Thursday, February 18, 2016

Downton Abbey Update: Season 6, Episode 7

Man the Countess was dropping classic lines all over the place on her way to the South of France last Sunday night, first noting that "my reason for traveling is to make myself eager to come home . . . a month among the French should manage it." She then followed that stinger by noting that her return wouldn't occur "until nostalgia has smothered my fury," a sentiment which many of us could apply to family holiday gatherings. The Countess is like a polished-up British version of Donald Trump and I mean that as a compliment. It would be fitting if those lines along with her verbal evisceration of Mrs. Cruikshank prove to be her swan song because she deserves to go out on top based on her body of work whether you like her or not. Just like Kobe.

We were going to feature
Shkreli here but that guy
scares the crap out of us.
The same can't be said for Mr. Barrow, however, who now appears to be on a collision course with the same fate as Lane Pryce from Mad MenYou have to give Julian Fellowes credit for somehow conning us into awkward feelings of sympathy for the show's answer to Martin Shkreli. Barrow's fate is probably not suicide, however, because Fellowes is a master of diversionary tactics but there's part of me that hopes it does end that way just so Mr. Carson can discover the swinging corpse in the kitchen and dismissively say "Mr. Barrow, do please get down from there and resume your search for alternate employment." 

No, Mr. Barrow isn't getting off that easily. Remember that the only servants who are allowed to die at Downton Abbey are the ones who go off to war and get shot by the enemy like William Mason. Superficial self-inflicted wounds like Barrow's don't count. William earned his honorable discharge from the show with an act of bravery on the battlefield. Barrow is nothing more than an under-butler with highly questionable proclivities and appears doomed to live the rest of his days occupying the purgatory that is Mr. Molesly's vacated footman job. I'm sure there's some greater meaning to Barrow's story of descent and, if I'd actually ready Dante's Divine Comedy in college like I was supposed to, I could write something about it that at least sounded intelligent but I didn't. I did, however, watch a lot of Rockford Files reruns though. Tuition well spent. Let's press on.

While all the primary characters stayed intact, we did get some wholly predictable collateral damage at the racetrack. The only question leading-up to the inevitable crash in Turn 1 was who it would claim and we should've known because nothing portends death on a show like Downton Abbey more than cringe worthy sophomoric banter. The quick if not dull wit of Charlie Rogers got him planted in a ditch by the side of the road under a flaming Matchbox car. The poor bastard might as well have been wearing a red Star Trek uniform because he was doomed from the moment he walked onto the screen.   

Best television opening
theme and sequence
And that brings us to the Crawley sisters. Edith has decided to mull over a marriage proposal from perhaps the most stable and grounded male character the show has ever produced. Sure he doesn't have a pot to piss in but Edith is already rich and owns an apparently successful magazine so she could buy him such a pot. If the examples of her past major life decisions are any indication, particularly with regards to men, she will surely reject the proposal and immediately fall for a man showing all of the early symptoms of Polio.  

Mary, on the other hand, flat-out announced that she's running in the other direction despite the uplifting advice from Chauffeur Tom that, if she commits to love again, she will absolutely be devastated because that's what love is all about. If Tom ever gets tired of being so useful around the property, he's got a great future as a writer of melancholy country music ballads. Then again, he's Irish so his people wrote the book on suffering long before he sold them out for afternoon tea and tuxedos at dinner. 

So where do we go from here? Well Lord Grantham's miraculous recovery has to be a mirage and the communal joy surrounding the welcoming of Tiaa the puppy was just a set-up for the inevitable and tragic sweeping of the knee. The demise of opulence needs a name and a face to go with it and that has to be Robert Crawley, the man who acknowledges its impending arrival but also fondly remembers it at its peak when the servants didn't just bring you lunch, they presented it as a grand buffet fit for a state dinner. At the rate things are currently going, however, life wouldn't be worth living in five years anyway. Might as well get out now while you can still get a cucumber sandwich served-up by a depressed footman in this bitch.    

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