Downton Abbey Read-Cap: Blood Feuds, Gay Panic And Cricket Matches

TriumvirateIt’s now Hour Two of Downton Aubrey O’day and suddenly Mr. Mosley is in a field with his old dad for the annual Downton Downs crickets match that happens every year but we’re hearing about for the very first time ever.

It’s a bit of a thorn in Lord Roberthamshire’s side—his team of Crawley toffs and houseboys always looses to the strapping young lads of the village, and this year’s match doesn’t look any different: Bates is a hopeless gimp, Cousin Matthew is always prone to spells of paralysis and impotence when confronted with sportsballs, and Branson—like the rest of us—is all, “Cricket? How the fuck do you play cricket?”

Mr. Mosley though? Oh, there’s not much Mr. Mosley doesn’t know about cricket. Downstairs, he’s all “Cricket this, and cricket that.” Blimey, that Mr. Mosley sure does talk a lot about cricket!

Meanwhile, Carson has finally decided not to have Thomas sent off to ex-gay therapy. He’ll still have to leave, though. Can’t have a foul homosexual fouling up Downton with his gay foulness! How foul! That’s right gang: Mr. Carson, loveable old conservative crumdgeon, hates gays and thinks they—we!—are foul! Somebody start a petition!

On the plus side, Mr. Bates is back and ready to resume his life lacing Lord Grantham into his corset, giving a convenient excuse to pack Thomas off quietly with a decent reference. Oh the Wicked Witch of O’Brien won’t be having any of that! She doesn’t just want Thomas banished, she wants his head on her plate by teatime! “Won’t it look bad if you don’t gay-bash him immediately?” she asks Jiminy Cricket. “Folks might think you asked to be tongue-raped in your sleep if you don’t!”

Pretty Jimbo is too vain to bruise his porcelain knuckles with fisticuffs, so he tells Mr. Carson he’ll call the police if Thomas doesn’t get a bad reference.  Poor Thomas will Of course, Thomas is impotent with rage! He’ll be ruined now and will probably end up on the streets, diddling the chaps like Ethel. (For a place full of decent folk, Downton sure does send a lot of servants off to be pockmarked whores.0

And that’s when the old reliable Downton rumor mill starts to churn: A distraught Thomas turns to Mrs. Hughes for comfort, telling her his whole sordid tale. She’s sympathetic because she’s a fag hag from way back. Then Bates gets all concerned for some reason after he catches a super sad Thomas skulking around the hovel he and Anna are going to live in. And even though Thomas has basically acted like a twat to everyone for three seasons, Bates decides to try to help him.  Even His Lord Robertship wants to help, perhaps because of all the gay sex he had with Evelyn Waugh and E.M. Forster in college. “Everyone knows these inverts are just harmless faerie folk!”

The battle lines are drawn, with O’Brien summoning all the forces to darkness to her aid, as Downton’s purer-of-heart rally around Thomas in his hour of peril. But more on that later.

article-2227927-15D14E0D000005DC-387_634x637Meanwhile, a beautiful and headstrong 18-year-old has suddenly turned up. She’s some sort of distant relative named Cousin Oliver, come to stay with the Dowager Humpress Grantham!

Just kidding—her name’s Rose, and she’s a wild and crazy teenager. Whatever shall the Dowager do with her? Send her to London with Edith and Matthew, of course. What sort of trouble could a golden-haired vixen like Rose possibly get into in the big city? Lots, apparently, because straight away, she’s on the telephone machine arranging a mysterious rendezvous. Then off she goes in a taxi, all tarted up.

While Cousin Rose is off painting the town red in the middle of the day, Lady Edith, girl reporter, is at the newspaper, flirting with her editor. Oh, Edith! Another older man! Another man you work with! Will you never learn?

Lou Grant thinks Edith is very pretty and likes the stories she’s writing about serious things, like how hard it is to find a man when you’re the plain middle sister. He’s just about to ravish her on his desk when she uses her new journalistic sleuthing skills and figures out he’s married!

Edith thinks that’s repugnant, forgetting all about how she didn’t mind that that farmer she was snogging during the war was also married. “Character development!” Julian Fellowes reminds us all, so we let that one go.

But wait! Sure Mr. Editor Chief is married, but it’s to a lunatic who’s locked in his attic! It’s so tragic, and now Lady Edith is Carrie Bradshaw and Jane Eyre and her editor’s crazy wife will probably eventually try to burn her down. (Unless maybe she commits suicide with a poison pie.)

In the meantime, Rose misses dinner with Lady Rosamund, but nobody seems all that concerned about a precocious teen off frolicking in London’s seedy underbelly. Except then a filthy taxi driver shows up and tells them all how he drove Rosebud to a dance club. And that’s just where Matthew and Edith find her, snorting angel dust and dry-humping a married man while—gasp—a negro band plays American jazz music!

After pumping the bright young thing’s tum-tum, Matthew ships her off back to Dame Maggietron, who in returns sends her packing to Scotland or something as punishment. Could this be the last we’ve seen of our wild young Rose? (Don’t count on it.)

Also going on in London: Matthew has an appointment with a scientist to figure out if his baby batter is potent enough to make a baby. He’s worried because Lady Mary isn’t pregnant yet. (And remember, his nutsack basically got blown off during the war.)

But then shock of ironic shockeries: There’s the beauteous ice princess herself at the very same fertility lab. See it turns out that Not-so-virgin-Mary’s glacial womb was the problem all along, and she had to get it defrosted. It’s all fine now and there should be new baby any day now.

Back at Downton, Dowager Maggie wants Ethel to move away and start a new life. See, Ethel is very unhappy—everyone in the village is always throwing rotten vegetables and cow patties at her because she used to be a prostitute. So the Downton Dowager has Edith place a Craigslist ad to find a new job, and she does! It’s near where she sold her baby, so Methel gets to see him now, and she won’t be scandalous anymore. Hopefully that’s a series wrap for Ethel, because, good God, I’m sick of her sad stupid ginger face!

Back at Downton, the battle of the People who Live Under the Stairs rages on. Thomas has lost all hope: Miss O’Brien’s schemes have robbed him of his love and his future, and he’s ready to admit defeat. But doesn’t Thomas know that O’Brien killed Her Ladyshark’s fetus with a bar of soap?

Why doesn’t he just use that to ruin her? Why? Like, seriously, why? (Julian Fellows is eerily silent, vanquished by working-class American logic.)

You know who will use her dark secret against Miss O’Brien to save Thomas? Bates! Hurrah! for Bates, and for clumsy irony! So O’Brien is threatened into calling off Jimmy and Thomas is saved from certain doom, redeemed by the grace and friendship of his unexpected allies.

Except then the cricket match is stormed by police, because Alfred just couldn’t live with the carnal horrors he’s seen! But really in the end, that’s no problem because Lord Grantham is a lord and owns all these little people. He tells that policemens that he’s just made up a new law about how gay kissing is just fine by him. As a reward for being evil for three seasons, trying to mouth rape another man, and for just generally being a bad boy gay-sex god, His Lordship makes Thomas Downton Abbey’s junior butler.

In the end, O’Brien’s quest for revenge (does anyone remember what for?) has blown up in her shrewish face. Thomas gets to stick around and her nephew Alfred will never be lord of the footmen. Also, weirdly, it blew up in Bates’ face too—Thomas is now kind of the boss of him.

We leave all these white folks, wearing white and playing cricket. (Winning cricket, actually! ) And thanks to Cousin-Husband Matthew and Little Lord Branson, Dunston Checks In Abbey will be safe for fancy footmen and wicked ladies’ maids, gimpy man servants and housemaids both saintly and slutty, spinster journalists and silver spooned babes forever more!