The ending of Downton Abbey's episode 2 did it for me last Sunday night. I had given Downton another chance, after threatening to not tune in at all this season due to the sloppy, implausible, and horrid death of Matthew at the very end of Season 3. But I missed my Downton friends. So when January rolled around, I turned on the premier with hopes that the writing had taken in energy and creativity over the break and we would be back on track with sensitive scripts and credible situations in the big house.
The 2-hour opener was slow and labored. Nothing much of anything happened. Ah, but wait--Fellowes was just pulling us quietly along only to hit us with a sledge hammer the next week.
It seems to me that the writer has run out of ideas for conflict or other elements of plot interest and is resorting again to the cheapest devices in all fiction. With poor Matthew, it was an utterly unbelievable fatal auto accident just as a rosy life with Mary and the baby-to-be are ahead of him. Now the audience abuse continues as Fellowes plays the rape card, and with probably the most lovable female character in the cast, Anna.
Violent rape is not a plot component that viewers of Downton, for the most part, count on seeing as part of the sophisticated story they have come to love. I for one don't watch "CSI," for example, because the ugly headlines of the daily news are sorrowing enough--I don't seek such tragedy in my entertainment.
Secondly, the rape was, again, implausible. Surely some aristocrats took shameful advantage of their maids, but those "gentlemen" had impunity. A fellow servant would not. Anna's attacker would have been out of a career as word leaked out--as it surely would--and punished summarily. And why would he have picked a self-possessed, married woman to attack?
I am now downright afraid of what might be lurking in next week's script, and the ones after that. So I am saying good-bye to my Downton friends, sadly, in order to protect myself. They themselves need to band together, I should say, to protect themselves from the reckless pen of their creator. What a shame.