It never fails that at some point in the season, I start hate-watching Downton Abbey. It’s also at this point where I start seriously considering to not watch the next season.
I think Downton Abbey should seriously consider stopping while they’re ahead. Five seasons is pretty good for a television show, but I can’t bear watching a sixth if the writing is going to be this lazy.
It might not seem like it, but there’s a reason why I ask seemingly simple questions about the show on Twitter, such as why does Carson have a bond with Mary. I mean, yes, we know that he supposedly sees her as the daughter he never had or just has a bond with her because she’s the first-born. But what I mean by “why does he have a bond” is WHY does Fellowes think we should care?
As Tom and Lorenzo say in their expert recap, Fellowes keeps up with storylines that seem only to matter to him. The frustrations of some of the viewers don’t matter, the quality of writing doesn’t matter; it’s just a big fanfiction party with cool costumes and snappy repartee. Does Edith hiding her child really matter in the long run? Not at all, because no drama’s going to come of it. We already see Grantham readily accepting the child, saying inane stuff like how surprised he is to find that he already loves the child. WHUT? If this were a capable show, like Grantchester, which comes on right after Downton Abbey, you could totally expect there to be some feelings and emotions at stake. In Downton Abbey, though? It’s all solved as the family is walking back to the house after the war memorial dedication.
Will Branson really leave? As much as it does seem like Branson (and Allen Leech?) want to leave, I sincerely doubt he will. Fellowes doesn’t want anything to change, despite the fact that the core element of character-building is to see how they change in different circumstances!!!
If this show were written with any sense of drama, stakes, character development and basic human psychology, Mary and Edith would have grown up and become mature enough to bury their long-standing imaginary feud. Grantham and Cora would have divorced or at least be very close to it. It would have taken much longer for Matthew to fall in love with Mary. Mary would be a little bit concerned about her son, or, if she’s heartless all around, we’d see how she’s making her son grow up with mother issues. Above all, Grantham would have a tough time accepting Edith’s child, a child he might consider to be a bastard child, seeing how Edith wasn’t married.
As it stands, storylines of “change” only show actual change in unrealistic bursts and then keeps them at a base, immature level of growth. Like Daisy suddenly becoming a regular Karl Marx, talking about the bourgeoisie and the working people. I get that she learned a lot from Ms. Bunting and Molesley, but would she realistically become this enlightened in a short amount of time when she’d been dim to the world many years before? I’m not saying she’s stupid or incapable of learning, but could we see her explore this new world of education in a much more interesting way than have her repeat the same parrotted lines all the time? Show her reading a book late at night in her room, Fellowes? Show her writing something! ANYTHING!
Why did this episode start with Rose and Atticus’ marriage, anyway? I thought there was going to be some real drama when it came to Rose and Atticus’ parents, particularly since Rose’s mom was the one trying to ruin her own daughter’s happiness by framing Atticus as a philanderer. But it was solved as quickly as it had begun, which is a shame, because there was some real characterization in Atticus’ father that could have been worked with and explored. He wanted to create a Jewish dynasty that would rival the white Anglicans he despises, yet he seemed in support of the gruesome Jallianwala Bagh massacre in Amritsar. But we waste all of this potential complex villainy with a simple “The thing is done” or whatever he said. Hmph.
And what the heck was that Thomas/Denker/new footman subplot? What was the drama? Why were we supposed to care about it? What was happening?!?!? I had wrongly assumed that Fellowes was actually going to give Thomas a friend in the footman, but…Thomas is now creepily telling the footman to to listen to “your Uncle Thomas”? WHAT IS HAPPENING?!
SIGH. I’m actually mad, but I’m also actually a little depressed. Not even Rose and Atticus’ thoroughly modern marriage (at the courthouse with a reception afterwards) could really lift my mood at the tone-deafness of the script. Everything could have happened, but nothing did.
Photo credit: Nick Briggs/Carnival Films 2014 for MASTERPIECE