Tuesday, February 4, 2014

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

Old Man Duggan: I can say without hesitation that it's hard to make myself work up this week's entry. I'm pretty fucking bummed by Philip Seymour Hoffman's death (and I'm still working through another one that I'll not delve into), and this relatively nondescript episode hardly inspires a pouring forth of words. But here I am.

Beware the Scotch mist
Sounds like Cousin Harold got himself wrapped up in Teapot Dome. If we ever choose to do another show together, I'm sure Teapot Dome will loom over it like the Scotch mist rolling in from the moors in Garth Marenghi's Darkplace.

Wordy Ginters: 'Tis the tie that binds.

OMD: How many things can randomly disappear from the Dowager Countess's bureau? What the fuck? Both, of course, were simply mistaken for having been stolen by the simple gardener, Pegg, but what a perfect storm of misplaced curios. I did like the way the whole letter knife fiasco played out. Cousin Isobel did her best private dick work, found and passive-aggressively presented the letter knife, and came back later with Doctor Clarkson in tow only to have Violet completely turn the tables on her. I'll be honest. I was surprised when it was revealed that Pegg had returned to his post at the Dower House per Violet's request. It's nice when Fellowes can surprise me like that. The boots-less Pegg was a nice touch.

WG: For being a witless garden hand, it appears that Pegg has some upscale tastes. Did you see those magnificent, thick, woolen, socks? I got the feeling the Dowager beat Isobel to the punch just to frustrate Isobel’s expectations more so than out of any sense of justice. I want to know what the good Doctor and Isobel were doing BEFORE that scene. All curled up in a lovers' knot, that’s what.

OMD: Bye-bye Alfred. It's too bad. I mean good for the character and all, but I'm not excited about how the servants' interpersonal relations are going to play out. Especially since I'm sure they'll find a way to turn the downstairs part of the show into Saved By The Bell: The College Years. At least we're probably at least a few years away from Saved By The Bell: The New Class. Need we worry about everyone wanting to jump Molesley's bones, now that he's new Alfred? I bet Daisy yearns for Molesley's manmeat by season's end.

WG: That would be a novel twist. You see Molesley as a Slater type? He’s obviously a jock, or have you forgotten how he commandeered the cricket field? You know he can dance too. He moves like a panther.

OMD: "Only stupid people are foolhardy." That fucking look Carson shot Jimmy was priceless.

Speaking of Jimmy (and apologies to those who have no idea where my train of thought is taking this week's entry), getting fresh with Ivy on the bench was far from smooth. He was quite the heel this episode. That said, Daisy, ever the simpleton, was pretty irritating in her blaming Alfred's departure on Ivy.

WG: Jimmy going for the park bench finger blast was seriously out of bounds. Without the bland but virtuous Alfred to play against, what is Fellowes going to do with Jimmy? You’ve already got one insufferable shit in the basement in Thomas. Can the show contain two basement shits? Jimmy made some feeble attempts to reconcile at the end of the episode, but it might be more interesting to have him play full cad.

OMD: "Oooo, I like that Rudolph Valentino. Ooo, he makes me shiver all over." Patmore, you randy old bat. I have to concur with Carson. Disturbing.

WG: Hey, Patmore has needs too.

OMD: Honestly, between the Jimmy takedown, the Patmore disturbance, and the Molesley reluctance, it was a great Carson episode. Even his awkward conversation with Jack Ross was pretty great.

WG: I especially enjoyed how Carson almost wilted and fell upon first laying eyes on Jack Ross. That is exactly how I imagine someone reacts when stricken by the vapors. There was a bit of tension in that conversation, you didn’t know if he was going to give in to his inner Sean Hannity, or if decorum would rule the day. In the end, I suppose decorum won, but only by a nose.

OMD: Fucking Gregson. I guess those two words paired together have a loaded meaning now. Methinks Lady Edith be screwed. Figuratively. Maybe not literally from this point in the series forward. That letter, by the way, said Edith was in the first trimester of pregnancy for those of you without DVR. I really have no idea what's happened to him. I'm guessing dead because those Crowley girls kill the men who sex them up.

WG: A nice little mystery, eh? So many possibilities. Germany. Another woman. Pre-Nazis. I hope Fellowes has some fun with this one. Surprise us.

OMD: I loved how Cora took the piss out of the snobbish maître d'Netherby when he wanted to screw the family Bates out of their reserved table. What a dunce. Skittering about like a nervous little twit with a mound of shit in his throat.

WG: I love the snobby maître d’ gambit. Best one? Blues Brothers or Ferris Bueller’s Day Off?

OMD: Ferris by a mile.

I wonder how long it is before Baxter feeds Thomas a line of bull to screw him over. It'll have to come, right? I, for one, think I like Baxter. Maybe some terrible, slimy underside with show itself, but right now she seems pretty sympathetic. I am curious to see what Thomas does with the information that Anna was raped, which we can assume he finds out soon. I think Robert could come into play here, too, but I'd guess it's actually Thomas who gets the benefit of that rare, human act.

WG: I think Baxter might be smarter than Thomas. Thomas makes up for his sub-par intelligence by being a plus schemer. I’m hoping that Baxter puts him into some kind of box. I’m curious about the goods he has on her though. Has to be pretty fucking drastic.

OMD: The scene with Branson, Mary, and Isobel in the nursery worked exceptionally well. I don't know how well the show has moved on in the absence of Matthew and Sybil, but Isobel's summary, "Well, aren't we the lucky ones," was quite the bow on that scene.

WG: A great sentiment by Isobel. I’m a big fan of recognizing all the good around you as a defense against self-pity. Isobel is the tits.

OMD: So I guess Charles Blake is supposed to be Matthew 2.0? Icy relations with Mary at first give way to unbridled passion or some such jibber-jabber. I think we've seen this before, and Matthew was more magnetic. At least we'll get the first few episodes of Mary being hilariously catty towards him. The shitty thing, of course, is that Evelyn Napier seems like an entirely likable chap, but every time he brings another man to Downton, Mary ends up getting entangled with the other guy, not Evelyn.

WG: I was thinking the same thing. Obviously the fire behind the mutual initial dislike between Chuck Blake and Lady Mary is only fuel for future F2FA. God be with you Chuck.

As a proud Lee Greenwood supporting ‘Murrican, I was a little put off by the way Fellowes showed the Downton Abbey crew reacting to a black man in the house. Are we to believe that in England, people were simply too classy to react badly? They were too damn sophisticated to be racist? Compare that with Boardwalk Empire. Chalky and Nucky are practically best buds, but do you doubt for a second that Nucky has some seriously contemptuous ideas about race lurking half a centimeter below the surface? I’ve seen Premiere League football games on TV where the fans start making monkey noises anytime a black player possess the ball. Don’t give me that shit Fellowes. You think you are better than us? More ridiculously racist characters please. Otherwise, you are just lending credence to the comfortable tweed PBS demographic who think racism doesn’t exist anymore.

OMD: Note to everyone: I assure you Wordy was joking about the Lee Greenwood fandom. I think there is an element of class that plays into this segment of society that sort of negates any reactions that would be too broadly racist. Especially amongst the gentry. Theirs is a prejudice that would be kept under lock and key. To show outward racism at a dinner party is surely gauche in high society. You've got to also remember that slavery was abolished in the British in 1833, and that was over sixty years after the Mansfield case that Carson mentioned in which any black man who stepped on British soil was a free man. They were a lot further down the line past slavery than the U.S. was at the same time in Boardwalk.

The Dowager Countess had to leave the dance floor. Should we be worried?

WG: God, I hope so.

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