The “Downton Abbey” Read-Cap: The Marriage Plot Thickens

downton abbey

Since every queen and his mum is watching Downton Abbey, we thought we’d skip the pedantic recaps and get right into reading the characters for filth in the Downton Abbey Read-Cap. Each week we’ll throw shade on characters, plotlines and producers with the inappropriate glee of a sadistic dentist. Nothing is sacred. You have been warned.

It’s Spring 1920 and the whole of Downtonsfordshire is excited for Bilbo Baggins Cousin Matthew’s marriage to Lady Mary. So excited, in fact, that they’ve taken to stringing sanitary napkins from house to house for some reason. (No matter! It’s the past! And everything is so much classier!)

Not classy however, is Lady Sybil, who got knocked up by Branson, the sexy chauffeur, and has to live in Ireland as a pauper. I’s even more tragic because they’re too poor to come to the fancy wedding, even though Dame Maggie Smith wants them there and so does meddlesome Cousin Isabel, who of course thinks it’s super cool that they have some poor folk in the family now.downton-anney-s3e1-mary-and-mathew-crawley-wedding-2012-x-500

But we are floored that Matthew and Mary are finally tying the knot after, what, 13 season? It’s such a miracle that no one seems to care anymore that Matthew’s spine has magically—and maybe he’s sterile now.

Nor do they care that Lady Mary is a dirty whore who’s lady parts killed a super hot Turkish diplomatin the dead of night. Ah, love—pasty, doughy, distantly related love!

Speaking of distantly related, centuries of inbreeding cannot have done much for the Crawley dynasty’s brainpower, because Lord Grantham, High King of the Crawleys, has managed to lose all of his money. Again. Because of trains in Canada or something. “Trains in Canada? I say, lets jolly well get some of those!” Except it was a terrible, terrible idea and now all the money is gone. All of Elizabeth McGovern’s American millions too! Yes, the Crawdads are once again on the brink of losing Downsyndrome Abbey! (What else is new?)

Meanwhile, among the downstairs people, Bates is in the joint for life even though nobody at UptownDownton believes he really poisoned his evil wife. Come on, the dude looks pretty damn guilty, right? But they’re not gonna hang him!

Anna The Blonde and Virtuous is on the case, chasing down leads between conjugal visits. But it’s not all slap-and-tickle in the showers and tender embraces after lights-out for Our Man Bates. He’s got a new cellmate who’s, ahem, a real pain in the ass.

Speaking of which, Thomas—beautiful, evil Thomas—has weaseled his way into Bates’s old job giving handies to High King Crawley, who is so distracted by the family’s impending financial ruination that he accidentally hires O’Brien’s freakishly tall nephew, Alfonso, as a footman.

Thomas doesn’t like this one bit for some reason—mainly having to do with him being evil and gay. And Carson doesn’t like it either, because Alfonso is waaay too tall and used to be a waiter. And Old Lord Grantham doesn’t like it either,  because he’s all uptight about money now!

The next day—or maybe it’s weeks later, who knows—Sybil turns up looking all pregnant and poor. It seems someone sent her the money to come home, but no one knows who! (Turns out it was the Dowager, the saucy old bag!) Everyone’s just tickled to see her—but no one is pleased to see Branson. The servants won’t serve him and he doesn’t even have the right clothes! “Uniform of oppression!” he grumbles all the time, “Free Ireland!”

Screen Shot 2013-01-06 at 8.56.07 PMOne night, this schmuck Sybil used to shag comes over for dinner  and totally slips Branson a mickey! So Brandy looks wasted at dinner—like, frat boy on St. Pat’s Day wasted—but no one can tell the difference because he’s Irish.

Sybil’s ex’s evil scheme is eventually exposed, though, and Cousin Matthew makes Branson his best man. Aww!

Downstairs, Daisy is throwing hissy fits left and right because her life just really fucking sucks. Who’s got it worse than her, right? She’s at the bottom of the food chain, and practically shouts, “Fuck this noise, I’m calling my agent!”

But that lasts about 20 seconds before Mrs. Patmore smacks the bun right off Daisy’s foolhardy head and sends her to bed without gruel.

Shirley MacLaine finally arrives, looking like a cross between Elizabeth I and Ronald McDonald and adding about as much substance as a fan who won a walk-on. Ah, stunt casting! Shirley’s definitely not pleased that Cousin Mattress will be inheriting her daughter’s American money, but it’s okay because he’s finally marrying Mary now. (And Lord Grundlethumb had pretty much pissed it all away anyway.)

Oh, remember how Cousin Matthew was engaged to this other girl last season and she died? No? Yeah, I know, it’s been a while, but it happened. Well, it turns out the girl’s father is dead, too—and left all of his fortune to Matthew! “Fortune, you say?” says Lady Mary, her eyeballs turning into pound signs. “Of course you must use it to save Downton!”

But no, Doormatthew has decided he can’t keep the money because it wouldn’t be honorable. And, oh good God, the tantrum Mary throws! On the eve of their nuptuations, no less. It seems our love birds, the most unappealing couple in all of Western civilization, are faced with yet another roadblock to marital bliss and dynastic security!

Guess what saves the day this time? Branson the best man! He goes over with a bottle of Jameson to Matthew’s place, where they sit by the fire getting drunk and talking about women. How much better it would be if they could just spend the rest of their lives palling around together, you know, just two brohams in the English countryside.

“But you have to go to Lady Mary,” advises Branson. “Only you can thaw her icy womb and free us from the evil curse plaguing Dow Jones Abbey.”

So, despite basically hating each other and disagreeing on everything, M&M decide to go through with the wedding. Lord Grantham is so pleased with Branson’s meddling that he actually speaks to him—even though it makes Robert throw up in his mouth a little.

Meanwhile, up-up-upstairs, Mary is pretending she actually likes her stupid sisters. Then it’s time to come down and show her dress to the butler: “Oh, hay, Carson—I just threw on this white sack and I’m getting married now!”

“Bully, m’lady!” Carson coughs back. And then they all go to the church, where the serfs in the village are just sooo super-excited to see this shapeless white broad getting married to Lady Mary.



But, Just as soon as the peons finishing picking the rice off the church steps, Matthew and Mary are back from their honeymoon. Lord Grantham and the rest of the clan have been waiting patiently for them out on the gravel, their own miserable lives on hold until the happy couple returns.

“So, how’d you like slipping your ol’ pickled gerkin in my daughter’s plum pudding for the first time ever?” Old Man Grannypanties asks Matthew in an exceptionally gross way upon arrival.

“Oh, Lord Grantham, you do go on!” Cousin Mattress simpers, disguising a blush with his lace fan.

At dinner, Dowager Empress Maggie Smith shrieks in horror as Shirley MacLaine stuffs her face, spews chunks of food from her craw, and spills wine everywhere. See, in America, we don’t know how to use cutlery or speak without our mouths full. Despite these barnyard manners, we have lots and lots of money, apparently—and that gives Lady Mary an idea! “Grannykins, let’s do try and swindle some money out of Shirley MacLaine to save Downton,” she whispers to Dame Maggie, and the pair set about to scheming.

Meanwhile, on a sound stage far away, Mrs. Patmore and Mrs. Hughes are enjoying a little under-the-sweater-over-the-bra quality time, when—what’s this?—a lump is discovered in Mrs. Hughes’ plumptious bosom!

Could it be the Big C? “A cancer storyline,” Laura Linney scoffs from that weird red room where she introduces every episode. “Very original!”

The ladies go to the doctor, who sticks some pins in Mrs. Hughes and slaps some leeches on her. “Cancer?” the doctor asks. “Who knows? It’s 1612!” So they trundle on home and decide not to tell anyone about what’s going on with old Hughes’ boob.

Have you been wondering what happened to that ginger maid? No, not Season One’s ginger maid who wanted to be a secretary and was forced to go live beyond The Wall. Season Two’s ginger maid, who got knocked up by a soldier who then got killed.

Man, those Crawleys can’t keep their ginger maids!

Season Two’s firecrotch is now a desperately poor single mother. How desperately poor? Like, prostitution desperately poor. And the British really aren’t fans of the carrottops, so business can’t be good. Oh, the poverty and desperation!

But here’s the thing: Cousin Isabel has found a job as a madam, tightening and tucking the girls and sending them back out on the streets. Guess who she spots on her turf? It’s Ginger Maid 2! “Hey sweet thing, don’t I know you?” Cousin Isabel purrs, running her talon down GM’s silken cheek. “No! I’m not ready!” GM squeaks, and runs off into the night.

“She’ll be back,” Cousin Isabel chuckles as she lighting up a blunt. “They all come back.”

“What could Lady Edith be up to right about now?” asks absolutely no one. Well, she’s still trying desperately to get the crippled Sir Anthony to notice her through his ether haze. No one approves of their union, of course, since Little Edie has been destined since birth for spinsterhood.

“But daddy, I love him!” Lady Edith cries, as Lord Grantham destroys her secret grotto filled with Sir Anthony’s cast-off clothes and knickknacks. “Nope!” he bellows, “Spinsterhood!”

You know how on Gossip Girl there was a party in every single episode? Well, on Uptown Abbey there’s a grand dinner every episode. And something always goes terribly awry. This time, Dame Maggie and Miss Mary’s brilliant plot to grift Shirley MacLaine with a big fancy Downton banquet gets screwed up. Evil Thomas has tricked poor Alfonso into ruining Matthews’ dinner jacket!

Things are not shaping up well for this very impressive dinner party at all. And then the oven breaks.

An ice wind sweeps through Castle Downton, and all the lights dim as Lady Mary prepares to unleash her frigid wrath.

“Relax, doll,” Shirley MacLaine says, and promptly invents the cocktail party. The day is saved!

“Oh sure, I’ll help save Dunston Arby’s!” MacMemaw says misleadingly. Turns out she meant she’s not giving you any money at all and you’re pretty much on your own. MacLaine Out! She’s off back to America never to be heard from again. (Kinda makes you feel like they blew their stunt-casting wad a bit early, huh?)

Of course one good thing that nobody cares about happened: Lady Edith managed to trick dottering old Sir Anthony into marrying her! Could yet more wedding bells be on the horizon for Dumbledor Abbot?