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.


jaclyn said...

i did like how lord grantham forgot his anniversary, typical man.
if i was mrs. drewe, i would think that marigold was the love child between mr. drewe and lady edith (i still think that mr. drewe is that farmer that edith threw herself at during the first series). she's hanging around way to much, i would get sick of entertaining a lady all the time. how much tea and biscuits they must go through?
i did like how after the fire, they had that chair set up outside for lady edith to sit on. they made sure everyone was out and grabbed the best wing-backed chair to sit and watch the house burn down on.
and mary was all like edith was just trying to get attention by starting a fire, typical lady edith tantrum.

Josh Duggan said...

You had me laughing with the wing-backed chair comment, Jack.

WordyG said...

Grantham elbowed Edith off that chair and put Isis on it two beats after that shot.

Josh Duggan said...

Absolutely. As we all know, Isis cannot even be flirted with for fear of making Robert jealous.

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