Monday, February 2, 2015

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

Lady Rose meets a suitor in the rain. Branson says goodbye to one in the rain. It rains.

Old Man Duggan: In the opening scene we have two references specific to the time. The first is in reference to the Moonella Group, the first nudist colony in England started to home the English Gymnosophy Society, gymnosophy apparently a name for nude philosophers. The second reference is to Ellen Terry, the acclaimed Shakespearean and comic actress who at the time was very similar in stature to a present-day Maggie Smith, so it's fitting that she's making the reference.

Wordy Ginters: I'm as baffled about a nudist colony located in soggy climes as much as the Dowager. Actually, nudists colonies baffle me in general. What is Fellowes trying to accomplish by bringing it up? Largest penis on the show? The Dowager?

OMD: It seems weird to just throw it out there without any cause. Mrs. Patmore asks Mr. Carson for investment advice, which makes no sense until she reveals her rationale for asking his help: that he's a man. Ugh. I was curious as to whether Carson's advice was going to get Patmore nicked for insider trading. I guess her plans to be a slumlord nix that.

WG: Carson, even moreso than Lord Grantham, is Downton's prized old-fashioned buffoon. Nice how he blithely passes off such solid "advice," you know, the kind gleaned from hearing 20 seconds about a topic you know nothing about. How very kind to pass forward such sterling wisdom. The areas of Carson's expertise are dwindling.

OMD: Jesus Christ, this Edith / Marigold / Mrs. Drewe subplot is terrible. It seems every season has at least one subplot that is drives me to question whether I should keep watching this show. This season seems to be teeming with them. The Marigold Conundrum might just be the most awful of the lot. If only Lady Edith had let some young, handsome Turk charm her knickers off, we might never have had to deal with this horseshit. Instead the supremely British Mr. Gregson liked his sex acts to not fall under the category of acts subject to prosecution under sodomy statutes, and we're left to deal with the fallout. "I gave up ten months of my life to make sure she came safely into this world." I feel like I gave up ten years of my life watching Edith lurk in the background scaring the shit out of Mrs. Drewe.

WG: Agreed. This shit be getting stale. I'd favor Edith actually getting more brazen, showing up at the Drewe's frequently and without warning. Cape Fear type shenanigans. Smoking a cigar out by the clothesline and laughing maniacally. What irritates me most is how Edith is always the victim. Grow a pair of ovaries Edith. Yes, life has dealt you a brutal hand. Show us some of that classic Brit stiff upper lip and whatnot and seize what's yours.

OMD: The Branson / Bunting love story had me scared for a moment. When he said he was contemplating a change, I was damn close to throwing in the towel. Thank the gods he elected to stay, at least for the time being. She needed to go and go fast.

WG: Next up? Tom flees to the States and begins working with Fighting Bob La Follette?

OMD: He'd only have about a year to learn how to coiffure his hair just so. I like that Branson's got the onions to walk around without an umbrella. Sack for days.

WG: Umbrellas only serve the interests of capitalism.

OMD: Speaking of irritating storylines, when the fuck will this investigation into the righteous death of Mr. Green be done with so that we can move on with our lives? It's like Fellowes knew Anna and Mr. Bates needed to be together, but once he got them to that point he decided he needed to find a new way to bungle the handling of their relationship each season. Kudos, Mr. Fellowes, you've succeeded once again.

WG: The series, like most series who make it this far, is having a tough time keeping it interesting. Reheating old storylines leaves me cold. Bates talked dreamily of a household with Anna and children around a fireplace. Yes! Give me that Fellowes. Don't just wedge that BS in there as an obvious fulcrum to turn the Bates household on its ear.

OMD: The pogrom in which Atticus's grandparents were driven from Odessa was apparently (according to Wikipedia) spearheaded by the Greek sailors on the ships in the harbor and then the local Greeks happily joined them. The next one in 1871 saw the Russians join with the Greeks in trying to drive. This was the first one (of the three at that point) that saw the Russians and Greeks join together in the massacre of Russian Jews and was sort of the turning point for the Jewish community in Russia, as integration into the culture became increasingly unimaginable.

So Nikolai is a racist. Glad Kuragin has his manners. Lady Rose, of course, has no such racial hang-ups.

WG: Fellowes did much better with the Russian angle than he did with Edith and the Anna/Bates/Green murder triangle. Lady Rose, however, is among the least interesting characters on the show. Another courtship. Yay.

OMD: With the increased moments in which Lady Mary and Tom play confidante to one another, one can't help but wonder if groundwork isn't being lain. It's probably nothing, but it does seem a bit odd to have them understanding each other so well. Obviously, Mary's got a suitor at hand that can match her wits and challenge her in the form of Mr. Blake, but it wouldn't shock me if Fellowes took the show down that path.

WG: I'd welcome that development. Let's spitball a list of suitors, in order of preference, that we'd like to see Lady Mary matched with: Italian train timer Benito Mussolini, Washington Senators right-hander Walter Johnson, Jelly Roll Morton, Molesley, Patmore, Tom, George Bernard Shaw, Manchester City centre forward Frank Roberts, an imaginary pony named Horace, Gillingham, and leastly, the over-confident little terrier Blake.

OMD: I'm not necessarily anti-Blake, but either Mussolini or Walter Johnson would be great. I think a letter-writing campaign needs to be started posthaste.

"I'm afraid you've read somewhere that rudeness in old age is amusing, which is quite wrong, you know." Rosamund, you're winning me over this week.

WG: Not very often that someone gets over on the Dowager. Retribution will be had.

OMD: Fucking Bricker. What a dink. I'm so bored by his attempt to woo Cora that I don't really want to commit too much time to it. The bedroom brawl was pretty lame. In his uniform, it looked like Robert the bellhop was taking it to Bricker.

WG: Typical Fellowes. Makes Grantham a heel one week, and then damn near makes him likeable the next. You are the MMA expert, but it looked to me like Grantham had side control and was set to choke him out with a triangle, until Edith happened. What must have been going through her mind? Dad is really giving Mom the what-for tonight? I better check? That outfit was hilarious. The only thing missing was the matching red ball for his snozz.

OMD: I think he was going to get Bricker into a mounted crucifix from side control and pummel him into next week with some medieval ground-and-pound. This surely isn't the first time he's practiced his MMA moves in the bedroom. Edith probably just wanted to make sure that

While Branson's non-umbrella-using onions are cause to give an appreciative nod, the brass balls on Blake to try to get Mabel Lane Fox to jump back onto the Gillingham wagon was something to which one needs to stand up and give applause. Fortune favors the bold, Blake. "But what should we do with your food?" That scene made sitting through the mind-numbing first fifteen minutes of this week's episode worth it. The shit-eating grin he's wearing as she recounts his proposal is outstanding.

WG: He's ornery. Personally, I'd like to see more of Mabel Lane Fox.

OMD: I'm sure Violet and Rosamund's plan to get Marigold out of the picture will go off without a hitch.

WG: Spoiler: Marigold killed Green.

OMD: Good call.

I'll be honest, I'm not sure how Fellowes is going to be salvage something good out of this season. It's been rough and just seems to be getting rougher. How feel ye?

WG: Downton is headed to suck town. It's a great challenge for shows to stay fresh and to sustain viewer interests in characters. A whole lot of flailing going on.

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