Downton Abbey Recap -- Ahem, 'Trigger Warning'!

Oh good, a Downton Abbey recap that makes us talk about Trigger Warnings, and how we are against them. Seriously! That the universe must remember not to remind you there are bad things in the world, because you will never survive if you have to feel a sadness, is well-meant, we guess, but it’s infantilizing, cloying, and keeps victims swanning around in their own victimhood, Ophelia as drawn by Margaret Keane.

Downton Abbey Recap -- Ahem, 'Trigger Warning'!

That said! Now that we have gotten past the 55 words that bump the rest of this from the homepage to inside the post, Downton Abbey needed a FUCK OF A TRIGGER WARNING LAST NIGHT, when Anna got the shit raped out of her. Anna! Raped! Violently! For what seemed like two hours! And not offscreen!

This is not the tea and crumpets we come to Downton Abbey for! That is like letting Elmo get the shit raped out of him. Rape happens, and the children watching Sesame Street should understand that.

But shouldn’t we see the violent reality? Hmmmm, that is a tough one! We guess? Like, in The Accused, that shit was violent and terrible and that was the point! We had to witness it; we weren’t allowed to hide our eyes. But does anyone in the entire world think Julian Fellowes isn’t just using terrible, violent rape to up the dramatic stakes and drive a wedge between happy Anna and Bates, since he can’t kill anyone else off for a while? No. No one in the world thinks that. Because he is. And we for one are beginning to think Julian Fellowes might be history’s greatest monster.

anna rape

And so we begin at the beginning we guess, although it’s difficult to discuss anything that came before, like, “Lord Grantham Was a Nutsack,” or “Mrs. Patmore Was Awesome Again,” knowing we are just working our way up to ANNA GETTING THE FUCK RAPED OUT OF HER. We can but try, and oh tra la la, bitches, verily we have a houseparty!

Kindly to note the clever little introduction to how servants at houseparties are addressed. Lord Gillingham’s valet is “Mr. Gillingham,” because fuck it dude there’s like a hundred (five) extra servants. Nobody can be expected to have NAMES beyond the one they are gifted with when they are owned by an Aristocrat.

Five minutes in (including the Laura Linney intro) and good God the MTV-style quick cuts are killing us. We literally cannot track all the conversational HUBBUB going on at this initial houseparty cocktail hour. That would be fine, but we do believe we will be fucking TESTED on this later, and be expected to have gotten young Anthony Gillingham and how he has Been There Before. We already dread this because of how they did it to us last week, expecting us to remember who the fuck Edna Braithwaite is. (We’ve been told who she is by helpful commenters; we still have no firm conviction any of that actually happened. In fact, we still have no firm conviction she actually exists.)

Which reminds us: Could Gillingham have been the guy who brought the Foreigner who died from Sexing Lady Mary? We will go with sure why not.

The servants are organizing things and explainering, thank you servants, that Times They Are A-Changing because 10 people to stay and only three maids and two valets between them. Carson says an unbelievably terrible thing about some poor widowed Lady and how it’s amazing she’s still asked to stay, living as she does North of the Park, all shabby and Poor and Disgusting and the Worst. Carson and Lady Mary can keep each other. We never understood the viewerly affection for either of them.

Thomas corrects Branson that he is “Barrow” now, not “Thomas,” because Jesus Christ we are all about names tonight, and who gets to name what, and whom, as ownership.

Lady Mary is going to ride with Gillingham. Wish we could be bothered to look up who he is. But we cannot.

Carson has insulted the guests who happen to be famous Australian opera singer Nellie Melba by not allowing them to eat in the dining room with the rest of the party, and we can’t imagine this will blow up in Carson’s face and teach him a lesson about his terrible insane snobbery and what the fuck even, he is from the theater, he can’t figure out the difference between the Cheerful Charlies and a world-class soprano? What a fucking donkey.

Edith wants her beau, Mr. Gregson, and dad to fall in love, but Lord Grantham is all “what’s that behind you?” and darts off. Mr. Gregson is like “yeah your dad is kind of a selfish dick,” and Edith is all like “Whatchu talkin bout Willis, MY dad?” It does not compute.

They try again and Lord Grantham points out their untied sneakers and zips behind a candelabra.

Will Lady Mary love again? Will it be with this young man Gillingham, whom we’ve decided totally brought the foreign dude who died from banging Lady Mary like she is Zoe on Coven?

Lady Mary's vagina

Lady Mary’s vagina


“Don’t use me as an excuse,” says the Dowager as Lady Mary cries off from dancing with Gillingham. “If you don’t want to dance, tell him.” That seems a bit more frank than even the Dowager would say, at least in front of the man. Oh well, guess the Dowager don’t give a fuck.

We are ignoring Bates being unpleasantly jealous of Anna, who has never given him any reason to get his ‘tosterones up. (Of course, Bates will be proved right, because he is perfect and would never be jealous and ‘tosteroney. He is only Concerned for his helpmeet, instead. We call bullshit.)

We do not care if Lady Mary dances. Edith and her beau, that we’re interested in. It is now the 97th time Mr. Gregson has tried to get Lord Grantham to pay attention, as his whole reason for being at the houseparty is to make his prospective father-in-law not hate him, and he is just gonna keep going. Too bad he is going to be a Nazi soon. We really like his stick-to-it-iveness.

Lady Mary freaks out because the gramophone used to belong to Matthew and Rose brought it downstairs, like she could just play RECORDS ON IT or something, well we never. We’re not saying it wasn’t super rude and entitled not to ask, since Anna even told her to. But all of a sudden Mary must actually lie upon her fainting couch. For fainting. And not dancing.

Ooooh, does the Bechdel Test specifically specify that the women must be talking about men for ROMANCE? Because this is a hell of a scene between Mrs. Crawley and the Dowager about the loss of Mrs. Crawley’s son, and Christina Rosetti, and grief.

Hmmmmph, James hurt his wrist and Barrow (DON’T CALL ME THOMAS) as underbutler is all “the fuck you say” about serving dinner, so Carson asks Molesley to help out. Molesley guesses he will help, since he is shoveling asphalt and stuff (please don’t make us look up the history of asphalt), but he will have you know he’s not happy about being a footman.

Footman? Haha mang, not even, he’s an underfootman who must follow Alfred’s lead. Can there be any worse, more humiliating outcome, in the entire world, for this sadsack who sucks and who should shut the fuck up? Maybe Daisy would like to instruct him, haw haw, that is how far how down he has come in the world, like, she is a SCULLERY MAID DUDE there is nothing crawling lower on the ground than that!

Oh guess what insulting the world famous opera singer who happens to be Nellie Melba has come back to bite Carson in the ass. Lord Grantham also, because if someone in the house is being a stupid dick idiot, he wants in.

Nellie Melba

Nellie Melba

Mrs. Patmore has either a heart attack, a panic attack, or very bad gas, and it is awesome because Mrs. Patmore is awesome. People can grow! She used to suck!

Heart attack ack ack ack ack ack

Heart attack ack ack ack ack ack

Oh, it was just an attack of panic, almost what you might call “a panic attack,” says the doctor. We think he may have coined a phrase!

The Dowager deigns to recognize, greet, smile at, and say something supportive to Molesley. He takes the opportunity to bitch. To the Dowager Countess. About how a good man is being kept down. By being given work. This is what I am talking about with the servants making free with the gentry. Shut your yap, dude.

The men all leave to play poker in the middle of Nellie Melba’s aria, because they are classy dudes what got great manners.

And now it is time for us once again to meet Mr. Gillingham, valet to Lord Gillingham, and he is being pretty rapey with Anna, alone in the servants hall as everyone else stays to the end of Nellie Melba’s recital because they are not rude trash who just up and walk out. Oh look, he is oh not just pretty rapey, he’s an actual rapist, aaaaand Anna gets the shit raped out of her. We have discussed this already. Let us here say only: we find Julian Fellowes’ dramatic instincts to be here unsound.

Well thank God we’re back to the poker game, never would have thought we’d be so happy to see a bunch of men being dicks over cards. Edith’s beau, Mr. Gregson, has beaten the young whippersnapper who’s been cheating everyone at the houseparty (including Lord Grantham) out of all their money, and is demanding the young buck fork over all the cheated IOUs (including Lord Grantham’s). Oh, look at this, a THIRD young potential son-in-law on whom Grantham can rely to save his ass and his estate (from Lord Grantham). Five bucks says Grantham fails to appreciate it. Oh well hmmm I owe you five bucks. :(

Edna is getting Branson drunk, and he’s sad and lonely because he’s a savage Irish, and we don’t really care about them. Maybe in future? We didn’t used to care about Mrs. Patmore we guess.

Anna will never tell anyone she got THE SHIT RAPED OUT OF HER and Anna and Bates will grow apart and be tragic because they were too happy and apparently Julian Fellowes can’t have that, or he was bored or something.

Next week we will get back to the important questions of who ruined Cora’s blouse and how Lord Grantham will almost lose the estate today.

TV Show: Downton Abbey

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  • automaticpilot

    Anna will get pregnant and no one will know who the baby daddy is. They’ll probably use the term “baby daddy” too, because Downton Abbey has no problem with anachronisms.

    • andreamd

      I was thinking about her getting pregnant too!

      • Annie Towne

        Of course she will. This Fellows guy is really bad news. I realize this show is just an extra-pretty period soap opera, but honestly…

  • andreamd

    didn’t Edna sneak into Tom’s room? Pretty sure it wasn’t just whiskey she gave him- although that could make any other plans unmanageable. However, Tom would not know what happened in the morning finding a naked Edna in his bed. Were there roofies back then?

  • I can’t even read your post! Last night I ran out of the living room and upstairs and left my mom to watch the rape scene. I only wish I could have covered my ears on the way up the stairs but I was carrying my laptop. It was a terrible trigger. Terrible. :-(

  • Annie Towne

    I watched online today and your description is actually worse than what I saw of the rape scene–is there a different edit online? All I saw was her being hauled off and I heard her screaming, but didn’t actually see anything. Not that I’m sad about there not being another on-the-jukebox rape or anything! No, no, no! Do not misunderstand me! Just that after reading your opening paragraphs I was expecting worse than what was actually there and watched the episode all tense and squirmy, which was not fun. On the other hand, we did get to see/hear the great Kiri te Kanawa sing live in the room (not pre-recorded) and that is always very wonderful, even though I could have killed the director for intercutting her lovely high notes with Anna’s screams. Pure slasher-movie aesthetics. What is up with that? Kiri (also a Dame) deserved better. This show is a sad thing now. It was fun for the first season, but not now. And yet we all keep watching it. Fellows has hypnotised us, I think. Good re-cap, though!

  • Historicat

    Leaving aside the rape (because what else is there to say?), I thought the Tom story was the most interesting part of the episode. Could his shtupping a servant get him in trouble with Lord and Lady Grantham? Or does anyone besides Tom even remember that there was a third daughter?I just don’t get why all of these men are falling over each other to woo Lady Mary. It must be the hint of danger; after all, she’s killed before.

  • arrrghle

    Please don’t talk about trigger warnings and triggers unless you have PTSD. As someone who was raped for the first time at the age of 4, I do sometimes need a bit of a warning to get my head in the right place before reading about rape, and torture, and stuff. Flashbacks suck and don’t clear up quickly, which can be very disruptive to things like, say, jobs, and living. We’re not just whiny pussies.

    • arrrghle

      oh and yes, I think Bechdel’s law applies even when it’s not a romantic context, the point being the absence of the female and the centrality of the male. (Sorry such unfunny nosnarky things to say, will try better later. And bring ponies.)