Monday, January 27, 2014

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

In this fifth installment (by the way they aired in the U.K.) of Downton Abbey's fourth season, Alfred tests at the Ritz, Baxter endears herself to the household, Bates finds out the truth about what happened to Anna, and Lady Edith surreptitiously visited the doctor.

Old Man Duggan: Judging by the fully healed bruise, we must be a few weeks post-rape. Obviously, this is where the heart of the episode lies, but let's save that for the end.

Alfred heads off to the Ritz, emboldened by his success with the Bouchées de Fromage. Reported success on the savory delights notwithstanding, it seems uncharacteristic of Fellowes to hurry a servant off the show. Nothing good can come to them without a few more hours of Downton Abbey programming, and his letter of rejection would indicate things have not changed. I hope he had fun in London, all things considered, but I sort of doubt it. I did like when Ivy told Jimmy to stop being a dick to Alfred.

Wordy Ginters: Me too. Alfred is a simple earnest SOB, hard not to like the big dumb lug. Jimmy, on the other hand, is too cute by half. I'm hoping Alfred gets pushed to the point of mussing him up a little bit, if only for the joy that it would obviously bring Carson. Sweet, silly, naive, Carson. [Insert the Dowager's odd, three beats too long little exasperated laugh while she was in the garden here] Pumping Alfred with bromides like hard work is the key to success. Carson, of all people, should realize this empty rhetoric for what it is, considering the "hard work" he sees from the wealthy knobs who boss him around upstairs.

OMD: I have no idea what to make of Baxter. She is indebted to Thomas for getting her the job, but it seems like there's a bit of trepidation to jump in with him altogether. I know Patmore must be scared shitless of her. She can use an electric sewing machine. She must be possessed of the devil in Patmore's eyes, even after mending her apron. Mending her apron? Definitely a sex thing. I'm very curious to see why Baxter is as grateful as she claims to be. Must be something a bit off in her background.

WG: Good on Fellowes for painting Baxter as an ambiguous, but leading proponent of cutting-edge household technology. I assume since Thomas appears to wield some leverage on her, things will ultimately get nefarious and shitty. Patmore's fear of household goods is to Fellowes as the bunt is to Ned Yost. A sacred thing intrinsic to their respective milieus. Neither could exist without the other. Nor should they.

OMD: When is Isobel going to let Doc muss up her hair already?

WG: It's coming. An accidental touch that lingers too long, perhaps while applying a bandage. A shared and knowing glance. I've been seeing too many Cialis commercials. One minute they'll be having a humorless discussion about saving some unfortunate sod, the next they'll be all tangled up in a sweaty pile of limbs and mustache. Then she'll have the baby. Then the awkwardness of Isobel having a son and a grandson of the same age.

OMD: Lady Edith heads off to the doctor. No word from Gregson. This can't be good. It seems like it must be about time for Fellowes to head down the abortion path for the socio-historical angle that it can bring into the show.

WG: Right? Has to be.

OMD: Molesley. What a dipshit. This is pretty much the opposite of everything coming up Milhouse.

WG: Molesley should appear in scenes, wordless, holding a big card that says "comic relief". Like Dylan in the "Subterranean Homesick Blues" video.

OMD: Is it at all disturbing that Mrs. Patmore seems to think that a refrigerator might in fact be able to replicate food? What a loon.

WG: The corset cuts off oxygen to her head, resulting in fantastical visions.

OMD: Pegg, Pegg, Pegg. If you nicked that paper knife, Maley will have your head on a pike and on display outside the Dower House. The King of Sweden doesn't hand out paper knives all willy-nilly. One look at Maley, and you can be certain that he's taken more than one life in his day, likely with his bare hands.

WG: Maley was a particularly hard-looking gardener. They take that shit seriously in England.

OMD: Bronson was a gardener, wasn't he?

Evelyn Napier is back. I guess we are going to head down a path with nothing but suitors being thrown at the widow Lady Mary. One every four or five episodes until she chooses a Matthew 2.0. At least Evelyn Napier is a pleasant chap.

WG: I didn't remember the guy. Lady Mary seemed a little more fired up about this dude than the last one.

OMD: Evelyn brought that beautiful Turk to Downton and indirectly introduced Mary to the wonderful world of sodomy.

Tom Branson, Future American. I'm guessing that we're at that point where the actor is no longer under contract and is prepared to move on. Maybe I'm wrong, but it seems like perhaps we should be preparing to bid our favorite "uppity chauffeur" adieu.

WG: I'd dig it if the show established a beachhead in the U.S. Wasn't Lady Grantham's mother in Florida? You are probably right, though; seems like a convenient way to write a character into oblivion.

OMD: Bates lurks behind the corner, overhears there's something amiss in true Downton fashion, and sets off to play the part of John Bates, P.I. Strong-arming Hughes into divulging the gory details of Anna's horrible assault was cagey. Dark Bates is back, and he's going to off a motherfucker. It's hard to put yourself in his situation and not want to do the same thing. I, for one, hope he does it and gets away with it.

WG: As brutal as that storyline is, Fellowes appears to have handled it with some measure of decency. Bates going Death Wish has a visceral appeal to it.

OMD: I will say I got teary-eyed when he consoled Anna. Anna is definitely his soft spot. I hope he confides in Robert, who can maybe find a nobler way to dispose of the odious Mr. Green.

WG: 'Twas some powerful shit. So awful that it's hard to contemplate. Bates is a proud and noble kind of guy. It will be interesting to see if he can find justice without ending up back in jail.

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