Downton Abbey S3/E7: There Goes the "Free Bates" T-shirt Industry
Twenty minutes in and I'm thinking "Doughboy, dude, if you kill Robert right now I will never make another uncharitable remark about your jawline because I cannot watch this grown-ass man throw one more little girly tantrum because you took his Barbies away."
But no. Nobody killed anybody and everyone continued to be absolutely and completely horrible. Seriously, you people who like this show, who are you rooting for? They're all awful.
So what happened?
Robert was mad. But now he's not.
Bates was in jail. And now he's not.
Ethel was a problem. But now she's gone.
She couldn't see her kid. But now she can.
Tom was going to leave and take the baby. Oh, now he's not.
He didn't have a job. Now he does.
Mary and her Doughboy can't have a baby! But now they can.
Thomas is in disgrace and is fired. But now he's not.
Georgina--I mean Rose is messing around with a married man! Not anymore.
Edith can't write for the newspaper! Oh, go ahead. Nobody cares what Edith does anyway.
And on and on. This is what I'm talking about. How can you get invested in any of the problems on this show when you know that it will be resolved with very little effort, pain or even deep thought within about fifteen minutes, thirty tops? I've seen episodes of Sesame Street with more dramatic tension than this show!
- Suddenly there are hall boys and names for a couple of the background maids.
- What does Julian Fellowes have against the Irish? Was his mother frightened by an Irish setter while carrying him?
- Edith's new boss looks exactly like her ex-fiance except for having two hands. And probably about the same age. Oh, and he likes Edith but he has an insane wife locked up somewhere. But he is no Mr. Rochester, so I will make no predictions about the burning down of the abbey because that would involve someone taking initiative and that ain't going to happen.
A note on the homophobia:
Carson and Alfred's reactions, repellent though they may be to our modern ears, are correct for the time. Everyone else pooh-poohing them and shrugging it all off, not so much. Particularly completely unbelievable that a hidebound traditionalist like Robert, who hates Catholics and won't let his daughter write for a newspaper would have such a cavalier attitude towards homosexuality. He'd be right there with Carson, handing out torches and pitchforks. With him, it wasn't so much historically incorrect as it was out-of-character and that's bad writing.
But I also felt manipulated by the way that particular part of the story was handled. From season one, Thomas has been a reprehensible snake-in-the-grass. He is a rotten person and there has never been one single glimpse of any other side of him (not counting the unearned head-scratching "You adored Lady Sybil and she adored you" moments.) And in season one, he is shown using his sexuality as a tool without so much as a twinge. Yet all of a sudden, we're supposed to feel....what? Bad for him because he's gay and got rejected? I felt like Fellowes was flinging this in the viewer's face, saying "Go ahead and keep hating on the gay guy, I dare you!" Sitting Thomas outside in the cold in a weepy heap doesn't change the fact that he's awful and doesn't make me care about what happens to him, whoever he prefers to have sex with.
But by all means, this troupe of idiots trip over themselves to retain a servant who has caused them no end of trouble and promises more of the same because...this show is crap.