The “Downton Abbey” Read-Cap: So Much Nothing And One Very Huge Something

Downton-Abbey-2012-Christmas-Episode-1Oh, so you thought that last week’s eight-hour double special episode was the season finale of Daphne Du Maurier’s Downton Revisited? Ha-ha, how wrong you were, silly peasants. There’s a Christmas special that neither occurs nor airs during Christmas. Oh, the vagueries of British television— don’t even try to wrap your puny American minds around it.

As we open, it’s suddenly one year later—making it, what, 1722?—and as much as everyone is always constantly talking about how things are changing and how they all have to prepare for this radical new future, basically nothing has changed. Sure, Lady Mary’s finally prego and there’s a new slutty maid (but less slutty than Ethel, because, let’s be honest, no on in the whole history of Westernpiece Civilization Theater will ever be as slutty as Ethel) but, by and large everything is just as downright Downtony as ever it was.

The whole family has decided to go to Scotland—like they apparently do every year but are only mentioning for the very first time now—except for Branson, that is, because he’s really still just a working-class peasant dressed up in fancy clothes.

Oh and Cousin Isobel stays behind too, because everyone hates her.

So off they all go, all the important Crawleys, on the locomotion machine to Castle Dung Beagle to visit Cousin Jean Shrimpton and her horrible wife—oh! and also their feisty but troubled daughter, Rose, from last episode.

A dark cloud hangs over the picturesque toy castle, though, for Lord Shrimpy and his shrewish wife, Lady Pinchelyface, despise each other. No wonder Rose acts out all the time—smoking opium in Negro bars and sleeping with married men—she’s acting out because mummy and daddy are at odds. If only there was someplace she could go to live out her reckless teenage years far away from her sniping parents but still under the watchful eyes of millions of TV viewers. Maybe a beautiful country estate in need of a bright, pretty thing  to liven things up  after three seasons?

Back at the Abbey, slutty new maid Edna Breathmint has her sights set on poor lonely Mr. Branson. It’s hard to tell what Edna’s game is, but she’s taken to stalking Brando at the pub and being all kindsa inappropriately familiar with him, which he’s really not equipped to deal with at all.

Branson’s alone in that big old house, you see, and it gets all spooky at night and he misses all his old pals in the kitchen chambers. But with the Aristacrawleys gone, he’s the man of the house—well, not really—but he still can’t kiki with the basement peons. What’s an Irish revolutionary chauffeur-turned-lord supposed to do? Go to dinner with Cousin Isobel? Ugh, fuck that noise. Get sexually harassed by slutty maids you’re not supposed to fraternize with? Hmm…

Okay, Edna, what’s the plan here? A quickie roll in the sheets with Branjob? Cool. I get it. He’s totally cute. But it’s a bonehead career move—ask around about some of Crawleys’ previous maids, why dontcha. And if you think you’re gonna screw your way to the top with Branson? In his blessed saintly dead wife’s family’s house while you’re their employee? Oh girl, nuh-uh.

Plus, also, Mrs. Hughes sees what you’re up to, and she does not approve!

Also nosing around downstairs is the new grocer, Mr. Bowlerton Porkbelly. Seems he wants to get all up in Mrs. Patmore’s pantry. “Have a bit of this tart,” she purrs as Porkbelly smacks his lips. And oooh, how the mousy maids titter as Mrs. Patmore’s suitor slips his tongue into a slice of her warm cherry pie!.

Again, Mrs. Hughes does not approve: It seems Porkbottom is a notorious Casanova, whose sexual magnetism has been the ruin of many a respectable matron around these parts.

But Mrs. Patmore still wants to be stepping out with him at the fair. Oh yes, there’s a fair! And since the uptownstairs folk are all away, the servants get to go! Mrs. Patmore puts on her best Sunday dress and everyone else shines their shoes—it’s a jolly good  time in the aboveground outside sunshine!

Mrs. Hughes though, she pretty much spends the whole day glaring at everyone. For real; this episode should be called “Mrs. Hughes Looks on, Disapprovingly!” There’s Edbreath’s fraternization with Branson, Mrs. Patmore’s porcine paramour with his wandering eye, and much more shenanigans to disapprove of.

Another thing that Mrs. Hughes is doubtlessly grumbling over is beautiful Jimmy’s behavior. See, all the Downtron men won the rope-tuggin’ game against Guy Richie and his gang of gutter trolls. But it turns out Jimmy rigged the whole thing with Mr. Pigmore at the last minute.

Now Jimbo’s running about with some extra farthings and getting wasted at the fair. He’s stumbling around, making trouble and being a drunk, gorgeous tool. And then he’s under a bridge for some reason—totally not cruising for dick, obviously—when suddenly Guy Ritchie’s thugs from the tug-of-war are there to gang-rape him. Crikey, Jimmy is always getting almost-raped!

But wait, guess who arrives to saves him? It’s Thomas, in his pimp hat and pinstripe suit! “Run Jimmy,” he shrieks as the lads descend on him!

While Thomas is getting Chinese-handcuffed under a footbridge, Old Wise Man Clarkson has squired Cousin Isobel to the fair. Turns out the venerable old medicine man had taken it into his mind to take a wife and, for some reason, has decided that Cousin Isobel is the squaw for him. Alas, Cousin Isobel doesn’t want to marry again—she’s too modern and annoying or something.

Scowl-face Mrs. Hughes scowls at them from afar, clearly not approving.

But there’s no time to ponder Witchdoctor Clarkson’s heart—he has to apply poultices and unguents to poor Thomas’ rape wounds.

Back at the house, Jimmy feels bad about letting Thomas get raped in his place. So, steeling his nerves, he goes to Thomas’ garret where he will offer up his unsullied hindquarters as thanks. “Oh, sorry Jimbo, but no,” says Thomas. “I’m kinda seeing Guy Richie now. But we can still be friends, I guess?” And thus everything is right and good between the serving men at Brokedownton Palace again.

Not right and good is poor Edna, though. The dumb wench threw herself at shirtless Branson and, of course, is fired. Off she goes to  be a prostitute or live beyond The Wall, or whatever it is happens to Downtown’s discarded maids. They should all get their own reality show, DownPual’s Maids Race: Untucked.

downton abbey season finale matthew fishing scotlandMaybe now you’re wondering what the rich folk are doing in Scotland. And the answer is nothing. Oh my God, basically literally almost nothing happens in Scotland. Nothing! So much nothing!

Like, there’s some deer-hunting and lunch-having, Anna learns to dance, and O’Brien meets another severely creepy lady maid—but that’s it, really.

Oh, Lady Edith’s editor comes to visit and they’re in love. Can someone please give Edith a copy of A Room of One’s Own, please?

Mary must feel us on that one because she’s being a total bitch about ol’ J. Jonah Jameson editor man. Good God, pregnancy has made Mary even bitchier than usual. All she does the whole episode is read people and throw shade. Which is probably bad for the baby, because ooh, there’s a twinge and she has to flee back to Downton to have Shadowmancer Clarkson coax out the baby.

Miracle of miracles, it’s a boy! Which is great, because girls are too feeble and emotional to inherit anything. This rugrat can now one day turn Downton into a tasteful B&B.

Rose gets to come and live at Poundtown Abbey while her horrible parents go to India to die of cholera, so we can look forward to her antics next season. (Told you.)

matthew car 2You know whose antics we can’t look forward to? Doughy old Cousin-Husband Matthew. Now that Downton is safe forevermore, Mattrice is packing up her powder puff and heading for Broadway to act with Jessica Chastain. So we see him cruising down the backwoods dirt road at break-neck speed when he crashes his autogyrotram and dies a horrible death, bleeding out of his big, dumb ears.

And that’s seriously the dramatic cliffhanger ending to Season Three! What’s to become of the Crawldaddies now? Will Mary’s icy heart go into permafrost with the tragic death of her husband? Will Branson man up and start shagging the maids? Will O’Brien and Thomas ever rekindle their evil twosome? Who will Julian Fellow kill off next? What other modern revolutions will shake the very foundations of Downton Abbey? Well have to wait another five years to find out in Season Four!

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