Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Wordy Old Men on Downton Abbey: Series Two, Episode Seven

We're back. Once again, your sherpas for Wordy Old Men on Downton Abbey are Wordy Ginters and Josh "Old Man" Duggan. Tell your friends, family, and even foes--nevermind, send your foes to people (dot) com--that they need to get their fool asses up in this joint. Once again, you can buy the second series on Blu-ray and on DVD. They're the original versions as aired in the U.K. (Series One available here on DVD and Blu-ray.) Why the British versions? Because they're unabridged, unlike what aired in the U.S. Do it (but follow those links if you do).

For those who need a reminder as to what happened in this episode, the calendar year has just turned to 1919, and the last of the army hospital's shit has been loaded into the back of a lorry. Lord Grantham wanders around the manor searching for meaning in his life. Sir Richard Carlisle attempts to enlist Anna as a spy to keep him apprised of Lady Mary's movements, an offer which she refuses. Having been asked by Carlisle not to say anything to Mary, Anna does tell Mrs. Hughes and Mr. Carson, who decides that he cannot follow Lady Mary to Hacksby. Matthew stands on his own two feet; all of Downton is shocked and ecstatic. Thomas spends his life's savings on foodstuffs from a rascal he met in a pub in the hopes of exploiting the post-war shortages of food via the black market. Lord Grantham impulsively kisses the new maid and war widow, Jane. Matthew announces that he and Lavinia are to marry in the coming spring. Violet, the Dowager Countess, visits Matthew in his bedroom and tells him that Lady Mary is still in love with him. Bates shares the information with Anna that he was actually tasked to buy the arsenic that his wife died from ingesting and later shares a letter that Vera sent to a friend a day before he came to visit for the last time in which she stated that she was worried for her well-being in relation to his visit. The choady Major Bryant's parents come to visit Downton. Ethel barges in with their bastard grandson, but Mr. Bryant is a dick, showing exactly from whence his son's shitheadedness originated. With the working man finally wearing down the Lady's defenses, Sybil and Branson slink off into the night with the intention of eloping. Mary finds that Sybil is gone, and Mary, Edith, and Anna hunt them down in the night, bringing Sybil back as to avoid the pain it would do to their parents.

Wordy Ginters: Gasp! Double Gasp! I'm insinuating that this episode was gaspy. Plot twists and soapy goodness in the best sense. Who doesn't love a good old fashioned television serial? Christ, after a fairly tame couple of episodes, a lot to unpack in this one.

Old Man Duggan: Things wuz happenin'.

WG: I should have known trouble was afoot when Isis got some early screen time. That dog portends chaos. The second sign was Thomas still sitting downstairs with the staff. What is that munch still doing moping about, I thought aloud to myself. And then his Lordship, dressed in his walkabout gear, literally upsets the apple cart with his little titillating run in with Jane. Is that the right name? It feels like it should start with an "E." I thought she was going to take a bite out of him before their moment was rudely interrupted by Mr. Shitheel's hoopty. My lawd, goodness, how little did I know. By the way, I only know this because a friend mentioned it, but Jane is a ringer for internet porn sensation Camille Crimson.

The taint of Game of Thrones nearing Lady Mary
OMD: It is Jane. Jane Moorsum. See does look like an Eliza or maybe an Eleanor. After thorough research, there is a striking similarity between actress Clare Calbraith and saucy beej queen Camille Crimson. To delve further into that conversation would be uncouth, unfortunately. Leave it to that bastard Sir Richard Carlisle to ruin everything, by the way. It's probably the taint of Game of Thrones working its way to Downton.

WG: Grantham shows he's human by having his little mid-life crisis. He recognizes the bill that others have paid. I kind of like seeing him get all existential, needing a shave, snapping at Cora, and pining for the days when his life had meaning. I loves me some anachronisms, was hoping that Grantham would pull Nauseau off the shelf of that gorgeous library. He's been building up to this for awhile, chafing at the idea that he's an aristocratic clown, ever since his military gig was revealed to be nothing more than window dressing back in episode one.

OMD: Robert is definitely in the full throes of an existential crisis. The fact that his daughters are preparing to leave the nest--further taking a bite out of his place and usefulness in the world--obviously plays into this as well. Lord Grantham is a man whose fortune isn't his, whose progeny are leaving home, whose heir is merely a cousin because he was unable to sire a male heir, whose wife is pulling strings behind his back as relates to his eldest daughter and his adopted son, whose past as a soldier was marginalized in wartime, and whose existence (at least in his eyes) has been relegated to caretaker for an estate that up until the 22-minute-mark of this episode is to be handed off to a cripple. Fellowes basically spent the entire second series emasculating him in swift little blows. I think he desperately wants for his life to have meaning.

WG: Did you feel any pull or sense of betrayal for Cora?

OMD: The second time around, no. It's strange; the first time I watched Robert's transgression really bothered me. Not now. Maybe it's that I see what Cora is doing in attempting to thrust Lavinia into Matthew's arms at the behest of Carlisle, an odious chap to be sure, but her taking up with a conniving bedfellow has left me disenchanted. Perhaps this was Fellowes's intent. She has definitely grown less sympathetic after losing her child.

WG: Carlisle. What a dick. He totally plays Anna for a chump. Weaving a tapestry of bullshit assuming she was dumb enough to fall for his spying scheme. Come on Carlisle, Bates doesn't run with that kind of crowd. More loathsome than Thomas. By far. And I love it.

OMD: He's a real bell-end. As I think we said in one of the last two entries in the series, there's nothing worse that an insecure prick with massive amounts of power. As big a shitbag as Thomas is, he doesn't have any power. Carlisle is as big a shithead as Thomas but is loaded to boot. There's a desire to escape his station that makes Thomas at least in part sympathetic. The only point of sympathy with Carlisle is that he wasn't born rich. That isn't something that really endears a character to the masses. That Jay Gatsby was as sympathetic as he was is a testament to F. Scott Fitzgerald's masterful way with words.

WG: Have you seen the boys haircuts the girls are wearing in Paris? Isn't that a Blur song?

OMD: I guess we know what song's getting embedded at the end of this post.

WG: Jesus, I see where Cap'n Bryant got his asshole from. Daddy. He's afraid of his grief. Yeah, right. I think he's probably just an insufferable prick.

OMD: Insecure pricks. Insufferable pricks. Pricks all around. Major Bryant's father is a total shithead. That walrus-looking motherfucker represents the worst of the aristocratic class. Telling the staff that his chauffeur would stay in the car and needed nothing to eat established that early on. Needing acknowledgement of paternity? What a shit. You raised a fucking shithead, Mr. Bryant. That said, fuck Ethel, too. If there's a story arc I wish had never happened, it's Ethel's.

WG: What did you make of the forbidden kiss between Grantham and Jane? I buy it. She's obviously scheming. He's not right in his head. What was stopping these Lords and Ladies from whoring around anyway? Nothing.

OMD: I actually think she's not scheming. I think there's a sincerity to their attraction. He certainly isn't right in the head.

WG: Another show stopper was Matthew standing up out of his chair. Reminded me of a scene from Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. Once again, lets recognize the masterful production of story lines and plot twists that could be laughable in less delicate hands. I don't know how Fellowes escapes the ridiculous, but he does.

OMD: Both times I've sort of chuckled at the development. Obviously it's foreshadowed, so it isn't unexpected. My main issue with the scene is that there are no signs of atrophy. He seems to stand too easily to come to Lavinia's aid. His legs haven't worked for how long? Yet he stands with ease? I'm glad for the man. I feel like I know him like a brother. I just wish I could not laugh when he gets his feet back under him.

WG: Great scene between Carson and Hughes, where Carson gives up some backstory for his kind concern for Mary. Excellent dialogue. Great lighting. Made me nostalgic for something I don't even understand.

OMD: That was easily my favorite scene of the episode. Hughes telling him that Mary got the better of the deal for six pence. The clear paternal affection evident through a cute anecdote. Mary wanting to take some silver into the village to fund her running away.

OMD: Before we shove off for the week, We've left two big developments and one small bit of comeuppance unspoken of:

First: The Dowager Countess goes against what is prim and proper, bursts (insofar as the Dowager can burst) into Matthew's room, and lays it all out there. "Mary is still in love with you." Matthew extols Lavinia's virtues, of which she really does have many, and then the Dowager drops the fucking hammer: "Marriage is a long business. There's no getting out of it for our kind of people. Now, you may live 40, 50 years with one of these two women. Just make sure you have selected the right one."

WG: Another highlight from this episode. The Dowager can be a cold and conniving bitty, but typically it's rooted in some type of pragmatism. Everybody loves Mary. She's been a sympathetic character for much of this season. Interesting that she appears to be souring like curdled cream just when most of Downton has her back.

OMD: Second: BRANSON!!! Yeah, bud. The elopement is postponed/off, but that sonuvabitch did it. He landed her. Way to go, you crazy Irish bastard.

WG: Fists were pumped in my household. I ain't ashamed. Comical to see Edith and Mary chase them down with more efficiency than Javier Bardem from No Country for Old Men (Bardem and Edith share the same hair style). And Sybil caved a little too easily for my liking. But I'm holding out hope.

OMD: Comeuppance: Thomas, you got had. Obviously, Fellowes has taken measures to humanize Thomas a bit. The mantle of Heel of Downton has been passed on to Sir Richard Carlisle, but it still feels good to see Thomas penniless after trying to make his way into the black market via a guy he met at the pub. What a rube.

WG: Yes. Delicious comeuppance. Thomas gets rolled and revealed as a soft touch. For me, his financial ruin was worth every pence just to see the plaster cake spit takes from Patmore and Daisy.

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