“Cucumber” And “Banana” Finale Recap: The Collective
Hello, guys and dolls! So, here we are at the end. Over the course of the past eight weeks, we’ve experienced one man’s sexual odyssey as it took two lives, sent another man to jail, and exhausted the entirety of Grindr’s offerings for the greater Manchester area. Was it all worth it? Let’s take a peek.
This week’s Cucumber begins back in the good old Mount Olympus supermarket. Henry (Vincent Franklin) is up to his usual shenanigans, scoping asses amid the wheat grasses. When he finds a particularly ripe one, he follows its owner home, taking a taxi and a train to pursue him across the countryside until the man returns home to his wife, leaving Henry alone on a barren and snowy hillside. He returns to the supermarket to begin the process again.
OK, I know this is a metaphor, but it’s more than a little creepy. I think the rule of thumb should be that a cute stranger is worth somewhere slightly above the price of a drink and wildly below the price of long distance cab fare.
The morning after the party, Henry wakes up to find the house in disarray, the floor piled with sleeping bodies. As he pieces together the events of last night, it ends up sounding like one of Jean-Ralphio’s stories from Parks and Recreation: “Shirtless Tomasz! Kissing Adam’s dad! Cliff nailed Cleo?! Naked apron cooking, manbun threesome, then whaaaat? The entirety of queer Manchester on the living room floor!”
As the assorted partygoers attempt to figure out where the hell they’re going to live now, Henry has a brilliant/insane idea. Why don’t they all just live together, rent-free, in his house? They could form a massive queer collective, protected from the cruel world by the expensive walls of his and Lance’s former home. But first things first: he needs his job back.
To accomplish this, Henry decides to call upon the powers of the newly formed collective. To flank him in battle he looks around the room at all his new friends with their various skills and areas of expertise and chooses… the two people who’ve already been around this whole time! Cliff (Con O’Neill) and Freddie (Freddie Fox)! Is this foreshadowing for how quickly his exuberant, youthful fantasy is going to peter out?
The trio Reservoir Dogs it into the office and use a genius combination of lawyer speak, strong-arming, and doublethink to back Henry’s boss into a corner, accusing him of discriminating against LGBTQ employees. Blackmail probably isn’t the best way to maintain a happy working environment, but Henry does get his job back. Whee!
He returns home in glee, only to find a somber mood has fallen over the apartment. It turns out that Dean (Fisayo Akinade) has discovered one of the men with whom Diver Daniel attempted to hook up before taking Lance’s skull out to the driving range. Together they convince him to talk to the police and obliterate the murderer’s gay panic defense.
Following these twin triumphs, the Golden Age of the collective begins in earnest. Teams of shirtless men do yoga in the front yard (a moment of silence: please take ten seconds to close your eyes and reflect on this scene), hippies play guitar in the living room, raucous parties annoy the neighbors every night, and Freddie industriously attempts to suck out Aiden’s (Dino Fetscher) tonsils. For a time,
Henry manages to stave off his grief for a time, burying it in the collective joys of his friends, but Cleo (Julie Hesmondhalgh) reminds him that it can’t last. The beginning of the end comes in the form of Veronica (Anjli Mohindra), who arrives with a box of Lance’s desk things.
She blames Henry for Lance’s death, which is unfair, but it’s always the wiser instinct to side against Henry Best in an argument. She shouts at him in the backyard, set off by Freddie lazily groping Aiden behind Henry while they’re trying to have an adult conversation.
After this, the members of the collective begin moving out one by one. Dean returns home to his parents, because among everything else in his life, his poverty is also a lie. The others group up and find their own apartments, eventually leaving only Henry and Freddie behind. Freddie watches Henry and Cliff eat Chinese food and discuss rucksack fetishes with a look of faint disgust on his face.
A timer dings and Freddie realizes he hasn’t given an inexplicable, rude speech yet this episode, and goes off about how Henry bends the world around him to his will. Freddie says that he’s the new Lance, a man Henry wore down so much he offered to sleep with him, only to be denied. Without the buffer of the rest of the collective, Freddie is like a caged animal ready to lash out.
And lash he does. After Henry goes to bed, Freddie jumps Cliff’s bones, hooking up with him on the kitchen counter and knocking over all the dishes in an attempt to rile Henry’s attention. He gets frustrated, terminates the sex (in a little move I like to call Cliff’s Edge. Eh? Eh?), packs his things, and storms out. And that’s all she wrote.
But it’s not all I have to write. No, we’ve still got more strange and unfathomable curiosities ahead of us. Meatballs (Mike Coombes) drops off the keys, reminding Henry of how truly alone he is once more.