Sunday, January 25, 2015

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

In this week's episode of Downton Abbey, Robert pitches fits while ignoring the value of the women around him. Sarah Bunting enrages Lord Grantham with her thorny persistence toward forwarding her agenda. Lady Mary rather unsuccessfully tries to refuse Lord Gillingham's proposal. Lord Merton asks for Isobel's hand in marriage. Shrimpy and Bricker play the part of house guests of the week. News of Gregson's presumed demise draws near.

Old Man Duggan: So Thomas looks like shit. That no one--other than Carson, whose wide-eyed silent registration of horrified indignation at Thomas's appearance undermining the decorum of lunch spoke volumes--was shocked at the ghastly pallor of his skin and the fiery bags 'neath his eyes speaks volumes to the degree to which everyone else in the house is indifferent at best to Barrow's well-being. There is of one thing that we can be sure: Thomas's attempts to rid himself of the burden of homosexuality through tinctures and elixirs will be about as successful as praying the gay away.

Wordy Ginters: Those colors don't run.

OMD: It's a damn shame that Thomas wasn't just a bit more sympathetic, so that this story line could resonate a bit more deeply. As it is, we feel bad for Thomas, but he's such a conniving prick 80% of the time that the modest steps made toward his redemption that Fellowes has taken from time to time probably won't be enough to draw the emotional blood from the viewer that it would have if, say, William or Alfred were the one who was gay in a time in which that was not an option. I guess Thomas would be little more than an evil caricature without the homosexuality as a partial explanation for his devious nature, and concocting a suitable alternative explanation that would conjure feelings of sympathy for such a bastard would be difficult, but still, it's a shame that the horrors of being gay in the early 20th Century couldn't have been explored with a character who doesn't simultaneously fit the bill of the classic heel.

WG: It's shitty that Fellowes makes Thomas the gay character. Look at The Wire. David Simon made the most interesting character (Omar) gay. Fellowes on the other hand, makes the gay guy a sneaky cheating back-stabber. The progressive female teacher is a thorny blowhard. He's working from his 1920s stereotype handbook. It's a dusty fucking tome. His politics suck. To be fair, he's been more enlightened with other choices, but he fumbles badly with Bunting and Thomas.

OMD: It seems like the theme of this episode lies in the evolving notion of the non-permanent nature of marriage in 20th Century society. Shrimpy wanting a divorce from his insufferable shrew of a wife, Susan. Widower Lord Merton proposing to widow Isobel. Mary thinking better of being wed to Lord Gillingham after having been dissatisfied with how they fit together (please, read that however you'd like). The traveling salesman trying to worm his way into Cora's heart/pants with adulation over her appreciation for art. The revelation that Kuragin begged Violet to abscond to some upper crust love nest on the shores of the Black Sea. Is Julian Fellowes having some marital woes?

WG: Apparently so. I need more Kuragin. I'd pay to hear that guy read the Austin phone book. Speaking of pro-fem pop culture, did you realize that Hall and Oates sizzling chart topper, "Adult Education," is written from a female point of view? I knew Daryl Hall had more facets than you'd guess from his choice in music, from his smash home renovation show Daryl's House, and from his bold hair style, but I didn't know he had more nuance than Julian Fellowes. Don't actually read the lyrics to that song.

OMD: I had no idea, but between the gender-bent perspective on "Adult Education" and the anti-anal dance anthem "I Can't Go For That (No Can Do)," Hall and Oates are nothing if not ready to venture into challenging territory for a songwriting team.

Violet's recounting of Kuragin's attempt to lure her away from the deceased Lord Grantham was quite nice. "Like all Englishmen of his type, he hid his qualities beneath a thick blanket of convention, so I didn't see who he really was at first."

WG: An elegant way to get that sentiment across. Fellowes, you complicated fucker.

OMD: I wanted to make a joke about how nothing gets me randier than [near] septuagenarian widow/widower courtship, but Lord Merton's proposal sincerely brought a tear to my eye. Damn you, Fellowes.

WG: I'm looking forward to the honeymoon montage, a la Bates and Anna. Tangled sheets. Tasteful cleavage. Meaty thighs. Merton cross-eyed. I was hoping when he left, his heart and head buzzing, that he would have put on Isobel's gardening hat.

Gregson's killers
OMD: Would've been perfect.

It surely looks like Gregson was killed in the Beer Hall Putsch of November of 1923 that landed Hitler in jail for treason after the Brown Shirts failed in their march to set up an oppositional government to the Weimar Republic in Munich. The ensuing trial of Hitler gave way to the rise to prominence of the Nazi Party as he was given a public platform from which to espouse the tenets of National Socialism, so Fellowes has done a fine job of incorporating the Crawleys into the periphery of the fabric of world history once again.

WG: I've got a twenty against your ten that Carson spouts some shit that shows him sympathetic to Hitler at some point.

OMD: As long as he can find a way to qualify Hitler's changes to Europe as attempting to honor the tired old class system, that could happen.

Robert's continued marginalization of his wife and her opinions cannot possibly be to his long-term benefit. His childish petulance in this episode is dialed up to eleven until the closing seconds of the installment. It does at times become tedious, though his protestations at Bricker's transparent attempts to sweet-talk Cora's Interwar undergarments to the floorboards are not without their merits.

WG: I laughed when he blew out dinner. I'd rather see him in pissing contest with Bricker than Bunting. What was with the public show of interrogating Daisy and Patmore? That was horseshit. He should have just asked them to flash their tits. Or maybe asked Daisy if she knew what 2+3 was.

OMD: To be fair, Daisy may not know the answer to that question, and I don't think it has any relation to Lord Grantham trying to keep the serfs in their place.

Lady Rose's assertion that she'll only marry a man to whom she's enamored can only be followed by one thing: enter Suitor Number One. At least her unhappily married father will not be the one to block her from a union borne of happiness.

WG: She's been significantly less horny and more prone to social services this season, she's do for a romp. I say pair her up with Tom.

OMD: Tony[!], Toni[!], Tone[!], whenever will you learn that women don't like being told that they love you and will come to their senses while disabusing them of the notion that they get to choose such feelings after having been jabbed about Liverpool by your dick? I just re-watched the episode of Black Mirror featuring Tom Cullen, and I'll admit to having had a bit of a hard time divorcing Tony Gillingham from the shitbird ("Jonas") he played in that episode. Perhaps there was a statue better suited to dumping? Could he have really challenged her assertion at Trafalgar Square in front of the raised, majestic visage of the virile Lord Nelson atop a phallic Corinthian column?

WG: How emasculating to flunk your fuck test with a potential fiance, get dumped in a garden. I think Gillingham's secret is that he's loud in bed. Lots of high-pitched squealing and wheezing. I've only seen one episode of Black Mirror, and it was sadly Cullen-less. Does he have a spit curl?

OMD: "Here, look at these plants growing in the fertile soil. You certainly won't be planting your seeds in mine." Keep going on Black Mirror. It's good shit.

Anna done gummed up the works with that trip to Piccadilly. Bad Mrs. Bates!

WG: So she is a suspect now? That would be hilarious and potentially interesting to me. And hot.

OMD: Some Caged Heat circa 1924 action would be cool and fitting. Of course, they'll probably just be walking in circles in the prison yard, doing calisthenics, and getting their letters withheld by the guards.

On a separate but related note, the green screen/soundstage work on a few of the London scenes looked pretty bad this week, though I understand that it's be damn near impossible to shoot at Piccadilly on a British TV budget and have everything look like it was March of 1924--Hitler's trial transpired between February 26th and April 1st of 1924.

Sarah Bunting strikes again, this time leading to Robert storming out and Branson looking the part of someone who sharted thrice in quick succession at the dinner table. Holy shit is she unable to bite down upon her tongue at opportune times. It must be exceedingly tedious to be her co-worker, as every sentence she utters is in the service of a cause.

WG: She's brutal.

OMD: Someone with more fine art chops than I possess could surely assign an importance to the shot framing of the painted maiden in the stairs outlined by the Jacobethan balusters of Highclere Castle as Mary ascends the stairs to console Tom before heading off to bed.

WG: Nice catch. Tis not I. I'm more at home with Rance Mulliniks.

OMD: Less than a month of proper book learnin' can't possibly make Daisy's letter on behalf of dear Archie a readable one. I'd be terrified to read it.

WG: Cuz fore he got his head rattled on a count of the horors of warz.

OMD: The Dowager Countess owes Princess Kuragin the debt of reuniting wife with husband? Do spill the lurid beans, Violet.

WG: Anything is possible. Speaking of historical guide posts, is the whole Russian/Kuragin story somehow related to the Anastasia story?

OMD: And the episode closes with Robert pledging to build his field of dreams. Or tasteful housing developments. Perhaps there will be a home for the fallen Shoeless Joe amongst the homes. He would surely be a fine ringer for the village cricket squad.

WG: Now there's a proper ending to Eight Men Out. Shoeless Joe smacking belters all over the pitch in Ripon. Molesley polishing silver in the stands, leaning over in a knowing whisper to the guy in front of him, that guy used to play for the White Sox.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Wordy Old Men on Downton Abbey: Season Five, Episode Three

[This week's delay was the direct result of Comcast blowing goats and the abysmal internet connectivity at OMD's parents' home. Wordy Ginters took the reins this week, thankfully, and the delay, while painful, should not repeat itself this season.]

Lady Mary works on her post-coital glow, Spratt drops a dime on her sex filled romp in Liverpool to the Dowager, Bates looks to get measured for pinstripes, again, Edith wears out her welcome with the Drewes, Baxter gets an ultimatum, Thomas is lying about something, Cora considers the art consultation business, Bunting shits in the punch bowl, Daisy does her maths.

Wordy Ginters: I've never been to England, but I imagine it doesn't get more romantic than Liverpool. Did you see the abs on Gillingham? I'm guessing those abs aren't historically correct. Regardless of his marbled midsection and impossibly full-bodied hair, he's already coming on a little needy, with the creepy "I notice everything you do" shtick and the unannounced arrival at the Russian Tea Party. I don't blame Mary for having second thoughts, but the self-absorbed "who will she end up with?" cliffhanger BS left me cold the first time around, as will its redux.

Screw these dinks.
Old Man Duggan: One of the worst days of my life had Liverpool as its lowlight. Travel nightmare on the day they arrested the terrorists in London who had been planning hijackings leading to heading deaf, dumb, and blind to Liverpool in the hopes of catching a ferry to Dublin to be able to eventually catch our flight from Ireland back to the States. Screw Liverpool and all its 'pudlians who couldn't tell me where the goddamn ferry line was.

As for good ol' Gill's abs, put your goddamn shirt on, you're making me randy with your abs and your lats, Tony Hunkingham. The Ham's got a 21st Century bod in the Roaring 20s. Good on him. You'd think with that package he'd be a little less desperate for the cavalier and anemic Mary Crowley. I'm not looking forward to getting to suffer through Lady Mary's hemming and hawing betwixt two suitors who frankly lack the charisma and draw of Matthew.

WG: I don't know what was more humorous: the idea that Carson could be wheedled into allowing a soldier shot for cowardice to have his name on the Downton War Memorial, or how PUT OUT he was when Thomas asked to use the demon telephone?

OMD: The incredulity in his eyes at Thomas possibly needing to use that infernal contraption when writing a letter would surely have done the glacially paced trick was a look of which only Jim Carter may be capable. His look upon having his office door shut behind him was priceless.

Just Falking around
WG: I thoroughly enjoyed the Dowager's stone cold lady balls when she effortlessly deflated Spratt's potentially embarrassing news with an extemporaneous cover story. It's those grace under pressure moments that make her coming undone at memories of Prince Kuragin more meaningful. The only thing that seems to rattle her is naughty sexy dirty blood sugar sex magik. And hey, I just watched Maggie Smith as a younger women in Neil Simon's barely watchable Murder by Death a few weeks ago, she was a total dish. Speaking of movies, isn't the dude who plays Prince Kuragin the same guy who rented Cruise his costume in Eyes Wide Shut? Those scenes at the costume shop were fantastically creepy.

OMD: Yes, Rade Serbedzija, who was also in Snatch. As for the young Miss Smith, I've seen none of her earlier work, much to my own chagrin. There's not a good reason for not having seen The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. The old dame was quick on the draw with the fabricated reason for Mary's having been seen red-assed and sexually exhausted on the curb in Liverpool with her illicit lover. Spratt's inability to spew out his gossip in a way other than stilted was tiresome. Is he supposed to be affecting a Liverpudlian accent?

WG: I always dig it when Fellowes takes the production off Downton and films in London or other locales. Bricker humping Cora's leg up and down the museum corridors and the twilight sidewalks of London was visually striking. Despite the hash, rehashing, and re-purposing of many plot threads, the visuals have always been top notch on Downton Abbey.

OMD: The show is definitely at its best when mixing up the locations and showing that they're not just beneficiaries of preying on a flagging real-life manor. I simply cannot divorce Richard E. Grant from his role in Hudson Hawk. It makes it really hard to watch his neutered faux courtship of the married Cora Crowley. Grant was born in Mbabane, Swaziland.

WG: Spotted dick reference? Fellowes throwing a bone to the millions of middle school Downton devotees. The tragedy is that it's a damn fine dessert.

OMD: Good old Jules. Never above dipping his pen in the gutter inkwell and dropping a cheeky lewd reference.

WG: Sympathy butters no parsnips.

OMD: Nor is it reserved solely for the holy. But Carson could stop being a dick and just put dear cowardly Archie's name on the memorial.

WG: As much as I'm not looking forward to the Battle Royale among Lady Mary's suitors, I'm even more not looking forward to the idea that Bates is going to end up back on the hook. It's like peeling off a scab. I know you have a hard-on for shot framing, did you notice as he walked forlornly down the hallway after speaking with Anna about their predicament towards episode's end that he was tightly framed in by woodwork and windows with lattices and such? I get the jailhouse blues just remembering on it.

OMD: If Bates ends up back in the clink, that may be the nail in the show's coffin. Good catch on the filmic representation of Bates's looming imprisonment.

WG: What jumped out at you?

OMD: Cora's fitting with Molyneux was with Edward Molyneux, whose last name was apparently pronounced much more similarly to Rance Mulliniks, not in the fashion that Cora employed while namedropping her hoity-toity French pronunciation. Despite blindness in one eye on account of a war wound, he ran the go-to fashion salon in Paris and later Monte Carlo, Cannes, and London for the upper crust women who wanted to look unpredictably fashionable, at least according to the internet and historian Caroline Milbank.

WG: Thank your for conjuring visions of Rance Mulliniks and fine French fashion in the same paragraph. Have they ever been in such proximity before? Doubtful.

OMD: I like that free will as applicable to the boudoir escapades of the rich, famous, and gentrified is nonexistent in the eyes of the Dowager Countess. No, Mary, you were seduced. There is no other explanation. Of course Violet doesn't know that her granddaughter is the possessor of a mercilessly bloodthirsty anus, a fact that would certainly color her beliefs on aristocractic sexual determinism.

WG: For being relatively pragmatic, the old old old fashioned views on sex from the Dowager are a tad surprising. The only way to know about the fatal anus is to cross the rubicon. To experience it is to perish. Gillingham used up 8 of his 9 lives and half a spit curl surviving that weekend. Little known fact: locking pliers, AKA "vice grips," were invented in 1924. This is obviously related to Mary's anus, I just don't know how to connect the dots properly.

OMD: You are definitely onto something here. Is Tony Gillingham the man to invent them? Guessing so.

Mrs. Drewe's freak out was dumb. Of course Edith got the old heave-ho. It didn't take long for the helicoptering fairy godmother to get the heave-ho.

WG: Speaking of fashion, I kind of dig Mr. Drewe's threads. The man knows his vests. What he doesn't have is any idea how to execute a plan to get Edith reunited with her daughter. Whatever "plan" he had going, which was essentially visit us into submission, gives half-baked a bad name.

OMD: Every girl's crazy 'bout a sharp-dressed man. Hell, I'm crazy about him. But mastermind schemer? That's not Mr. Drewe.

I really loved Tom and Mary's fireside confidante scene. "Are we talking about your so-called sketching trip? Because I never believed in that for a moment." It was nice that the two of them could speak freely with one another. Perhaps Branson's lower breeding makes for easier to cut to the chase rather than dance around whilst employing tedious high society conversational conventions that endlessly skirt saying what is actually happening.

WG: If history has taught us anything, it's that Irish firebrands know all about fucking.

OMD: That cannot be argued. It is historical fact.

How is it that dipshit Miss Bunting can never bite her tongue and always ends up offending company? Let these Russian dopes mourn their dear dead Tsar without bringing up the policies of the forcibly and violently dethroned.

WG: Fellowes portrays Bunting like a hysterically right-wing over-the-top version of Hillary Clinton.\

OMD: I was driven by her residence just yesterday.

Baxter's bad influence was Mr. Coyle. I wonder what this says about Brendan Coyle's relationship with Julian Fellowes. I'm assuming this is a tongue-in-cheek nod to back-scenes shenanigans. Brendan Coyle, ever the bad influence on set, mucking up the works with his pranks and smoking of cigarettes.

WG: Excellent catch. No doubt a reference to the seductive ornery manliness of the powerhouse behind Bates.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Wordy Old Men on Downton Abbey: Season Five, Episode Two

Lord Grantham and Carson differ on where to place the war memorial. Violet and Isobel visit Lord Merton. Molesley is given details on Baxter's past. Mary makes Anna take a trip to the prophylactic dispensary. Edith becomes her bastard child's godmother. Murder police come to the Abbey.

Old Man Duggan: I'll be honest. Jimmy's farewell to Thomas got me a little choked up. You have to give Fellowes due credit for being able to gain audience sympathy for a character who should by all means be entirely unlikable. Of course it takes five minutes for him to turn heel again and poison Molesley's relationship with Baxter--at least temporarily.

Wordy Ginters: Fellowes is adroit with the emotional manipulation, making it easy to flip-flop from disgust to delight on characters. He's done that before with Thomas. I remember thinking he was almost human for a few scant seconds when he was slinking around the battlefields during WWI. In fact, Fellowes has complicated most of the cast. It's what makes Downton worthwhile. That scene revealed some pro acting chops from Rob James-Collier.

OMD: This whole war memorial subplot is thoroughly uninteresting this week. Shall we skip the nonsense?

WG: Death to the Cricket pitch.

OMD: Molesley is all the footmen.

WG: When Carson wants to bust balls, best keep your head down. Poor Molesley just asks for it time and again. Walking around with his dunce hat, his hair dye, and his heart on his sleeve. Footmens beats the shit out of asphalt tamper.

OMD: Back to uninteresting subplots, Robert's bristling at the concept of having a radio in the house despite Rose's protestations was pretty dull. The only good part of the whole sequence was Robert's assertion that the hadn't previously ruled on the matter. I suppose the reflexivity of people sitting around a box getting dumber is amusing, too.

WG: Fear and disdain for new technology is a go to knee-slapper for Downton Abbey. Carson confronting a toaster for the first time a few seasons back reminded me of the "dawn of man" scene from 2001.

OMD: Anna fetching the contraception for Lady Mary was awkward. Obviously, it serves a greater purpose--not unlike the wireless subplot which was helping to show the days of great change--as why should anyone get to judge another for what they do in their private sexy lives. That old bat in the apothecary--or wherever she went--can shove her abstinence up her prude ass.

WG: If abstinence is the answer, I don't want to know the question. And yes, fuck that nonsense. The old bat surely sees a river of dripping, oozing, pus-filled, and morally obtuse maladies every day. No sense in getting all churchy about contraception. Jesus Christ, she wasn't working at a pharma in Ireland.

OMD: Miss Bunting won't go away, will she? I suppose it's best to have Tom rediscover the revolutionary within, but Bunting is a bit tedious.

WG: Fellowes can't help himself, can he? The "progressives" have to be irritating shits in some way. At least she has the social skills to steer clear of Rose's ham-fisted dinner invite. Kind of looking forward to Tom and Grantham crossing swords. Sure seems like they're setting up a politically based fall-out.

OMD: Simon Bricker seemed inordinately interested in Cora. Will this be a mini-trial on their union, much like Robert's with the war widow maid, Jane? More importantly, how will Bricker's possible affection toward Cora affect his attempt to piece together da Vinci's machine making alchemy possible and his plan for world domination. But in the meantime, I guess he needs to stop flirting with Isis. What a dunce Robert is.

WG: Bricker is definitely running game on Cora. And why not? You remember Elizabeth McGovern from the Penn/Cage WWII nostalgia piece Racing With The Moon? She is still wholesome and fine. Robert is a dunce. His comfortable fat ass deserves a kick. Everyone got all horny about James Gandolfini parlaying his girth into a character trait for Tony Soprano; same props to Hugh Bonneville for his aristocratic flab.

OMD: I've not seen Racing With The Moon. I'm ashamed of myself. Hugh's aristoflab is spot on.

Baxter refusing to give anyone the whole story regarding her history in thievery is getting a bit ridiculous. Spill, woman.

WG: Care to speculate? I'll go first: she needed the jewels to pay for labiaplasty.

OMD: Maybe vaginal enlargement surgery? Too tight. Or she needed the dough for contact lenses that gave her cat eyes.

Fellowes does deserve credit for generating two suitors for Mary who seem genuinely interesting. Blake is an able foil for Mary, which she probably needs.

WG: That stuck me as presumptuous on Mary's part. I wish Blake would have shut her down. What happens if Gillingham perishes from F2FA? Best to keep a second teamer warmed up on the sidelines.

OMD: Anyone who watches the show must know that the chances of Gillingham dying after a few rounds of premarital sodomy are alarmingly high.

And in comes Sergeant Willis. The death of Mr. Green won't go away, and now there's a witness. I guess this plot line will never be over.

WG: I don't know if I want to go back there either. Two episodes in and the Bateses are apparently getting the Job treatment again.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

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

Robert and Cora celebrate their anniversary. Carson is selected to chair the War Memorial Committee over Lord Grantham. Baxter's past comes to the fore. Molesley tries out a magical hair treatment. James's former employer comes clawing back into his life. Tony Gillingham makes advances in the umpteenth courtship of Lady Mary. Violet runs interference on Lord Merton and Isobel's burgeoning friendship. Edith carelessly disposes of a book in a tiff.

Old Man Duggan: So we pick up now in February of 1924. Six months have passed since last we glimpsed a new installment of Downton, and last year's Christmas Special marked a jump ahead of a year from where the proper fourth season left off. I'm no baby expert, but Marigold--bringing the percentage of female characters named after flowers to what seems like 75%--seems bigger than a child who should be around one year of age.

Wordy Ginters: Farm living will do that to a toddler. The chores. Fresh air.

OMD: Ramsay MacDonald's reign as Prime Minister does not last long, as I'd imagine we'll find out this season. While Lord Grantham is right to be concerned about the place of the title-holding elite in 20th Century England, MacDonald's Labour Party is ousted after a scant nine months, so his concerns about MacDonald will largely have to wait until the General Election of 1929. Given how eager Fellowes is to advance the time-line of the show--bearing in mind that we're now twelve years down the road from where the series started--that will probably be sooner than one would normally expect.

WG: A raging hard-on for class structure and libertarianism is certainly Fellowes milieu. Not surprising he's eager to flash forward to the uncertain upper crust terrain of pre-WWII.

OMD: Good ol' Donk. An apropos sobriquet given the not infrequent occasions in which he makes an ass of himself, though little Sybil could hardly know of his repeated bunglings of the fortunes of the estate or how much he drags his feet in childlike protestations against progress.

WG: I didn't know a nick-name could be big enough to expertly sum up Lord Grantham and Mike Moustakas at the same time.

OMD: Yet here we are.

How dense is Mrs. Drewe? Given the fact that Lady Edith visits with alarming frequency, it had to have occurred to her that the child is Edith's. I mean I'd let Mr. Drewe throw on his fire brigade gear and chase me around a burning barn, but I'm not gentryfolk. "Don't be daft" indeed.

WG: You raise an excellent point. Where the hell do they get that awesome fire brigade gear? You don't go running around trailing sand from your bucket unless those helmets are shined and the brigade jacket buttons are gleaming. Can't go putting out fires looking like a ruffian.

OMD: You need to impress the fire with your flashy attire. That's Fire Brigading 101.

"He just wants what all men want." "Oh, don't be ridiculous." The subtext there is F2FA, right? Given Fellowes's predilection for getting his characters' asses in trouble--non-figuratively speaking--I think Isobel's reading of the lay of the land is spot on. Lord Merton wants a "companion," and in Fellowes's world, we can only assume that going Turkish would be in Isobel's future, at least if Violet were not so meddlesome.

WG: Delicious. I sensed F2FA would be on the menu.

OMD: I have to say, I don't like the cut of Mrs. Wigan's jib. While I have no issue with the selection of Carson to chair the War Memorial Committee, she sure dealt with Carson in a less than desirable manner, as she was rather demanding, wasting nary a breath between committee business and instructing her hopeful committee chairman how to best prepare her tea.

WG: The commoners be getting uppity. We get it Fellowes.

OMD: Must Lord Grantham make so much of each incremental neutering? He gets butthurt over every perceived slight, as if not being the first choice for the chair of every committee is something at which to take umbrage. Has there ever been a character in anything so beset upon by the simple passing of time?

WG: He does seem spectacularly unable to exist outside of that world. Just when I feel the bitter bile towards Grantham rise in my throat, that bastard Fellowes will go and make him do something valorous, or failing that, decent. Watch. He'll go from pompous ass to sensible sympathetic like a boomerang.

OMD: Viscountess Gillingham. Stateside, we'd have no reason to know this, but Viscount is a step down from an Earl, which is obviously what Matthew was in line to be before his run-in with a lorry. He seems to be a fine chap, but it's probably safe to assume he's got a nasty secret. My guess is that he's a foot fetishist. Maybe he can only get off if balloons are popping.

WG: You're voting looner? I'll go with crushing. Hear me now, Mary will take him on top of a tamworth piglet before the curtain closes on the Christmas special.

OMD: Bold and precise, like everything nice.

Daisy can't do her maths. What with her fear of electricity, it's hard to imagine why she can't get a grasp on elementary mathematics. At least the dimness of Daisy gave Carson yet another reason to champion his classist beliefs in trying to keep the proles in their place.

WG: "Math is hard." - Barbie

OMD: When Molesley was applying that horrifying amalgamation of tar, caviar, and black oil from The X-Files and looked in the mirror, he was the spitting image of my archenemy Ray Milland.

WG: Why don't they just have poor old Molesley wander around in a dunce hat? Fuck Ray Milland.

OMD: Fuck Ray Milland, indeed. There was a freshfaced kid sitting at the servants' table beside Molesley. I'm assuming his position is errand boy. Maybe Thomas's errand boy.

WG: I've got big hopes for that kid.

OMD: Maybe he'll take on the role of Peanut in The Wire.

Mr. Spratt really is a piece of work. Shitbird won't serve a doctor and a Major?

WG: Spratt might be my favorite character. Doesn't say a word. Looks like he's got a plum in his mouth.

OMD: It can hardly be classified as surprising that Mary wants to buck tradition and get to know her suitor biblically. Hopefully for Gillingham's sake he's not so well endowed as to scare her off. It's also in his best interest that he doesn't have an urgent need to encroach upon Lady Mary's alternate entrance, as we all know how that ends up for the too adventurous. Where do you think they'll head on the illicit sexcapade? My guess is Germany, where they see Gregson's head on a pike.

WG: Gregson can't be dead. I fully expect to see him wearing a brownshirt and intimidating slavs and unionists, or perhaps submitting scripts to Leni Riefenstahl. I'd like to see Mary and Gillingham fucking the days away on a beach in Jamaica.

OMD: Baxter the jail bird. I'm surprised that she served time, though for the poor such property crimes as theft were enough to get them thrown in the clink. I'm curious as to what the circumstances behind Baxter's thieving were. Surely Fellowes will shine a light upon it in the next few episodes.

WG: Seemed like a pretty harsh penalty. Baxter ain't all bad.

OMD: That's how the poors got done, though. Thankfully Thomas is no longer able to lord the bit of her backstory over her, though he surely has another object upon whom to heap his scorn. I loved Thomas getting caught in his bullshit. What a dickhole.

WG: Still hoping that a blue-haired Molesley touches him up with a cricket bat. Of course he saved his crooked ass by hoisting Edith out of the flames. Like the fabled phoenix. Thomas is back in Lady Grantham's good graces.

OMD: Bates's inquisition on the subject of Tony's valet seems like he might have been opening himself up to a bit too much exposure. Obviously Tony knows, though I don't think Bates knows this.

WG: What the hell is he trying to accomplish? Asking questions seems reckless. When Bates threw that leg brace into the bog a few seasons back, he gave away a core part of himself. The part that smelled like beef jerky and authenticity and manliness. And common sense and wits. He ain't the same.

OMD: Let's pour one out for John Bates.

So Lady Anstruther is a randy bird. Glad to be rid of her dead husband, so as to give her cause to travel the countryside preying on the presumed slew of pretty-boy footmen that have dispersed amongst the servants' quarters of many a country estate. I'm sure this was not the first occasion in which she has been thrown to a state of coitus interruptus by the hands of a house fire. The pheromones that pour out of her surely turn everyone on their heads. Maybe James can screw his way out of a sacking.

WG: I'm certain that her ravenous red hot vagina had a significant role in the fire that took place at episode's end. The book carelessly tossed by a grieving Edith was merely tinder.

OMD: I'm glad Tom got to tell Robert that he'd not shtupped Miss Bunting. That bit of business between them passed for far too much time without clarification, at least for Branson's sake.

WG: Bunting was not shtuppped. Full stop. I never understood Branson's reluctance to reveal that fact to Grantham either. It bothers me that Fellowes has made Bunting more irritating than plucky.

OMD: Such is his want as his sympathies lie a bit to heavily in the camp of the aristocracy.

Jesus Christ, Edith. Get your shit pulled together. I know the lack of closure on Gregson has to be eating at you, but arson by way of carelessness is no good for anyone. To his Lordship's dressing room with you.

WG: Report to Dad's closet and think about what you've done.

OMD: Tom and Robert channeling their inner Backdraft was nice, but I'll be damned if that wasn't a weak-ass hose.

WG: I found the idea that there were only TWO loaded sand buckets equally galling.

OMD: The depression and social upheaval of the 20th Century didn't sap the gentry of their power. It was their poor preparation for fire prevention/fighting.

So this is a bit ridiculous, but I was wondering how everyone seemed to be walking around as though the weather were totally pleasant in February in the UK. My suspicion was validated when I decided to look up the weather across the UK in February of 1924. Aside from a warm first week--and this episode is meant to take place in the second week of February--it would have been on the cold side of things, despite the fact that no one was dressed for it. The weather on the night of the fire would have presumably been in the teens, as overnight lows on the 15th and 17th in Wales, southwest of Yorkshire, reached single-digits, Fahrenheit. No one looked nearly cold enough when Edith's dumb ass tried to burn down the Abbey.

WG: Awesome. Cue "Stone Cold" by Rainbow or "She's So Cold" by the Stones.

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