Monday, February 17, 2014

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

This week's installment is the final regular episode of the fourth season/series of Downton Abbey. While Robert and Thomas are away in America, tending to Teapot Dome, the rest of the Crawleys get the grounds ready for the church bazaar. Lady Rosamund and Edith come up with a plan. Anna confides in Lady Mary. Alfred comes back to Downton one last time. Bates slips away to "York." When he returns, Mr. Green has run into the business end of a Mack truck. Next week, we get the Christmas Special.

Old Man Duggan: Baxter and Molesley. Some sweet moments between the two of them in this one. "It's just coffee. You wouldn't have to surrender any of your independence." Good move, Molesley, you sly sonuvabitch. I like where that could go. My interest is definitely piqued as to what her backstory is. When they walked off arm in muscular arm after Molesley succinctly told Thomas to piss off, I wanted to shout from the rooftops.

Wordy Ginters: I loved the look Baxter gave Thomas as she walked away draped on Moseley's bulging arm. Delivered over the shoulder for throwing shade bonus points.

OMD: I feel like this isn't the first time the show has mentioned Swindon, but every time I hear it mentioned, I think of how evil the Swindon Branch is. Goddamn Neil and his goddamn ballroom dancing.

WG: I'm still thinking about Moseley's deceptively powerful arms.

OMD: I'm so glad that Anna finally told Lady Mary about Mr. Green. I do worry that this will be Bates's undoing, of course--assuming we don't get thrown a curveball and Green ended up dying without Bates's help.

WG: Bates is guilty, right? Fellowes might as well had him compulsively washing his hands from the moment he got back from "York." Out damned spot.

OMD: I'd be shocked if he wasn't.

I sure as hell hope that Alfred's letter and its fallout means that the nonsensical love quadrangle is over and done with. I think if Ivy was even remotely fetching the tiresome entanglement might make a bit of sense, but Fellowes has wasted a season-and-a-half on a storyline that would have been better left dead on arrival. At least Daisy got Mr. Mason's basket to Alfred. It was a pretty bow on a shitty package, but a pretty bow all the same.

WG: Don't be too hasty regarding the relative merits of the package. Sounded like a decent haul for a road trip. Sausage. Cheese. Bread. Cider. I guess it depends on the cheese. Mason has always been a decent motherfucker. Whenever any of the characters on Downton end up playing the humane angle, I get aroused. I was glad to see Mason provide some wise counsel to Daisy.

OMD: Sorry I was talking about how it was a nice moment to end the horseshit downstairs menage. I'd never shit on Mr. Mason's care package.

Speaking of Daisy, that hat she wore at the picnic with William's dad made her look like she was going through chemo, right?

WG: Pasty. Hairless. Nauseous. Scared shitless. That's Daisy.

OMD: Miss Sarah Bunting. Surely she's Ned Yost's maternal grandmother. That would certainly go towards explaining his proclivity towards a strategy with such a dismal upside. I liked Branson's assertion that he believes in people rather than types after fixing up Miss Bunting's car.

WG: Well played. I hate bunts. That scene reminded me of those Cialis commercials where fading stud middle age man handles all crisis with a bemused shrug and a shadow of a hard-on. Car repairs in the desert. Fixing sails with a surcingle belt. Coming down out of the office to fix the printing press. Regardless, I want Branson to run for office. Curious what his campaign commercials will look like. How hard will he work to stop Obamacare? Speaking of which, in the Athens of the Plains, we're already getting some real knee-slappers in the way of political commercials.

I don't know if I care to get in a pissing contest along these lines with someone from Texas, but how dumb do you think voters are to assume some shit like that is appealing on any level. The incontinent grandpa seals it for me.

OMD: That's some terrible shit there.

Isobel's connection with Lord Merton was nice, even if he was that shitheel Larry's father. Larry, if you have forgotten, was the fucker who drugged Branson at that dinner only to have Lord Anthony Strallan save the day. His admission that his was a marriage without much love was a nice touch, and once again we get a moment showing us just how lucky Isobel was. I will feel bad for Clarkson if Isobel gets with Lord Merton.

WG: Ah, yes. The fucker who slipped a mickey to my political hero. Agreed. I've got Isobel pegged for Clarkson too. If there is any justice, we'll eventually see them post-coital, lighting each other's cigarettes while wearing glistening rubber gloves, sly looks of pure carnal contentment on their glowing faces.

OMD: Hooray for Jack Ross ending things with Lady Rose. When she threw her little tantrum, insisting that she'd marry Jack just to spite her mother, it was pretty clear what her motivation was. Didn't seem to be love, did it? I liked when Mary went to visit him. It was a nice little subversion of what one would assume social conventions of the time would typically have dictated that meeting go down like. I do think that she was actually looking out for him at least as much as she was her spoiled little cousin. The best thing about all of it, though, will be that we don't ever have to hear Jack Ross sing again.

WG: I can't imagine Lady Rose loving anything for very long. It was a nice scene. Very prudent and polite. I wouldn't mind the chaos of Jack showing up outside Downton (or wherever Lady Rose is calling home), with a boombox blaring some Pete Gabriel.

OMD: Robert's dig on Thomas saying that he missed Bates's presence as his valet was priceless.

WG: Maybe some more backstory to come in that area? Hopefully the only references to Grantham's big trip aren't about prohibition or Thomas being a douche.

OMD: So if Downton Abbey has rebranded "going Greek" as "going Turkish," I think it's safe to say that it now owns "learning French in Switzerland" as the new "running away to have a bastard child in hiding." I will say that the shot of Rosamund rushing to Edith's side asking if she should exert herself that much seems odd considering that this would almost always be foreshadowing for a miscarriage, but there is virtually no way that a miscarriage happens on-screen given the time jump next week (more on that at the end).

WG: Perhaps pro-life fanatics would be better off setting up four months in Switzerland and adoption services instead of picketing Planned Parenthood? The way Edith was hauling heavy stuff like a UPS freight loader during the pre-bazaar set-up, I wouldn't be surprised if she "accidentally" falls down the stairs.

OMD: I'm pretty surprised Fellowes has spent this much time sequestering Gregson in his remote and disconnected German digs. It must be hard to help start up the Nazi Party, but it is still surprising that he's still missing as the official fourth series comes to an end with just the Christmas special yet to air. I thought for sure that he'd pop up at the bazaar looking haggard and missing an ear.

WG: One-eared Gregson. Edith seemed sweet on Pig Farmer guy, but maybe that was just pretext for the ill-conceived hidden bastard ploy that the Dowager snuffed out. She does have a history of slumming with the great unwashed though. Didn't she molest some poor farmer or mechanic back in Season 1 or 2? Of is that my fantasy?

OMD: She and that farmer fooled around in the hay.

I'd talk about Lady Mary's menage, but I don't really have much to say on the subject. You?

WG: It irritates me a little. All this fuss over Mary. Makes me feel bad for Edith. But what's new. Edith has been shat upon from the beginning.

OMD: Bates's swagger as he "headed off to York" was pretty awesome. He sure as hell looked like he was about to exact revenge on his wife's attacker. I'm pretty sure that expression on his face could be qualified as 'determined.' Bates wrapped his cane around Green's ankle and shouldered him into the road, right? Hopefully he lopped off his balls first, but beggars cannot be choosers. Anna's reaction ("That's a relief.") to the street having been crowded when Green died seemed a bit odd. I guess it's just that if someone knew Green had been murdered someone would have been arrested then and there.

WG: Same read here. The crowded street provided comfort to Anna, and an alibi of sorts for Bates. But it can't be that simple, can it? I'm sure there will be more twists and turns along the way. Who dies in the last episode? I keep thinking I see hints and foreshadowing of the Dowager's death. I suppose if Maggie Smith was off the show, we would have heard about it by now.

OMD: I could see Branson leaving (not by death). Maggie Smith probably wants out by now, too, but maybe she makes the big British TV bucks. Oh, who am I kidding? To be fair, I'd hardly say they foreshadowed Matthew's death last season, though

The next episode is the Christmas special. It jumps ahead almost a full year to the summer of 1923. I think it's safe to say that Edith's pregnancy will have run its course alongside Lake Geneva. I've read nothing about the episode, but I can't imagine there isn't at least a little bit of resolution to the Bates/Green and Gregson storylines. Can we assume that with the benefit of another year in the rearview that Lady Mary will be landing on a suitor next week? If so, it seems likely to me that it will be Blake, which will unintentionally put Bates in the crosshairs when Gillingham decides to look for answers as to what went down with Mr. Green.

WG: The Gillingham/Blake/Mary triangle, the fallout, and how that may or may not impact Bates Death Wish move will be a lot to wrap-up in one episode. Thomas will undoubtedly have a hand in the proceedings as well. I suspect Branson will get under Bunting's hood again. Big shirtless Moseley and the grim Baxter will surely be cavorting. I'm guessing Patmore and Daisy hook up in a May-December lesbo affair that makes Mary long for the simple problems of potential mixed-race marriages. I've enjoyed this season far more than the last one, despite the odious rape storyline. I'm eager to see how Fellowes plays the ninth inning.

OMD: The narrative has worked a bit better, but without Matthew and Sybil the show is definitely missing something that they've yet to been able to replace by another means.

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