Masked men bursting into a home and tying someone up is no laughing matter, but Derry Girls writer Lisa McGee managed to take a terrible situation and turn it into the belly-aching plot driver of the second episode of her new Channel 4 comedy.
When we last saw Erin, Orla, Clare, Michelle and James they were being hauled into horrible headmistress Sister Michael’s office on suspicion of murdering a nun, and “pissing on her and making sandwiches”. Now they’ve escaped only to find themselves in a far worse scenario: stuck in assembly, listening to perfect prefect Jenny Joyce and the choir deliver a Gleeful rendition of Wet Wet Wet’s Love is All Around. #PrayForMartiPellow
By the time Sister Michael had banned the tune forever and made her way to the podium the girls were fit to burst. They’d come for one thing and one thing only – the location for this year’s school trip. And when the headmistress ditched the dramatic pause to reveal that it was Paris, planning for the trip of a lifetime began in earnest.
Clare wanted to take in the sights while Erin was eager to seek literary inspiration and James jumped at the opportunity to practice speaking French for the oral, but Michelle had other ideas. There was only one thing this wee Derry Girl wanted to do: “a French fella”.
And as for Orla? Well, she just wanted to meet her TV heroes, Renault Clio advert stars Nicole et Papa.
But the gang were stopped in their tracks by the trip’s £375 price tag. “Just dip into your trust fund,” suggested the endlessly jovial Jenny, whose parents had put aside cash to see her through school and university.
Mary (the terrific Tara Lynne O’Neill) wasn’t long putting Erin straight. “Of course, no bother at all, pass us in the phone I just need to ring the bank,” she smiled before instructing her ‘wain’ to “catch yourself on”. There were far more pressing matters at hand in the Quinn household as Gerry (Tommy Tiernan) attempted to sort the order for the chippy.
Gerry and Joe (Ian McElhinney) had a brilliant back and forth over the number of bags of chips to order as aunt Sarah (Kathy Kiera Clarke steals almost every scene with delicately delivered one-liners) tottered in, wondering if she might have a trust fund herself. And then, in the middle of it all, the dreaded Uncle Colm phoned.
“I’ve stopped answering my own phone all together for fear it’s him,” said Sarah, while Joe refused to talk to the brother he described as a “boring shite”. It fell to Mary to make small talk with her uncle, who revealed he was in the police station, having been tied to his radiator with his new shoelaces by a pair of masked gunmen, who broke into his house and stole his van. “He is traumatised Gerry,” said Mary, who promptly invited Colm around for dinner, hilariously adding that he’d “take a steak and kidney pie.”
The Derry Girls reconvened to discuss their newfound poverty down at the local chippy, where furious fast food queen Fiona struck fear into the hearts of every customer – bar Michelle, of course, who had no trouble giving her lip. As they waited for the food to fry clever Clare declared they’d just have to get jobs, and they perused the chippy’s jobs board for potential money making opportunities.
Back at the Quinn household uncle Colm (Kevin McAleer’s deadpan uncle was priceless) bored everyone to tears with his tale of masked raiders and radiators. Sarah sensed an opportunity, though, suggesting they call UTV to do an interview in the hopes of securing some free chips.
When the doorbell rang Erin jumped at the chance to escape, only to discover another crime had been committed. Michelle had nicked the board from the chippy to ensure nobody else took the jobs the girls so desperately need to get to France. “I will buck a French lad Erin,” she declared. “I will buck a French lad so help me God!”
Of course it wasn’t long before Fionnuala caught up with them and, with the threat of a chippy ban looming, a desperate Mary offered up her daughter for a voluntary weekend cleaning session. Naturally, it didn’t go to plan.
Having ditched the scrubbing bush for a bottle of Sambucca she found in Fionnuala’s cupboard, Michelle suggested a rave upstairs, much to Erin’s horror. “Don’t be such a shower of borebags,” she laughed, before spilling the tray of flaming shots on the chippy owner’s carpet and setting her curtains alight. Had it not been for the wee English fella’s quick thinking with a fire extinguisher, the place would have burned down in seconds.
The gang turned to Mary and Sarah for salvation, attempting to spin a story about Michelle tripping with a scented candle. As Erin’s mother fumed, Sarah sat glued to the television, eager to catch her five minutes of fame. “He barely had those shoelaces a week John,” she told the interviewer, and Mary had a lightbulb moment. They’d tie the kids to the radiators and blame mysterious masked raiders for the whole thing.
And they might have got away with it too, if it wasn’t for Fionnuala’s locked back door. When the chippy owner returned home to find the kids tied up and her curtains charred, love was most definitely not all around. In fact, the stage looked set for at least four funerals as a wide-eyed Mary attempted to spin her own yarn about a scented candle.
It almost feels wrong to find the madcap scheme funny, given the fact that the people of Derry actually did experience such horrors. But there’s just something about McGee’s treatment of every dark matter – think back to the bomb that disrupted Sarah’s sunbed plans in episode one – that makes it impossible not to laugh.
What were the songs played in Derry Girls episode 2?
Love is All Around – Wet Wet Wet
Boum – Charles Trenet
Push It – Salt n Peppa
You’re Unbelievable – EMF
La Foule – Edith Piaf
Little Green Bag – George Baker Selection
Alright – Supergrass
No Limit – 2 Unlimited
I’m Shipping Up To Boston – Dropkick Murphys
Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now) ft. Freedom Williams – C+C Music Factory