Normal People recap: Bad sex and a sad funeral

No. Such a small word, but a powerful one.
Normal People recap: Bad sex and a sad funeral

The funeral scene in episode ten of Normal People.
The funeral scene in episode ten of Normal People.

No. Such a small word, but a powerful one.

One that made me punch the air when I heard Marianne finally say it in the episode 9&10 double bill. Not to Connell of course, but because of him. When the voice inside her head telling her she's worthless, becomes his voice, telling her... "Just because people treat you badly at times, it doesn’t mean you deserve to be treated badly."

There she is with her new photographer partner, her hands bound, on a mattress. Langball Lukas is striding about, flashing his camera at her. The menace is tempered by his frankly ridiculous slippers.

Marianne is topless, tied up, in tights. She's so vulnerable, and the bloody big black tights hoiked all the way up. (That's a cranberry juice and Canesten combo waiting to happen.) Finally, she calls a halt to this damaging, demeaning relationship with the snap happy chappy. “No,” she says, before she can slink further into the abyss. “I don't want this”.

Connell writes: “I just hope you have confirmed he’s not a psychopath. You don’t always have a good radar on that.”

But I reckon her radar is bang on, she seeks these characters out - even in Sweden, where Marianne is on her Erasmus year, separate once more from Connell. It feels like she is separate from herself too as we watch her dark journey with Lukas. We see an awful blankness as the sex escalates to her getting bruised and abused.

There's a jarring juxtaposition with Connell and Helen in Dublin doing sweet couply things like double hand holding, meeting the parents, and executing mutually satisfactory sex without battering one another.

Ah, but the spectre of Marianne looms, and Helen's spideysense is tingling. When Peggy, the little shit-stirrer, starts trash talking Marianne, Helen clocks Connell's quivers. To give her her dues, Helen is double wide, she'll make a great doctor.

And it only gets more evident when they meet at the church back home in Sligo, a clingy, thirsty hug, complete with Marianne doing a bit of nimble nape hair twirling. Helen fuming away in the background.

Rob from school has killed himself. You remember Rob, the guy who always said everything with a bit of laugh, even if it wasn't all that funny, the loud guy Connell got drunk with in last week's episodes...The guy whose last text Connell never replied to.

Mescal's depiction of that special exhaustive, indefatigable guilt that comes with certain types of grief, is very powerful and it's a testament to all involved that it was very uncomfortable to watch. Give me the balls-out sex scenes to watch with my granny any day.

The loss undoes him. Now it's Connell's turn to disengage. He has panic attacks, he can't concentrate on college. Helen breaks up with him.

But Marianne and modern technology are there for him. “I understand,” she says, via Skype. In Sweden she watches him sleep, with his arm outstretched towards the screen. We can all relate to that, in our Covid tainted sitting rooms. And all I want is for the both of them to say yes to each other, at the same time.

Funeral Time

The Irish funeral Connell awkward in his good shoes, polished but probably pinching. Every Irish man has a pair of church shoes: weddings, funerals, christenings, sorted.

The forced joviality of Rob's grief-dazed dad on that front pew, where no one ever wants to find themselves, telling people they're very good for coming.

Still probably in disbelief that he could be at the funeral of his own son.

The motion over and over of that handshake that's possibly in our DNA and maybe why we're finding social distancing so hard. That human touch and that other small word, sorry. Our strange etiquette of grief.

The awkward balancing act of drinking the tea and eating the sandwich afterwards. In the pub. Of course.

Where do I know them from?

Cork actor Eanna Hardwick, who portrays Rob in Normal People
Cork actor Eanna Hardwick, who portrays Rob in Normal People

Girlfriend Helen is actress Aoife Hinds. She played ravishingly revengeful Mae Cheung in Derry Girls.

Rob is Cork actor Eanna Hardwicke who was in The Eclipse, when he was 12. It was shot in Cobh with Ciaran Hinds, who is, yes indeed, Aoife’s father.

Dublin native India Mullen, who plays Peggy, also played Katie Kiely in Red Rock.

Oh, and she shares a flat in London with Paul Mescal. Well jel.

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