Thursday, September 26, 2013

Downton Abbey Season 4 SPOILERS!

Hi everyone!
I know, I know, it’s been a while since I put anything up here. But I had a baby! And he insisted on all this food and love and attention. But now he’s full grown, with a job and family of his own, so here I am.
I wasn’t sure what to write about at first, but then I stumbled across something literally too good not to share. So here goes!
I don’t know how many of you are Downton Abbey fans, but I am a total sucker for this show. And like most poor, pathetic Americans, I thought I’d have to wait until January to see the next season, even though it’s broadcasting right now over in Britain.
But I managed to get a look at the first episode! And it’s good! Really good! And I’m going to tell people all about it.
So if you hate spoilers (SPOILERS!) don’t read another damned word! But you should because it will totally be worth it.
Now, if you remember the end of last season, creator and writer Julian Fellowes had to… thin the herd a bit. A couple of key actors wanted to move on to other things, like movies, or maybe commercials for delicious butter, and Fellowes had to write them out of the show, permanently.
It would not be an overstatement to say that he was a teensy bit brutal about it. I mean, he literally showed Matthew Crowley’s Dan Stevens lying upside-down in a car, body broken, blood dripping out of his ears. Yeesh.
The result, of course, is heartbreak at Downton. Lady Mary is understandably shattered after losing both her sister (the good one, not the horrible one) and her true love in short order. The fourth season picks up six months after Matthew Crowley’s death, and Mary is living in a limbo of mourning.
After an opening sequence clearly establishes the bleak atmosphere hanging over Downton, it would be really easy to fall prey to the hope that Fellowes is ready to lift the mood a little.
This is not the case.
I’m not sure if there’s some other behind-the-scenes drama going on with the cast, or if Fellowes just developed a taste for blood after last season, but the man clearly has, as the British are fond of saying, his jams in a tort.
One scene after another just seems to twist the knife for everyone living at Downton. I wish I could show you some of these scenes, but I would probably be sued into the astral plane for doing so.
But, I am going to post a few snippets of the script that I got my hands on. I think you’ll be able to see what I mean pretty quickly:
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INT. DOWNTON ABBEY – LIBRARY
LORD GRANTHAM sits at his desk. He shuffles papers, disinterested. Sets them down with a sigh.
Sitting on one of the sofas, LADY MARY stares into space.
Lord Grantham watches her for a long, painful moment.
She does not notice.
ENTER CARSON
CARSON
The Dowager Countess, my Lord.
The DOWAGER steps inside. She looks more frail than the last time we’ve seen her, as if she’s aged a decade in just a few short months.
GRANTHAM
Thank you, Carson. Mother, do sit.
Despite her frail appearance, the Dowager immediately sees Mary’s condition. Her face softens with concern.
DOWAGER
Yes, I believe I will.
She sits.
DOWAGER
Hello, my dear.
Mary doesn’t seem to hear her. She continues to stare off.
The Dowager trades looks with Grantham. He shrugs, helplessly.
DOWAGER
How are we this morning?
Mary stares off. But she speaks.
MARY
Isn’t it strange, Grandmama?
DOWAGER
What is, my dear?
Mary looks at the Dowager now. Her eyes are without expression.
MARY
How, in the end, we really do get what we deserve.
DOWAGER
Nonsense, my dear. You don’t deserve this any more than I deserve an advanced case of leprosy.
MARY
Don’t I just? Matthew… didn’t want to be married to me. He was convinced that what had happened between him and Lavinia was… I talked him into it. Don’t you see? I talked him into betraying his own sense of honor, and decency. And look where it led him.
The Dowager looks to Grantham for guidance. He has none to give.
MARY
I did this. To Matthew, to the baby. It’s my fault.
DOWAGER
Mary! I understand what you’ve lost. But enough is enough, young lady!
The Dowager’s tone snaps Mary out of her trance.
DOWAGER
We’ve all seen our share of the tragic. The whole of England has. Would you say that they earned it? That this was some sort of retribution? Should we expect a flood next, perhaps?
The color rises in Mary’s cheeks.

MARY
I know you mean well, Grandmama. But perhaps your time would be better spent visiting with the baby.
The Dowager blinks back her reaction. With difficulty, she rises. Lord Grantham tries to help her up, but she swats him off.
DOWAGER
Yes. Perhaps it would.
The Dowager strides out of the library, but stops in the doorway and turns back.
DOWAGER
I would say this, before I depart. You can’t spend—
Suddenly, a GIANT BROWN BEAR leaps from the hallway, dragging the Dowager to the ground.
GRANTHAM
Mother!
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Can you believe it? A bear. Just, completely out of nowhere. Needless to say, the Dowager Countess doesn’t make it. She gets in a few good licks, and one really excellent zinger, but then, gone. I would be pissed if I were Maggie Smith’s agent.
After that, things only get worse. The Lord Grantham becomes obsessed with finding and killing the bear, and organizes a hunt on the grounds. Even the servants are brought into the effort, with Bates, Thomas, and Joseph all ending up in the same hunting party (awkward!). Lord Grantham gives one of his rousing speeches at the start of the hunt, but even with his brave words, you can tell right away that trouble lurks ahead:
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GRANTHAM
As you all know, I have dedicated my life to preserving the legacy of this place. But that dedication pales in comparison to my sacred duty to protect those who live and work herein. I cannot help but feel that I have lapsed in that duty of late. Perhaps it has been the grief of these too-unhappy months. But any such gap in my vigilance ends here, today. We will find the beast that took the Lady Dowager from us. We will find it, and we will destroy it.
THOMAS (sotto)
Poor bear oughta be knighted, you ask me. Service to his country.
BATES overhears Thomas’ remark, and pins him with an icy stare.
GRANTHAM
Now, we must use every caution. Aside from the danger of the bear itself, I needn’t remind any of you about the reports of the deranged troupe of circus performers who have been roaming the countryside, slaughtering and eating any man, woman, or child unlucky enough to cross their path. But I believe that this day will mark the end of a dark period in Downton’s history, and the beginning of a bright new future.

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Well, I think you can see that things only get worse. I mean, you can practically feel the tension between Thomas and Bates, can’t you? Brrrr!
I wish I could say this was the nadir, but honestly, it just gets darker from here. I won’t get into specifics, but if you have a weak stomach for beheadings (accidental and otherwise), you probably want to skip Episode 2 altogether.
Anyway, I don’t want to spoil the entire season for you. It really is very good.
Just… y’know. A little bleak.  

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