Sunday, January 10, 2016

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

This week, the denizens of Downton Abbey do little of interest while dealing with wedding plans, hospitals, and bastard children of nobles.

Old Man Duggan: Maybe the passability of the first episode this season did too much to cleanse my palate, but this week's episode really made me question playing out the string with this season. We're too close to the end to hang it up, though. I can say I'm looking forward to this being done, so we can hopefully tackle what we talked about via text earlier this week--a Deadwood rewatch.

The show we wish we were watching
Wordy Ginters: Contemplating the deep and abiding love between Dan Dority and Al Swearengen, the best small screen power couple since Mary Tyler Moore and Lou Grant, will be a welcome respite.

OMD: How many storylines this episode did you like?

WG: One. The storyline that involved Carson caking his pants at the thought of uttering the word "no" to Grantham.

OMD: I liked Carson and Hughes wedding location back and forth. That might have been it.

The first words uttered were at the dinner table about cast members who have moved on. Mentioning Tom--one of the last characters worth caring about on this show--so early really draws attention to what elements the series is missing in its sixth time out. It sort of felt like a "we're going to trick you into remembering how you used to like this show so you'll be more forgiving of the dreck that's about to come" moment.

WG: Good point. Reminiscing in a television series is probably a sign that shit has gone south in the writers room. Did you notice that Mary and Anna also tripped the wax nostalgic, callously laughing at the time they carried poor Pamuk's lifeless husk down the stairs? Cause of death? F2FA.

OMD: I guess there was also the element of Mary taking ownership of her role as agent of the estate. Full-circle feminist progress, small though it may have been.

WG: As far as Fellowes is concerned, apparently, you put a few assertive lines of dialogue in Mary's mouth, dress her in Diane Keaton's clothes from Manhattan, and you are practically setting fire to the patriarchy.

OMD: I liked Hughes giving Carson a friendly little jab about not being able to say no to Lady Mary. I do tend to think that Carson's desire to have the wedding at someplace that matters to them carries more water than Hughes having it at the schoolhouse because it's not Downton, though I understand her desire not to feel like a servant.

WG: Carson being a man who badly needs jabbing. He's honorable in a devout, straightforward, trying his best sort of stilted way. But Jesus H. Christ he needs to loosen up.

OMD: Does Lady Edith not realize that she owns the fucking magazine? Skinner's a shit? Fire his dumb ass. I get that she needs to grow into her role at the magazine, but she's the owner, and there's no reason she would put up with this piece of shit hollering at her and forcing her to make the trek into London only to get yelled at more.

WG: Is it possible she hasn't seen The Devil Loves Prada? The template for how a woman runs a magazine has been established. Alas, Lady Mary is the sister with the undeserved self-confidence.

OMD: Anna went from being this quiet but confident badass to someone who's a nervous wreck over everything. In the continuous wringer that Fellowes has put Anna and Bates through, he's basically ruined her. And her belief that despite Bates's assertions to the contrary she must provide him with a child of his own is so irritating. The shittier thing is that the way Fellowes shits on this duo--presumably because they represent the hope of the proletariat--you know that Anna's stitch will go horribly wrong, she won't tell Bates, he won't know why she's sick from infection, and she'll probably die from sepsis. I'm half kidding there, but it wouldn't surprise anyone if that happened, would it?

WG: Drastic misfortune is most certainly on the horizon for Bates and Anna. A stitch in the neck of the womb? Don't even need to come down to the doctor's office, we'll just do it in the comfort of your own room? Nah, nothing could possibly go wrong. Fellowes pissing misery on the proles is spot on. He's like Jim Nantz.

OMD: What about anything that Bates has ever done supports Anna's assertion that Bates is tribal? It's like everything that's happened before this doesn't matter.

WG: I didn't understand that shit at all. Is it related to his exploits in the Second Boer War somehow? Perhaps the gnarly jailhouse tribal tatt he scored in Season 3?

OMD: This hospital nonsense makes me wish I was watching The Force Awakens again, which I didn't even really like that much. Hell, it makes me want to watch The English Patient, which I tried to watch somewhere in the neighborhood of 25 times (no joke) and have never finished.

WG: My thoughts drifted to Chi-raq. The best political movie I've seen in a long time. Just your standard issue reboot of a Greek drama, complete with rhyming couplets, that takes dead aim on the gun culture in this country, and Chicago in particular. That old threadbare genre. Includes a heaping dose of humor, education, sex, guns, Wesley Snipes for fuck's sake, John Cusack, and Nick Cannon, and the whole glorious mess is bracketed, quite literally, as an emergency notice and a wake-up call.

OMD: The instant the shit with Mrs. Drewe came bubbling back up, it was pretty obvious that the Mr. Mason would be getting their tenancy. Still, having Margie's dumbfuckery taking up screen time was the apex of mindnumbingly melodramatic tedium.

WG: Worst telegraph since Isiah Thomas threw that inbounds pass to Larry Bird in the 1987 NBA Playoffs. Will Mason keep the pigs, or do they exit with Drewes? I've often felt the one thing Downton Abbey lacked was pig related storylines. So, understandably, I was heartened by this week's episode. I hope we see Mason researching boar bloodlines, with Daisy's new found academic prowess at his disposal, spending hour upon hour at a tastefully distressed cottage table pouring over reams of piglet birth weights, weaning weights, loin eye and back fat data, hoping to identify just the right sire. Perhaps he'll purchase a large quantity of semen straws, and they'll get mixed up with Patmore's grocery order. The possibilities are very exciting.

OMD: Or maybe the Crawleys will dispose of a slew of corpses with these pigs now being cared for by a trusted friend who owes them. First corpse? Margie.

Thomas's interview with Mr. Moore was about what you'd expect at this point. Too many responsibilities for one person? Check. Thinly veiled homophobia? Check.

WG: Who does Fellowes despise more, the proles or the gays?

OMD: Alternate answer to that question to follow shortly.

When Lady Mary told Anna that she wanted to help Anna, tell me you didn't immediately assume that she wanted to bone Mr. Bates and be their surrogate. Anna surely would have turned down the offer, but only because she knows that having sex with Mary is as likely a cause of death as simply being a tree on Long Island waiting for Billy Joel to take you out with his car. Also, they shared a hearty laugh at carry the corpse of the buttsexer Mr. Pamuk down the hall to his room. Oh, how we honor the dead!

Lady Mary as The Visitor
WG: The only way to save this season would be to turn this into a British version of Teorema with Lady Mary in the Terrence Stamp role, where she systematically seduces and screws every member of the cast. Final shot: a naked Hugh Bonneville walking a peat bog screaming primal.

OMD: I'd be much more excited to see that.

The kidnapping of Marigold was like the exact opposite of Raising Arizona. Not fun, lacking in Cage, incredibly tedious, and lacking in a cute kid who someone would miss. Apologies if I've said this before, but is it just me or does Marigold look like the titular alien in Mac and Me? Also, did Margie summon superhuman stealth and speed to abscond with Edith's hideous baby? She made off with the child in less time than it takes to slap cream cheese on a bagel. I would have given anything for Mr. Drewe to take a hammer to her head at that moment.

WG: Reversing Arizona. I thought Drewes might take a hammer to his own head. As a parent, there is nothing more irritating than when some relative gloms onto your infant/child and won't give him/her back.

OMD: One last thing before hanging it up for this week: does Fellowes insist that every single character that is going to irritate the audience endlessly be cast a redhead? It's a near certainty that every time you see a new redhead in the cast they will be the most tedious character that you could ever imagine within three episodes. If you didn't have anything against gingers before Downton Abbey, Fellowes is making damn sure you develop a Pavlovian desire to gouge your eyes out every time you see one.

WG: Cue Read Head Walking, by Beat Happening.

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