Thursday, June 13, 2013

Mad Men: Poor Sally (Pt. One Million) and Peggy Got a Cat

Add to the list of Things Sally Will Never Unsee
*sigh* *deep sigh* I mean, will there ever be an episode of MM with Sally where I don't hold my breath the entire episode and then something horrible happens to her and I end up saying "Poor Sally" for days and days?  (Rhetorical. We all know the answer.) And although I am serious when I say this happens every time, it doesn't lessen the shock and disgust we all felt when Sally saw Don with Sylvia. My mind was putting all the pieces together as she was entering the kitchen and just when I was thinking "oh, I hope they're not doing it when Sally..." BOOM! OF COURSE THEY WERE DOING IT WHEN SALLY WALKS IN. I felt a lot like Don looked following that scene. Let's pause and recap Poor Sally's experiences to date: Glen Bishop, gets caught masturbating at sleepover, grandfather lets her drive then dies, mom and dad divorce, new stepdad Henry, new stepmom Megan, often responsible for younger brothers, gets period while playing hooky with Glen Bishop, nasty stepgrandmother Pauline is mean and freaks her out by talking about nurses getting murdered, sees other stepgrandmother Marie and Roger getting it on at a restaurant, has random run-in with thief who plays mindgames about knowing her father (while home alone with brothers). AND THESE ARE ONLY THE ONES I REMEMBER!
Please give this girl an Emmy RIGHT FREAKING NOW!
Can something good happen to this girl?! And even with listing all of these not-awesome, potentially life-altering experiences, I think this episode with Don is the final straw for our Poor Sally. Her relationship with Betty never really was and now her beloved Dad is a liar and a cheat. I don't think Sally recovers from this, really. I've written about Poor Sally at length in previous entries, so I will just leave it at this... beatnik or hippie? Cuz it's one or the other next season.  (Aside: I'm no psychiatrist, but if I was I would say these awesome things. I bet.)

Let's talk Don Draper. This season has certainly been a seemingly long, strange journey with us seeing Don uncharacteristically not in control due to lots of mind altering events, both pharmacological and just life. In previous episodes, Don was in altered states due to B12 shots (ha!) and some damn powerful hashish business. Oh, and that almost drowning thing. Arguably the most powerful mindbending that has happened, however, has been delving into his own memories. It started with a cough and then we were privy to how Don was raised in a brothel and through multiple scenes, we are left to think that Don's attitude toward sex is... what? I think up until this point, Don's attitudes, shaped so young, were tied into power, money and not anything to do with love really. However, it's no coincidence that Don is uncovering memories of the prostitute who cared for him while he was sick then slept with him now that he is so into Sylvia. His first and probably true association of sex is that of caring and motherly love. And who is a more overtly caring mom than Sylvia? Sylvia keeps saying that no one was supposed to fall in love during their affair, but I think Don is in love with Sylvia and probably for the first time in his life. I'm not sure that Don ever loved Betty or Megan (even in trippy, hashish-induced, near-death experiences... you'll recall that he was envisioning Megan as a "second chance" not necessarily his love. Also, he already messed up that second chance.).
I felt like this after that scene, too
The question now is, does Don have the self-awareness at this point to realize that what Sally witnessed directly parallels his own young life experiences? Will he acknowledge that Sally probably needs to talk about this? I want to say that based on Don's reaction post-event, i.e. pacing in lobby, not sure what to do or where to go, he will have a new understanding and sympathy for Sally. But my sad, realistic bet is it all gets swept under the rug, as usual. We all know, though, that things swept under rugs don't always stay there.

Speaking of which, Peggy's discussion with
Pete's mom threw her and all of us back to
Problem solved
Seasons 1&2 ("think of your baby together") and simultaneously reminded us all of Peggy and Pete's painful history (painful for her, I don't know what for him) and just how far Peggy has come since then, mostly due to Don telling Peggy to sweep the baby and subsequent hospitalization under rug ("this never happened"). This sets us up for one of those quintessential Mad Men scenes, where it seems like nothing is happening, but SO MUCH IS HAPPENING: Peggy, Pete and Ted stuck in a bar, flight grounded due to weather. The chemistry between Ted and Peggy was so palpable that even Pete could see it. Then Ted leaves and it gives Pete and Peggy some bonding time where they talk about Pete's mom, among other things, and then Pete acknowledges that Peggy really knows him and Peggy acknowledges the same. Not in any sexual way, just the kind of way where two people share a history. But by the time Ted comes back, wether or not he thinks something is happening between Pete and Peggy I don't know, but he definitely feels like a third wheel at the table. We find out later that this is probably when Ted decides to check out of the Peggy chemistry class and devote time to his homelife. This is a typical Peggy scene this season. This whole season has seemingly been about the mad men in her life letting her down, leaving her on her own, shutting her out... scurrying away, if you will. Don keeps shutting doors on her, Ted rebuffs her when she says her and Abe broke up (or more hilariously "he was stabbed" and they broke up), Abe leaves (obvi), even Stan Rizzo says no to helping her deal with rats in her apartment. But when we see our industrious Peggy Olson has solved the actual rat problem by getting a cat, we are certain that she will deal with her other rat problem with as much ingenuity and confidence in being by herself.
"Frenchy, that wise, wise sage" - Peggy Olson
And now, the Bob Benson discussion. Even though the big news from this episode is that Bob Benson revealed himself to be gay, the real news is there is no news! Bob Benson continues to be as mysterious as ever! So Bob hits on (of all people!) Pete Campbell in a subtle, not-so-subtle way. This does not necessarily explain everything. While I feel other people are sort of saying "Oh, that's it, that explains why he's such a mystery," I just can't get on board with that. I'm still as mystified as ever. I guess that argument is that Bob is gay and doesn't talk about his personal life for fear of retribution? But that was never the enigma of Bob Benson... he is definitely not lacking in confidence (thanks in part to those trusty self-help albums!). It has always been about how he seems to be everywhere all the time just when people need him, often with coffee. Bob seems to know how to read people, and wether that's in order to get ahead, or wether he's a genuinely helpful nice guy or a secret spy, we still don't know and his being gay (or not) doesn't answer any of that. Yet. Could it be that Bob is picking up on something with Pete that he thinks revealing that he his gay could somehow help him advance in the company?
ooooo.... mysterious... or not. I don't know.
I mean, it seems out of character for Bob to make such a bold reveal without having some sort of indication, right? Or not. Like I said, Bob seems to be a confident guy not afraid to take chances, so perhaps this is Bob Benson completely embracing his homosexuality and is confident in showing it.  Pete is clearly not on board with this, though I am not sure Bob is convinced of this based on his facial expression leaving Pete's office. But as with everything else Bob Benson, does that facial expression say "oh crap, but I'm going to hide it" or "he'll be mine?" It's a mystery........

Other Things:
- In writing this entry, I'm reminded of Don's "this never happened mantra" (he has used that more than a few times) and I have a sudden, horrible fear: is Mad Men going to end like Lost??!?!?!?  Oh My God... I can't even...
- Looking back at what I am writing about Sylvia, the motherly love sex thing works, however, I am reminded that the most powerful relationships Don has had with women, namely Anna Draper and Peggy have been decidedly non-sexual. Are these Don's most powerful relationships with women?
- Need to talk about Ted more. He has his own issues going on with Don Draper. I feel a great synergy between how Ted feels now and how Peggy felt for a long time, until she walked away. Sooner or later, Ted will understand that he treats everyone that way. He's not really special. But for now it makes for some great lines: "Imagine if every time Ginger Rogers jumped in the air, Fred Astaire punched her in the face."

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Mad Men S6 Ep7 Man with a Plan - Don Draper, Dickier Than Ever and I Don't Mean Whitman

Part (most?) of the appeal of our beloved Don Draper is that he is kind of a dick. We marvel at how he gets away with being such a jerk to so many people. In a lot of ways, we root for him because he IS able to be the ass we all want to be in certain situations. We're able to root for him because his jerkiness is mitigated by charm, intellect, wit and sometimes even a genuine emotion or two. However, last night Don was at his all time dick high, and though he tried, he certainly didn't have enough of those other things to temper it. We've seen glimpses before, of course, where Don's jerkiness outweighs his charm, but somehow he always wins in the end. And we love a winner! These cracks in his jerk armor seemed to be a bit larger last night, and the witty, charming, intellectual repair kit wasn't working. But does this mean we love him less? As with all things Mad Men, it's complicated...
Through both Ted and Sylvia's characters, we are seeing how Don's relying on his old jerk tricks aren't really working anymore. Well, at least not all the time these days. At first, Ted is seduced by Don's alpha-male actions and tries to go toe-to-toe with him in both drinking and brainstorming. Don seemingly wins that round, as Ted eventually defers to Don's thoughts on the Fleichman's margarine account and then stumbles out to the creatives and tries to have a political discussion while glaringly hammered. Feeling defeated and deflated, he finds comfort in the words of partner Frank, who tells him from his hospital bed, "go in there and act like you own half the place." He does waaaaaay more than that by actually piloting a Mowhawk plane to meet the bigwigs at Mowhawk, with a sweating, nervous, practically peeing-in-his-pants Don in the passenger seat. As Don says to Ted when he suggests he start thinking about his presentation, "why bother? It doesn't matter what I say, you'll still be the guy who flew us there." Round two: Ted! ding! ding!
The future's so bright, I gotta wear shades.
The End
Likewise, at the start of the hotel interlude with Sylvia, Don exerts himself as the super-supreme-alpha-male by saying things like "find my shoes... crawl on your hands and knees until you find them if you have to" and "in this room you serve my fantasies" and then forbids her to leave the room. (Much more on this difficult scene below in Other Things section.) Clearly, Don is desperate to assert himself in this facet of his life, since work stuff is keeping him off-kilter: New guy Ted already didn't wait 40 minutes for him for a meeting (!) and just cut him down some pegs in that plane. At first, Sylvia seems into this, this escape from reality where she doesn't have to think about her husband or worry about her son in a burning France. But soon enough - what, a day? 2? 3? who knows - she decides enough is enough and they have to get back to reality. She ends it. Not just the hotel fantasy but the whole affair. WHO EVER ENDS ANYTHING WITH DON DRAPER?  Oh wait, Peggy...

Is Peggy the greatest character ever? I think maybe. I mean, besides knowing the origin of margarine, Peggy is having none of Don's old tricks either. She was piiiissssssed when Ted was stumbling around drunk, knowing it was all part of Don's game. In a truly fantastic scene with Peggy and Don, when Peggy tries to question why no one talked to her about the merger, Don tries to cut her down by sarcastically saying "right, the whole merger was so we could have you complaining here in the office again." But Peggy don't play that anymore. She firmly tells Don that she hoped Ted would rub off on him and not the other way around.  Don ain't the big man anymore, and he's stuck in a time when he was. He's stuck in a time when women would do his bidding and he ruled the office. Ted, by contrast, gives up his seat for secretaries in meetings and says things like "groovy." Oh, and fully appreciates all that Peggy is and has to give, whereas Don is nothing but negative to her these days. "Move forward" says Peggy to Don, and we slow clap in admiration.
Meghan seems to be the only one these days who is still looking at Don with starry eyes. Based on their couch scene, however, that seems about to change for her. For us, it's already happened.

Other Things:
- I think the timing of this episode is both really, really unfortunate and also somewhat apropos. After obsessively watching the news regarding the 3 young women who were held in captivity in Ohio for 10 years, I was kind of horrified and sickened at watching Don succeed in mental manipulation of Sylvia in the hotel room. Yes, I get Sylvia was into it and Don's actions towards Sylvia in the hotel room were not violent, just escapism, but the parallels are too close. At one time this may have been just more of Don being Don - seeing how far he can go - but after the truly horrifying real-world event of someone keeping women captive, it was very difficult to hear Don making commands and watching Sylvia succumb to staying in the room from just his words. I am wondering now if without the Ohio events this scene would have been shocking for Don's character or just a bit of a stretch for him. But for me, the events in Ohio lent some very serious gravitas to these scenes that were probably originally written to be a bit off-putting, but sexy and interesting. Originally, these scenes were meant to show Don asserting himself in an extreme way in this facet of his life, and yes it was portrayed as escapism. But with Ohio top-of-mind, it's scary to see that Don's "escapism" is being a horrible, domineering, narcissistic asshole who wants to control Sylvia as his possession. (Pit this against Meghan's idea of escapism which is to go back to Hawaii and you see what I mean.)  So in this respect, perhaps because of timing, we are seeing something the writers didn't intend, but is there nonetheless. I don't think I'm the only one that made this connection.  (True confession: I'm pretty sure that while this has left a bad taste in my mouth, I will still be rooting for Don Draper. Somehow he will find a way. It's complicated!)
More cowbell!
- Ginsberg is my cowbell... MORE GINSBERG! I want to see Ginsberg interact with more people in the office. What happened to inter-office relationships? We need more of these! With Ginsberg!
- Bob saves Joan! Yay! That's why he's there!
- Pete is heading for a serious breakdown. And I am getting so sick of his whiny ass.
Reach out of the darkness

- The closing credits with the newscaster talking about Bobby Kennedy being shot juxtaposed with the strains of Reach Out of The Darkness: "I think it's so groovy now that people are finally getting together" is BEYOND GENIUS! This is a Chaotic Time with a capital "C" - for Don, for the office, for everyone. How does anyone find a sense of safety or control in all of this?

Let me know your thoughts on this episode! What's Don's next move - dumping Meghan? Or just finding a new conquest? Did you have the same thoughts relating Sylvia in the hotel to the events in Ohio? What do you think of Peggy? Ted? Bob? Hit the comments!

Friday, February 22, 2013

A Truck Full of Zombies - The Walking Dead Episodes 9 & 10

This means war. I bet.

So let's sum up the last two Walking Dead episodes (The Suicide King and Home) this way: 1 hour and 45 minutes of DUMB and 15 minutes of such sheer BRILLIANCE that it makes up for previous stated DUMB.

After lulling us into a state of aggravation and boredom with the dumb (seriously, I was getting Season-2-in-the-abandoned-church-in-the-middle-of-the-woods-looking-for-Sophia aggravated. Wait, that might not be fair... I don't think I was ever as aggravated as watching The Suicide King.), that single shot out of nowhere hitting Axel as he's talking to Carol was fantastic! We all knew The Governor was coming, although it seems like Hershel was a little slow on that concept, but I just love the suddenness of that scene. No forewarning, no long shots of The Governor driving towards the prison, just blam - Axel down! (Here is where we should talk about "why weren't they better prepared for an attack? why did they think they had so much time? why was no one on lookout?" etc. but that's all part of the dumb and I will save all that for my List of Gripes below.) And then it was blam blam blam - Hershel is in the grass! Rick is outside the gate! The Governor was gleefully just raining bullets onto them! And THEN THEY DROVE A TRUCK FULL OF ZOMBIES INTO THE PRISON! Two-fold terrifying awesomeness here because there's truckload of zombies in the prison but also the gate is now demolished. These last 15 minutes of Home hopefully will set the tone for the rest of the season and the pace will stay steadily manic, just how we like it.

Before we get to my List of Gripes (also known as The Dumb), let me assure you that I understand the context of where we are/were in the show as of last week: Even though we (viewers) got a big break, time hasn't moved on for our survivors. The baby is only a week old we're told! So, yes, I get it: in the context of the show, Lori JUST died, Glenn and Maggie were JUST saved and Rick probably hasn't slept in 100 years. But why come back to us with a sluggish, seemingly contrived character set-up for many of our friends (I'm looking at you Andrea!)? Hindsight is 20-20 I guess and you could argue that the entire The Suicide King episode was solely to set up the last 15 minutes of Home, but I must point out the following Gripes:

Hear my words of inspiration! Even though
I have no idea what's happening! 
I mean, seriously... what the actual HELL is going on here? Are we to believe that she is so blinded by finding comfort in a walled community and in the arms of some dude that she will turn a blind eye (no pun intended) to the depravity that surrounds her at every turn? Let's take stock for a minute...  what does she know? By my calculations she has seen The Governor's zombie heads, seen the little zombie girl he locked up, she has Michonne telling her he's awful (and she SHOULD trust her more than anyone), she has witnessed more than one pit fight, including one that set Daryl against Merle...with zombies! She now knows that Maggie and Glenn and Daryl were all there and The Governor didn't tell her. So this all rolls up to "get me the hell out of here!" right? Somehow, no. Somehow this results in her immediately telling The Governor not to push her away and then becoming the worst soliloquy deliverer de facto spokesperson for the Woodbury community. Barf. I suppose it's telling that she didn't put a bullet in that guy's head before The Governor did. Old Andrea wouldn't have hesitated for a second. I know the show wants us to see that she's getting too comfy, and I could buy that if she was more sheltered from the shit she has seen, but given what we know, I have to interpret this as D-U-M-B. Andrea better wake up superfast, or is our kick-ass Andrea becoming the new *gasp* Lori?

The  Glenn-Michonne plan was not to be
I am so frustrated by how the show is portraying Michonne. Yes, yes... she is soooo independent. She keeps to herself. She doesn't trust anyone. Okay already. Can she at least say three words? Like "I know Andrea" would have been helpful before Merle said it. And as I said before, I get that Michonne is still 'new' to the team in the context of the show, but haven't we spent enough time with her character that she can, you know, open up a little bit? Especially with Rick. I understand that Rick is "walking Crazytown" (Glenn's words), but he should be able to see by now that Michonne knows what's up. She brought baby formula! It's hair-pullingly frustrating to watch her not speak. And ridiculous at this point.  Get on with it! I have to say, however, that I was encouraged to see in Home that she talked about what she knew about The Governor (heads as trophies, etc.) and I was getting psyched for the Glenn-Michonne attack plan, but alas, The Governor beat them to it.

Rick's Psychotic Episode
Wait, I have to look at this now? BAH!
I just don't even know what to say about this one. I guess in hindsight maybe the show felt they needed this to get Rick outside the gates when The Governor attacks? But damn this is so contrived and for me, totally unnecessary (I mean he could have been outside the gates for some other reason). And as far as trying to show us just how damaged Rick is, yes, yes, Rick's mind is exploding. He has a new baby and a dead wife. Psychotic break and all that. We got that from the telephone. But actually showing us Ghost Lori in a white dress flitting about the forest? BAH! I say BAH! I mean chuck-something-at-the-TV BAH!

** End List of Gripes **

I haven't even talked about Daryl and Merle yet! The fact that Daryl chose to go with Merle broke my heart. Yeah I got it, he had guilt about leaving him on the roof and big brother stuff, but ugh... how horrible. So to see Daryl wake up to himself in the woods and give that nasty Merle what-for, that was solid character development there. Aside: clever visual clue that Daryl was starting to trust himself more when Merle is telling him that the river is not whatever river Daryl said it was, and then we see the sign that it is. So what are they going to do with Merle now, now that he's essentially helping to save Rick from zombies? My guess is lock him up in a cell, if they even let him in at all. I still think this is all part of The Governor's plan to get Merle into the prison and then Merle takes them out from inside.

Other Stuff: 
- I'm not sure how to feel about Glenn and Maggie. I am thoroughly enjoying raged-out Glenn and he has every single right to be. I don't get the Maggie part of making what happened with The Governor somehow come between them. But this all seems to be resolving itself anyway.
- I wonder if Tyrese and his clan hear the commotion and come back to help out?
- Poor Carol! This chick has endured some shit, amirite? Abusive husband, dead zombie daughter, Daryl chooses Merle over her (essentially), and the dude who's kind of into her drops dead right next to her (although she uses his body as a shield so that's good). I wonder how she'll respond to Daryl coming back? In her speech to Beth (aka the only one who takes care of that baby!), she says she feels like she's a different person, but if Ed came through the door, she'd like to think she'd kick him out but she's not sure. Is this foreshadowing that she is going to distance herself from Daryl? Or is this clever symmetry that Carol is musing over her abusive relationship at the same time Daryl is essentially coming to his own realization that the abuse he endured will not define him any longer? I hope for the latter and that these two will be BFFs again.
- Was anyone else hoping that Hershel had some sleepy drug up his sleeve that he would just inject Rick with to make him sleep. Don't they know that a nice nap makes everything better? No naps for these peeps for a long time now.

What do you think of Rick's psychotic break? Is Ghost Lori just too damn much? What will they do with Merle? Will Andrea wake up and start kicking ass or what? Does anyone even know/give a crap what Carl is doing anymore? Break it down for me in the comments!

Monday, January 28, 2013

The Sweetest Spirit - Downton Abbey

I want to watch this episode again (Season 3, Episode 4), but I don't think I can. Crying, sobbing, ripping up the living room rug to use as Kleenex does not even come close to describing how devastating it was to watch this episode. The fact that ANYTHING else happened in this episode is incredulous. However, that's sort of the reality, isn't it? Horrible things happen but life goes on and other stuff happens. People are in prison trying to get out, prostitutes are getting real jobs and girls and boys have crushes on boys. I'll get to the other stuff in a bit, but let's dive in to the Sybil saga...

So, I'm ordering my TEAM DR. CLARKSON t-shirt today, who's with me? The episode opens with Dr. Clarkson checking on Sybil and assuring everyone things are moving along, baby is imminent and he'll be checking in on her. A poignant handshake from Tom to the good doctor at the top of the stairs after Doc assures Tom that everything is okay was a wee bit o' foreshadowing I would say. But of course Robert has to get all Lord of Grantham on us and get the esteemed Dr. Tapsell from London to deliver Sybil's baby. Why? The real reason is because he delivers all the hoity-toity babies these days, but Robert rationalizes that Dr. Clarkson misdiagnosed Matthew and didn't see threatening signs with Lavinia (can you say streeeeeeeetch?). Cora immediately argues the unfairness of those accusations and negotiates Dr. Clarkson at least being a consult.  Suddenly things are not going well for Sybill, and Dr. Clarkson is concerned: she's mentally "muddled" and her ankles are swollen, signs of eclampsia. Dr., Tapsell's response: maybe she has thick ankles. Dr. Clarkson: but, she doesn't. Right there tells you that Cora is right, Dr. Clarkson knows Sybil better than anyone when it comes to medical biz. So here is where I said out loud "oh my god, they are going to kill Sybil." But in my heart, I was hoping for a good ol' Downton fake-out. The doctors are arguing and consulting the family, Robert fully on Dr. Dipshit's side, who is saying this is all part of the childbirth process, no worries. Cora is fully on Dr. Clarkson's side saying she would've had Sybil in the hospital an hour ago. But in the end, as the Dowager says, "the decision lies with the chauffer." I was convinced that Tom would definitely side with his handshake buddy, but Tom doesn't even get the chance because Sybil gives birth to a gorgeous baby girl. Happy days! Everyone can go to bed now. Phew.

truly awful
And then Dr. Clarkson's worst fears come true. But no dainty, eloquent Lavinia-like death scene for our Sybil. The writers want us to feel all of this, and rightly so since this is our Sybil! (oh, and she shouldn't be dying! because they should have listened to Dr. Clarkson!) Of all the the excruciating parts of this scene - Cora and Tom begging Sybil to breath, Robert yelling at the doctors, the doctors just standing by because there is nothing to be done - the most horrific has to be Sybil herself screaming in pain and then writhing, suffocating on the bed. This seemed to go on forever. (Where is Dr. Doug Ross to make a tracheotomy out of a Bic pen?!) Alas, Sybil is gone and I am surprised Dr. Dipshit wasn't beaten to a pulp right there in the room. To be honest, I had to pause the show here and get out some hearty sobs so I could even see the TV. And then there's the baby girl crying down the hallway. (*pause TV again* *sob uncontrollably*)

"my baby"
As the stunned family continues to weep, a shocked (and seemingly distant) Robert states "This can't be. She's only 24. This just can't be." This is really the only reaction we see on-screen from Robert, which pains me. We do not see him grieve at all, and I wonder if this was done purposefully to make us hate him a little bit more because we blame him for his part in this. Rationally I understand he is devastated and grieved off-screen, but I feel that I really need to see him grieve to make him seem human. As remote as Robert seemed, Cora was very present in the moment. Grasping at Sybil in the bed during her ordeal, and then sitting by her side later in the night. This scene by far was the most real and tender. After Mary asks if she wants to be alone and Cora says yes (and tells Mary to tell Robert to sleep elsewhere. Boom!) those lingering moments between Cora and her "baby" were so touching and horrible. Her words were beautiful, but the long pauses were almost unbearable. "You are my baby and you always will be." (Full disclosure: I am crying as I type this, just remembering this scene.)

Meanwhile, downstairs everyone is shocked and saddened as well, and that was as hard to watch as anything. Even Thomas pulled at my heartstrings with his tears and his heartfelt words about Sybil being kind to him. Mrs. Hughes says it all when she says "the sweetest spirit under this roof is gone."

As if to directly support that statement upstairs, when Edith proposes to Mary that with Sybil gone now, perhaps they should try to get along better in the future (aside: is she for serious here? this is the second time she has said something similar in three weeks!), Mary in her bitchiest Mary way says basically "No, no... but let's hug here next to Sybil." Damn, this girl can be awful.

no words
I must say I was shocked that Sybil was taken from us. And in the worst, I mean, truly in the worst way... she just had her baby! I had read that there would be a death during the season, but of course I was sidetracked by Mrs. Hughes ordeal, I guess, and also assumed it would be later in the season. And while Downton is prone to just sweeping things under the rug, this will have far-reaching implications on Downton. I mean, if I'm this devastated, they have to be, right? RIGHT?! The obvious questions are: Is Cora mad enough at Robert that it ruins the marriage? Divorce? Or co-habitation but nothing else? What will that mean to Downton? Will Mary ever want to have a baby after watching her sister die in childbirth? Who will raise Sybil's baby? Is Tom going to live his whole life at Downton? Is he going to split and leave the baby with the Crawley clan? Or take the baby away somewhere? And will he name the baby...sniff... Sybil?

I guess some other stuff happened on last night's episode...

Other, non-Sybil related things:
- please, PLEASE move this Bates thing along and get him out of prison. I was so happy that it seemed like things were moving fast in this episode, but I fear the worst. And by worst I mean that they will drag this out for more than one more episode.
- the Daisy, Ivy, Alfred, Jimmy (and Thomas?) love triangle polygon is very interesting if not a little heartbreaking. I want Daisy and Alfred to be happy together, but I don't want Alfred treating Daisy like the runner-up. And this whole Thomas - Jimmy thing is destined to be baaaaaaad newwwwws for one or both. I'm thinking really, really bad since O'Brien is involved.
- Oh, Isobel Crawley and your causes and dreams! Good for her for having the strength of character to hire Ethel (who frankly, I thought would be a never-heard-from-again after last episode) in the face of social suicide. But in the end, the woman seems to really like her dinner and tea, and Ethel sucks at that. I did laugh out loud when Mrs. Bird was essentially giving her notice and said that she couldn't risk people thinking that she did what Ethel did and Isobel replied, "no one could look at you and think that." Zing!
- blah blah blah Matthew and his business ideas for Downton blah blah blah Mary so mad blah blah blah
- also, I hope Matthew realizes now that he asked the wrong Doc for sperm advice

What did you think of the episode? Were you as devastated as I was about Sybil's death? Are you so sick of Bates in prison? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Poor Edith is the Name of My Band... and Other Downton Abbey Things

I don't understand what he's saying either, Edith! What is he saying?!
Poor Edith!  I mean, POOR EDITH! I knew something was going to go awry with Edith and her bliss, since I had read some spoilery things in Entertainment Weekly and other places. I thought perhaps our Sir Anthony would possibly have a heart attack or die in some horrible way soon after the wedding. Then as I was watching the latest episode (Season 3, Episode 2), I thought he might have a heart attack right there at the wedding, given how absolutely pallid he looked. NEVER, let me repeat, NEVER did I think he would leave her there at the alter! Did anyone think he had the fortitude to do such a thing? Especially since Edith looked the best she ever has and her dress was much more gorgeous than Mary's? (There. I said it. Truth!) I suppose that goes to his character, sort of not being able to stand up for himself and then making the worst possible decision at the worst possible time. (I'm actually not sure that we've seen evidence of this in the past, but but his overall weakness to others seems to indicate he may have made some bad decisions in the past. I bet.) Such a credit to Downton Abbey that even when I read spoilers, I'm still shocked at what happened. Also credit for making me actually weep for Poor Edith, when, you know, she can be kind of a bitch.

So now what? I'll tell you this: Lord Grantham better Buckle.Up.Fast. If Lady Edith was bitter, biting and spiteful before, you better believe our new Super Spinster Lady Edith will be x100 and will give even Lady Dowager a run for her money in the blunt irreverence category. Absolutely zero fucks will be given by Super Spinster Lady Edith. And I can't really blame Edith for what's about to come Lord Grantham's way... he definitely was the cause of this. As much as I was frustrated by the Mary/Matthew business of customs and how a Lady has to marry someone of means, etc. this bit about Edith not being able to marry Sir Anthony because of his age and his disability seems outrageous. (Aside: I love the way Edith handled the first separation, telling Lord Grantham: "Sybil runs off and marries our chauffer..." etc. and gets him to change his mind. Bravo, Edith!) Also, isn't there quite an age difference between Lord Grantham and Cora? (Must research.)

Some favorite scenes/dialogue from Edith, post-almost-wedding:

"A spinster always gets up for breakfast."
Scene 1
Cora:  "You are being tested. And you know what they say, my darling. Being tested only makes you stronger."
Edith: "I don't think that's working with me."

Scene 2
Anna: "What would you like me to get you?'
Edith: "A different life."

In other news, I'm certainly not in love with this story line of Anna and Mr. Bates, with Mr. Bates seemingly becoming a hardened man in jail. On the one hand, I do enjoy their meetings - they are so perfect for each other! And I definitely like the fact that Anna is not giving up and is going to do her own search to try and clear Mr. Bates. However, I feel like Anna might be a terrible investigator. She doesn't seem to get much out of the friend, BUT when the friend tells Anna that the Vera was scrubbing the pie crust off her hands viciously, I thought, "Well, isn't that a red flag since the poison was in the pie? Couldn't she have been trying to get the poison off her hands so she can set up Mr. Bates?" I guess I can't blame Anna for not responding to that... I've seen way more TV than she has. She'll probably remember this down the line.

This business with Ms. Hughes is heart-wrenching. She has done an amazing job of portraying someone who is trying to be strong, but is so scared and everything in between. The emotion she shows on her face when Cora tells her that Downton will take care of her was enough to bring tears to my eyes. But in typical Downton fashion, all this handwringing was for naught, since she seems cancer free at the end of the episode. Is this true, or is Mrs. Hughes just telling people this because she doesn't want people to know she really does have cancer? I have my doubts, but she does seem sincerely happy, especially when she sees Mr. Carson so happy in that last scene. However, she went into the doctor's office alone, so we may not know the true truth for some time. I have a sad feeling about this and I will be very, VERY sad if she leaves us.

Other stuff:

- I'm not even talking about the whole Matthew finally agrees to use the "Livinia money" to save Downton because we knew it was going to happen all along.
- I don't think I can take another Ethel-Isobel scene without some serious progress. I mean, cooooome ooooonnnnn... we get it, she's a hooker who wants better things for her son. Let's pick up the pace here.
- Is Daisy going to muster up some American-type sass and go after our new friend Alfred? She could use some sass and maybe a smooch or two. I hope good things happen for Daisy.
- More Mrs. Patmore please!

Is it possible that I have written an entire blog entry about Downton Abbey without mentioning Mary Crawley? (I mean other than to say Edith's dress is waaaayy better than hers?). I suppose I could say that she is probably going to bear many attacks from Super Spinster Edith as well. But will she care? Doubtful.