Sunday, February 21, 2016

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

As one suspects in a Downton Abbey season finale or Christmas special, there are scrapes with death and the prospect of nuptials. And Patmore's House of Ill Repute.

Old Man Duggan: Bertie Pelham, Marquess of Hexum. Couldn't happen to a nicer fellow. Stand-up chap, that one. Of course, everything can't happen smoothly when it comes to Edith's happiness, and Marigold and Mary must gum up the works before all is said and done. That said, Edith's blow-up, while lacking the "see you next Tuesday" that seemed to be brewing, felt mic-droppingly cathartic even if it did come from behind a veil of tears.

Wordy Ginters: Boil lanced. Shame is a powerful thing, it was nice to see Edith crawl out from underneath Marigold's horrific shadow. I kid, I kid. I get the scandalous possibilities, especially considering the time, and the family. But it still seemed to carry much more weight than it should have.

OMD: Everyone having a good laugh at Mrs. Patmore's temporary misfortune is a nice respite from family drama. One philandering fake doctor getting some extramarital strange at a B&B shouldn't be that odd in 1925. What B&Bs are for if not for stepping out?

WG: Stepping out so un-strange that the incessant knee-slapping howls from virtually the entire cast seemed out of place to me. It ain't that funny you rubes.

OMD: Carson's horror at the prospect of the family supping at the very same table that the ignominious Mr. McKitt and Mrs. Dorrit guzzled tea was predictably absurd. That said, it may not have been as ridiculous as the rousing ovation that Robert, Cora, and Rosamund received at shoveling scones into their maws.

WG: PBS is missing a golden merch opportunity, "Patmore's Scones" would fly off the cyber shelves. Speaking of merch, I've been saving up for some Downton Abbey figurines. I'll need something to fill the void after next week.

OMD: Speaking of Carson, it seemed like Fellowes used him this episode as a vehicle for showing how small a place the pomp and circumstance of this old way of life had in this changing world. His handling of Thomas showed he couldn't read a person right in front of him. His squeamishness at the thought of the family lending Beryl Patmore a helping hand with their presence at tea was, as mentioned, absurd. His not understanding the point of Molesley wanting to teach showed his real limitations though. It seems his fate will likely be that of a senile old coot wandering around the streets of Thirsk in a threadbare suit and a nightcap hunched over but speaking gibberish in a commanding tone tending to a highborn dinner guest dead since the 1880s. It was a nice moment to have Lord Grantham rebuff Carson's stodginess in an act of reciprocal loyalty to Patmore. One of those nice moments in which the help gets one of those tear-jerking little victories.

WG: It was a solid episode, in large part because Fellowes allowed a partial tear-down of the reverence he's spent years building to honor the culture of the lordly upstairs inhabitants of the castle. Carson seems like the go-to character for underlining the buffoonery and tin-eared tropes of the gilded class. There is justice in seeing Carson painting himself into a smaller and smaller corner. I'm guessing Fellowes sees himself as Lord Grantham, but he's more likely to be Carson.

OMD: Speaking of tear-jerking wins, Molesley got a big one. First the second go at teaching where the kids were eating out of his hand, then Daisy and Bates praising him and speaking so kindly of him, punctuated with a round of applause at the dinner table. The only thing left to go well for Molesley would be to get Baxter's hand in marriage. Regardless, it's about fucking time shit went Molesley's way.

WG: I got a kick out of Moleseley's first day teaching. My family is packed with teachers. The idea that someone with zero training would get turned loose in a classroom of middle school kids is just cruel. I'm Molesley's biggest fan. His figurine is the one that I'll play with the most. I can see Molesley figurine, Big Jim, and G.I. Joe kicking much ass.

OMD: After that first classroom scene, I was seriously worried that he'd fail as he'd had no classroom experience. Things must have been more expedient back then.

How many lives could Mary have ruined if she went without a serious shtupping from her handsome mechanic? I'm guessing WWII would have started ten years early.

WG: It was kind of fun seeing her cut a swath of bile through every scene she wandered through. If Molesley is the character I was rooting for the most, Mary is the one who I wished to see squashed by a random falling anvil, like something from a Road Runner cartoon.

OMD: Given Fellowes's occasional heavy-handedness, I'm surprised Branson did slap the sense into Mary. His patience and perseverance may make him eligible for sainthood. If Downton Abbey operated under the same set of laws that Caligula did, Branson would be buttering up at episode's end, and Henry would be conceding first entry to Emperor Branson, as none of this would have been possible without him.

WG: Kind of hard to fathom Branson's tenacity on that one. He's the moral anchor pulling the family from bat-shit tradition to modern realities and common sense, but Mary was such a pain in the ass, I'm surprised he stuck with it. Probably had more to do with his love of cars. He fucking LOVES cars.

OMD: Mary's revelation at breakfast was without a doubt the shittiest thing she's done in the series's run, at least if you don't credit her asshole's murderous intent happening with her conscience's blessing. Given that, her lack of remorse, and the guilt trip she laid on Robert after Thomas's clothed bath, it made the later tearful acknowledgment that her fear of marrying Henry Talbot sprung from Matthew having widowed her ring hollow. Given the six seasons the audience invested in her, it seems like a little more breathing room was probably necessary if we were to join in the waterworks. Instead, Fellowes loaded that scene so close to Mary deservedly being called a "bitch" either literally or figuratively that the acrid taste of her churlishness was fresh in our mouths.

WG: Bloodshed. Bitch. Two things I never expected from Downton. An emotional hairpin turn to ask the audience to travel happily along from Mary coldly and gleefully fucking over her sister, to being happy for her marriage in what seemed like a few scant minutes later. Maybe more surprising for me was the Dowager acting as the voice of reason to ultimately set Mary straight. The Dowager was basically feeding Mary the same advice as Tom, but of course, Tom is really just a dolled up mechanic masquerading as a swell. Mary needed to hear that advice from a blue-blood in order for it to have any heft.

OMD: The counterpoint to this is Thomas's suicide attempt. Fellowes spent the greater part of this season trying to rebuild Barrow's humanity. Despite having once been seemingly irredeemable, Thomas reaching the end of his rope and later admitting regret to the ways in which he's interacted with the staff in his past cashes in the pity card better than Mary's petulance throughout the episode.

WG: Maybe this is the main reason I dislike Fellowes, for making me care about Thomas.

OMD: Septimus Motherfucking Spratt. Who'd have thunk that he was Cassandra Jones? I knew instantly when they spoke of "Miss Jones's" secrecy that this advice columnist was a man, but Spratt? If Molesley didn't get such a big win in this episode, that reveal would have been the episode's high point for me. Even with the "where the fuck is Spratt?" tip-off from Violet, I was caught completely off-guard. I'm sure all of his columns are thinly veiled takedowns of Denker.

WG: I laughed out loud. It was a beautiful touch. You know everyone at Downton went back to their laptops and scoured through old columns to ferret out thinly veiled references to their own trials and tribs.

OMD: With all the time wasted this season on the completely uninteresting hospital board storyline and the positively awful second episode, it seems like this season could have spaced out the nuptials a bit more judiciously. Instead, Mary gets married four seconds after she destroys any goodwill the audience might have had for her, and the only one at her wedding that anyone is happy for is Mr. Talbot largely because it means we don't have to watch him bang his head into a brick wall any longer.

WG: I'm thinking everything post-Matthew has failed to live up to the promise this series had pre-Matthew. Absolutely they could have focused on some of the relationships more, and shit-canned the silly hospital board kerfuffle. Same goes with the silly police interludes.

OMD: With just the special remaining, it looks like there will be two weddings thrown together haphazardly, with an outside shot at three, if Molesley gets his gal. While wedded bliss seems such a limiting means by which characters can achieve happiness, if these are the rules we're given in this world, may Molesley enjoy it, too.

WG: I hope all the characters get married. Thems that are already bonded by holy matrimony should get their vows refreshed. Pair them all up. In for a penny, in for a pound.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

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

The Crawleys have a day at the race track while most of the servants get time off to encourage Molesley and Daisy in their exams.

Old Man Duggan: Judging from the tea-time light sniping between the sisters Crawley, it sure looks like Edith and Mary are headed toward one last sororal kerfuffle to fill Fellowes's quota for the series. While it seems they should be past it all, Mary's continued curiosity surrounding Marigold and her casual jabs regarding Bertie sure portend a row.

Wordy Ginters: Did you catch that look? Serious eye-fucking. I enjoy the pettiness between the two. Nothing says sisterly love like throwing shade.

OMD: Mrs. Hughes ascertainment that Thomas might find more happiness in another setting might be more true than he'd care to admit. His disposition clearly defaults to underhanded shitheel, but since O'Brien departed, he has been decidedly less horrible. Most of his conflict with staff comes from a storied history of conniving. Maybe a new setting and a fresh start could actually see him change his spots or more importantly find something resembling happiness, roots notwithstanding. Of course, it probably wouldn't have been easy to find many accepting of a gay man as a butler--under or otherwise--in 1925 England.

WG: Thomas is more screwed than any of the characters. Most of them have a new lease on life, or are too old for it to matter much. Thomas is the one who appears destined for heartache and woe. No job. No prospects. Getting the Bates and Anna treatment to an almost comical degree in this episode. He was cold-shouldered and shunned at every turn. Bringing lemonade to a picnic is the basis for the first chapter of Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People for fuck's sake. I was hoping Fellowes would have him step on a rake just to drive the point home.

OMD: Much as I suspected Amelia Cruikshank is a serpent befitting her heinous fiance. At least she is calculating enough that Isobel could conceivably be happy with Lord Merton as it suits Miss Cruikshank's needs. Violet accurately surmising "I expect they'll have to drag you out as you break your fingernails catching at the doorcase" was outstanding and painted a delightful picture that would have been right at home in a Roald Dahl story.

WG: Excellent line. Fave Dahl movie adaptation? Fantastic Mr. Fox is too easy, I'll go with James and the Giant Peach.

OMD: While I read a ton of his books as a child, I've only seen the first adaptation of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Fantastic Mr. Fox. If we're ruling out Fantastic Mr. Fox, then I've got no other recourse than to go with the other one I've seen.

A few minutes later of screen time after her meeting with the undesirable Miss Cruikshank, the Dowager Countess opined that a month amongst the French should make her long for home. Strong showing early in an episode that saw her exit so early. Of course, the concern here is that for drama's sake she'll end up washed up on some remote island, sans beach ball, never to return for the sake of the show. Given that the S.S. Paris suffered no major catastrophes in 1925 per its Wikipedia page, we can safely assume that if anything happens of that nature, it will have happened because Violet fell overboard.

WG: It would be a Game of Thrones type gut-punch to cast the Dowager into the void. She was the shits early on, but at this point she's on the beloved TV curmudgeon icon Mt. Rushmore, right up there alongside Fred Sanford, Lou Grant, and Archie Bunker.

OMD: The back-and-forth courtship proceedings that Mary puts prospective mates through must be exhausting. Henry Talbot must be the 46th pursuer. Her post-race convo with driver Hank was inevitable because it's the dastardly anused Mary we're talking about, but how many fucking wedding are going to get packed into the special? It seems like Edith couldn't possibly get married by the end of the next episode, and Isobel and Lord Merton aren't anywhere near that point unless they head down to the Justice of the Peace.

WG: One episode and a Christmas Special left, right? The wedding gambit is such a tired and stale move for a TV series. Leaves me cold. At this point, with the head fakes and dilly-dallying, it's hard to see how any of them get to the altar unless Fellowes gets out a shoehorn and forces the issue in the last 2 episodes.

OMD: The racing scenes were decidedly less exciting than they probably should have been, but I suppose that should have been expected. Downton Abbey isn't exactly going to be breaking new ground in filming car racing scenes, but the score probably acted against any tension that could have existed in those sequences apparently serving the function of "let us delight in the marvels of 1920s technological advances" more than anything else. That said, if ever there was a clear red shirt in the show--or in his case, a red scarf--Rogers was set on a fated course toward dead man's curve from his initial entirely transparent introduction.

WG: Man, those racing scenes were flaccid, weren't they? So British. So NPR. Where was Sacha Baron Cohen's Jean Girard when we needed him most? Once again, Fellowes badly telegraphing his punches. Was there any doubt blood would spill on the famed Brooklands circuit?

OMD: With all of Mary's apprehension leading up to the race? No doubt whatsoever.

Despite it being the site of the revelation of Andy's illiteracy, the testing-break picnic was a nice scene. It's weird how refreshing it is to see the staff enjoying an afternoon in a meadow out of uniform and just enjoying each other's company. Of course it also serves the purpose of exonerating Thomas of any wrongdoing, as Patmore knows why Carson was amping up the prodding of Thomas to find other work. Carson's stodginess upon Thomas's return to find the couple Carson furtively enjoying a seat in the library still shows his desire to rid the house of him, but at least there was a moment of communal staff respite from their work cave.

WG: For me, that picnic was an example of the satisfying pay-off you can achieve when good character work is established early on. I think Boardwalk Empire in particular was great at doing this type of thing. Because the characters are sturdy and fleshed out, it's enjoyable just watching them do shit that isn't obviously driving the plot forward. Mundane day-to-day scenes work in service to the story because the characters are established and three dimensional. You want to hang with them because you like them. It's a shame the show didn't develop more in that direction, instead of the tired old bullshit with Mary playing the dating game, and the Bates' various Making a Murderer sideshows.

OMD: While believing Mr. Dawes's statement as to Molesley's test scores being better than some Oxford and Cambridge grads is a tall order, his finally getting a victory was such a relief. The heart of the last couple seasons gets his deserved exit from service. This is something that would be too bad if there weren't just two episodes left, but as the series is eying the finish line, this is fantastic.

WG: Fuck yes.

OMD: Molesley's position presumably being vacated and Andy aspiring to pig farming means Thomas's job search has probably been for nothing. The underbutler will simply have to do everything that the butler and valet don't do.

WG: A possible ray of light for Thomas. Why not?

OMD: Septimus Spratt: Bringer of Isis, Jr. The look on Robert's face as he ran to embrace that furry little shit machine was that of a five-year-old boy. His eagerness to bring the untrained pup upstairs can be directly tied to the zero shits that he'll have to pick up. The rest of the servants will eye that dog with the disdain that they usually reserve for Thomas.

WG: It reminded me of a three or four episode run a few seasons back when it was pretty evident that Lord Grantham preferred Isis to Edith. Fellowes should have edited in a shot of someone downstairs rolling their eyes, or at least looking peeved at the idea of hauling dog shit and incessantly scrubbing shit stains out of the carpet.

OMD: Hopefully the last shot of the show is an old Thomas feebly scrubbing a dilapidated rug with adult George wandering around the manor in an open bathrobe, boxers, and a stained wife beater muttering to himself about that damned rock and roll.

Patmore's plan for Carson preparing the dinner was fucking high art. It made every second of oblivious assholery he doled out pay off spectacularly. Hughes continuing to pile work onto his plate was gold. Judging by the man hiding in the bushes with a notepad and camera, Patmore's evil genius will see a karmic comeuppance in the next episode, unless Fellowes is tossing us one last misdirect. Maybe her bed and breakfast makes Michelin, and Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon visit it 85 years later.

WG: That's a crossover I'd love to see. Coogan and Brydon fucking with each other in Patmore's B&B? I'm in. Why isn't Coogan HUGE over here? I think Saxondale is considered a minor work, and it's fucking genius. Jesus Christ, a guy like Seth MacFarlane is relatively huge, and I can't even easily access Alan Partridge stuff. Almost makes me think Trump is on to something.

OMD: Nearly all of the Steve Coogan stuff is currently available on Hulu. Everyone should brush up now.

Two more episodes. Any bold predictions past the presumed triple wedding?

WG: I'm going to pull a 180 and root for more deaths than weddings.

OMD: Same here.

Monday, February 15, 2016

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

This episode may as well just have been titled Much Ado About a Home Tour. Once again, we're a week late, all of which is my OMD's fault. Once again, we come requesting your patience, but with the promise that this week's proper entry should come soon, as it's already being worked on in earnest.

Old Man Duggan: With Violet's prodding Isobel about her resolve in regards to Lord Merton, it makes me wonder if there will be a wedding in each of the final few episodes. It'd be pretty stunty, but it seems clear both Ladies Mary and Edith will walk down the aisle before the curtain closes on Downton Abbey. Will a third be shoehorned into this cracked glass slipper?

Wordy Ginters: Since the show has gone from something truly great in Season One to a vehicle for soap opera styled melodrama and will they or won't they games, I'd say it's entirely possible. How about a marriage for grit's sake: Donk and a coffin?

OMD: Seems like that could easily happen.

Daisy's jealousy over everyone else paying Mr. Mason attention is so irritating. My initial instinct was to say it's the most irksome storyline that the show has entertained, but then I remembered Denker. And Edna. And Ethel. And Miss Bunting. And that Daisy has had plenty of other irritating as fuck character arcs. And this all makes no mention of the myriad occasions in which Julian Fellowes threw a tree branch in the front bike tire of Bates and Anna's lives because apparently that is the only place from whence drama can originate on this show. At least with Thomas and O'Brien, their transgressions were so odious as to draw the viewer's ire. This petty storyline and many others swirling around in the aforementioned characters' histories do little more than give the viewer indigestion.

WG: Spot on with the plot goofiness. As you astutely point out, the venom for O'Brien and Thomas was organic, it felt natural to the story and the way the characters had been developed. The irritating shit Daisy is doing comes out of left field, or ebbs and flows in a way that totally rings false. Her behavior doesn't really operate in service to the way her character has been portrayed.

OMD: The look of abject shock and overwhelming horror at Lord Grantham's suggestion in jest that they'd have to show Lady Mary in the bath for the visitors to get their money's worth was brilliant. That single moment made this entire episode worth watching.

WG: That was an odd moment. I'd like Grantham more if he had a stronger habit towards the provocative.

OMD: Fucking Carson's continued prodding about the shortcomings he perceives in Hughes's keeping of a house are going to get him smothered to death in his sleep. And I'd posit that Hughes would best justified. Patmore's line about how Hughes "always knew he was old to be trained as a husband" sums it all up quite succinctly.

WG: I'm not sure why Fellowes decided to turn Daisy and Carson into such dicks, but he's done a good job of it. At least it feels organic for Carson to be an oblivious douche when it comes to domesticity. I suspect it will give Hughes a chance to let him redeem himself after some gentle yet firm reproach.

OMD: Bates's insistence that the bill from Dr. Ryder--who is clearly Mitch Ryder's father--has to be a set-up for jaw-dropping sticker shock, doesn't it? Ryder's services surely cost as much as an Aston Martin, no?

WG: Bates, methinks thou dost PRIDE to much. Why are you living back at Downton Anna and Bates? Because we spent our last pound paying off the doctoring bill. It's probably Mary's fault Anna is having complications with her pregnancy anyway, on account of the gravitational waves emanating from Mary's black-hole anus. Not even light escapes.

OMD: Scientists are hard at work to try to detect a correlation between the two.

Robert inferring Cora was no spring chicken must land him in the low-stress hand-job doghouse, right?

WG: I'm guessing Robert has been on the HJ diet ever since his ulcer exploded. A little Harper's Magazine index style data for you:

  • Handjobs Robert has experienced since his ulcer exploded: 36 
  • Handjobs Robert has given himself: 35   

OMD: Brooklands has to be moving Branson closer and closer to his fate as an Interwar Brewster Baker / Stroker Ace, right? Which course do you think he takes? Does he have George, Marigold, and Sybil in his pit crew with Sybil calling everyone 'Donk,' or does he go toe-to-toe with a Baywatch cast member like David Chokachi or David Charvet?

WG: I'm all in on the Brewster Baker version. If for no other reason than how impossible it would be to fill the Stroker Ace/Jim Nabors role. I guess that would have to be Molesley.

OMD: I like that Robert and Cora see a future for Edith regardless of her prospects for a well-off mate. Their growth in regards to how they see the daughter they previously saw as an old maid destined to care for them in their old age is one of the most pleasant developments of the show.

WG: I'm happy for Edith. She's transitioned from pariah to the daughter most in touch with reality.

OMD: The family's alarming lack of knowledge about the house was outstanding. I loved that the villagers got the least informed tour ever. Molesley's attempt to step in tipped off that he clearly knew more about the house than any of its noble inhabitants.

WG: Of course he did. He's a fucking superman. Whether it's on the cricket grounds, the classroom, or a public works project, Molesley is the man with the answers.

OMD: Charles Barry, the architect mentioned, did remodel Highclere Castle from 1842-1850, though his alterations in the Elizabethan style were done to the exterior of the building. The interiors were finished in 1861 by Thomas Allom, who worked with Barry when Barry later rebuilt Westminster Palace. Barry also renovated Trafalgar Square. His mark was left all over England.

WG: Nice.

OMD: Violet's tantrum was in character, I suppose, but it did ring a bit hollow. That probably owes to the less than enthralling arc that seems finally to be drawing to a close with the hospital ruling mercifully coming down.

WG: The Dowager is such a fan of decorum, I'm not sure I believe that she'd lose her cool in front of the great unwashed. But thank god this hospital foolishness can be put to bed. Let's full steam ahead to the multi-wedding.

OMD: Miss Cruikshank cannot be on the level, can she? She must be planning to cook a stew with Lord Merton and Lady Isobel as the primary ingredients. If she is to marry that shitheel Larry Grey, she has to be a vile as he is.

WG: Cruikshank = British for "crooked as a corkscrew."

OMD: I guess a history of sowing seeds of discontent means this tutoring behind closed doors equals bone zone misunderstanding is what he inevitably must reap, but it would be so much more satisfying to see Thomas get his comeuppance for committing an actual transgression worthy of his ouster from the house. Instead, he pulls a Tim Riggins, doesn't proffer another's secret as the information that would set him free, and gives himself up to a power outside his control. Is this really the end of Thomas at Downton?

WG: I doubt that Thomas is gone just quite yet. They've been threatening to can his ass for so long that it would seem soft to ditch him for being too proud and too stubborn. Come on Thomas, after all the shit you've pulled, you can't really have your feelings hurt because everyone thinks you are trying to bone Andy? On the other hand, it illustrates how you've got to be a well-adjusted motherfucker to be gay in this world.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

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

Work delayed this entry a full week, but it will be followed quickly with this week's entry. The episode starts with more of the same--Daisy whining about Mr. Mason (despite a favorable resolution to his situation), forboding about Donk's demise, and hospital politic tedium--but at least there's the promise of Minister of Health and future Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain coming for a visit.

Old Man Duggan: Dinner at Casa de Carson went well. Undercooked lamb and bubble and squeak--which is a shallow fried dish of leftovers from a roast consisting primarily of potatoes and cabbage that can also have carrots, peas, Brussels sprouts, and other leftover vegetables tossed in--somehow doesn't seem like a dish the stodgy and particular Mr. Carson would like too much. The tamped down tension and resentment from Elsie's side of the table was a delight. Something tells me a tumble twixt the sheets is not in Carson's immediate future.

Pre-Mickey slipping
Wordy Ginters: Poor Carson. Looks like he'll be learning the hard way. From the altar to sleeping on the couch in record time. Oddly, I was a fan of his boorish stodginess. It rings true. To see Carson and Hughes glide into a Cliff and Clair Huxtable simpatico vibe would be discordant. You know Carson has to be a throbbing pain in the ass to deal with. Hughes, as per usual, is a goddamn saint.

OMD: There seems to be a lot of build-up with Patmore feeling at least a little envious of Mrs. Hughes becoming Mrs. Hughes-Carson. Something tells me that the continued presence of Sergeant Willis may be Fellowes's attempt to make a love connection for another potential old maid. I'm sure Patmore would go wild for a distinguished gentleman in uniform.

WG: Like a redheaded moth inexplicably drawn to flaming dogshit. Patmore is one of the few decent characters on the show, and apparently she's never been carnal. She deserves a good old fashioned steamrolling. I think Fellowes can really cover some new ground with the last few episodes, featuring lots and lots of lusty action between 50- and 60-year-olds. How about a sexy montage of Carson and Hughes, Patmore and Sergeant Schultz, Bates and Anna, and maybe a splash of sappho with Isobel and the Dowager all tangled up in a love knot? Underline the scene with "Every 1's A Winner" by Hot Chocolate.

OMD: I liked Branson's explanation for how the balanced personalities of Sybil and himself made for a blissful (albeit brief) union. Clearly this is laying the groundwork for Mary to evaluate Talbot with a fresh set of eyes. Let's just hope she doesn't sic her murderous asshole on poor old Hank. It's claimed one and likely two men's lives. Let us all hope the killing has stopped.

WG: That thirsty asshole isn't done yet. I fear more men will be dispatched into the yawning void via its erotic clench. Branson's ode to relationships was surprisingly solid insight. That guy should shitcan his wrenches and his car fetish and think about setting up shop as a marriage counselor or a therapist.

OMD: Why can't Fellowes just let a cancerous devil like Denker shuffle off into Interwar poverty? I was so happy when I thought she was gone. If only it wasn't for Septimus's shitbag nephew dropping by unannounced and on the lam. Would anyone have blamed Clarkson if he produced a scalpel from his bag and cut her to bits? I suspect he'd have gotten a slow-clap from the townsfolk to rival the letter jacket scene in Lucas.

WG: Corey Haim, where are you now when we need you the most? Septimus Spratt sounds like a Harry Potter character. To cute by half Fellowes.

OMD: "Shall I go back in an ask him to plead not guilty after all?" Molesley bringing the quick quips. What doesn't he bring to the show now? I can't wait to watch the Molesley and Baxter spin-off in which they start a bicycle rental business on Crete to get away from the hustle and bustle of service.

WG: The rebirth of cool for my main man Molesley continues to shock. Just like the anxiousness I feel at the inevitable doom awaiting Anna and Bates, I keep wondering when Fellowes is going to drop the hammer on Molesley. He spent too many episodes and too many scenes making him look like a dope to let him off the hook this gallantly in the final season. He'll spend the next episode with 12 yards of toilet paper trailing off his shoe, and no one will have the guts to tell him except Thomas.

OMD: And in a decidedly derisive way, I'm sure.

Branson's cutting through the veiled courtship bullshit was hilarious. "Why can't you just say, 'I'd love to spend more time with you. When can we do it?'" Mary's not getting any younger and if the battlefield's worth of down men behind her is any indication, there can't be many eligible bachelors left who've not been felled by her sword.

WG: "These dumb proles have some good qualities, although they are coarse as hell." Julian Fellowes, apparently.

OMD: Speaking of courtship, it sure looks as though Lady Edith will finally find happiness. The Beer Hall Putsch already happened, so Bertie can't be killed there. What horrible fate could befall him to rob Edith of another man?

WG: Death by a hail storm of toads a la Magnolia. Or is it a la mode? Frog a la mode.

OMD: If I had the photoshop skills and this weren't a full week late, I guarandamntee you that this would be highlighted with a picture of frog and ice cream.

So it appears as though Barrow's redemptive arc this season is in serving as Andy's tutor.

WG: I want Thomas to be the bad guy. Please Fellowes please, keep the black hat firmly on his head. Is there anything more darkly evil than a mediocre tutor?

OMD: The anti-Molesley.

So the buildup of Robert's failing health paid off big time. Even if this doesn't spell his complete demise, blood spewing volcanically from his mouth across the white linens on the table was quite the dramatic visual. I wonder how much of Donk's stomach they removed? I'm glad Molesley got one light-hearted jab in when Thomas revealed that despite his assumption that he wouldn't care, he was relieved to hear that Robert's surgery seemed a success. "Don't let the other animals find out, or they'll pounce."

WG: An impressive bit of bloodshed for Downton. Were you thinking Alien or Hateful Eight?

OMD: Oh, Alien for sure.

I really hope Mary piecing together Marigold's origins doesn't go the way that the score over that last scene indicated it would. I would suspect that her evolution as a person would have softened her feelings toward her last living sibling, but who knows with her? She certainly could backslide into her old ways, though I suspect the music and Mary's expression at episode's end were a misdirect by Fellowes, and he'll use this opportunity to show how Mary's grown.

WG: I think you've got it pegged. Unfortunately. You can't have every character work their way to some nice and tidy resolution. Thomas is humanized. Mary has grown. Edith finds success. That means there has to be some ballast on the other side of the ledger, right? Granthan dies? Anna and Bates get thrown back in the mud? Regardless, I admit I'm a sucker because the blood bath at the end of this episode has me eager to see the next episode. Something I haven't felt for awhile.

OMD: Indeed.

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