Wednesday, January 27, 2016

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

While the Carson's away, the Thomas will play butler. An old maid comes to dinner. Anna and Lady Mary run off in the dark of night to try to save the baby Bates.

Old Man Duggan: Can I just say what a delight it was to have Branson back for a full episode? It is almost as though an amputee suddenly got its leg back and started walking about normally again. Was this a vintage-quality episode? Probably not, but having Allen Leech back on the show cut the second-guessing why I was still devoting energy to this show evaporate into the ether.

Wordy Ginters: I'm still second guessing. But good to see a chubbier Branson back in the mix regardless of my Downton doubt. The burgeoning race car fixation is fun. You see Josh, he used to be the lowly car guy at Downton way back in the early days when the show was engaging rather than just a habit.

OMD: So it took five minutes for Sergeant Willis to make an appearance. The busiest cop in Yorkshire. The only cop in Yorkshire. This shitbird who screwed Baxter over must possess a silver tongue and a golden rod what with his ability to get women to do his dirty work . As his name was Mr. Coyle, we have to assume that Julian Fellowes is giving a sly nod to Brendan Coyle, don't we? What does this say about our dear Mr. Bates in real life?

WG: You know all you need to know about Brendan Coyle by the way he makes your thighs tingle when he prowls through a scene. The man exudes a powerful sexual magnetism. Fellowes saddled him with a leg brace and then a cane in a futile attempt to dampen Coyle's natural sex powers lest they distract viewers from the finer subtleties of the plot. Now in the final season, Fellowes is throwing a Hail Mary via a thinly veiled name-check. It's like trying to put a spigot on Niagara Falls.

OMD: "'All that's needed for evil men to triumph is that good men do nothing.'" Molesley's roughly quoting Irish philosopher and father of modern conservatism Edmund Burke there. It's funny that Fellowes has one of the middle-aged folks living quaintly in servant's quarters quoting a man whose ideology would want to protect the institution that has largely kept poor Molesley down.

WG: Nice legwork. I've heard that quote many times but always assumed it was a post-WWII response to Hitler, or maybe Don Wakamatsu and Pedro Grifol discussing Ned Yost's proclivity to bat Alcides Escobar in the lead-off spot. More astonishing to me is the continued hot streak that Moseley is rolling on. He hasn't fumbled anything in several episodes. Carson hasn't shamed him for months. He's tutoring Daisy and even acting as Baxter's consigliere in her dealings with the buffoon Sergeant Willis. By season's end, he'll be shirtless on horseback.

OMD: In one of the most unexpected developments ever, Molesley has become the heart of the show at this juncture.

Seriously fuck Daisy. How badly did you want her to get sacked this episode? I was hoping her head would be on a pike the next morning. A little bit of knowledge in dimwitted hands is a dangerous thing.

WG: That would have been pleasurable.

OMD: Patmore was straight bringing it this episode. "You couldn't be harder on those potatoes if you wanted them to confess to spying." "She knows the mystery of life by now. Which is more than I do." "I wonder if Karl Marx might finish the liver pate?"

WG: One of the rare times that Patmore removes her head gear too. Release the ginger Patmore. Release it!

Phone sex may have been foisted upon a minor during the making of this film
OMD: I have to say I'm looking forward to Branson being the pit crew leader to Henry Talbot. He'll be the Diane Lane to Henry's Kenny Rogers. Maybe love can turn all of them around. Of course, I can't imagine Mary will be jonesing to get in bed with a race car driver after Matthew's run-in with a lorry. Hopefully Tom and Henry's love bug will keep their fuel pumping.

WG: Downton as Kenny Rogers vanity movie project Six Pack? I love it. Jesus H. Christ I love that song. I love that movie. I love Erin Gray. I'll look forward to seeing Lil' Georgie Crawley working his magic with a wrench and a socket.

OMD: Can you imagine how great it will be when Leech's hands are at Matthew Goode's ankles ensuring the quality of his sit-ups?

How much do you think Thomas's balls shriveled when he saw Branson and Gwen supping with the aristocrats?

WG: Shriveling so severe it made an audible noise. Like when Mario dies in Donkey Kong. Why must Daisy be so damn dumb? Why must Thomas be so damn unlikable? Once upon a time, Fellowes would go out of his way to make Thomas almost sympathetic, or Daisy almost honorable. I assume he's still got those moves in his playbook, but at this point, it seems stale and steamless and all too predictable.

OMD: Gwen coming back into the picture was nice. Showing the entire family not knowing who Gwen was made me chuckle at their classist tunnel vision. Her story of Lady Sybil changing her life made me long for the days before preeclampsia (and three-year contracts) robbed us of much of the show's heart. If this reminder makes Mary look beyond herself a bit more, it can't have been a bad thing. Edith lamenting the family's not having spoken to someone who'd been in their employ for so long speaks to her own growth by leaps and bounds.

WG: The best scene of the episode. It had some emotional heft.

OMD: With as many times as Robert and Anna were doubled over with abdominal pain, I'm shocked they both made it out of the episode alive. One of them dies this season, right? With lip service being paid this episode to George being heir to Lord Grantham's title and Lady Rosamund joking about Violet being at Robert's funeral not vice versa, his number seems all but punched. Does Ryder's stitch keep Anna with child, or does another key female character die while trying to bring life into the world?

WG: I think Anna is doomed, as she has been from Isis's first ass shot. If the show had any guts, they'd all die in some wonderfully boring way.

OMD: Dysentery hits the Abbey.

Robert wondering what time Mary would get to London was hilarious in its complete missing of the point.

I wonder what sort of train station grab-and-go sandwich Branson ate. I'm sure it was as delightful as Robert suspected.

WG: A hilariously odd detail. As long as you are putting it in there, why leave the audience hanging on the exact nature of the sandwich? Melted Cheese on Toast? Ox Tongue? Sardine? Egg Salad? I want to know what the sandwich choices were in mid '20s England.

OMD: It would be considerably nicer if Mr. Mason's good fortune didn't owe at all to Daisy. Her dumbfuckery should have been his undoing.

WG: How about blithely overlooking the misfortune of the poor fucking Drewe family in the equation?

OMD: Isobel asking Violet if she had her passport to visit the kitchen was possibly the highlight of the episode.

WG: It's always jarring to see the swells hanging around the servants quarters. Just as unusual to see Isobel land a crisp jab like that. She usually works in more civil territory than the Dowager.

OMD: There was something a bit sad about Carson taking one last look at the meager accommodations in which he'd lived for somewhere north of four decades. It was sad more for his not having experienced than it was that he'd be leaving that tiny-ass room.

WG: And sad that he was going to miss it.

OMD: I do have to say this was another relatively strong episode that has me hoping that the show ends its run on a high note after a few rough seasons. What your guess on when Robert croaks? Next episode?

WG: Not soon enough. A little death is just the tonic this show needs.

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