Monday, January 14, 2019

Litigation Nation

Season 23, Episode 37
First aired January 8, 2019

We open in the shop, where a disheveled Caitríona comes hobbling in on crutch with her arm in a sling and wearing the remnants of her evil stepmother costume. She looks like Stevie Nicks after spending the night in a ditch full of Klonopin. Vince narrates that she broke her collarbone and ankle when Bobbi Lee dropped a house on her, demonstrating that Bobbi Lee actually can work efficiently when she wants to. Caitríona is in a foul mood and takes it out on innocent bystander Berni, which we are totally in favor of, but then Briain comes in and takes Berni’s mind off it with a drive-by suggestive smirk.

Over at the café, Bobbi Lee is holding court about how her natural superstardom saved the day at the panto, but Gráinne helpfully (i.e., unhelpfully) notes that Caitríona was the real star because her adlibs were funnier than anything in the script, which, by the way, they all know Niall wrote. Bobbi Lee appreciates this about as much as you’d expect and lashes back that Gráinne won’t be so smug when Caitríona sues her for her panto-induced injuries. In case you’re wondering why Caitríona would sue Gráinne, I’ll save you some time now by telling you that later on we are reminded that Gráinne was the producer of the panto. You’re welcome. Anyway, she looks pained, presumably due to PTSD from the various seaweed-related lawsuits she’s been involved in the past few years, such as when the viewers sued her for not ensuring Annette’s slip-and-fall injuries were fatal.

Caitríona is on the brink of death on her sofa, a situation we fear will continue for some time. I swear she was limping on her other ankle last episode, but am not going back to look, so I am just going to say she has a migrating fracture. Vince, who is slowly realizing that his new full-time job is playing indentured servant to the roiling cosmic vortex of angry neediness that is Caitríona, Stockholm-syndromes that six weeks on the couch will do her good, because she needs a break from bossing people around and making them do her work for her. She frowns and complains a lot, and then Vince assures her that she doesn’t need to worry about the salon because Gráinne is on the case. Yes, once Gráinne remembers a) where the salon is and b) that she works there, she’ll be totally on top of things. He’s about to leave to go pick Maeve up at her parole officer’s when It Begins: Caitríona whines that she needs him to hand her her laptop because it’s “out of reach,” by which she means, “if I extended my arm half an inch, I could reach it, but, well, I’m Caitríona, so: no.” I should point out it’s also on the side with the good arm, so there is really no excuse for this. Anyway, it’s been nice knowing you, Vince. The next time we see you, your skeleton will be picked clean.

At the pub, Berni and Bobbi Lee’s faces are two inches away from each other as they whisper conspiratorially about Briain, who is at a nearby table. Is he pretending not to see them blatantly talking about him, or is he really, really dumb? Answers on a postcard to:
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Berni complains that she can’t go to Brian’s exercise class with Tony in tow, but Bobbi Lee of course suggests that she strut into the class in a leather bikini with Tony on a leash in a harness and so on just to show Briain that she is totally over him and is now Ireland’s #2 dominatrix, right after Brenda Fricker. Tadhg comes over and asks if Bobbi Lee has plans to do any work at all this year, so she responds by whipping out her phone and starting to read the panto reviews from The Irish Times and National Geographic and so on, particularly the parts about her. Apropos of not much, Berni begins speculating about why Niall was late, and when Bobbi Lee trots off to harass someone named Sinéad, Tadhg points out that Bobbi Lee’s going to freak out when she finds out Niall was delayed by having an intimate conversation in a cemetery with his ex-wife. We weren’t sure Tadhg even knew who Niall and Vanessa are, but the important thing is that this has fertilized the seed that’s already in Berni’s mind that there’s something untoward happening between them and that it’s her responsibility to blow it wide open and upset everyone.

Speaking of, Niall and Vanessa run into each other at the shop and proceed to have the most awkward conversation in the history of the world about whether Liam Óg likes fish fingers. Of course Berni’s face materializes magically in the window and she frowns suspiciously at them, taking their sad expressions, shuffling gaits, and refusal to make eye contact with each other as a clear indication that sexy hijinks are afoot. Nothing gets past our Berni.

Back at the café, Gráinne has enlisted the help of noted legal expert Tony, assuming he’s been in court a time or two after accidentally running over a pedestrian in his squad car or police-brutalitying a tourist who’s stopped to ask him for directions. He claims he’s too busy, spending ten minutes telling her he doesn’t have time to give her thirty seconds’ worth of advice, and then starts carrying on about this amazing new trainer, who he’s heard used to play for a Z-list Australian mini-golf team but, somehow, has not heard also used to boink his girlfriend. I was going to say I’m not sure I believe nobody would have told him about Berni and Briain’s past in in a town in which a new exercise class is the most exciting topic of conversation in months, but then again, I don’t get the impression anybody gives a crap about Tony other than Berni, and she’s questionable. I have doubts about the logic of all this, but I will allow it because it enables the side-splittingly funny face Gráinne shoots at Berni when she shows up just as Tony burbles that he can’t believe he’ll get to train with the Brian McDonagh. Gráinne had fallen behind Dee and Adam in the Hilarious Facial Expression contest lately, but this one instantly catapults her back into first place. Berni makes up a story about not being able to go to class today because, errr, the café is on fire, so Tony wanders off and Gráinne declares all this ridiculous. Gráinne is a lot more fun when she’s not being so wholesome and worried about being biodegradable and whatnot.

At the hospital, all the Dalys and their hangers-on are sitting in the Corridor Of Doom And Fighting except Katy, and it appears they’ve been there for a while. Even Terrible Ferdia has graced us with his presence, which we’re sure is a great comfort to John Joe. A nurse wheels the patient in, having hosed him off in the parking lot or whatever, and then Katy shows up. Of course Dee finds this inherently annoying, and she’s even more pooed off when Mack—who is still on crutches, mind you—gets up and offers Katy his seat, which she immediately takes. OK, Katy, when the person with the severed hip and broken skeleton rattles himself into a semi-standing position to offer you his seat, you don’t take it just because you’re tired. Katy’s Parade of Self-Absorption continues when she takes Ferdia’s vending-machine sandwich from him and starts eating it, explaining that she’s starving because she didn’t get a chance to eat after spending all day in an effing restaurant, and Dee really looks like she’s about to reach over and pinch Katy’s head off. She points out that Katy’s only now bothered to show up and has already gotten a seat and a meal, and of course Noreen takes Katy’s side, but before the weave-snatching can start, John Joe mentions the €10,000 that Ferdia and Noreen loaned him for the quarry a while ago, which we had forgotten about and which, it turns out, comes as news to Ferdia. Noreen takes this as her cue to hustle John Joe down the hall to have his oil changed and spark plugs tightened, leaving Ferdia sputtering. Well, I’m sure that’s the last we’ll hear of this.

Vince rushes home in response to Caitríona’s text pleading for “urgent help,” which turns out to be a request for a cup of tea and a biscuit. When he expresses mild dismay, she turns on him and reminds him that she wouldn’t be here lingering pitifully on the border between this world and the next if it weren’t for him and his stupid panto, so he relents and goes to make the tea. She looks pleased with herself, and because this is Vince, he probably won’t even spit in it, which is the kind of thing that simultaneously makes us like him and want to throttle him.

Jazzercise is complete over at the community center, and Tony is banging on to Briain about how great the workout was and how next time he’ll bring his girlfriend. Briain could not possibly be less interested in any of this until Tony mentions that his girlfriend is a) hot and b) Berni, which gets a rise out of him. Use your imagination as to what you think that entails. Tony wanders off, which is really the only way he ever exits a scene, and Briain frowns. So much for his foolproof-yet-vague plan!

After the break, Ferdia is sulking alone in the hospital corridor when Noreen appears and awkwardly asks him if he’d like to join the game of strip Twister the family is playing in John Joe’s room. He’s a lot more interested in the generous €10,000 loan he just found out he made, so they fight for a while. Dee walks in and watches them argue, with Noreen’s position basically being that he doesn’t have anything to complain about since he didn’t even notice the money was missing and has gotten all of it back anyway, and Ferdia’s being that she took a tremendous amount of money out of their joint account behind his back to help her ex-husband. She storms off, and it seems Dee may think Noreen went a bit overboard here, but for the sake of family peace she tries to smooth things over by telling Ferdia that Noreen always wants to help everyone and protect them from upsetting things. (?) Ferdia agrees that sometimes people keep secrets in order to protect their loved ones, and this is all a little anvillicious, but it gives Dee something to think about, such as how many times she could run over Katy, back up, and run over her again and still make it look like an accident.

Vince is making dinner for Caitríona, which consists of 11 pounds of irregularly chopped vegetables, when Gráinne arrives carrying a bouquet of flowers and a box of Ferraro Rocher, the chocolates you give when you want to look like you’ve really pushed the boat out but actually do not like the person. She blows smoke up Vince’s ass for a while and then reminds him that since he was the panto director, he should be responsible for 50 percent of whatever damages Caitríona wins in the court case against them. He has no idea what she’s talking about, but then, because his life is a gaping maw of endless despair, he decides to have a little fun by stringing her along a bit, declaring that Caitríona has already had Dee over for a legal consultation. This causes Gráinne to turn fifteen shades of diarrhea and she heads for the door. He lamely attempts to tell her he was only joking, but to no avail. This is one of those situations that is completely unrealistic but necessary for this kind of storytelling, I suppose, because in real life Vince would spend two seconds shouting, “I’m only kidding!” after Gráinne as she runs off, but instead he is COMPLETELY UNABLE TO STOP HER and she runs off assuming she is about to experience financial ruin. I mean, even more than her and David’s baseline ruin.

At the shop, Berni tries to tell Bobbi Lee that Niall is obviously having sex with Vanessa, but Bobbi Lee gets a call from her agent and zooms off. Berni then notices Briain over on the toothpaste, rat poison, and baby food aisle doing my absolute favorite thing in the shop, which is walking down the aisle putting whatever is on the top shelf in his basket. We haven’t seen that in ages and my God, I’ve missed it. She goes over and tries to make conversation with him about how she depends on Head & Shoulders to fight her dandruff and leave her hair smelling like chemicals too, but he’s not interested. He grabs a pack of maxi-pads, the final item on his shopping list, and storms off to the till, and she doesn’t know what to do with herself, so she wanders over to the refrigerator case and starts intently studying a package of lunchmeat, which is simultaneously incredibly sad and the funniest thing I have seen all year.

Bobbi Lee comes flying into the pub shouting about her dead battery, by which we assume she means her phone, but with Bobbi Lee, you can never be sure. She really does have more problems with her phone than anyone else I’ve ever seen, including my 79-year-old mother, whose iPhone was once found to have 1,407 open browser tabs. As she plugs it in behind the bar, Tadhg decides to read the New York Times’ review of the panto, specifically the part that declares Caitríona the star of the show and the most convincing psychopath since David Schwimmer on Friends. Before Bobbi Lee’s outrage can get fully cranked up, though, her agent calls and offers her something that she seems very excited about until she asks “how long?,” at which point she looks crestfallen. There is a Grindr joke here, but this is a family-friendly site, so I’m going to let you make it yourself.

Back at the hospital set, John Joe can tell Noreen’s heart isn’t really in the game they’re playing, mostly because she keeps guessing letters even though he’s told her three times they’re playing cards, not Hangman. Finally she asks why he thanked Ferdia for the loan, and when he tries to teach her about a little something called “manners,” she has to admit that she never told Ferdia about it. Oops. He’s torn, because on the one hand he hates Ferdia with the passion of a thousand exploding suns, but on the other, he likes money, so they conclude that Dee is an ungrateful brat and should try to be more like Katy. I’m paraphrasing.

Caitríona has summoned Gráinne to her place, and she arrives wearing an enormous scarf we assume she’s using to camouflage the switchblade she’s brought in case this situation gets out of hand. She tries to make nice, telling her she looks good and hardly smells at all and so on, but Caitríona immediately starts bossing her around rudely, and to make a long story short, the misunderstanding about the lawsuit is cleared up, with Caitríona telling her that she’s not suing her even though she is a complete idiot. That last part is implied, but not by much.

At the pub, Bobbi Lee is distracted and ignoring the customers, so it’s business as usual. When she wanders away, leaving the bar unattended, Berni asks Niall what’s going on between him and Vanessa. She accuses them of doing all sorts of things, which he denies, but he doesn’t have a good answer when she asks why Bobbi Lee didn’t know Vanessa was coming back to town until, like, she woke up and found her in the bed between them. Just then Bobbi Lee wanders back downstairs and tells them her ambivalently exciting, or excitingly ambivalent, news: she’s been invited to sing on a cruise, which Niall declares “deadly.” Yes, especially since the ship is called Titanic II. The bad news is that she’ll be gone an extremely, extremely long time, and we all assume she’s been invited to be the singer on the first cruise to Mars or something. It turns out it’s only three weeks, which is nothing considering we’ve regularly seen Bobbi Lee skiving off work by claiming to have three-week-long periods. They both tell her she should do it, but she seems disappointed that Niall isn’t begging her to stay and threatening to die without her, especially when Berni points out that it’s ALMOST as if he’s trying to get rid of her and then skips away.

There’s a nice moment of father-daughter bonding between Dee and John Joe at the hospital, which will make it more poignant when she bludgeons Katy to death with his torso later, and then we’re at Berni’s, where Tony’s usual boringness is causing time to telescope backwards for her as they sit on the couch. As she watches the dinosaurs going extinct in reverse slow motion, he tells her his mother is so excited to meet her she’s taken the plastic off the furniture and set out the good toilet. Just as Berni is trying to decide if this is going to be a murder, a suicide, or a murder-suicide, Bobbi Lee enters, and it’s clearly the most excited Berni has ever been to see her, including the time she thought Andy had strangled her in the forest. She brightly/desperately begs Bobbi Lee to sit down and join them for a glass bottle crate of wine and a nice interminable game of Monopoly, but Tony is feeling whatever his equivalent of randy is and heads off to the bedroom, making sure to remind Berni to finish off the bottle of wine because it was very expensive, i.e., from the €3 shelf at Dealz. Once he’s gone, Bobbi Lee asks if Briain has turned Berni’s head at all, but she replies that no, she was just surprised to see him, and gulps hard. Bobbi Lee musters as much enthusiasm as she can about Tony, declaring that he’s “not so bad” and is “sound, really.” This is a compliment along the lines of when people where I come from say, “She don’t sweat much for a fat girl.” Berni agrees, vaguely, and then looks sadly into the middle distance. If she focuses hard enough, she’ll probably see Briain’s abs there.

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