Downton Abbey, S05E02: “Episode 2”

…an episode reminding us all the importance of “a lively exchange of views.”

I don’t know about you, but I’m not sure how much more my heart can take of the high-stakes storytelling going on right now in this show.  Seriously, Downton, how is a man supposed to keep his ticker pumping with all this talk of getting a “wireless” at the estate?  Allow me to translate for those of you who aren’t fluent in ridiculously archaic British colloquialisms–and you definitely should consider taking night classes to brush up tbh: a wireless is apparently a term for a radio.  A radio, people!  A radio at Downton.   Banish the thought!  What is this, a brothel?

While the saga of the radio admittedly jumped the tracks and headed on a collision course with silliness**, it presented yet another example of the inexorable forward march of progress.  Problem is, I’m not sure we needed this reiterated, but since this plot strand climaxed with the likes of Mrs. Padmore boogeying down, I’ll allow it because reasons.

**It certainly didn’t help that Rose, a character with whom I’m not dying to spend any additional time, stood at the epicenter of this narrative thread.  Turns out, when homegirl’s not handing out arbitrary awards at local schools, she’s straight up repeating herself until Robert gives in rather than murdering her and feeding her to Isis.  Families, am I right?

Robert dubs the radio a waste of time and then, out of nowhere, reveals a deep-seated anger when he snaps at Cora that she wouldn’t understand his feelings because she’s American. Whoa there, pally! Holster those hate pistols and count to ten, would you? Anyhow, Robert concedes to keep the radio around even after he gets one just to hear the king speak, so he is coming around, don’t you see?  It’s a metaphor.  And now I’ve wasted more time than I meant to talking about this plot.  Damn you, Downton, you win again.

Hey, is it hot in here, or is it just Mary’s love triangle kicking the temperature up to 180 degrees?  Ha!  #mathhumor Seriously, you didn’t actually think Downton would make it that easy for our plucky, sexually adventurous heroine, did you?  I mean, sure, last week ended with #Gillinghammer inviting Mary to join him in the no-pants cha-cha, but it was only a matter of time before #BlaketheSnake would burst back onto the scene.  And did he ever!  Faster than you can say plot contrivance, Blake’s slithering his way back to Downton in the company of one Mr. Bricker**, some dude writing a book about a painter whose work happens to be featured in the hallowed halls of our favorite estate.  Um, sure?

**What is it with our characters this year, friends?  I mean, Mr. Bricker’s got a serious case of the hornies, what with his rather obvious eye-humping of Cora from across the room.  I’m not sure what it tells us about Robert when he assumes Bricker’s flirting with Isis and not his wife.  Um…Robbie?  Do I need to be worried about you?  #animalscience

Turns out #BlaketheSnake’s arrival is rather fortuitous, as it occurs days before Mary is meant to depart on her “sketching” trip with “Annabelle Portsmith.”  And when she says sketching, she means “sexing” and when she says Annabelle Portsmith, she means “#Gillinghammer.”  That’s right kids, Mary’s getting straight up duplicitous, and it’s wonderful, though she needs to work on the fine art of the cover story, as this one has Mr. Bates’s suspicions raised as being an uncharacteristically bohemian excursion for her.

Regardless, homegirl has preparations to make, leading her to send Anna on the most awkward errand ever in a great scene that allowed Joanna Froggatt to show off her comedic acting chops**.  You have to give it to #BlaketheSnake (Mary’s not…hey yo!) because he accepts the terms of his defeat with dignity, but not before engaging in a randy fireside chat with Mary on the eve of her departure for Liverpool.  #BlaketheSnake, you rascal!

**Anna should have a subplot this year where she continues to have to purchase prophylactics because that would be life-affirming. Seriously, her quest to buy a diaphragm for Lady Mary, from her awkward body language in the shoppe (#bringingitback) to her hurried exit, played perfectly.  But it was her realization afterward, upon decrying the proprietor’s shaming of her, that the real feminist heft of this thread came into sharp focus.

Speaking of rascals, it’s time for #MoseleyWatch!  Although there wasn’t so much as a drop of hair dye in sight in this second episode, he still remains my favorite sad sack on television.  Carson completely shutting down his inquiry about becoming first footman, all the while Moseley dared to balance pudding and sauce on the same tray, had me chuckling.  However, it was Mrs. Hughes interjecting that footmen weren’t likely long for this new world that sent me into full-on paroxysms of laughter.  Upon hearing her prediction, Moseley’s face contorts in a way not dissimilar to the distortion of features that would result from attempting to pass a whole, uncooked ham through one’s small intestine.  Discomfort is my point.

On top of that truthbomb, Moseley knows that Baxter is keeping secrets from him, and he struggles to keep his frustration tamped down until she reveals her thieving ways to him as he aggressively scrubs shoes for strictly symbolic purposes because those puppies were clean enough to eat off of.  I’m not sure about you, but I’m boarding the USS MosBax because I’m ‘shipping these two hard!

Meanwhile, the dynamo of local politics that is Mr. Carson commences the process of finding a place to build the Great War memorial.  Much to Robert’s incredulity, Carson suggests building it on a cricket pitch, and Robert gets all, “You do realize that if we do this, the terrorists win” which strikes me as ironic given the dog nipping at his heels.  You see, Robert thinks it better to build the memorial not in a place for silent reflection (as Carson says) but in the centre (#Britishspelling) of town where more people can appreciate it.

Enter Mrs. Hughes to break the tie, and she sides with…Robert!  Mr. Carson does not feel warm and fuzzy at the thought of what he initially perceives as betrayal from his favorite hand-holding beach buddy.  A coincidental run-in with a local widow, however, convinces him otherwise, and (ugh) Robert emerges victor of this no-stakes contest.  Finally we can put one in the win column for a white male one percenter.  Phew!

Speaking of percentages, Mrs. Padmore continues to be an utter delight when she arranges to have Ms. Sarah Bunting tutor Daisy with her maths problems.  To top it all off, she even insists on paying Bunting’s modest stipend out of her own pocket.  And how great was Mrs. Padmore’s response to Mrs. Hughes’s compliment about her generosity, wherein she essentially complains about making more work for herself?  Ha!  Classic Padmore.

Elsewhere, Jimmy’s sexcapade with Lady Anstruther leads to his termination from Downton (fare thee well, I guess?), Mr. Drewe asks #SadEdith to be be Marigold’s “sort of godmother” (whatever the hell that means) despite Mrs. Drewe’s palpable displeasure, Isobel discusses diabetes with Dr. Clarkson over tea because Wilford Brimley and then turns around to demand, rather forwardly, a stroll through Dicky Merton’s garden, and emo Thomas wonders why nobody loves him.

With one Mr. Willis arriving at Downton with news of a witness stepping forward to provide fresh insight into Mr. Green’s murder, this episode might as well have ended with a “dum dum dum…” before its fade to black.  Still, episode three will no doubt carry on with the high quality entertainment provided by these first two installments.

Until next time, Downtonites!


Snippets of Intrigue

– Jimmy [to Thomas]: “I’m sad to see the back of you.”

– Carson: “Since you are the only footman, you are first, second, third, and last.  Make what you will of it.”

– Bates: “I know you mean to lead me into further inquiry, but I couldn’t care less what you think, Thomas.  On that subject or any other.”

– Mrs. Hughes: “That’s a nice thing you’re doing.”

Mrs. Padmore: “Is it?  I think I’ve been a damn fool and doubled my workload.”  #padmorewisdom #padmore4president

– Carson: “I don’t like it when we’re not on the same side.”

Mrs. Hughes: “We’re different people, Mr. Carson.  We can’t always agree.”

Carson: “I know, but I don’t like it.”

– Mrs. Padmore [listening to the King on the radio]: “I suppose he can’t hear us.”  She’s a treasure, folks!  A treasure!

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