Melba Toast, Downton Abbey, Season 4, episode 2
Even Maggie Smith and gorgeous production values may not be enough to continue watching the Masterpiece soap, Downton Abbey. Writer Julian Fellowes who is a member of the House of Lords and looks like a stodgy uncle of Bertie Wooster’s continues with his misogyny and classism in the second episode of the the fourth season.
As I had predicted last week, the Bateses happiness was short-lived. Anna was brutally raped by a visiting guest’s man servant. Earlier she had had a mildly flirtatious exchange with him and had some fun and gasp even laughed while playing a card game with the said man and some of the other servants. Something that Bates frowned upon and reprimanded Anna for, in front of everyone. So what is the message here, if you are politely friendly to a man who is not your husband, you are fair game? What next, honor killings?
The rapist’s master was a part of the house party organized by Lady Gullible. What was that party all about? Lord Pompous and Clueless whines about the death duties but does not mind spending lavishly to host another meat market to signal that his grieving daughter is once again on the marriage market? All this while daughter Chopped Liver is cavorting around with a married man who wants to become a German citizen and ditch his wife and who also cheats at cards. Also, Lord Clueless did not have any time for the cheater boyfriend till he saved his ass by getting back the money Lord Pompous and Clueless had lost at a game of poker the previous night. Lady Gullible was also having some fun at her hapless son-in-law’s expense who is ill at ease making small talk with the guests whose pedigree rivals those of the AKC pooches. Poor Tom, unfortunately for him confiding in she devil Edna is not going to end well.
Rose was in there somewhere, dancing and flirting and pretending to be a servant. There was also a performance by a famous opera singer of the early 20th century, Nellie Melba played a real life opera singer Dame Keri Te Kenawa to whom Lord Clueless was a condescending jerk. As the characters keep going through the same recycled story lines, they seem to act stupider with every successive iteration. May be it is time for Fellowes to let someone else do the writing.
Grade: F for originality.