jealous about the fact that she doesn’t have a giant diamond ring, although of course if she wanted one she could strong-arm any number of eligible bachelors into getting her one, such as Pádraig or that guy who works at the pub sometimes when all the actual characters need to be available elsewhere for story purposes. Eric finally says firmly that he wants to buy Laoise a ring, but she doesn’t bother responding and instead smiles uncomfortably into the middle distance, which we can safely proclaim is The Official Facial Expression Of Laoise And Eric. For all our sakes, Bobbi Lee interrupts the terrible awkwardness by making it about herself again, and after Eric and Laoise giggle politely, he suggests they make a day of ring-shopping in Galway, complete with lunch and, depending on how things go, possibly also dinner. Laoise is torn, because on one hand, lunch and dinner are meals she has heard of, but on the other, she may completely despise Eric. That is quite a dilemma.

Back at Gaudi, Dee is batting Katy around like a mouse with its prey by smilingly asking her leading questions such as, “Are you looking forward to being an aunt?” and “On a scale of 1 to 10, how devastated are you by this news?” Katy does indeed have the expression of someone who’s pretty sure she’s going to throw up a lot of Red Bull-and-vodka Jell-O shots, probably not in the next five minutes, but almost certainly within the next hour, and is therefore scrambling to think of an excuse to leave this child’s birthday party before the singing and cake. At one point she musters the courage to point out that just a few weeks ago Dee was talking about how she didn’t want a baby, so Dee replies that she’s allowed to change her mind in a tone that’s simultaneously angelic and menacing, like a Care Bear waving a broken bottle around. Eventually she threatens Katy into giving her a hug and lying about how happy this makes her, at which point Dee informs her that she and Mack are keeping this a secret so she’s not allowed to tell anyone, thereby maximizing the chances that Katy will develop a stress-induced bleeding ulcer over this by the end of the week.

Back at the café, Bobbi Lee is looking at engagement rings on her phone—one of which I swear is engraved in Russian—with her new BFF Laoise, who looks pained. As Bobbi Lee swipes left and right on her phone Tindr-style and squeals a lot, Laoise protests that none of these seem quite right for her no matter how much they resemble the one Lady Di had. She says she wants to go to the local jeweller’s workshop instead to see if there’s something there that better captures her feelings about Eric, such as a rusty bottle cap with a finger hole punched through it. You can’t spell “tetanus” without “us.” Eric strolls into the frame about this time, presumably from using the toilet and then stuffing it full of newspapers so nobody else can use it, and asks his barfing blushing bride-to-be what all this talk of a jeweller’s workshop is, so Laoise explains awkwardly that she would really prefer to shop for a ring at a local business, especially since they tend to have more lenient return policies.

A flustered Frances bursts into Gaudi and is relieved to find her lawyer, barrister, or solicitor Dee there. She apologizes for all the messages she left Dee last night, which makes us imagine a series of increasingly drunk and desperate voicemails culminating in Frances screaming the first verse of “Go Your Own Way” before throwing up into the phone. A distracted Dee says she hasn’t bothered listening to any of them because she’s got more important things on her mind, but she does confirm that the folks at her office got the one Frances most wants not to have happened, which is the one in which she demanded they send Tadhg an angry, threatening letter. This gives Frances a mild case of diarrhea face, because when she called she thought Tadhg was just being his usual noxious self, but now that it turns out he skipped the meeting with the mediator because he was out searching for his missing grandson, sending a nasty letter makes her look like a total jerk.

And, right on cue, we cut to the pub where an unnervingly bouncy Tadhg strolls into the kitchen with the post. His whistling shifts from a jolly “Walk Like an Egyptian” or whatever to an ominous “Flight of the Valkyries” when he reads the letter from Frances’ solicitor. I question whether her phone call to her lawyer yesterday afternoon would’ve resulted in a letter arriving at (according to Tadhg’s wristwatch) 9:05 a.m. today, especially with Postman David on the case, who keeps accidentally delivering mail to Iceland instead of Ireland, but I guess the takeaway here is that Frances has really stepped in it this time.

At Gaudi, Katy is distractedly drying a champagne glass with a lettuce leaf when her dad arrives for breakfast. However, when he opens his wallet he either discovers it’s empty or remembers that he’s economizing in preparation for any spine-shatteringly enormous fines and lawsuits that may hypothetically be coming his way, and instead changes his order to a small glass of water and half a lime wedge. When he explains that he thought he was hungry but then suddenly remembered he wasn’t, as one does, Katy is dubious and then tells him that Noreen told her about Quarrygate and that he’s refused to accept her money. He says he’d rather kill everyone in Ireland and then himself before taking one penny from Ferdia, which is understandable to anyone who has ever met Ferdia, and then storms out in a cloud of “mind your own business” when Katy tells him he can’t ignore this problem forever.

Over at the pub, Tadhg is alarmed because Bobbi Lee is a) present and b) working, which, in his defense, I’m pretty sure are two of the signs of the apocalypse in that famous sacred tome, Fifty Shades of Grey. She explains that she’s here because today is the day the Ireland’s Villagiest Village prize check is being presented, and if there’s one thing we can’t get enough of, it’s this storyline. Fortunately we’re spared further details when Frances arrives and starts apologizing for the nasty letter her lawyer sent Tadhg, and admitting she judged him too harshly. He snots that she’s been doing that a lot lately—you know, because this whole marriage breakdown has been Frances’ fault—and then huffs off, leaving Bobbi Lee, who has stopped working and has been blatantly eavesdropping this whole time, looking worried. If only this conversation had happened at the community center, she could’ve broadcast it on the radio and solved everyone’s problems.

At the café, Eric and Laoise have returned from ring-shopping and are enjoying a cup of tea with their apparent friends Gráinne and David. Well, as much as Eric and Laoise enjoy anything. He exclaims that he was surprised how quickly they were in and out of the shop, suggesting that Laoise’s main criteria for picking a ring were “more or less the right size” and “located near the front door.” Even better, she isn’t even bothering to wear it, having to extricate it from her purse when Gráinne notices it’s nowhere to be seen. Given how obvious Laoise’s being about her complete lack of enthusiasm over this marriage, I’m not sure whether Eric is headless or just doesn’t give a crap either. She produces a sad-looking ring that appears to be from Pauline Fowler’s “When You’ve Just Given Up” line, but before everyone can burst into tears of existential despair, Mo appears and asks them if they’re going to the pub for the Ireland’s Villagiest Village thing, which I am officially done recapping about considering it went on for 2 years and the grand prize was a beanbag chair for a teen hangout room at the community center we’ve never seen. On the plus side, this scene gives Mo the opportunity to slap David in the back of the head for being stupid, which is much more deserving of a giant novelty check anyway.

Upstairs at the pub, Katy is having a heated phone conversation with Jason about lending John Joe money to fix the Chernobyl situation over at the quarry. For some reason Jason does not believe he’d like to give his savings to his estranged wife’s father right now and hangs up on her, which is really the first enjoyable thing Jason has done in about three years. She looks aggrieved and then picks up what appears to be an application for a bank loan, although since it’s all in Irish and there are no subtitles it could also be a request for a death certificate or a takeout menu from Nando’s.

Everyone is at the pub for the thing I’m not talking about anymore, and then the arrival of a diamond causes Bobbi Lee to materialize, like saying “Beetlejuice” three times. She strains to see the diamond in Laoise’s ring, craning her neck as if she needs the Hubble Telescope to see it, and then brightly remarks, “It’s nice!” Snerk. Máire then makes a big production out of smooshing Laoise and Micheál together until their faces are touching and making everyone applaud for them over their role in the thing I’m Totally Done With, which is awkward for everyone and causes Eric to shoot giant novelty daggers at them.

Upstairs, Katy is sitting at the table practicing forging Jason’s signature when Tadhg comes in and is obnoxious towards her for a while. When he finally leaves, she turns her head and looks meaningfully at the heating vent he’s been stashing cash in since last season and then smiles. Well, we knew that was coming.

After the break, we’re at the café, where Bobbi Lee is supportively haranguing Frances about not letting Tadhg get to her. She pauses for a moment to give Cóilí Jackie time to hit his mark and then announces that what Frances really needs to do is wipe the smirk off Tadhg’s face by finding herself a new man. She offers to take her clubbing to pick up a man, hopefully at that club she keeps going to with Pádraig and Adam where the men are all stylishly dressed and amazing dancers, and when Frances protests that she’s too old for such things, Bobbi Lee asks noted clubbing expert Cóilí Jackie to back her up. In case you’ve forgotten the crumbs we were dropped about him having a crush on Frances at the end of last season, he’s been bugging his eyes out and drooling over her throughout this conversation, thereby providing the “Hot Love Now!” portion of this episode.

Back at the pub, Máire continues physically shoving Micheál and Laoise together, demanding they sit in each other’s laps so Vince can take their photo. It’s awkward for everyone, so Tadhg finally puts us all out of our misery by loudly announcing that Romeo and Juliet are finally together. Hopefully, as with the actual Romeo and Juliet, this will be a three-day romance that ends with six people dead. He continues that Micheál should make a speech like the one he made on the radio the other day, which it seems everyone in town except Laoise knows all about. We all find it unbelievable that she wouldn’t have heard about Micheál’s confession from somebody, Máire, but we’ll suspend our disbelief because it allows for the awkward scene we’ll all be enjoying shortly.

In the meantime, Katy is removing fistfuls of money from the heat vent, which conveniently for her is somehow held on by a single screw that defies all known Newtonian physics. We then return downstairs, where all hell is breaking loose. Laoise demands to know what all this is about, and then gets angry when Eric grabs her arm and tries to drag her out. Micheál tells him to keep his dirty hands off her and so on, and there’s a tussle, and then Eric brilliantly holds up Laoise’s be-ringed hand and announces that she belongs to him now and so Micheál better stay away. Shockingly, Laoise does not seem to appreciate being talked about as property, so she shouts that she’s sick of both of them and storms out.

Chez John Joe, Katy is stacking piles of cash on the coffee table and matter-of-factly informing him that all his worries are over, because now he can clean up the lagoon over at Chernobyl, open a nice interactive visitors’ center, and buy himself something pretty. She cycles through a variety of obvious lies about who gave her the money, including Jason, a friend from two towns over, and a magical faerie named Geegoo, and then immediately folds like a house of cards and admits she stole it from Tadhg. He orders her to return it immediately, in the process revealing that Tadhg is part owner of the quarry anyway, so she gathers it up and huffs off.

Over at the shop, Mo tells Gráinne that Peatsaí is doing better and should be coming home from the hospital soon. It’s about time, he’s been in there since June. Gráinne thinks this is iontach, and then the conversation turns to Chernobyl. Mo first defends John Joe, worrying that Amy’s rumors could ruin him, but then makes ambiguous faces when Gráinne wonders if they might not be rumors after all.

Elsewhere, Cóilí Jackie not-at-all-subtly asks Tadhg if Frances is on the market now, i.e., “Is your woman up for grabs?”, as if she’s a prize heifer at the cattle auction. Sensing this would be a fun opportunity to play with Cóilí Jackie’ head and as a side benefit make Frances miserable, Tadhg decides to encourage him to pursue Frances romantically, lamenting that their marriage is over and it’s time for everybody to move on, especially if it means Cóilí Jackie moving on in the direction of Frances’ knickers. He adds that, now that he thinks of it, Frances did spend a lot of time talking dreamily about what a fine man CJ is, urgh, and then they both leave looking pleased with themselves. This may backfire on Tadhg when Aine starts calling Cóilí Jackie “Daddy.”

Mo arrives at John Joe’s and demands to know if it’s true that his quarry has poisoned all of Ireland. To be fair, I think there are a few people in Co. Wicklow who aren’t throwing up yet. He’s evasive, which means yes, so she starts berating him for almost killing Uncle Pest. He explains that sure, there was a tiny crack in the tank when he bought the place, but there’s no proof that it’s what’s causing all these cases of Quarry Leakage Syndrome, and furthermore, to be a good sport he will patch the crack if he ever has thousands of euros lying around. Mo yells at him some more and then storms off, shooting him a lot of serious filthies on the way out. If she thinks she’s mad now, wait till Amy convinces her the quarry caused her cancer, too.

At the B&B, Maire is in her 3,784th consecutive hour of folding laundry when Laoise appears toting an overnight bag and asks if she can spend the night. Another successful Ros na Rún engagement!

At the pub, Dee’s phone chimes a reminder which she explains to Mack notifies it’s time for her to take her birth-control pill. He proudly notes she won’t be needing that anymore, and then starts banging on about how, since the baby will be born in spring, they can name it Hayfever or something. Dee reminds him that sometimes it takes a while to get pregnant, but he says he thinks it’ll happen immediately, and given his track record of knocking up Dalys on the first try, I can’t argue with him. He heads off to order drinks and then she reaches into her purse and quickly pops her pill. I wasn’t sure exactly how she planned to play out this scheme of hers, but it seems to be starting to take shape now, and that shape spells out “Eff You, World.”

Across town, Noreen hands John Joe a check for €10,000 and tells him Ferdia probably won’t notice it’s missing from the account. I wasn’t under the impression that Ferdia and Noreen had that much money lying around, but then I suppose Gráinne also didn’t notice when David emptied their bank account to buy Annette that fur coat or whatever. He looks grim, but she reminds him he has no other choice, so then he pronounces, “At least no one else will get hurt now,” which is the soap version of a character in a Greek tragedy shaking his fist at the sky, calling Zeus a fat bastard, and daring him to do something about it.

Upstairs at the pub, Katy crams fistfuls of cash back into the heat vent/ATM and then replaces the magical grate. When she turns around, though, she realizes...Tadhg is watching her! Hopefully there are enough samples of Jay’s DNA floating around that they will be able to use them to identify Katy’s remains.

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