If you haven’t started Season 4 of Downton Abbey beware of major spoilers.
There are only two episodes in Season 4 and, so far, we have seen a major character die and one of the series’ most lovable characters brutally raped. Matthew Crawley (Dan Stevens) was in a car crash last season and the season premiere proves he didn’t survive. In episode 2, Anna Bates (Joanne Froggatt) gets raped by Mr. Green (Nigel Harman), Lord Gillingham’s vallet. What’s next? Are Mrs. Hughes (Phyllis Logan) and the Dowager Countess (Maggie Smith) going to get into a fight in the salon? Are these topical stories or are they gratuitous soap opera shock moments?
This is a huge departure to some prior storylines. Sure, there have been some scandalous activities at Downton. Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) lost her virginity out of wedlock to a man who died in bed with her. But the issue was handled more like a comedy of errors and the film Clue than a graphic body disposal. They didn’t chop up his body and hide it in a silver chafing dish. Thomas Barrow (Rob James-Collier) did have an affair with a secretly gay member of the aristocracy. But it was more about Thomas’ struggles in society at the time. However, Anna’s rape was violent and intense. It seemed to come out of left field. Is it gratuitous?
Granted, this is topical for aristocratic society because it is very possible for a rape to go unreported when it’s a servant that is raped. However, wouldn’t a servant raping another servant be hastily dealt with? It may have been more topical had Anna been raped by a member of the aristocracy. It wouldn’t make the crime more permissible. However, it would give a voice to the great number of victims that were raped by members of a higher class and forced to stay silent. Instead, Anna stays silent because she fears Mr. John Bates (Brendan Coyle) will go wild and kill him. Bates may be a convicted criminal but he isn’t a murderer. What’s scary and unexpressed is if Mr. Bates is so wild and crazy is he beating Anna? If not, why shouldn’t she tell someone what happened?
Is Downton Abbey veering off course or is it delivering the level of drama you’d expect from the series? So far, nothing is anachronistic. Yes, Lady Sybil (Jessica Brown Findlay) died of complications of childbirth. And yes, if Matthew got into a car accident he wouldn’t survive. But are all these horrific events gratuitous?
Despite the intensity and randomness of these events it seems like the show is venturing to express life at that time. As the series approaches the 1920s, so comes modernism. As sad as it is to see the utterly lovable Anna violated, it does give her character a storyline that transcends dressing Lady Mary. Hopefully, she is able to tell someone and get vindication for this violation. But I guarantee you that if Mrs. Patmore (Lesley Nicol) becomes a prostitute it may be time to stop watching Downton Abbey.
The actress, who played Lady Sybil Crawley in the award-winning hit TV show, has parted ways from her partner of two years, Thomas Campbell, according to Britain's Daily Mail.
The pair met at London's Central St Martins College of Art, where Brown Findlay studied fine art while taking acting classes.
It's the second recent love split the Downton Abbey cast has faced - Michelle Dockery, who plays Brown Findlay's sister, Lady Mary Crawley, reportedly broke up from actor boyfriend Joseph Millson last month (Oct12).
Robert Zemeckis is a blockbuster director at heart. Action has never been an issue for the man behind Back to the Future. When he puts aside the high concept adventures for emotional human stories — think Forrest Gump or Cast Away — he still goes big. His latest Flight continues the trend revolving the story of one man's fight with alcoholism around a terrifying plane crash. Zemeckis expertly crafts his roaring centerpiece and while he finds an agile performer in Denzel Washington the hour-and-a-half of Flight after the shocking moment can't sustain the power. The "big" works. The intimate drowns.
Washington stars as Whip Whitaker a reckless airline pilot who balances his days flying jumbo jets with picking up women snorting lines of cocaine and drinking himself to sleep. Although drunk for the flight that will change his life forever that's not the reason the plane goes down — in fact it may be the reason he thinks up his savvy landing solution in the first place. Writer John Gatins follows Whitaker into the aftermath madness: an investigation of what really happened during the flight Whitaker's battle to cap his addictions and budding relationships that if nurtured could save his life.
Zemeckis tops his own plane crash in Cast Away with the heart-pounding tailspin sequence (if you've ever been scared of flying before Flight will push into phobia territory). In the few scenes after the literal destruction Washington is able to convey an equal amount of power in the moments of mental destruction. Whitaker is obviously crushed by the events the bottle silently calling for him in every down moment. Flight strives for that level of introspection throughout eventually pairing Washington with equally distraught junkie Nicole (Kelly Reilly). Their relationship is barely fleshed out with the script time and time again resorting to obvious over-the-top depictions of substance abuse (a la Nic Cage's Leaving Las Vegas) and the bickering that follows. Washington's Whitaker hits is lowest point early sitting there until the climax of the film.
Sharing screentime with the intimate tale is the surprisingly comical attempt by the pilot's airline union buddy (Bruce Greenwood) and the company lawyer (Don Cheadle) to get Whitaker into shape. Prepping him for inquisitions looking into evidence from the wreckage and calling upon Whitaker's dealer Harling (John Goodman) to jump start their "hero" when the time is right the two men do everything they can to keep any blame being placed upon Whitaker by the National Transportation Safety Board investigators. The thread doesn't feel relevant to Whitaker's plight and in turn feels like unnecessary baggage that pads the runtime.
Everything in Fight shoots for the skies — and on purpose. The music is constantly swelling the photography glossy and unnatural and rarely do we breach Washington's wild exterior for a sense of what Whitaker's really grappling with. For Zemeckis Flight is still a spectacle film with Washington's ability to emote as the magical special effect. Instead of using it sparingly he once again goes big. Too big.