Sunday, September 8, 2019

The Irish Mackstop

Season 24, Episode 2
First aired September 5, 2019

It’s a peaceful morning in Ros na Rún, by which I mean nobody is being shoved screaming into a police car, burning down a building, or threatening to jump off a roof yet. Still, these people are very resourceful, so we should give them time. We open with an annoyed Mack ignoring a series of phone calls and texts from Katy, and we get the impression that this has been going on for some time, and also that the mental hospital should perhaps supervise their “more fragile” patients’ phone use more closely. The latest text asks “Have you seen the DNA test yet? [eggplant emoji eggplant emoji].” That last part is implied. He pulls the scrap of paper with her email login and password out of his pocket, considers chucking it in the bin, but then sits down at the table where someone’s “Masha” brand laptop has presumably been downloading and installing Windows updates for the past eleven hours. Masha: The Computer Made By Albanians For Albanians. Just as he’s about to enter the password to Katy’s email account, Dee bursts in with a gaggle of children, at least 80 percent of whom were fathered by Mack, so he slams the laptop shut, which of course makes it look like he was looking at porn.

Elsewhere, a drug deal reminiscent of the one in the opening credits is happening in the street. Upon closer inspection it turns out to be Sorcha slipping Briain a scrap of paper— which may or may not have been ripped out of the same pad as Katy was using at the hospital the other day—with the name of someone she knows at So You Ran Over An Old Lady Motors. He’ll be able to get Briain a mirror for his 1982 Reliant Robin to replace the one that broke off in Jude’s torso, she explains. Just then Berni pops out of a doorway and hilariously bugs her eyes out at the sight of her intermittent soulmate fraternizing with the enemy. She flies up in Sorcha’s face and starts screaming at her, hissing that she warned her not to show her face around here again. I knew the people of Ros na Rún would regret that referendum that gave Berni the right to decide who can and cannot exist. Furthermore, she rants, she can’t believe she was so stupid as to give Sorcha another chance after all the other times she has screwed things up and caused drama. It always pains me to admit when Berni is right about something, but this is one of those times. Berni says that trouble follows Sorcha wherever she goes, which is rich coming from the woman who has been almost murdered by half the people she's ever met. Anyway, Berni concludes she is done with Sorcha, DONE! Of course everyone else who has ever met Berni, including Briain and Evan, would be thrilled to think she was DONE with them forever, but Sorcha looks sad, and after Berni storms off, she and Briain exchange pained glances, which in Briain’s world constitutes foreplay.

At the shop, David and Gráinne are playing emotional rock-paper-scissors over which of them has to break the news to Máire that her dear friend what’s-her-name whom we’d never heard about until five minutes ago is dead. They agree to reconvene later at some kind of ceremony they’ve organized at the old tree to commemorate Cóilí Jackie’s dead sister, which knowing David and Gráinne will end with mass casualties and a trial at The Hague. Gráinne wanders off and Mack appears, which gives David an opportunity to clumsily offer sympathy over the whole Crazy Katy situation. Because a) David is inept and b) Mack has been going around like a soda can that’s been shaken up, this immediately turns into a big argument in the rat poison and baby food aisle in which Mack tells David to Mind His Own Business and David says he Was Only Trying To Help. If this sounds familiar, it’s because it’s how 90 percent of David’s conversations go. It ends with David standing there alone looking confused, which is how 100 percent of his scenes end.

Over at the Mariah Carey Exhaustion Ward, Katy sends Mack 742 more texts and then gets a surprise visit from Tadhg, who is the cause of two-thirds of the mental-hospital stays in Co. Galway, but not this one. She’s alarmed at first because she, you know, has met Tadhg, but then he says he thinks she may have been committed a bit rashly. He notes that he is not happy about the fake reviews he thinks Katy posted online about Gaudi and the drugs she took in front of his grandson, which is her cue to present her 95 theses against Dee and nail them to the hospital door. She sighs that there’s no point in defending herself because nobody believes her anyway, but Tadhg seems intrigued by this Dee theory, presumably because he is primed to believe that everyone from Donegal is a criminal and also because of Dee’s suspiciously lush hair.

Back in town, Michelle is still acting skittish, a situation not helped by the fact that she is almost run down in the street in quick succession by a bicycle, a car, and a Pride parade. David, who has Frances in tow this time, stops to pester her, which Michelle has no patience for right now because she is busy having a low-speed nervous breakdown. Maybe she and Katy can get a group rate. David reminds her that it’s not too late to go to the Cóilí Jackie thing, but for some reason she does not think going to an amateur funeral for a baby who died 60 years ago who was the sister of the town crackpot she barely knows would make her feel better right now. David sells it as hard as he can, promising a lot of uncomfortable throat-clearing and people looking around awkwardly at each other to see if it’s OK to leave yet, but Michelle is unpersuaded by his argument, and also by Frances’ suggestion that she is now Cóilí Jackie’s favorite person for some reason. As Mo learned a few years ago, being Cóilí Jackie’s favorite person means that ten minutes from now he will be accusing you of poisoning his dog, so Michelle now has at least two reasons to hit the road and never come back.

At the café, there is the usual confusion that ensues when David, Gráinne, and Máire have any interaction whatsoever, and David accidentally reveals that Máire’s best friend Colleen is dead. Once Máire remembers who the hell Colleen is, she is upset, although her primary reaction still seems to be confusion as to how David could have bungled such straightforward news so badly.

Back at the hospital, Katy finally wraps up her litany of complaints against Dee. Tadhg, who has been reduced to a cobweb-covered skeleton by the length of this saga, says that he was right to have notified Jason of this situation. It’s unclear whether he actually believes Katy’s allegations against Dee, is now more convinced than ever that Katy has lost her mind, or just thinks that fadúdas are unfit to raise children on principle. He notices that Katy gets a severe case of diarrhea face at the mention of Jason’s name, but when he asks why she doesn’t want him talking to Jay’s alleged father, she makes up some nonsense about being afraid that Jason will take him away from her or try to raise him Unitarian or something. There is backing and forthing, and eventually Tadhg says that even if he hypothetically believed Katy’s entire story, there must be some reason Dee would do such a thing to her own sister, and he wants to know what it is. I suspect if Katy made up some story about feminine hygiene products or a stolen Duran Duran pencil case, Tadhg would believe it, but instead she freezes like a deer in headlights, and he snaps that she better pull herself together and knock this nonsense off before he storms out the door. This is even more touching than Tadhg’s last hospital visit when he told comatose Peatsaí he hoped he’d die.

Across town at So You Ran Over An Old Lady Motors, Andy hides behind a spark plug and spies on the mechanic giving Briain a replacement mirror, though their odd hushed tones and coy grins make it seem more like they are picking each other up in a Burger King toilet. Meanwhile, back at their place, Mack returns home from a shopping trip on which he has picked up sleeping pills and a carton of milk that is clearly empty. While he and Dee discuss nothing in particular, he gets 27 more calls from Katy, and it’s all very unnerving for me because his ringtone is a twinkly iPhone sound I often use as a timer. Every time Katy calls, I think I need to take the pasta off the stove. Dee goes upstairs to take a sleeping pill and then get into the bath, as one does, and Mack sits back down at the laptop and actually logs into Katy’s email this time, but just as he’s about to hit “Enter” on his search term “DNA,” he slams it shut. Good lord, by the time he gets around to finding out these test results he and Katy will have had three more children together.

After the break, Briain shoves the mirror into his gym bag and starts to skulk away, but Andy accosts him and reminds him that he’s the scuzzball who snuck his way into their house to pretend to repair the internet a while ago. Briain has no interest in this whatsoever, partly because he has a hit-and-run he needs to be covering up, but mostly because Andy looks and acts like a crazy person. Today Andy is here doing a poll: “Would you say you run over my mother and leave her in a ditch to die a) often, b) sometimes, c) rarely, or d) never?” These Greenpeace surveys have gotten very strange lately. Briain does not have time for this right now, but eventually manages to extricate himself from Andy’s clutches by agreeing to take his leaflets on Che Guevara and read them later.

Underneath a gnarled tree that looks like it could turn back into an ancient druid at any moment, David is leading a confusing ceremony about Cóilí Jackie’s baby sister. It’s attended by the three important women in Cóilí Jackie’s life—Frances, Mo, and Gráinne—and by Máire, who couldn’t give two shits about Cóilí Jackie but who is always up for a good funeral. I guess Cóilí Jackie’s other very close friends such as Bobbi Lee, Tadhg, and Labhrás were not available. Anyway, this extends over the course of several scenes, but I will summarize by saying that David’s elegy is as theologically confusing as you would expect it to be, but once he loses control of it, Máire takes over and ends up accidentally comforting Gráinne over the death of her own unborn child. Gráinne’s particular flavor of “spiritual, but not religious” is always a bit all over the place, but I am going to reach deep into the mists of time to my university days (“Go Tar Heels! Beat Duke!” and so on) and dredge up the term “religious syncretism” to explain it.

At the bus stop, Sorcha is somehow surprised that her bus hasn’t come, because she has never seen this show. Briain passes by, and she stops him to complain that he didn’t stand up for her at all when Berni was laying into her earlier. Briain’s attitude is basically, “well, sure, but I have to live with her, so too bad for you, I guess.” There is a totally non-suspicious handoff of the mirror before they sneak away in opposite directions, and all this is filmed via a shaky handycam through a bush, which we assume is supposed to represent someone spying on them. I’m guessing Áine!

At their place, Mack, Dee, and Bláithín are trying to have a sweet family moment, which is interrupted repeatedly by 14 more calls from Katy. You’d think Mack would have figured out how to send her calls directly to voicemail by now, or at least put his phone in Do Not Disturb mode. He’s told Dee these calls are coming from his accountant who wants to know if he’s seen the DNA test that proves he’s the father of her baby yet. You can tell Mack is rattled because this lie doesn’t include a cow in the road like usual. Anyway, even the baby is getting annoyed with this crap at this point, so Dee tells him very symbolically that rather than continuing to avoid what he assumes is bad news, he needs to just bite the bullet and find out what’s going on so they can all get some peace and quiet, which clearly gives him something to chew stubbly-ily on.

Funeral stuff, and then we’re back at the hospital, where Mack has come to tell Katy to stop bothering him. She asks if he’s looked at the DNA test results yet, and he tells her that even if the baby isn’t Jason’s, that doesn’t mean it’s his. She hisses that back when Jay was born, Mack demanded a paternity test, but now he doesn’t want to know. To be fair, Katy, you lied and said you did do a paternity test and it showed he wasn’t the father, so…. They argue for a while about which of them is a thirsty heifer, and who impregnated whom, and then Mack says the only reason she’s claiming that he’s Jay’s father is that she wants to split him and Dee up so they can be together. Katy is like, no, although that would be a happy side effect. He concludes that he’s finally got everything he’s ever wanted and vows that he’s not going to let her eff it up and then storms out, leaving her fuming. Well, I’m sure that’s the last we’ll hear of this.

At the pub, Frances asks Tadhg how Katy is doing, and he pretends not to know what she’s talking about. She says everybody’s heard that Katy is in the hospital, so it’s not a state secret, and for some reason he decides to rope a passing Briain into it by saying you can’t believe every rumor you hear around here, such as the one where Briain was slapping Jude around. Of course Briain is already primed to fight someone, so he blows up and storms out into the darkened street, where a shadowy figure is waiting for him. Maeve??

It’s late night now, and Mack is giving Bláithín a bottle. Dee emerges from upstairs and complains that she can’t sleep, and it’s fun seeing her looking like she’s been dragged through a hedge backwards considering how immaculately put together she usually is, even when she’s transformed into Dark Phoenix and is destroying the earth. Dee leans on his shoulder, and it’s a very happy scene, and he vows that he won’t let anything come between him, Dee, and Bláithín, no matter how matter how many people they have to have committed to mental hospitals to maintain the peace. If I were Bláithín, I might be demanding some DNA tests that would hopefully prove I actually belonged to some other family.

Back in the Clobber Zone, Andy is beating the shit out of Briain and screaming, “How could you leave her in the street to die like that?” Briain seems to be finding it difficult to answer what with having a boot in his windpipe and all, and just as Andy picks up a big rock and is about to bash his skull in, Michelle appears and screams at him to stop. Andy runs off, and when Michelle bends down to help Briain, she finds the gold bracelet that’s had a complicated history on this show. I think we saw it on the person who beat up Adam that time—I mean the most recent time—and I think also on Michelle’s wrist before that, which made me think she was the one who beat Adam up, but who knows? Plus we already know that Michelle has figured out that “Gearóid” is Berni’s brother from the photos in Caitríona’s book, so I am not sure what her delay is here. Anyway, she looks distraught, and Briain doesn’t look too rosy himself, to be honest, so it looks like there may be more visits to the hospital set in our near future.


  1. Sorcha is nails on a chalkboard. She makes my heart sink whenever she comes on screen.

  2. Is it bad that I laugh for most the scenes in this show?


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