Downton Abbey S01E03: No Thanks, Bates, I Do NOT Have A Strong Stomach
So how are you guys doing with the TV Club? Are we all watching this patiently together, one episode a week, each episode completely fresh and new? Yes? Every Monday night is a new adventure with these jerks? Perfect. This week’s adventure begins at the post office where, once again, Bates is being flirty and weird to Red-Haired Gwen. Is it going to turn out that Bates is Gwen’s dad? Because if Bates isn’t Gwen’s dad and the reveal is actually just that Bates wants to date Gwen I’m going to barf 100% of everywhere because GROSS, BATES! I get that it’s 1408 or whatever and at least she’s not a blood relative, but you’re still a hundred years older than she is! Anyway, Gwen is mailing a letter. “How funny,” we think, “Gross old Bates giving the flirt-eye to Gwen, just as she’s mailing off a letter to her secret lover. We’re sure that it’s her secret lover because of the thing she said last week, we forget what it was exactly, but something that led us to believe she is having a back-and-forth with a man.” OH, HOW WRONG WE WERE!
As it turns out, she is actually taking a correspondence course in typing.
We find this out because the nice blonde maid whose name I still don’t know (is it Jessica?) (I learned “Gwen” this week so please at least give me some credit for learning that the red haired maid’s name was Gwen) is “looking to see if there’s extra room on the shelf” (what?) (of course there isn’t) (you can see that there isn’t because there’s a huge suitcase there) (what are you even talking about?) and asks Gwen WTF is in her huge suitcase thing that’s up there. At first Gwen won’t tell her, but then decides to spill the beans and show her right as bitchy O’Brien walks in. UGH, OF COURSE. I wonder if bitchy O’Brien is going to try to use this information against everyone, even though she stands no personal gain from its reveal? OH I WONDER ABOUT IT SO MUCH?
Checking in with Lady Mary and Cora, Mary has gotten a letter from Evelyn saying that he’s coming to visit, and Cora wants him to stay at their house. “Oh, I don’t know,” says Lady Mary. “Aw, c’mon!” says Cora. “Welllllll,” says Lady Mary. “C’mooooon,” says Cora. “Ok, you’ve convinced me! I’ll ask him to stay!” says Lady Mary. When Cora tells Lord Grantham about Evelyn’s visit, and his (of course) possible marriage to Mary, Lord Grantham is annoyed because all Evelyn’s father talks about is “racing.” “Why doesn’t he ever talk about dinner?” Lord Grantham wines, “Doesn’t he know how important dinner is? How can a man go around for his entire life, never once discussing dinner for the entire thing of it? WHEN ARE WE HAVING DINNER?” Old Lady Grantham is on the fence about Evelyn, because at least he’s rich and his family is old, but if Lady Mary becomes too interested in him she’s afraid Lord Grantham will stop fighting to retrieve Mary’s inheritance. Cora tries to tell her that ship has sailed, but Old Lady Grantham won’t hear of it. Then Old Lady Grantham demands that they have tea, because she is English.
Outside, “I’ll Take Anything” Edith runs into Matthew riding his bicycle. Because Lady Mary didn’t want Matthew, Edith has made it her goal to take him for herself, so she asks if he wants to go on a tour of old churches and have a picnic and make a date–I MEAN DAY, MAKE A DAY of it. He’s like, “I guess so,” and she’s like, “WONDERFUL!!!!”
In the kitchen, the staff is crowded around the typewriter, as if it’s the craziest and most indecent thing they’ve seen since Bates’ cane. “How does it work?” one asks. “You just hit the letters and then it makes the letter on the paper,” one responds, basically. It’s a very interesting conversation and I hope it lasts forever. It doesn’t though, sadly, because they have to move on to talking about why it’s so terrible that Gwen has it just when —
GWEN WALKS IN! “Wha’ ouh yeaw doin’ wit mouy touype writah?” she asks. Carson is upset with her for keeping a secret, but the nice blonde lady says that she was just keeping it private, not as a secret, and THERE IS A DIFFERENCE. Good going, blonde lady! You’re so nice! I wish I knew your name, …Jessica?! Gwen explains that she wants to be a secretary, because the life of a service worker just isn’t for her. “Not that there’s anything wrong with that,” -Jerry Seinfeld. O’Brien is typically bitchy about it, and so is Carson. “I wish you were sure you knew what you were doing,” he says. Uh, Carson, SHE JUST TOLD YOU WHAT SHE’S DOING. Trying to be a secretary. God, you are the worst, Carson. You’re a regular Thomas. More like Obnoxious Charlie. More like CarsUGH.
While Mary is upstairs getting dressed, Edith is telling her about the wonderful date she and Matthew are going to have. “We’re going to see churches, and have a picnic, and kiss and kiss, and just love each other so much until the sun comes down and it’s finally time to get dressed for dinner.” Mary asks what churches Edith is going to see, and Edith tells her, and Mary says “Well, isn’t that a bit obvious?” Because Mary looooooooves Matthew. Then Cora comes in and tells Mary that’s she’s gotten a letter from Evelyn (that Cora READ? how about some privacy, lady!), but that Evelyn hasn’t accepted her invitation to stay at their house because he’s going to be bringing a friend, a Turkish somebody or other named Kemal Pamuk. “Perhaps it was too obvious,” says Edith. UGH, EDITH. That was terrible. You should be ashamed. Also, Mary looks beautiful:
In the next scene, we find Bates at a scary shop. “I saw this advertisement for a limp corrector. What does it do exactly?” he asks the scary shop owner. “IT CORRECTS LIMPS,” the scary shop owner yells, immediately so mad at the man who wants to GIVE HIM MONEY FOR SOME OF HIS GOODS AND SERVICES. Ugh, what an asshole. Why is everybody so mean? Bates asks if it works, and the shop owner gives him an equally bitchy response: “Well as I make it and I advertise it is it likely I’d say no?” Uh, answer the question buddy, because so far it sounds like it DOESN’T work. It reminds me of the time I went to a movie theater and asks the guy taking tickets if the theater had bed bugs. He said, “No,” and I said, “Would you tell me if it did?” and he said, “No. But it doesn’t, anyway.” OH PLEASE, LET ME INTO YOUR THEATER AND GET THAT LIMP CORRECTER ON ME, STAT.
Back at Gwen’s room, she cries to the blonde-haired lady about how she thinks being a secretary is never going to happen for her. It’s very sad! You can do anything you want, Gwen! You’re beautiful! She says, “I was born with nothing and I’ll die with nothing,” but Bates comes in (of course) (gross) and tells her that she can change her life if she wants to. That’s right! I believe in you and so does Bates (who wants to F you) and so does blonde lady! YOU CAN DO IT!
Next, in the words of Gabrielle Delanyne: Cook cook cook. Clean clean clean. Serve serve serve. To people on horses horses horses.
Evelyn shows up and he and Lady Mary exchange English witticisms for what feels like 45 minutes. I have no idea what they’re taking about at all, until Evelyn says the Turkish guy he brought with him is a bit of a dandy and is still getting ready, and Lady Mary says something about how he’s a foreigner and his hair probably smells like palmade, and then he shows up and he is SOOOOOOOOOO BEAUTIFUL! To Lady Mary. Not to me so much.
Then there are so many dogs!
Lady Mary is so struck by Kemal Pamuk’s beauty (??? I don’t see it, ladies) that she ditches Evelyn and sticks with Kemal for the entire horse-riding thing that they’re doing. Ooooh. When they get home they are covered in dirt and maybe blood (?) (???), and all the maids fall in love with Kemal because he’s soooo beautiful. Whatever. To each their own.
Kemal is another guy who says he forgot his own man, so he is given Thomas. “This is the beautiful servant man we give to dress all of the beautiful young men who have forgotten their own man who dresses them.” In Kemal’s room, he is kind of flirty with Thomas. He says “I put myself entirely in your hands.” Thomas is like, “I WISH.” Then Thomas says he’s very attracted to the Turkish culture,” and Kemal says something flirty back, and they’re very close, and then Thomas touches his face. Ah! They’re in love! Just kidding! Kemal swats his hand away and says he’s going to report him, unless he helps him with the geography of the house later because he wants to pay someone a visit! WHAAAAAAAAT?
Then, they have dinner. Fucking finally. At dinner they’re talking about Gwen wanting to be a secretary, for some reason. Old Lady Grantham doesn’t get it and says she’d would rather work in the house if she were Gwen, and the law should forbid her and people like her from being secretaries or something? For their own good? Basically Old Lady Grantham is a hardcore republican, but the youngest daughter is at least a moderate republican or possibly even a democrat because she thinks that they should help Gwen become a secretary if that’s what she wants to do.
Afterwards, all the men are trying to compete for the attention of Lady Mary, but she leaves with the Turkish one. Waah-waaaaaah. Hahaha, and then the bell went off that alerts Edith that Lady Mary’s leftovers are in her vicinity and Edith heads over to them. However, once Evelyn sees that Edith is headed in his direction, he excuses himself, and Matthew immediately tells her that the next time they see churches he wants to bring his mom. Hahahahahahahah. Awww. Poor Edith. Always the nothing, never the anything.
Kemal and Lady Mary go into a private room, where he immediately pounces on her and tries to make out with her.
She doesn’t return his make out or wishes for doing it later, and leaves in a huff. BUT that night, Thomas brings the Turkish guy to Mary’s room (ooooohhhhh) where he pounces on her again and, after some convincing, gets her to DO IT WITH HIM. He tells her that she’ll still be a virgin for her husband? I don’t know what that means. The whole thing is kind of confusing and rape-y and I don’t like it, so I’m happy when he —
YOOOOOOOOOOPS! Dead guy in the bed! The guy died! Somehow! Mary elicits the help of Blonde Maid to get rid of him, because he is too heavy for her to carry by herself. As it turns out, he’s too heavy for both of them to carry, so they figure that the only person they can trust to help them and not be too upset is her mom, Cora. So they all carry him to his bed while the Benny Hill theme plays, and once he’s in there Cora tells Mary that she’ll never forgive her for having sex with this Turkish man, and that she won’t tell her father about it but only for HIS sake. It seems a little harsh! What do you expect, mom? YOU’RE the one who invited them to sleep over! You mean lady!
Also: Daisy sees them take him into his room. I assume that will come back later? Also because people keep telling her that she “seems distracted” later on, and it’s like, yeah, I get it, IT’S GOING TO COME BACK LATER.
The morning after Evelyn finds out his friend is dead, he asks Lady Mary if she’ll take him “on a tour of the gardens.” Uh, huh? Evelyn? A man just died! Your friend! Of his friend, he says, “He was a terribly nice fellow, I wish you could’ve known him more.” But then once he notices Mary getting upset he says, “Perhaps you saw his qualities for yourself.” And then she gets more upset and he says, “Obviously you did.” And we can all agree that Evelyn is being a real LADY MARY about this dead guy situation and he should just go home because we are SICK of his attitude.
Back in the kitchen, Thomas is going on and on about how Kemal really DID “live every day like it was his last,” wink wink, nudge nudge. And everyone’s like, “C’moooon Thomas, tell us what you’re winking and nudging abouuuuutt.” And he doesn’t, but he will, because ugh. In nicer news: The youngest daughter shows Gwen a want ad in the paper for a secretary, and says she could use her as a reference! And she won’t specify what her job was in the house! Because she is nice and beautiful!
As Evelyn is saying goodbye to Cora, he gives in a bit to her nudgings about marrying Lady Mary. “The truth is, Lady Grantham,” he says, “I’m not a vague man. I don’t consider myself a very interesting person. But I feel it’s important that my future wife should think me so. A woman who finds me boring could never love me, and I believe marriage should be based on love.” And we’re like, “Ugggh, FINE Evelyn, we think you’re boring too, GET OFF THE SHOW.”
MOVING ON, Old Lady Grantham and the rest of the girls are having tea and talking about the dead Turkish guy. “No englishman would dream of dying in someone’s house.” says OLG. Hahah. Ahh, she’s great. Mary doesn’t think so, though, and storms out of the room because SHE WAS IN LOVE WITH THAT RAPIST!
Whatever, so for all of this mess, Bates has been in a lot of pain but won’t tell anyone why. Finally, Ms. Hughes corners him in a room and makes him tell her. (After Lord Grantham suggests that something sinister was involved in the Turkish guy’s death, which, ugh, I’m sure.) Bates finally gives in and tells her that he hopes she has a strong stomach, and I’m thinking NOOOOOO I DON’T HAVE A STRONG STOMACH, I DON’T WANT TO SEE!!!! and lifts up his pant leg and shows her this nightmare underneath:
Elsewhere, Carson is inspecting the Turkish guy’s room to see if there are any dead guy bits left about, but then he sees Lady Mary is sitting in there. “Life can be unfair can’t it. Everything can seem so golden one minute and then turn to ashes the next,” she says. Then she says, “The only thing is I feel, for the first time really, I understand what it is to be happy. I just know I won’t be.” AND IT IS SO SAD! What a sad thing to say. Possibly the saddest sentiment one could ever give about happiness. But Carson tells her not to raise the white flag yet, and other nice things, and for a moment we forget how annoying Carson can be and we kind of like him.
The final scene is O’Brien and Thomas talking about how he brought Kemal to Lady Mary’s room the night before he died, and it ends with O’Brien saying “your secret’s safe with me,” and it’s so annoying and frustrating because of course it’s not safe with her, and this whole show can be very Meet The Parents-y sometimes, in that you’re just waiting for all these bad things to happen, and I hate that so much because I already have enough anxiety without this old-timey anxiety BS. So let’s pretend this is the last scene:
Bates throwing his gross leg corrector into the water, just like Carrie did with her cell phone in the Sex and the City movie, promising to never try to correct himself that way again. You go, Bates! You’re perfect the way you are! I love you! We all do! Except for your weird thing with Gwen! You should stop that! It makes us uncomfortable!
Next week: MORE DINNER?!