WARNING! This article contains an obscene amount of spoiler alerts if you are not yet up to date.
I hate to resort to a crass and commonly used idiom, but, viscerally, it feels more accurate than anything else: The recent 2 hour episode of "Downton Abbey" really shit the bed.
Jesus Christ. What happened? This show used to be a character driven story that cleverly addressed inter-class relationships in a changing world. Now it can most charitably be described as a bipolar anglodramatic fuckfest.
This isn't to say it can't get better. Remember in season two of "Friday Night Lights" when someone KILLED A DUDE, but then the writers were like, "Our bad, guys!" and they went back to their roots, never to mention that story line again? "Downton Abbey" could try to do that kind of thing. But it doesn't seem like they will.
This show seems more likely to be following the path of "Heroes." I'm sorry, did you miss "Heroes" because you weren't between jobs and new to the Netflix Instant Queue in 2009? Well, I'll quickly explain. The first season of "Heroes" was really entertaining and good, but then, they ran out of ideas, brought time travel into the mix, and then nothing had real consequences anymore. If a character died, you didn't get upset because there was a good chance he'd somehow be back next week.
For a show to keep you engaged, you have to be convinced that what happens has meaning for the future of the story. But, now, in "Downton Abbey," people who couldn't walk can suddenly walk again, and inconvenient characters can just die with little more than 13 minutes of build up. As XOJane editor Julieanne pointed out in an Downton-complainy-email-back-and-forth, nothing seems to have weight anymore.
And the characters' motivations no longer seem to be rooted in anything. Lord Grantham and this maid have no real chemistry, but they sure have been in about 5 scenes together! Apparently, it's time to make out. It feels like the writers are just randomly matching up characters to plots like on a chore wheel, and then jotting the script down on scratch paper.
"Hmmm, Bates and..... suspected murder. Sounds good. Write it up."
None of this means we can't all still enjoy the show, though. I will continue to watch it and get excited for each upcoming episode. But, for now, I will feel no obligation to show it a tremendous amount of respect. Before, I had refrained from openly mocking the show because I, for some reason, wanted to treat something I liked so much with reverence. No longer. What follows are five scenes I have taken out of context from the last episode in order to unfairly ridicule it. This is how we can have fun with this show moving forward.
In this first out-of-context clip, it's fun to imagine that Lord Grantham is finding out for the first time that, the night before, Matthew was being boring and making shitty jokes.
"Ugh, Matthew was soooo lame.""He was?!"
This next bit of dialogue perfectly sums up our evolving feelings about the quality of the show's writing over the course of this episode.
Here, we have a moment that made me pause my DVR because I was laughing so hard.
This clip I would love to show somebody who has never seen the show before and make them guess what on earth has been going on.
And, finally, there is this moment. The incongruity of Thomas freaking out and the beginning of the scene that immediately follows is perfect.