Sunday, February 10, 2013

Downton Abbey 1x02: A Rapey Turk In the Bed Is Worth Two In Someone Else's Bed

In this second episode, Stranger Bitch Matthew is still being an unintentional Dick to his butler, Moseley. As Moseley explains to Bates, Matthew does everything himself, leaving Moseley to do nothing except watch the man dress. To which Bates hilariously replies, "I'll tell Thomas. He's jealous enough already."

Which makes me think,

a) You can't really blame Thomas. Everyone who watches Downton Abbey would like to watch Dan Stevens getting dressed, and

b) If your sexuality is already widely known enough to be a common joke by the second episode, the closet you live in must be made from the same material as Wonder Woman's jet.

While all that's going on, Cora catches O'Brien ranting about Stranger Bitch Matthew and castigates her, which arouses O'Brien's ire. O'Brien is like the Hulk of Machiavellian emotional manipulation - you wouldn't like her when she's angry. True, you wouldn't like her most of the time, but when she gets angry, bad things happen. Soap-related bad things.

Matthew is invited to dinner again, whereupon Mary uses a Greek myth to metaphorically compare Matthew to a sea monster. Which either means Mary is not willing to wed Matthew to settle the inheritance, or she's a huge fan of certain types of Anime.

Downstairs, Thomas enthrals Daisy by showing her how to dance the Grizzly Bear.

Outstandingly Heterosexual.

Yeah, Daisy, the next time Thomas tells you he likes dancing with bears, he's not talking about the Berenstein kind.

Bad-Ass Mutha Violet is having problems of her own. Isobel (Matthew's mum) decides to volunteer at the Grantham-endowed village hospital, run by the semi-competent Dr. Clarkson who is inexplicably okay with letting complete strangers like Isobel peep in on all the patients in their various states of decay and undress. Isobel, having been a nurse and a doctor's wife, starts suggesting various progressive treatments for certain patients, treatments Dr. Clarkson is very nervous about performing because he really is only semi-competent and probably knows it.

Bad-Ass Mutha Violet (who is president of the hospital board) takes Isobel's involvement as a power-grab and bursts in, Metaphorical Edwardian Muskets Blazing, to stop the whole thing - just as Dr. Clarkson is draining goo out of a farmer's heart per Isobel's orders and it totally works. Bad-Ass Mutha Violet's attempts to oust Isobel are temporarily cast aside in favour of Not Vomiting. Her discomfiture is compounded by Grantham's decision to make Isobel the chairwoman of the hospital board alongside Bad-Ass Mutha Violet, presumably because Old Lady Catfights are a time-honoured British pastime.

While all this is going on, we have a bunch of entertaining but ultimately irrelevant Subplots:

  1. Carson's being blackmailed for his Dark Past as a Vaudeville Entertainer. Carson's solution is to act like he's had to wear Wet Underpants all day
  2. Gwen the Housemaid reveals she's studying to leave service to be a secretary
  3. Daisy's nursing an enormous crush on Thomas
  4. Bates impulse-buys an Edwardian-Torture-Machine to correct his limp, and while I'm glad he eventually throws it into the river, I'm worried about the environmental effect his leg-juice-tainted machinery will have on the local wildlife. 
  5. Edith makes a sincere effort to woo Matthew by taking him sightseeing, but fails because she neglects to compare him to a kraken. 

But enough of that - it's time for a hunting party! Dogs! Horses! Hot men in red jackets! At Mary's behest, Cora invites Mr. Napier, the son of a wealthy viscount, to attend. Mary's got her eye on Mr. Napier as Prime Husband Material - that is, until she meets Mr. Napier's friend, the Turkish Ambassador Kemal Pamouk, who is there to represent Turkey at the conference. He's also just foreign enough to be incredibly hot. She consequently spends the rest of the evening acting like a rude bitch to both Napier and Matthew in favour of Pamouk. However, when Pamouk tries to make out with her, a frightened Mary rebuffs him and leaves.

Mary isn't the only one infatuated with the ambassador - when Thomas first spots Pamouk entering the abbey, he turns to Carson and asks, "Is he mine?" Oh Thomas, there's no need to call dibs.

As it turns out, the only person at Downton Abbey with worse gaydar than Daisy is Thomas, who makes a pass at the unfortunately-heterosexual Pamouk and winds up on the wrong end of the ambassador's blackmail stick. In exchange for Pamouk's silence, Thomas leads him to Mary's bedroom.

Pamouk swaggers inside and basically coerces Mary into sex in a scene that is Not At All Romantic and instead Extremely Awful. He ensures Mary that he "will leave her a virgin for her husband" but he clearly has not done the requisite stretches and warm-ups for such hymen-dodging tomfoolery and winds up dying mid-coitus of PlotDevice-itis.

Everything after this is Terrible because poor Mary blames herself for everything and has to endure her mother's slutshaming for the rest of the episode as Cora, Mary and Anna wrestle the dead, rapey Turk back into his bedroom on the other side of the house to prevent Mary's vagina from causing World War I.

The Downton Girls are successful and the death is ruled an accident. Mary continues to feel Awful, even though the situation isn't her fault. Even more Awful is the fact that there's almost nothing and no one in the narrative to tell her this situation isn't her fault because it's the 1920s and Life For Women Sucked Back Then. The only one to give her any support at all is Carson the butler, who tells her "Even a butler has his favourites." Awww....

Oh Snap! Moments:

  • Lady Mary horse jumping in a side-saddle like a BOSS.
  • "When it comes to cousin Mary, she's quite capable of doing her own flinging, I assure you." - Matthew, regarding Mary's marriage prospects.
  • Thomas' "jealous, much?" look to the maids as he escorts Pamouk to his room.
  • "Sometimes we must endure a little pain, in order to achieve satisfaction." - Pamouk to Mary, ostensibly about travelling to Turkey.
  • "An Englishman would never dream of dying in someone else's house - especially someone they didn't even know!" - Violet

Other Remarks:
Honestly, while the episode was scandalous and interesting, the plot that did not involve the Rapey Turk was pretty slim. And, honestly? I really despised the Rapey Turk plotline. It carried the odious whiff of an attempt to Bring Mary Down a Peg. Look at Mary! Flirting with the rakish ambassador instead of being polite to the Nice Viscount's Son and Matthew Crawley! Let's punish her by having that rakish Turk exploit and humiliate her and tarnish her reputation. I can't really get behind that.

Rating: Seven Edwardian-Limp-Correctors Out of Ten


  1. Bahahahaha, this is hilarious. Yeah, I don't think the rapey Turk was a great plot line, but I don't like Mary, so I do enjoy when her bitchiness gets her into trouble. I also love when Edith gets comeuppance. *shrug*

    1. Ehhhh, I understand the dislike of Mary, but she really didn't deserve what the Turk did to her and I just felt awful for her for the entire season.

  2. Hilarious! And I am SO glad to see someone else has the same take on the Lady Mary/Mr. Pamouk business. It had a rather 1970's romance novel feel about it.

    1. Oh exactly - she eventually concedes but the situation obviously left her little choice in the matter.