Monday, January 6, 2014

Wordy Old Men on Downton Abbey: Series Four, Episodes One and Two

Dukes and Duchesses (Duchi?), we're back to hold your hand or possibly even your hair back as you vomit into the nearest toilet. This week, PBS pulled another one of those air-two-episodes-back-to-back-for-no-good-reason-other-than-that-they-are-the-first-two-episodes-of-the-seasons. That means you'll have to suffer through an exceptionally long back-and-forth from myself and our old friend, Wordy Ginters. In this double-installment, we suffered through an especially bitchy Lady Mary lashing out at everyone in her own privileged way, watched helplessly as that horrendous Edna snaked her way back into Downton, wondered why Lord Grantham has to be such a dumb cluck, and breathed a sigh of relief when Mary was found to have inherited Matthew's portion of the estate after all. The ghost of Matthew Crawley still casts a significant shadow across the estate.

Old Man Duggan: For as evil a shrew as Mrs. O'Brien was, Julian Fellowes sure dicked the audience over on her exit. No cathartic firing where all of her dirty deeds were exposed. She simply slips out in the dark of night. I'm sure this is a byproduct of Siobhan Finneran not coming back for a fourth go at things, as that was also why Matthew died so suddenly. I guess this leaves the door open for the insidious O'Brien to slip back through should Finneran want/be asked to return. Still, disappointing that her goodbye wasn't more explosive. Hell, she could have at least slipped on a bar of soap and cracked her fucking skull open on the side of the tub.

Wordy Ginters: O'Brien slinking into the gloomy dark was a buzz-kill. Were there any justice, the divisive seeds of anger and strife she has sewn over the years would have resulted in some kind of hilarious comeuppance. Fellowes gets off on denying we viewers our simple pleasures. I would have settled for seeing what pithy comments she left in those cards on the mantle. "Dearest Anna, Please fuck right off." I had conveniently forgotten how much her hair skillz were appreciated up north in Duneagle with the country cousins.

OMD: In the past, I have definitely been a bit of an apologist for Lady Mary, but holy shit was she unbearable this week. Skulking about the house in black, "Poor little orphan" this, "Have a happy time" that. Just sitting around doing absolutely nothing while expecting the world to pity her. We jump ahead six months, and she's still sulking like Matthew had his run in with a lorry last week. And her lashing out at Carson when he tries to encourage Mary to take an interest in the running of the estate was most definitely irksome. When Mary began to cry in Carson's office after apologizing to him, I thought she was going to morph into the alien from Alien.

There ain't no iguana.
WG: In my mind, every time Mary spoke I could only hear the Rolling Stone's "Paint it Black." When Kanye West plopped young Lord George in Mary's arms for the first time, you would have thought she had given Mary a diseased iguana. I'm glad Carson stood up to Mary. She was headed straight towards Cruella DeVille territory, which may have been interesting, but you've got to keep your love/loathe ratio of characters in balance.

OMD: Of course, much of Mary's malaise was being enabled by Lord Grantham, though for his own selfish reasons: his need to feed his fragile ego by running the estate into the ground. He's the proto-Dayton Moore--probably a nice enough guy, well-intentioned, but clearly outmatched when it comes to carrying out the task at hand. Thank sweet baby Jesus for the Dowager Countess. She slapped the dick right out of his mouth.

WG: I consulted last years edition of Downton Prospectus, they list Dayton Moore as Grantham's top comp, right in front of Jim Fregosi and Bob Boone. How many times does Grantham get to squander the family fortune before they take away the checkbook? If Lord Grantham needs to be a heel to introduce nascent women's rights issues, so be it. I'd love to see Fellowes have the balls to go 12 Years a Slave and display how gruesome male/female relations really were back then.

OMD: It's weird when a character is so odious as to have you rooting for Thomas, but it was obvious Nanny West was a foul fucking creature. Where the fuck does Nanny West get off telling Isobel she can't see her grandson?

WG: Yeezy was hilarious. A shittier Patmore.

OMD: At least we still have Molesley for whom to feel empathy toward. It doesn't hurt that Spratt was such a dick to him. Speaking of Spratt, is it just me, or was he Joel Murray channeling Bubbles from Trailer Park Boys? Mashing the tar. 'Tis a sad state of affairs in Mr. Molesley's world.

WG: Poor Molesley. Crying and tarring. Bubbles is spot on. What the hell is going on with the servant class back in England circa 1922? Talk about a bunch of scheming round heels. God forbid that Thomas and Spratt ever sync up, they'd be damn near unstoppable.

OMD: It's been very clearly established that Lady Edith cannot have nice things. Where is this German divorce play heading? Does Michael Gregson become a key figure in the National Socialist Party? Is he Hitler?

WG: Edith hasn't got what she wanted since she sexually accosted that commoner in the work shed a few years back. I had high hopes that maybe we'd run into Gertrude Stein or Hemingway at that "literary" party. I'm kind of digging the evolution of Edith. You are right though, moving to Germany for a divorce doesn't seem like the wisest move.

OMD: So Gwen's married? That typing fetched her a husband, I see. I'm assuming it's Jon Snow.

WG: Red Wedding part duex?

OMD: At first news of Matthew having drawn up an informal will leaving his portion of the estate to Mary, Robert starts a-draggin' his feet. There are so many times that I want to ascribe the label 'twat' to him, but here in this moment at the beginning of the second episode I feel justified in stamping it across his forehead. His first instinct is to hide the letter from Mary until its legality can be determined. Ugh. Once Mary says she has an interest in the estate, Robert starts in about all of the minutae, taking the piss out of her at the dinner table.

WG: His Lordship can be a real horse's ass. I think the alliance between Branson, Carson, and the Dowager will probably keep him in line. I still get a kick out of Branson having his humble roots jammed back in his face from time to time. Hopefully he flips out and burns something down.

OMD: Bates: The Social Butterfly. I could get used to that. I loved Bates's reaction to Anna and Molesley's surprise at his friendliness. I really liked how Bates worked up the fake IOU. Did you get a load of those pound notes? Gigantic.

WG: Jesus H. Christ, I loves me some Bates and Anna. Totally my fave couple. What the hell is Anna doing though? She's setting herself up for some Thomas fuckery. Completely inevitable, right?

OMD: I'd bring up the Rose/Sam Thawley bit or the return of Mr. Grigg, but really who cares? Having seen the next episode (or at least the next hour), I can safely say I'm not looking forward to next week.

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