Sunday, January 19, 2014

Wordy Old Men on Downton Abbey: Series Four, Episode Four

As always, Wordy Ginters and I take you through this week's installment of Downton Abbey, denoted by its original British airing, which means this is the third episode that aired in the U.S. since PBS randomly decides to air two episodes back-to-back during the season. This week Tony Gillingham rather aggressively courted Lady Mary, Tom Branson deals with the fallout from an ill-advised night with the odious Edna Braithwaite, Anna and Bates struggle in the aftermath of Mr. Green's assault, and Lady Edith lays down with Michael

Old Man Duggan: The pall of a brutal sexual assault and the specter of passed lovers loomed over this episode while out-of-wedlock sex of the voluntary (but possibly ill-advised) variety potentially sets the stage for what is yet to come--at least for those patient souls who are waiting for the episodes to air stateside. Let's start at the top.

Given Thomas's nosy predisposition, I would imagine that it is he who lets Bates know what has happened to his tattered bride. I really have no idea who is going to take care of Mr. Green/Gillingham. Perhaps I spend too much time watching insanely violent fare, but I really cannot fathom a scenario playing out in which Julian Fellowes doesn't have the fucker offed in some way, especially given his master's apparent wariness of the rapey manservant. Fellowes is clearly dead set on raking Bates and Anna over the coals, but I have a hard time believing that he'd go down the tired old route of sending Bates back to the clink. My guess for who eventually offs the fucker (and at this point, I've neither seen nor heard anything about what is to come): Thomas, though I sort of hope it's Hughes with the fucker's blood splashed across her face like Boyd Crowder in what seemed like half of the Season Five premiere of Justified.

WG: Thomas, eh? Bold pick. That sly, oily, and smug schemer would be redeemed somewhat in my eyes. He's like a physical manifestation of every characters self-doubt and insecurity, always prying and whispering and finding people at their most vulnerable. I'll throw down with Molesley, who will then parlay his new found blood-lust for revenge murdering into the role of bounty hunter alongside Jamie Foxx in Django Unchained 2: The White Gloves of Justice.

OMD: They're really dragging this tax jibber-jabber out. With how freely Fellowes advances time, you'd think this aspect of the season's arc would have taken a step forward. Alas, we wait another week for what is to come of Downton Abbey in 1922.

WG: Between the multi-episode estate tax arc, and poor Lord Grantham complaining about health care and "free labor" at dinner, it's abundantly clear that no one suffers like the rich.

Be afraid, Edna. Be very afraid.
OMD: Fucking Braithwaite. One goddamn night of guilt-fucking Branson, and she's sinking her fucking talons into the poor sod. "Suppose I'm pregnant? What will you do then?" What would Montgomery Clift do? Take her out in a rowboat and hit her in the head with a fucking oar before dumping her corpse in the lake. I loved Hughes calling her on her bluff. I hope this is the last we see of Braithwaite, but given the fact that between the end of the last episode and this one there were three characters who had sex they could regret, it'd be uncharacteristic of Fellowes not to punish one of them with an unwanted pregnancy. Let's hope it's not Branson who gets punished, if only to spare us of that pasty, alien-looking she-devil.

WG: Hughes definitely saved Branson from having to play the A Place in the Sun gambit. Of the three characters who had naughty dirty sex, the the whammy has to hit Edith, right? You know Gregson's seed was super potent before he left for Nazi summer camp. Hughes is the shit. I like how the downstairs "lord and lady" are generally more level-headed and decent than their upstairs counterparts.

OMD: I did like the scene where he went to Hughes, and she laid down the law. I liked it almost as much as when Thomas laughed at Braithwaite in the stairwell. I really like it when Fellowes gives us a reason to like Thomas. Maybe it was the soft-spot for Lady Sybil at work or maybe there's only room for one servant who is too big for his/her britches, but I was glad to see him turn on that opportunistic wench.

WG: The exchange of unpleasantries was definitely a nice touch. Any time Fellowes gives some counter-intuitive shades to the characters, he's at his best.

OMD: I liked the two scenes with Hughes and Carson. Their mutual admiration makes for some really nice moments, especially as sparingly as Fellowes parses them out. The framed picture was a nice touch.

WG: They'd make a hot couple. I winced when I saw Carson's long lost love though, she looked like Joe Torre. She was in the singing group "The Lark and the Dove," which sounds a lot like a Neko Case album title.

OMD: Holy shit is the Daisy/Alfred/Ivy/Jimmy love quadrangle tiresome. At this point, the only one of them I actually care about is Alfred. Daisy's dipshittery rendered her unlikable from Jump Street. Jimmy is a preening tool. Ivy has yet to be even remotely developed. She was basically thrust into the show to add another set of working ovaries to the mix downstairs. And now Alfred could head off to London? I am all for this stupid series on one-way affections (do we really think Jimmy isn't just biding his time with Ivy?) to be done with, but Alfred is the only one of the four who is worth a damn.

WG: I'm warming up to Daisy. But I generally agree with you. Alfred's a big decent lug. Jimmy is obviously toying with Ivy because he can. I wouldn't mind seeing Alfred tearing apart Jimmy like a loaf of fresh bread. And then heading off shirtless to the boot room with both Ivy and Daisy. Afterwards, he'd prepare them omelets, and a terrifying breaded asparagus dish. I'm definitely ready for some closure. If the Valentine's Day shenanigans didn't put too fine a point on the one-way love, I don't know what will.

OMD: Really not a fan of Jack Ross's diction. His mouth was open so wide horizontally that it made me want to curl up into the fetal position on the ground and cry. Bring the corners of your mouth in, fella. At least he was smooth on the dance floor. Of course, "A Rose by Any Other Name..." wasn't nearly as smooth. A little on the cuff. Sidenote: as if we needed more reason to dislike Lady Rosamund, she outs herself as a stodgy racist. Sure, it's just that stodgy, upper crust variety, but still, not cool.

WG: I admire Fellowes for tackling some big issues, but Jesus, so easy to miss the mark. I'm not optimistic. Trying to do this through the lens of a period piece only complicates things. I give him credit for having such strong female leads, but on the same hand, he has them entangled in and acting out some very negative stereotypes. What the hell is he going to do with Ross?

"One swallow doth not a summer make."
OMD: Tony! Toni! TonĂ©! Put the brakes on there, bud. I believe the Duke of Crowborough, the dearly departed Owen Sleater, put it thusly: "One swallow doth not a summer make." You've been in Mary's company for all of, what, three days? Get a grip. If anything, this has to have Mary thinking that if this is how he approaches marriage, then he must surely be a prejacker. Also, she fills his brain? There has to be a better way to put that, dork.

WG: What a guileless prick for painting her in a corner and demanding an answer lest he marry Ms. Lane Fox. Shitheel move. I wish Mary would have had Carson remove him from the grounds via a series of kicks to the ass. I'm glad she said no. Too eager. Too cloying. Too big ears. Too Tony.

OMD: Nothing good can come from Lady Edith sleeping with Gregson, can it? I mean nothing good has ever happened to Edith in the long-run. One night of coital bliss, and she'll likely find herself with child and running a paper while her would-have-been mate is brainwashed and turns into a founder of the Nazi Party before catching an errant bullet that had been fired into the air on New Year's Eve at the Alexanderplatz.

WG: First A Place in the Sun, and now The Manchurian Candidate, I like it when you work TCM. As long as Fellowes is playing with race and rape, why not add antisemitism to the mix? No, of course nothing good can come from the Germany. I do hope the show picks up on some of that historical context, although I don't think Hitler hits his stride until the 30's. I like Gregson, but he's married, and a journalist. Perhaps you could find worse traits in a lover, but it wouldn't be easy. I like to imagine that somehow Mary will kill Edith via F2FA.

OMD: So who is your money on for who gets screwed for getting screwed? If forced to bet, my money's on Edith.

WG: Most definitely Edith in a literal sense. Figuratively, Bates.

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