Monday, December 30, 2019

Mad Mams: Beyond Thunderdome

Season 24, Episode 34
First aired December 26, 2019

Happy Christmas! Hopefully you all had lots of awkward family time, like the kind Sorcha is having with her visiting mother in our opening scene. The mother probably has a name, but I don’t know what it is, so I’m going to call her Bettina. By the look in her eyes and her slightly-off mannerisms, plus the sick look on Sorcha’s face, we can tell that something is Not Quite Right with Bettina, who is currently touring the House of 10,000 Residents and declaring that she bets there are a lot of dance parties and quilting bees and so on happening there. Which particular brand of soap-opera problem mom is she? Let’s find out together!

Chez Daly, the entire family is crammed into the kitchen and everyone is looking nervous because Katy is saying and doing things. To be fair, that never ends well. There’s discussion of going to the annual Ros na Rún Fir vs Seanfhir football match, which is being held between the dumpsters at Recycle Bin Park because Aviva Stadium was booked, but things get chilly when Katy offers to stay home with Bláithín because of course Dee would rather gnaw off her own leg than let Katy borrow her curling iron, much less her baby. Katy even offers to make Bláithín’s dinner, but Dee thinks it’s not a good idea since Bláithín is very fond of her routine right now and is also allergic to poison. She and Mack leave, but she hangs out in the doorway to eavesdrop on Katy and John Joe discussing Katy’s plan to talk to Tadhg about resuming her mismanagement of Gaudi. We finally find something Bobbi Lee is good at—other than being fabulous, of course—and now Katy’s going to come bollix it up.

Back at Le Flop House, we are reminded that part of Sorcha’s discomfort at having her mother Bettina around—other than aforementioned Not Quite Right-ness—is that Bettina is under the mistaken impression that Cóilí Jackie loaned her a bunch of money to sort herself out when, in actuality, Sorcha stole the money from Cóilí Jackie, watched him knock himself out against the kitchen counter, and left him to die. Fun times! Bettina marvels at what a completely out-of-character act of selflessness it was on Cóilí Jackie’s part, and furthermore announces that she would like to go thank him in person. Once Sorcha finishes choking, she says there’s no need because he already knows they’re grateful, and if there’s one thing people who’ve done you a huge favor hate, it’s being thanked. They’re interrupted by a hungover Adam staggering in from the bedroom groaning and announcing that he, erm, got in really late last night, and given his disheveled state and the general difficulty he seems to be having walking, it’s clear he and Simon had a very merry Christmas indeed. Ho ho ho! Bettina declares that he must be Fiach, so after Adam hits her with a waffle iron, Sorcha clarifies that this is Adam, the roommate who used to be evil, as opposed to Fiach, the one who is currently evil. Adam is, however, one of the two roommates who is TOTALLY GAY, since I am sticking with my obviously incorrect theory about Nathan. Bettina suggests that Adam join them for a cup of tea, and normally he would have absolutely no interest in such a thing, but he sees an opportunity to make his dear friend Sorcha squirm and therefore decides he’s going to sit down and tell Bettina here every li’l ol’ thing that’s been going on. Snerk.

At Caitríona’s, she’s bitching to Michelle and Maeve about how her Christmas was totally ruined by the terrible gift Vince gave her. It really is the most wonderful time of the year. Michelle suggests that perhaps one gift is enough and it’s really the thought that counts, partly because she is a mostly-OK person and partly because impressionable Maeve is sitting right there, but Caitríona points out that Michelle is a moron and that Christmas is actually about racking up as many high-value gifts as possible and being a complete shit about anything that doesn’t meet one’s high standards. She really is the most delightfully awful person. Maeve wanders off and St Michelle tells Caitríona that Vince’s gift, an admittedly chintzy ring, is lovely, and reminds her that she herself had proposed a gift limit of €50 this year. Caitríona generously says that the ring might be all right if it had a stone in it, and that she didn’t think Vince would actually stick to the budget. So basically she wanted to give everyone a small Milk Tray and a box of coffee filters for Christmas, but she wanted them to give her diamond knickers and so on. Vince walks in and she asks him if the ring came with a little polishing cloth, and when he cheerfully says no, she sniffs that she supposes those only come with nice jewelry, not tat. OMG, she is terrible and I love it.

At the pub, Bobbi Lee tells Tadhg she’s just worked out the roster for Gaudi for next week, and he complains that she probably took all the day shifts herself because she wanted nights off. Come now, Tadhg, there ought to be some perks of being manager, and besides, Bobbi Lee needs to be riding Niall senseless on Berni’s kitchen table as much as possible before she comes back from France. Just then Katy strolls in, causing Bobbi Lee to gulp so hard she swallows half her molars because she knows this can’t be good for her. Katy says she’s heard Bobbi Lee has been standing in for her, but that her services won’t be required for much longer since Katy will be returning to run the place into the ground ASAP. To add insult to injury, Katy snots that she’s sure Bobbi Lee will be relieved to be back pulling pints for drunks and barflies at the pub, and then, to make sure everyone remembers what a complete wagon she can be, sniffs that it will be nice to have everyone back in their rightful places. Oh, HELL NO. Somebody hold my earrings while I teach this trifling ho a lesson.

Out in the street, Mo is plotting Peatsaí’s death after last week’s wedding debacle, which you may recall involved him preventing them from getting married but not telling them. Peatsaí is never one to get bogged down in details, such as organizing a wedding in which the couple ends up married. Colm suggests it’s not good to hold grudges, plus if Mo goes to prison for murder, he’s not sure they’ll get to have conjugal visits since they are not married. They run into David, who reveals that he canceled his annual Christmas trip to Kerry because he hasn’t told his family that he and Gráinne have split up yet. It’s very sad, and Mo, Colm, and the audience are all reminded of an important lesson, which is that no matter how bad things are, at least you are not David.

Back at the Flop House, Bettina is having an animated conversation with Simon, who is even cuter than we remember. Adam is standing around proudly, which is very sweet, and Sorcha warns him that if he’s not careful Bettina might steal his man, what with his being charming, easy to talk to, and red hot, and her being a total slapper. I’m paraphrasing. Adam goes over to cuddle with him just as Simon notes that his family loves Adam. I didn’t know they were at the point of meeting each other’s families since we had never heard of Simon until last week, but it enables the next thing that happens, which is that Adam reveals that his family won’t be meeting Simon because his father is dead/away/??? and his mother, Cruella St James-Attenborough de Vil, is, as we all remember, the worst person in the world. Bettina says she thinks it’s terrible that there are still people who are homophobic pieces of garbage, but that Adam shouldn’t give up hope, because her in-laws used to dislike her and now they love her, especially Cóilí Jackie, who is the most generous and loving person she knows. Adam is confused because he was not aware there are two Cóilí Jackies in town, so he makes a hilarious “Whatchu talkin’ ‘bout, Willis?” face at Bettina followed by a “Is she trippin’?” look at Sorcha, who shrugs. Heh.

In their kitchen, Vince is watching Maeve do science experiments such as pouring nail varnish into water to see if they mix and hitting the TV screen with a sledgehammer to watch the liquid crystals fly out. Caitríona walks in and proclaims this “go hálainn” in a tone that clearly means “the stupidest thing I have ever seen,” and then Poor Me’s some more about how she only got one Christmas present, and it’s terrible, Vince. Michelle strolls through on her way to meet Rory, and Maeve suddenly decides that Caitríona should join them, either because she has concocted a plan that necessitates Caitríona leaving the house or because she hates Michelle and Rory now. They go on their way, and as soon as the door closes behind them, Vince asks Maeve what she’s up to. Snerk.

Back at their place, Sorcha apologizes to Adam about her terrible mother and promises she’ll get rid of her as soon as possible, but he says she’s lovely and a joy and so on. OK, saintly Adam is getting to be a bit much, because there is no way the real Adam would not be ready for Bettina to sling her hook now. He asks what’s up with her Cóilí Jackie delusion, and Sorcha changes the subject. She should be discussing the fact that Adam’s shirt is straining to stay buttoned across the chest, clearly having been purchased before his recent spate of gym visits.

At the pub, Peatsaí tries to talk to Mo, but she tells him to buzz off and leave her alone. Sensing there is no headway to be made here, he instead tells Colm that he’s found a solution to their little problem, WHICH IS NO ONE’S FAULT. It seems there will be “ceremonies” in various nearby towns next week where Mo and Colm could go get married, and because there are no further details given about their nature, I am imagining one of those mass weddings at Madison Square Garden where you are technically not so much married to each other as you are married to the Reverend Sun Myung Moon, a spaceship disguised as an asteroid, and 8,000 of your closest friends. Mazel tov!

At the Flop House, Sorcha is packing Bettina’s things for her and announcing that as much of a total blast as this has been, they’d better shove her in a cab now. In fact, the cab doesn’t even need to stop, it can just slow down and she can jump in through the window before the driver floors it again. Bettina thinks she’d rather go out for a drink with Sorcha and her lovely friends, because she’s having a wonderful time and is under the impression that if you hang out with two gay guys long enough, they will give you a makeover. Just then Cóilí Jackie shows up for no reason, and while Bettina is thrilled to see him, he is livid and screams at Sorcha, “What’s she doing here?” Well, the obvious answer would be that she is Fiach’s new girlfriend, but we’ll have to wait till after the break to see if Sorcha is clever enough to come up with that.

After the break, we discover she isn’t. Cóilí Jackie is insulting Bettina, but she chalks it up to his being a lovable old coot rather than, you know, an arsehole. She tells him she knew he has a big heart, which in Cóilí Jackie’s world are fighting words, so when Bettina goes off to get her coat so they can go out for a lovely family drink, he tells Sorcha it’s clear her mother’s gone cuckoo again, and this time it seems it’s contagious. Yeah, there’s been an epidemic of it going around this town for at least three years.

At the pub, Dee is talking to Máire, presumably as community service for a speeding ticket or something. Máire spoils things by bringing up Katy, saying she must be doing better since they’ve let her out of the hospital, but Dee sighs that they’re all having to walk on eggshells around her to avoid another “episode,” and that she really belongs back in the hospital, but, you know, patients lying on trolleys in corridors for 17 hours while Leo Varadkar plays golf in Hawaii and so on. She continues her smear campaign by reminding Máire that Katy went medieval on her ass the last time she was out of the hospital, which we had all forgotten about, but knowing Máire, she probably deserved it.

Back at the Millennial Funhouse, Bettina finally returns from elsewhere in the manse, having interrupted Adam and Simon having sex to ask them about the latest series of Dancing on Ice, but they didn’t mind because she is delightful apparently. She’s surprised to find Cóilí Jackie has bogged off home because she was sure he’d want to take her to the pub and tell her what a pleasure it was to loan her all that money even though he hates her. We are starting to get the impression that Bettina’s world is full of singing flowers and dancing hippos, if you get our drift. Eventually Sorcha confesses that it wasn’t exactly a loan in that Cóilí Jackie was unconscious and bleeding out on the floor at the time, but that she totally meant to pay him back, at least until he started being a jerk about it and she got busy framing Adam for assault and attempting to boink Nathan.

Katy arrives at the pub, so we all assume she’s put Bláithín in a box and mailed her to Antarctica. Fortunately it turns out she’s left the kids with John Joe and Imelda, who will have them pumping gas and dusting for fingerprints in no time. Dee suddenly remembers that she needs to be anywhere other than here, so she dashes off and leaves Katy and Máire in the most awkward episode of Loose Women ever. Katy takes this opportunity to explain to Máire that she’s really sorry about how she screamed at her and yanked out a handful of her weave the last time they were together, but she was really upset about Brexit and had low blood sugar because all she’d eaten all day was a bag of Doritos and so on. Máire accepts her apology because a) she remembers that time she herself ripped out Nicki Minaj’s hair extensions at the MTV Video Awards because she thought Nicki had dissed her posse and b) she knows it’s her only hope of being involved in this storyline. Dee sees their happy reunion—or at least as happy as anything involving Katy and Máire can be—and is exasperated by yet another Everybody Loves Katy turn of events.

Meanwhile, Bettina and her many flowing layers of capes and scarves are flapping around the kitchen like a Stevie Nicks video on FF while she and Sorcha scream at each other a lot. If they keep this up, Adam is going to emerge from the bedroom in a vinyl bodysuit carrying a whip to tell them to keep it down because he and Simon are trying to sleep. Clearly Bettina has fallen asleep on the crazy train and gone past her stop, Lower Bonkers Town, because she is ranting and beating at her chest and asking Yorick’s skull wherefore Romeo art. Sorcha tries to peel her off the ceiling by saying she’s saved up almost enough money upstairs to pay Cóilí Jackie back and then they can put this whole nightmare behind them, and then everybody cries. Well, I’m sure that’s the last we’ll hear of this.

Michelle and Caitríona are having an awkward glass of wine at Gaudi, and eventually Caitríona can’t take it anymore and tries to leave, but Michelle reveals that she’s just gotten a text from Vince saying Maeve is planning some surprise and Caitríona isn’t allowed to come home yet. We kept hearing about how clever Maeve is, but we had no idea all these experiments were leading up to a genius plan to keep Caitríona away forever.

At the pub, Mo asks Bobbi Lee and Niall to be the witnesses at her mass cult wedding. Bobbi Lee is delighted and presumably already planning her set list in her head, and Niall, who should consider himself lucky to be handsome enough to carry off this season’s interesting Housemartins haircut, is just happy to be included in something. We’re then back at the Funhouse, which is not so fun anymore, where Bettina has calmed herself to a dull roar and declares that she doesn’t want Sorcha to pay back a single penny to that awful, awful man. Sorcha protests that she has no choice because the money isn’t hers, but Bettina is adamant that Cóilí Jackie owes them because he stole the farm out from under them and cheated Sorcha’s father out of his half of the royalties from writing “I’m Too Sexy” and so on, so it seems we are at an impasse.

Rory arrives at Gaudi and tries to act excited about the fact that Caitríona will be joining him and Michelle on their date. There is more discussion of Christmas gifts, which reminds us that last episode hints were dropped that Rory has a secret other family or something, but we also heard something about a brother, so it’s possible this will all be a big misunderstanding involving Michelle breaking up with him for buying a gift for Another Woman who turns out to be his sister-in-law married to his brother who’s off in Afghanistan or similar. Either that or Rory is just a stone cold hoochie, or even better, identical twin hoochies filmed in split-screen. If that doesn’t turn out to be the case I’m going to be very disappointed.

Back at the pub, Katy is apologizing to a skeptical Mack about everything that’s gone down between them, including the Jay stuff and the screaming and the more screaming. She says she’d like to put it behind them, and offers that he won’t have to put up with her much longer, because she’s planning to move out as soon as possible, either into the cavernous Funhouse with its 85 bedrooms or into one of the other 14 houses in the Daly compound. She wanders off and Dee immediately materializes to ask him what she wanted, and for some reason he’s evasive and says “nothing” and “something about Jay,” which of course makes Dee infinitely more suspicious than accurately reporting the conversation would have. We were really hoping there would be some kind of giant blowup in this story this week for Christmas, so the fact that the episode is almost over and it’s been a whole lot of buildup with no payoff yet is a letdown. I suppose there’s still time for Katy to blow up the pub.

Caitríona is finally allowed home, where Maeve announces that she felt guilty that she got so many gifts and Caitríona only got one, so she’s decided to rectify the situation by giving her  an amazing additional gift. There’s no mention of the fact that neither of them probably got poor Vince a damn thing. He’ll have to content himself with an extra holiday dose of Stockholm syndrome. Anyway, Caitríona is very excited, and we are curious, but it turns out it’s just a verse Maeve has written about how lovely Caitríona is set to the tune of “Deck the Halls.” This took all day? We expect Caitríona to complain that it would’ve been better with a diamond or at least a couple of rubies, but she remembers that some small part of her is human and is therefore delighted by it, forcing Maeve to repeat it so she can record it and share it with all her followers. I would love to know who all these shut-ins and psychopaths who allegedly follow Caitríona are.

Chez Sorcha, Bettina has finally decided to call an end to her big day out and go back to wherever she lives, which really ought to be the room Katy just vacated at the, err, facility. Sorcha offers to spend the night at her house, but Bettina says she should go out with her delightful gay friends instead. As a prominent homosexual myself, I can vouch for the fact that we are utterly delightful, especially at the holidays. A horn honks outside, and Bettina asks Sorcha to run out and tell the taxi driver to hold on just a tick while she puts on her coat. Sorcha dashes outside, which gives Bettina a chance to transfer the bulging envelope full of money she’s pilfered from upstairs from her pocket to her giant crazy-lady purse. She even pauses for a second to open the envelope and thoughtfully show us THERE IS MONEY INSIDE. It’s a Christmas miracle! Also Hanukkah, because Bettina’s kookiness was only supposed to last one night, but it will end up lasting eight.


  1. Thanks for the recap. I recently came to this show to improve my Gaeilge too. Isn't it great? Loved your take on this episode.

  2. What, no Ros na Rún recaps yet for 2020? I hope you get some time soon.


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