Well, it’s official.
While I’ve held off judgement until this point, it’s become quite obvious.
Downton Abbey is a soap opera.
This week’s episode just went way over to the deep end in terms of soap-opera tone. Now the complicated plot and melodrama of the series hasn’t been lost on me up to now, however, I feel like the show is now broaching the type that I talk about as I’m watching it. So rather than simply watching it and enjoying what I’m seeing, I’m thinking “Oh no, that’s so stupid,” or “Really? She’s really going to do that?”
“I’m waiting for one of the characters to come out of the closet (here’s looking at you, Mr. Barrow…)
My favorite line of last night’s episode?
“How do you know about such things?”
“I was married, I know everything.”
Good old Lady Mary. Girl crush, and also – how beautiful was that purple top she had on during the first scenes?
Just a few things to point out about this week’s episode:
1) The scene in the park pond in London underneath the bridge between Lady Rose and Jack Ross was absolutely ridiculous. Could they have lit or arranged that scene to make the racial difference between them any more stark? And why was Lady Rose acting like someone from a Harlequin romance novel, pushing and undulating herself towards Jack that way? Do less, little missy.
2) Lady Mary operating that water pump. Talk about knock-you-over-the-head symbolism. What was that? She attacked that thing with all the pent up frustration of, well, someone who hasn’t had sex in a really long time and is extremely frustrated. Or, you know, someone who is quite literally, stuck in the mud, as Lady Mary becomes soon after this. Why were they so wet and dirty? Does feeding and watering hogs literally involve covering your entire body in wet, thick mud? They were dirty with an extra “r,” Christina Aguilera 2002 style.
And I understand that this whole hog thing was funny (and I’m taking one for the team here, because as a vegan, I find the idea of pig farming absolutely abhorrent, but I digress), but it wasn’t really that funny. Not funny enough to persuade us that her character would do a complete 360 and embrace this guy who she previously hated and who constantly berated her family and their values. This is something you’d expect out of a middle schooler – you know, the whole “I really like you but I’m going to act like I hate you because we’re in fifth grade.” Silly. And how about that comment at the end of the episode when Mary was asked if she and Blake were rolling around in the mud, and she quickly replied that no, they didn’t, but they must by leave something to look forward to? What? So now she wants to get in his pants? There are other ways to convince us that Mary isn’t a frigid bitch, but this ain’t it. Sorry.
3) I love Mrs. Hughes. And Carson, actually. They tend to be the balm that holds the ridiculous drama sub-stories of this show together.
4) Poor Edith. While I feel for her character, this baby thing is the straw that is starting to break the camel’s back. I mean, where the hell is Gregson anyway? Is he dead? Let’s have some movement with this storyline already.
5) I know that Maggie Smith is the fan favorite, but good Lord, is Violet a bitch. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Maggie Smith actually look her age on screen (I mean, for goodness sake, she was old in Sister Act and that was what, twenty-two years ago?) but during this illness, she really looked like she had one foot on the banana peel.
6) Phyllis Baxter looks like Anna Morgan from the Ring. Am I right, or am I right? Every time she comes on screen I picture her looking into a mirror and brushing her hair before turning around slowly and scaring the hell out of us!
However, all of this is okay, because Bates knows.
Bates knows, mofos.
I was literally watching the last five minutes of this episode and glancing at the clock, because if Julian Fellowes left us hanging for an entire week with the “does Bates get it through his thick skull that the man who raped his wife is back under Downton’s roof” question, I was going to throw my television out the window. Finally, they moved this storyline forward, because it is swiftly approaching stale territory. While it’s no secret that Bates is my favorite character, they made him look awfully stupid in this episode. Could Anna have been any more uncomfortable when Mr. Green entered the room? I mean, she all but stood up and pointed, “Here he is! Here he is! It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!” But Bates just sat there, eating his food. Plump and oblivious. Poor Bates. Poor Anna. Poor Downton, changing more and more, one episode at a time.