Sunday, January 5, 2014

I see no necessity to eat off a tray.

Forget that I have to be at work in less than 8 hours (so long, winter break!), let's recap the (obscenely long) season premiere of the show that makes you want to get lucky with middle-aged valets (I'm looking at you, Mr. Bates) and learn how to do finger-waves, Downton Abbey!

Questions I needed answers to at the end of last season:

1) What was the show going to do without Matthew, and the Matthew/Mary relationship?

A: Turn Mary into Morticia Addams, apparently. When we pick up in the first episode, six months after Matthew was bitten by the Hollywood bug killed in a car accident, Mary is practically comatose, and wearing a fine variety of death shrouds. She is sending Anna off to wait on her mother because "she isn't going to be taking long trips" and calling her child a "poor orphan" while she stares at the floor. Lord Grantham is only too pleased to let this carry on, because, as George's guardian (and heir to the estate), Mary has some stake in the running of Downton. As we saw last season, Lord Grantham, while perfectly happy to accept the unconventional sexual behavior of his under butler, cannot fathom a new way of doing anything at Downton. Now that Matthew is dead, he would like to be left alone to let the estate go bankrupt under his poor management, thank you. Basically, Robert sucks. We all know Robert sucks. Thankfully, the family, led by the Dowager, also thinks Robert's attitude sucks. Branson enlists Carson to talk some sense into Lady Mary, and get her to join "the land of the living." Mary, on the other hand, won't be persuaded until the Dowager lays it down for her (and even drops the "L" word!) and tells her to take charge of her life. So, we end the first hour with Mary almost back in the saddle. Emotionally bruised, yes, but at least ready to be distracted from grief. Frankly, I'm glad that Lady Mary isn't recovering quickly from Matthew's death. I mean, I'm not sure I'm emotionally recovered from it. But, judging from the previews for next week, she's going to have to recover fast, because there's a new hottie in town, Lord Anthony Gillingham! I smell a one-sided love-affair!

2) Why do Lady Edith, Molesly, and Daisy continually get dumped on?

A: Schadenfreude? These three just can't catch a break!

a. Daisy is still in love with Alfred, who is still in love with Ivy, who is still in love with Jimmy, who is still in love with Jimmy. It's Valentine's Day in the first episode, and Daisy receives a card not from Alfred but from Mrs. Patmore, who didn't want her to feel bad about being the kitchen reject. Poor girl! First she had Thomas pretending to like her, William, who died, and now this? And judging from the looks of things, Alfred is not going to be changing his mind anytime soon. Give Daisy a boyfriend!

b. Continual sad-sack Molesly, who besides looking like Charlie Brown, has been left without a job due to Matthew's untimely passing and evicted from the house by Carson, who says they can't afford to keep him around. The Dowager feels sorry for him and tries to "audition" him for butler for a friend, but he is sabotaged by the Dowager's butler (Stames? Stubbs? Whatever his name is) and is forced to move back home with his father, who, incidentally, seems to have way better social skills than his son, and dig ditches. Thankfully, Mr. Bates and Anna decide to take compassion on him and lend him some money, but geeeeez. Molesly's luck makes the sinking of the Titanic seem like a great party topped off with a sea-salt scrub.

c. We also have Jane Eyre Edith, who after the Anthony Strallan disaster last season, immediately took up with newspaper man Michael Gregson, who would marry her, except for his insane wife from whom he cannot procure a divorce. Now, any smart person would run in the other direction, but since Edith is apparently a glutton for punishment, and the most pathetic virgin on television, she is jumping on in. Gregson suggests becoming a German citizen so he can get divorced, and she's totally on board. A German citizen? GERMAN. CITIZEN. Who sees this ending well? Why can't she ever get with someone normal? It's not enough to be the ugliest of your siblings and to be left at the altar, and have your father not want you to write editorials and being generally unpleasant? You have to have your boyfriend be willing to join up with the most hated nation in Europe? UGH. EDITH. Why you so stupid?

3) Are Mrs. Hughes and Mr. Carson EVER going to get together?

A: Probably not, but I'm still holding out hope. Those two are so secretly into each other!

There's much more to say, but, if you're still reading, I'd like to keep it that way, so it's time for everyone's favorite segment: "S@#% the Dowager Countess Says!"

"It is at times like these when I am tempted to ring for nanny, and have you put to bed with no supper!" - on Robert's perceived ousting of Mary from the runnings of Downton

"Who are we to warrant any courtesy?" - on the audacity of Lady Edith not to change before joining the ladies in the sitting room

"Just because you're a widow, I see no necessity to eat off a tray!" - on Isobel's lonely life

And the ZINGER of the night: "I see I'm beaten, but I do sympathize with King Canute!" - on whether or not to call Branson "Branson" or "Tom"

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