Tag Archives: Edith Crawley

Downton Abbey Season 4: ep. 7 recap

Mary and Tony

Last night’s episode was one of the better of the season as plot lines that have been building started to play out, leaving enough in question to make me eager to see next week’s conclusion.

Warning: Major spoilers ahead!

Everyone upstairs and down are preparing for the church bazaar, which will be held on the grounds of Downton Abbey.  With Lord Grantham still in the states sorting out his brother-in-law’s involvement in the Teapot Dome Scandal, the planning falls to Cora, who finally has a use this season.

Mary and Lord Gillingham

Mary and Lord Gillingham

After the pig incident, Charles Blake and Mary have warmed up to each other.  So much so that Lord Gillingham makes a trip to Downton to check up on the two of them, telling Mary quite frankly that he doesn’t want to leave them alone together.  He also informs her that, after some soul searching in the Highlands, he’s decided to call off his engagement with Mabel Lane Fox, and that he still holds a torch for Mary (for reasons I still do not understand).  Charles Blake also announces his intentions to Mary, telling her he won’t give up without a fight.  Mary tells both men she’s not free, even though she wishes she were.  I have a hard time believing her, given that no mention of Matthew has been made for quite some time now, and Mary seems to very much enjoy the attention of both suitors.  I’m sure Mary’s resistance will eventually give way, and then maybe we’ll get to see a duel at Downton!  And I hope Charles Blake wins.

Mary and Charles Blake

Mary and Charles Blake

Love is in the air for Rose as well.  Well, love, or an entirely selfish need to express her hatred for her mother through her choice of husband.  “I want to watch Mummy’s face crumble when I tell her the news” isn’t exactly the best reason to say yes to a marriage proposal.  But it seems to be Rose’s.  Mary finds out about her secret affair with Jack Ross through Tom, who sees them together having tea.  Mary tries to impart some wisdom on Rose, who wants none of it, and becomes engaged anyway.  This spurs Mary into action, and after a visit with Jack Ross, she convinces him that Rose may love him a little bit, but he was more likely being used as a point to be proven.  Ross agrees, and bows out of the engagement.  And hopefully this boring, hackneyed sub-plot is at an end.

Tom catches Rose with Jack Ross

Tom catches Rose with Jack Ross

Much more interesting is the developing relationship between Tom and the town school teacher, Sarah Bunting.  They seem perfect for each other, have good chemistry, and Tom finally seems to be in a place where he’s ready to move on.  He’s actually able to laugh when he talks about his dear late Sybil and what a character she was.  Sarah’s got spunk, and I hope we see more of her.

Branson and Sarah

“Car trouble? What a perfect opener for me to tell you my whole chauffeur back story!”

Lady Violet shows us that one good turn deserves another.  Or perhaps she just wants Isobel out of her hair.  Either way, could she potentially be playing matchmaker, setting up Isobel with Mary’s godfather, Lord Merton?  Certainly seems possible.

And then there’s poor Edith.  Aunt Rosamund comes to Downton to help Edith make a decision on what to do next.  Edith’s idea is to have the baby and give it to one of the local farmers (Mr. Drew, from a previous episode), feeling he can be trusted with her secret (and she’ll still be able to see the baby).  But Aunt Rosamund isn’t so sure, and instead decides the best thing to do is to go abroad until Edith delivers the baby, and then adopt it out to “some childless couple.”  Cora is apparently so busy with the bazaar that she doesn’t see through the hastily constructed plan to visit Switzerland so Rosamund can learn French, but nothing gets by Lady Violet.  She’s been around the block a few times and knows why many unmarried young women go abroad at the spur of the moment.  Edith confesses all, and Lady Violet shows a bit of grandmotherly compassion, agreeing that this is the right decision for Edith, and even offers to pay her expenses, so Edith isn’t further in her aunt’s debt.  Whether Michael Gregson is still alive or has fallen off the face of the earth remains to be seen, but it looks like Edith will be booking passage to Switzerland pretty soon.

Edith and Violet

Downstairs the love square (which I guess we can call a triangle now that Jimmy’s out of the picture) finally, FINALLY came to an end.  Apparently Ivy’s warm greeting during his last visit was misinterpreted a touch, and Alfred writes her, asking her to marry him and move to London.  Ivy likes Alfred, but she’s young and isn’t sure what the world has to offer, so she declines.  Mrs. Patmore tries to keep the whole thing a secret from Daisy (can’t say I blame her given Daisy’s usual reaction regarding the Ivy/Alfred relationship), but she eventually finds out.  Daisy goes to visit Mr. Mason when Alfred comes to Downton in hopes of avoiding him.  But Mr. Mason, ever the wise man, tells her she should part with him as friends.  And in a very touching scene, Daisy does just that, making her the most mature person downstairs (for this episode, anyway).  Here’s hoping Daisy visits Mr. Mason more often.  Mrs. Patmore means well, but Mr. Mason seems a bit better at handling Daisy’s affairs.

Daisy visits Mr. Mason

Daisy visits Mr. Mason

An unexpected spark developed between Molesley and Baxter.  Somehow Molesley comes off much less pathetic when he’s around her, so this could be a good thing.  We still don’t know much about Baxter, though, only that perhaps she doesn’t come from the best family or the community she once lived in shunned her (based off her telling Molesley how lucky he is to live in a village where people respected him).  When Thomas returns from America, he asks Baxter if she has anything to tell, to which Baxter lies and says no.  She then walks off on Molesley’s arm.  But later we see her continuing to listen in on the conversations of the Crawley family (specifically in relation to the Anna & Bates issue).  I just hope the feelings she’s shown toward Molesley are genuine, because one “Edith” character is enough on this show!

Molesley and Baxter

And then there’s the Anna & Bates story line.  Anna finally reveals to Mary the name of her attacker when she learns that Lord Gillingham is staying at Downton.  Again.  Mary wants to go to the police but Anna tells her she mustn’t tell anyone.  Anna bears Green’s presence as best she can at dinner, during which Bates learns where Green will be staying in London.  When Bates finds out that Anna has to go to London (to accompany Mary while she sorts out the whole Ross/Rose debacle), he asks for the day off to visit York.  Why?  Oh, you know, “This and that.”  Sure, Bates.  Sure.  Maybe he just wanted to visit some old prison pals?

Mary can’t hold her promise to Anna for long, and informs her that she must tell Lord Gillingham to sack his valet, reassuring Anna that Bates won’t question why he shows up with a new valet next time he visits Downton.  Anna reluctantly agrees.  Mary meets Lord Gillingham for lunch while she’s in London and asks him to fire Green, though she can’t give a reason.  Since Lord Gillingham would stand on his head and quack like a duck if Mary asked him to, he agrees.  But then he arrives at the bazaar with the startling (well, to the characters, not really to us) news that Green is dead, pushed out into the street and run over by a bus.  Mary immediately goes to Anna about it, and while there were plenty of witnesses, and Bates has his York alibi (let’s hope he does, anyway), neither of them can help but notice that Bates looks happier than he has for weeks.

Bates and Anna

“No, really. I’m just smiling because I love a good bazaar.”

So, did Bates kill Green?  Or was it just a purely coincidental accident?  Anna tells Bates she hopes he hasn’t done anything foolish, anything that might jeopardize all they’ve built together. Bates’s answer:  “You know me.  When I do a thing, I like to have a very goo reason for doing it.”  Neither Anna nor the viewer seems to feel very relieved by this statement.

Next week’s finale features Rose’s coming out into society, and another visit from Cora’s mother, who looks like she’ll be bringing along Cora’s brother for us to meet for the first time.  Will Mary pick a suitor?  Will Edith ever find Michael?  And will we have yet another murder trial to attend (and if we do, how will we ever get through it without Matthew the solicitor there to explain it to us!)?

What were your thoughts on this week’s episode?

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Downton Abbey Season 4: ep. 6 recap

Mary

With only two episodes to go, last night’s Downton Abbey  had some fairly predictable plot developments, and one not-so predictable moment that made me wonder briefly if we had fallen into some sort of parallel Downton universe.

Warning: Spoilers below!

This episode opens with Robert leaving on the next boat to America.  Apparently Cora’s brother is in big trouble, and needs his aristocratic brother-in-law to add a bit of clout to his tarnished name.  While Robert expects Bates to travel with him, Mrs. Hughes intervenes and enlists the help of Mary to get him to take Thomas instead, thus allowing Bates to stay by Anna’s side.  Mary bullies Mrs. Hughes into telling her what’s going on with Anna, though she doesn’t tell anyone else.  Anna’s relieved Mary now knows and they can be honest with each other once more, though Anna says that in the same breath that she tells Mary they don’t know who the attacker was.

Mary2

Mary’s list of suitors grows as apparently she’s unable to turn off the charm, even when covered in mud and pig filth.  In the course of a few months Mary’s gotten three men to fall in love with her (well, I suppose Evelyn Napier’s carried a torch for her for a while now, but still).  Charles Blake goes from finding her uppity and aloof to irresistible thanks to some bonding over pigs.  Yes, the much-talked about pigs arrive at Downton at last, only to knock over their water troughs and start to perish from dehydration.  Charles and Mary take a stroll out to visit them after dinner (as one does), and Charles immediately jumps into action and grabs some buckets, and to his surprise, so does Mary.  Afterwards they bond over a good old fashioned mud fight and then Mary shocks us all further by gasp! scrambling an egg for herself and Mr. Blake.  So, let me get this straight.  Mary’s youngest sister, the rebel who married the chauffeur, didn’t know how to boil water, but Mary somehow picked up how to cook an egg?  It doesn’t really matter though, because this sequence with Mary and Charles was by far one of my favorite Downton scenes ever, and the chemistry between the two actors has me excited to see where things go from here.

Mary and Charles

Evelyn informs Mary that he now has more competition thanks to the pig incident, to which Mary, when alone, releases a sigh.  Not a swoony sigh, but a “can’t you guys see I’m still not ready to move on?” sigh.  And then there’s that delightfully awkward moment when Lord Gillingham arrives, doing nothing to hide his continued feelings for Mary, and all three love interests are in the room at the same time.  Turns out Lord Gillingham and Mr. Blake served together during the war.  Sounds like they’re about to fight another battle, and this time they won’t be on the same side.

Branson

Also surprising was an interesting turn in Branson’s love life.  Isobel convinces him to get back into politics and buys tickets to hear a political speaker.  But when Violet falls ill and Isobel volunteers to nurse her (in some pretty hysterical scenes between Maggie Smith and Penelope Wilton), Branson must go solo to the meeting.  There he sits next to an as-of-yet unnamed woman, and they seem to hit it off pretty well.  Here’s hoping we’ll see more of her.

Rose and Ross

The rest of the episode’s plots were fairly predictable.  Rose tags along with Edith to London, where she meets up with Jack Ross for a rowboat ride.  Jack has reservations about their romance, but Rose reminds him they should live in the now.  And thus Rose continues to get on my nerves.  Not to mention the hissy fit she throws when they have to leave London early, thus spoiling her plans (even if she didn’t know the reason why, still annoying).

Edith and Rosamund

Edith is in London for a much more sobering reason.  With Gregson still missing, and not wanting to be cast out for having a child out of wedlock, she feels the only way out is to have an abortion.  She finally confesses what’s happened to Aunt Rosamund, who is surprisingly supportive through the whole thing.  Edith is heartbroken, as she loves Gregson and knows she would love their baby, but believes there is no alternative.  However, when they arrive at the doctor’s “office” and Edith hears a woman crying, she rethinks her decision.  Now that she’s not going to terminate her pregnancy, we’re left to wonder if she plans to keep the baby once it’s born, and if Edith will step up her search for the father.  And what her family will say (I can already sense a good eyebrow arching from Mary now).

Ivy and Daisy

Downstairs, Mrs. Patmore, Mrs. Hughes, and Mr. Carson go out of their way to prevent Alfred from visiting the house and stirring up more trouble between Ivy and Daisy.  I don’t blame them, and only wish they had succeeded.  Instead we got to see Alfred show up, causing Ivy to light up with happiness and Daisy to scowl at Ivy’s new-found appreciation for the man she loves.  Daisy, I know you can’t hear me through the TV when I’m yelling at you (even if I do keep trying), but please, please move on.  Remember how William loved you and you loved him too, but not in that way?  This is the same thing, just in reverse.  For the sanity of Mrs. Patmore, move on.

In a darker (though no less predictable) turn, when Lord Gillingham arrives, so does his valet.  He jokes and carries on with the staff, but no one can mistake the troubled look on Anna’s face when she sees him.  Mrs. Hughes corners him in the boot room and tells him he better “stick to the shadows” for his life’s sake.  But for whatever reason (contrived plot purposes, I suppose), Mr. Green can’t do that, and says in front of the entire staff how he couldn’t stand Lady Melba’s singing and had escaped downstairs during her performance.  Baxter, who has been skulking around the entire episode gathering information for Thomas while he’s away, immediately picks up on this.  But so does Bates, and the scene cuts away with him giving Green an icy stare, his fork shaking in his hand.

Bates

There’s just two episodes left in season 4.  Any predictions of what might be around the corner?  And what did you think of last night’s episode?

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Downton Abbey Season 4, ep. 4 recap

Anna

Well, they might as well have called last night’s episode “The Anna & Bates Show” since that plot line garnered most of the attention.  I’m on the fence about the developments made there, but more on that later.  First, the recap!

Warning: Major spoilers below!

The focus of this episode was with the downstairs staff, so upstairs, things were pretty tame.  Mary learns of Tony Gillingham’s engagement to Mabel Lane Fox.  She puts on a brave face in front of the family, but it’s clear she’s upset she missed the boat (did anyone else notice her wiping under her eyes while she was writing to congratulate him?).  Perhaps the arrival of Evelyn Napier (remember him from season 1?  He’s the fellow who brought the infamous Mr. Pamuk into the house) will cheer her up.  It certainly seems to, given Mary’s warm greeting.  Is it just me, or does Mary seem a lot more smiley this season?  Napier’s working for the government, conducting a study on the large estates and whether or not they are viable in the post-war economy.  Mary spear-heads a campaign to get him, as well as his yet-unmet boss, to stay at Downton while they’re in the area.

Mary with Evelyn Napier

Mary with Evelyn Napier

Elsewhere, Robert helps a tenant (Mr. Drew) keep his land on the estate (which has been farmed by the Drew family since the Napoleonic wars) by loaning him money to pay off his late father’s debts.  Robert does this behind Mary and Tom’s back, and I thought surely this would backfire somehow, given Robert’s history with money.  But instead it reminds Mary of what a kind-hearted softie her Papa can be.  And it reminds Tom of his socialist roots, as he supports the idea that the farmer should not be thrown off his land.  Tom continues on his quest to figure out where he belongs, and mentions the idea of taking Sybbie to America for a fresh start, since he feels like he’s in limbo at Downton.  One of my favorite upstairs scenes was seeing Mary and Tom with their children in the nursery (and to be reminded that they do indeed have kids!), and just seeing their friendship in general.  Mary’s come to depend on Tom, and she’s the one that speaks up when he mentions the idea of leaving, saying she doesn’t want to lose him.

Mary and Tom

There’s some hushed talk about doing something for Robert’s birthday, and Mary is the one who proposes a party (a small one, mind you).  Well, look who has fully re-entered the land of the living.  Rose gets excited about this and goes into party-planning mode.  And that’s basically all we see of her this episode (which I’m perfectly okay with).

Edith is also barely seen this episode, except to give a few worried looks toward the camera, and to make a trip to London and sort some things out at Gregson’s office, which actually turns out to be a visit to a doctor.  Hmm, wonder what that might be about?  Oh, Edith.  And oh, Julian Fellowes.  If this is going where I think it is, you are sending a fantastic message: Want to fight against the current and make your own path separate from your aristocratic family?  Yeah, you’ll pay for that.

Edith

Downstairs, there’s a new member of staff to get to know.  Lady Cora’s lady’s maid, Baxter, who is weaseling her way into her ladyship’s good graces thanks to coaching from Thomas.  His purposes are entirely self-serving, as he wants to know what’s going on upstairs at all times, and needs a new ally now that O’Brien is gone.  I like this Baxter character, and the whole Thomas/Baxter partnership thing, and I only wish they could have brought her in from the start, rather than irritating Edna.

Baxter winning over Cora's affections with orange juice.

Baxter winning over Cora’s affection with orange juice.

Meanwhile, Daisy helps Alfred prepare for his Ritz hotel cooking test.  She’s a jumble of emotions, happy to spend time with Alfred, but sad that the work they’re doing means he might be leaving.  Fortunately for Daisy, and not so fortunately for Alfred, he does not pass the test, which means he’ll stick around Downton, for now at least.

Daisy and Alfred

Mrs. Patmore continues to wage war against the modern mechanization of her kitchen.  Lady Cora wants a refrigerator installed to replace the old ice box, which sends Mrs. Patmore into a tizzy.  When Lady Cora asks her if there isn’t some aspect of the present day she would accept without resistance, Mrs. Patmore does admit she wouldn’t mind getting rid of her corset.

But of course the main storyline downstairs this week was the drama between Anna and Bates.  After Anna keeps avoiding Bates and refuses to tell him what happened, he goes into Bates-stealth-mode.  He eaves drops on a conversation between Anna and Mrs. Hughes, in which it’s revealed that Anna’s not pregnant (huge sigh of relief), but she’s still unwilling to tell Bates what happened for fear of his own safety.  Bates then meets with Mrs. Hughes, telling her he’ll resign if she doesn’t tell him what happened.  This seemed border-line bullying to me, but it did the trick, and Mrs. Hughes spills the beans, but does not name the attacker.  Bates is no fool, and guesses right away that it must have been Lord Gillingham’s valet, Green.  For Anna’s sake, Mrs. Hughes swears on her mother’s grave that it was not.  Bates then goes and finds his wife in the boot room, and tells her he knows, and that he suspects it was Green.  And if it was him, “he’s a dead man.”  Anna assures him it was not, and that the person who attacked her is untraceable.  Anna sobs with relief as Bates tells her how he loves her even more and has in fact put her on an even higher pedestal after what she’s been through.  All seems rosy in the Bates’s garden once more, with Anna telling Mrs. Hughes she plans to move back in to the cottage with her husband.

Bates and Anna

Mrs. Hughes approaches Bates and tells him how glad she is that the whole horrible nightmare can be put behind them.  Bates keeps a pleasant smile on his face as he informs her that nothing is over and done with, despite what Anna says.  And a revenge-fueled Bates limps off down the hallway as the screen fades to black.

Bates

I’m not sure how I feel about this turn of events.  Did I see it coming?  Of course.  But it bothers me that the horrible assault on Anna did not turn into a strengthening of her character from within, but rather an opportunity for Bates to show his inner-dark side once again.  But, at the same time, that last scene sent a little chill up my spine and had me wondering how this was going to play out.

What did you think of the turn of events in this episode?

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Downton Abbey Season 4, ep. 3 recap

Anna

After last week’s shocking episode, we Downtonites spent this week wondering what would become of Anna, and what would become of the show as a whole.  Fortunately, this week’s Downton Abbey seemed to be back on track, in that the “What the what?” moments were more in keeping with the usual tone of the show.

Warning: Spoilers for episode 3 ahead!

This episode picks up the morning after Anna’s horrible attack.  She’s unwilling to let Bates touch her, the reason for which we later learn from her conversation with Mrs. Hughes.  Anna feels she is “soiled” and is somehow to blame for what happened to her.  As a result, she asks Mrs. Hughes if she can have a room upstairs again, leaving a bewildered Mr. Bates wondering what he did wrong to make Anna go from doting wife to icy stranger in the course of one night.  Oh, Anna.  We know you don’t want Mr. Bates to hang, but perhaps you really should take Mrs. Hughes’s advice and honor the “honesty is the best policy” rule.  I still feel confident that Bates is going to find out eventually.  Why make him suffer in the meantime?  I don’t know if I like where this storyline is going, and while I can understand some of Anna’s motivations, it seems like the focus should be more on the fact that she’s been horribly violated (and thus have issues with telling her husband), rather than her being worried Bates’s temper will get out of control and he’ll end up in jail.

Anna and Mrs. Hughes

Anna and Bates aren’t the only ones dealing with the aftermath of episode 2.  Edna confronts Tom and tells him that he’d better marry her if she winds up pregnant.  Poor Tom!  He spends the majority of the episode preoccupied with the fact that one terrible mistake could ruin the rest of  his life.  Fortunately, he takes Mary’s advice and speaks to Mrs. Hughes about it, who quickly figures out Edna’s game.  She finds a copy of Marie Stopes’s Married Love among Edna’s things, and knows that Edna is aware of how to prevent pregnancy.  So if she couldn’t get Tom to agree, she would have been in the clear.  But if he did, she could find a way to get herself pregnant and then force Tom to marry her, thus raising her social standing.  Thanks to Mrs. Hughes’s excellent detective work, Edna is sent on her way, and I truly hope it’s the last we see of her.

Hughes, Tom, Edna

Elsewhere downstairs, the love polygon took an interesting turn (which didn’t take much, given how boring it had become).  Alfred finds Ivy and Jimmy canoodling in the boot room (thanks to Daisy advising him to search for Ivy there).  After it dawns on him that he will never have a chance with Ivy, Alfred decides to enter a competition for a chance to study cooking at the Ritz.  Daisy’s upset because her meddling means that Alfred might be leaving.  Personally, I’d like to see Daisy enter that competition herself.  Let her and Alfred go head to head in a cook off!  See, much more interesting than Alfred giving sad puppy dog eyes to Ivy, Ivy giving longing glances at Jimmy, and Daisy shooting daggers from her eyes at Ivy while she mixes something to a pulp.

Alfred and Daisy

Alfred studying for the competition after seeing Ivy and Jimmy together

Things were slightly more cheery upstairs (with the exception of Tom).  Lord Gillingham (aka “Tony”) has fallen for Lady Mary.  Hard.  He shows up at Aunt Rosamund’s for dinner while Mary is in London, then goes out dancing with her at the Lotus Club.  Mary didn’t seem to have any qualms about dancing this time around, though she tells Tony that she won’t be ready to marry for years.  Her body language betrays the words coming out of her mouth, however, as it’s obvious she’s happy when she’s around Tony.  Tony follows Mary and company back to Downton the next day (by slumming it in third class so the rest of the party doesn’t know he’s on board), and promptly asks Mary to marry him (my main “what the what?” moment of the night).  As Mary aptly points out, they’ve only known each other as adults for a few days.  How could he know that he’s sure?  Tony replies by telling Mary she fills his brain (which sounded very odd), to which Mary appears clearly flattered.  However, in the end she rejects his proposal, and Tony accepts that he must move forward with his plan to marry Mabel Lane Fox, but not before he kisses Mary (another “what the what?” moment), who minutes before had said that Matthew still “filled her brain” and she wanted to keep it that way for now.  One has to hand it to Tony, he is quite persistent (almost borderline stalker-ish).  He leaves an even more confused Mary, who wonders if she hasn’t perhaps made a mistake in turning him down.

Mary and Tony

The other Crawley sister is having relationship issues of her own.  Edith visits Michael Gregson, who is only one week away from his departure to Germany.  He asks her to sign some sort of “authority” contract before he goes, which Edith signs WITHOUT READING.  Oh, Edith–you just learned that your boyfriend (who is still married, by the way) is a bit of a card sharp, who knows what else he might have up his sleeve?  She then proceeds to give in to temptation, and stays the night with Gregson, returning to Aunt Rosamund’s early the next morning, shoes in hand as she tiptoes up the staircase.  But a maid sees her and informs Rosamund, who admonishes her niece for engaging in such reckless behavior.  Edith says she’s not a bit sorry, and besides, Gregson’s going to marry her.  Rosamund reminds her how well that whole marriage thing worked out before (ouch), and says that while she may not be sorry now, she may feel quite differently later on.  I’m just waiting to find out what that document was Edith signed, and how it will impact her in future episodes.

Edith, neglecting to read the fine print.

Edith, neglecting to read the fine print.

And then there’s Rose.  Rose, who still can’t work her way into my caring much about her.  But then, I had the same issue with Ethel in season 2, and in season 3 she won me over.  Anyway.  Rose suggests she and the rest of Aunt Rosamund’s dinner party attend the Lotus Club for a little fun.  While dancing with the (very drunk) young suitor she met at the house party, she is left adrift on the dance floor when her dance partner can’t hold his liquor.  She’s “rescued” by another new character, the black American band leader Jack Ross.  Rose sees it as rescued, at least–the rest of the family can’t wipe the shocked expressions off their face.  As Rosamund later explains, times may be changing, but they haven’t changed that much.  This likely won’t keep Rose away, however, and I doubt we’ve seen the last of Jack Ross.

Rose and Ross

Love and relationships seemed to be the overarching theme of this week’s episode.  It was nice to see one of those Mrs. Hughes & Carson chats, and we learn just how much courtship has changed, as Carson looks at the framed photo of his dear Alice and reflects on the changing times.  “You were lucky to walk her to the end of the street in those days.”  If Carson had seen Edith sneaking upstairs early in the morning, Mary passionately kissing a man she’s only known a few days (in her adult life), and Rose dancing with an African American band leader, I can only imagine what he’d have to say.

Looks like the episode set up a lot of plot points that will be carried out through the rest of the series, and I’m looking forward to seeing where they go.  What did you think of this week’s episode?

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Downton Abbey Season 3, ep. 3 recap

There were an awful lot of new plot lines jammed into this episode (in classic Julian Fellowes style, we flitted from one character’s story to the next, hardly giving us enough time to digest what just happened), and while there were no major shocker moments like last week, it looks like the groundwork has been laid for some escalating conflicts that are sure to come in the remaining episodes.

Warning: Spoilers for episode 3 ahead!

Upstairs revolved around two main stories: Tom and Sybil’s escape from Dublin, and Matthew’s increasing involvement in the running of the estate.  The former was the big drama for the night, the latter looks like it will create quite a bit in future episodes.

Branson

Tom shows up on Downton’s doorstep (on a dark and stormy night, of course), on the run from the law after his involvement in burning down an Anglo-Irish estate.  He and Sybil had a plan in place in which they would leave Ireland separately should something like this happen, but that doesn’t save Tom from getting an earful from the Crawley clan.  I can’t say it was undeserved, leaving a pregnant woman in a very volatile situation to fend for herself.  But, fortunately Sybil arrives safely, much to Tom and the family’s relief.  And Tom’s name is cleared with the authorities thanks to Papa, as long as he doesn’t return to Ireland.  It’s understandable that Tom is crushed by this; after all, Irish independence is his passion and to be kept away is a cruel punishment for him. But Sybil becomes the voice of reason, telling her husband the baby’s safety is what’s important, and so at Downton they will stay.  Side note: I wish we could have heard a bit more about Sybil’s experience in Ireland here, and how she feels about Tom burning down an aristocrat’s home, given that she was raised as one herself.

Tom and Sybil

Matthew

Matthew realizing his father-in-law is not the best business manager.

Elsewhere upstairs, Mary encourages Matthew to take a greater role in the estate, now that he’s invested in it.  She’s probably going to regret her prodding.  Matthew uncovers a lot of waste when looking over the accounts, which is not a big surprise given Lord Robert’s penchant for business management (need we be reminded of episode 1’s Canadian railway disaster?).  Matthew brings up the bookkeeping to Mary, who reluctantly tells him to talk to her father about it.  But Papa quickly brushes him off.  When Downton was so quickly saved thanks to Reggie Swire’s money I wondered where else we could go regarding story lines with the estate.  Now I know.  There’s going to be a showdown between Matthew and Robert, and maybe Matthew and Mary.  Change is certainly not their strong suit.

Mary and Matthew

A few other minor things upstairs: an interesting little scene between Matthew and Mary in the former day nursery.  Matthew apparently is looking to start a family, Mary not so much.  Seriously, can we please have a few scenes in which Mary doesn’t seem like an ice queen towards her husband?  It’s like first season Mary all over again.  What happened to dewy eyed love struck second season Mary?  Bring her back!

Edith

And then we’ve got Edith.  Poor Edith who seems a bit lost since her jilt at the altar.  But this episode gave me some hope that she’ll soon be finding her voice.  Her dear Papa is shocked when the newspaper actually prints an article she wrote about the women’s vote.  And Edith is not just becoming more vocal about suffrage, but also about the way her family perceives her.  I want to see Edith gain a little backbone when it comes to her family and the way they treat her.  And maybe move somewhere where she’ll be more appreciated, where she isn’t the overlooked middle child.  Go Edith!

Carson and the toaster

“What in God’s name is it?”

There was a lot of exciting new plot developments downstairs, and I’m not just talking about Carson waging war against a toaster.  Now that Matthew’s money has saved Downton from financial collapse, new staff members can finally be hired (even if Matthew seems reluctant about it…but Robert easily overlooks this), allowing Daisy to get her at-long-last promotion in the kitchen, and Anna to officially become lady’s maid to Lady Mary.

Daisy

Poor Daisy, can this kid ever catch a break?  She’s got her eye on Alfred, and she even goes to visit her father-in-law for a heart to heart about being interested in someone else.  And wouldn’t you know, every single time she’s about to say something to Alfred, Mrs. Patmore interrupts.  Does this woman have some sort of sixth sense for interfering in Daisy’s love life?  I had hoped we’d be rid of Daisy’s scowl and foul moods once she got promoted, but just as she’s about to tell Alfred how she feels, Mrs. Patmore comes in with Ivy, the new kitchen maid, who immediately catches Alfred’s attention.  So Daisy’s promotion came with a simultaneous jilt in the romance department.  I don’t expect that scowl to disappear anytime soon.

Anna

This week’s edition of the “Anna & Bates saga” was a little more interesting.  All communication was cut off between the two for the majority of the episode, causing some temporary anguish as Bates feels Anna has given up on him, and Anna worries that Bates wants her to move on and forget about him.  But thanks to a helpful fellow prisoner and a set up of Bates’s cellmate, his good favor is restored in the prison, and a backlog of letters finally gets delivered to them both.  It was nice to see at least one happy couple in this episode.Bates Anna with letter

Jimmy Kent

The new addition downstairs that causes the biggest stir is handsome footman Jimmy Kent.  His arrival turns all the maids’ heads, gives Mrs. Hughes pause (did anyone else notice her look him up and down?), and catches the attention of Thomas.  That attention does not go unnoticed by O’Brien, and I could see the cogs of evil working in her head.  I have a feeling she’s figured out what her next move is going to be, and I fear it is going to be exceedingly low.  Because now she not only needs to get back at Thomas, but she has to keep this headstrong new footman from taking away Alfred’s chances for advancement.

O'Brien

O’Brien forming a new scheme

Ethel

Finally, we have Ethel, who is still hanging around.  I actually felt some sympathy for her this week when she made the extremely difficult decision to give up her darling boy Charlie to his paternal grandparents.  I thought that might be the end of her story.  But now it appears that in next week’s episode Cousin Isobel is indeed going to make her her new project, and hire her on as a maid in her house.  Good luck with that, Isobel, we know how well that went last time.

I’ll be interested to see how all of these new developments play out in the remaining episodes.

All right, your turn!  What did you think of episode 3?

Missed an episode?  Read my episode 1 and episode 2 recaps.

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Downton Abbey Season 3, ep. 2 recap

Well, that was interesting.  I’ve got some mixed emotions about last night’s episode–some parts were excellent, other parts contrived and eye-roll-able.  Let’s just get right to it, shall we?

Warning: Spoilers for episode 2 ahead!

Preparing for wedding

Upstairs the house is preparing for another wedding, this time for neglected middle child Lady Edith.  But everyone seems more concerned with the inevitable selling of Downton Abbey and the move to what Cora has termed “Downton Place” (which sounds like a great name for a soap opera, which this episode took plot cues from at points).  Matthew is still being badgered by Mary to accept Reggie Swire’s money and save the estate so the family is not forced to move into….a gorgeous country home with accompanying village that they own…?

Downton Place

Certainly it is no Downton Abbey.  And I can understand Mary not wanting to leave the home she grew up in, one that’s been in her family for generations.  But is it really worth putting your newly wed husband in guilt-ridden agony for months on end by constantly harping about the money?

Matthew

Yes, please, let’s talk about Reggie Swire and my guilt over Lavinia’s death. AGAIN.

On the day of the picnic at “Downton Place” Matthew receives a letter from the deceased Reggie Swire, which he refuses to read, much to flabbergasted Mary’s irritation.

Side note: This was my favorite "Mary outfit" this episode.

Side note: This was my favorite “Mary outfit” this episode.

So Mary takes it upon herself to read the letter, much to flabbergasted Matthew’s irritation.  And this is where my eye-rolling commenced–Reggie Swire’s letter reveals that Lavinia, on her deathbed (though I suppose she didn’t know it at the time) wrote her father a letter about calling off the wedding and Matthew’s chivalrous “I’m going to marry you anyway” attitude.  But wait, no one saw Lavinia write such a letter, or saw it leave the house (and for that matter–where did Lavinia get the paper and pen to write it if she was lying in bed the whole time?).  So Matthew accuses his wife of forgery–which to be honest, I wouldn’t put past Mary at this point in her desperation to stay at Downton.  He takes back his accusation, but doesn’t believe the letter’s legitimate.  But if it is real, it relieves Matthew of all guilt, regret, etc. in one tidy little note.  Why, what a handy, convenient little plot device!  First thing next morning Mary goes downstairs, her hair undone in her haste, to learn that Daisy was the one who posted the letter.  And in one fell swoop guilt is swept away and Downton Abbey is saved!  Good thing Daisy’s own moral dilemma over marrying William didn’t cause her to forget to post the letter.

Daisy saves the day.

Daisy saves the day.

So now that’s settled, it’s time for Edith’s wedding.  At least Matthew is kind enough to ask Mary to wait until after the wedding to inform dear Papa that he doesn’t have to move, so as not to steal Edith’s thunder.  Because you know Mary would have.

Edith's wedding gown

Despite countless efforts to convince her otherwise, Edith is prepared to walk down the aisle and give her life to taking care of an older man with a lame arm.  And boy does that get hammered home about a thousand times in this episode.  It’s featured in every discussion between Lady Violet and Lord Robert, and every conversation between Sir Anthony and Edith.  So I guess we should have been prepared for what would happen next.

Edith & Sir Anthony

Poor Edith!  Her very happy day, the one that was supposed to be all about her, turns into a train wreck as soon as she arrives at the altar and Sir Anthony stops the proceedings by announcing he cannot marry her.  In front of everyone.  And to make matters worse, Edith drags the scene out by begging him not to leave her.  Granny has to step in and tell her to let him go, which he promptly does.  I know Sir Anthony did it because he loves Edith and did not want her to end up spending her life with a man she’d have to take care of, but he really picked a bad time to finally make his mind up about it.

Edith

But, I will say that while I wanted Edith to win the day and get her man despite what everyone else said, this gives us a chance to see a potentially more fleshed out character.  Laura Carmichael’s performance as the jilted bride was fantastic.  And now, instead of having all three Crawley sisters settled down into married life, we have one whose character arc could go in any number of directions.  So here’s hoping Edith picks herself up and finds a less traditional path for her life.

Matthew delivers the good news to Robert.

Matthew delivers the good news to Robert.

And just in case we weren’t positive that Edith doesn’t matter that much, we’ve got a scene where Lord Robert quickly dismisses Edith’s broken heart with a “she’ll get over it” and then is overjoyed to learn his son-in-law, thanks to his newly unburdened conscience, has saved the day, and in his thanks makes him a partner in the estate.

Mrs. Hughes smiling at Mr. Carson's serenade to the silver.

Mrs. Hughes smiling at Mr. Carson’s serenade to the silver.

The downstairs stories felt a bit weak to me this episode compared to the altar jilting happening upstairs.  We continued to bite our nails over the diagnosis of Mrs. Hughes.  Lady Cora (who finds out from Carson, who finds out from Mrs. Patmore, who apparently can’t keep a secret for a gold clock) tells Mrs. Hughes she knows about her health, and wants her to know she’ll always have a home at Downton.  A very touching moment, and it seemed to make Mrs. Hughes feel a bit closer to the family, as illustrated when she allows Alfred to talk badly about Sir Anthony for leaving Lady Edith at the altar.  In the end, it looks like the scare was for nothing, as the results indicate a benign tumor.  As Mrs. Patmore tells Carson everything is okay, I kept waiting for Mrs. Hughes’s relieved face to droop as if she were putting on a brave face and not telling the truth about her diagnosis.  But it never happened, so perhaps the health scare was just another minor plot point to pull us along for a few episodes before wrapping up neatly.

Cora & O'Brien

Cora under the misimpression that O’Brien will be leaving her.

Elsewhere we’ve got O’Brien and Thomas playing a slow, vindictive game of tennis.  Last week Thomas made trouble for Alfred (and therefore O’Brien), and then O’Brien retaliated by taking Lord Robert’s shirts.  In this episode Thomas starts a rumor that O’Brien is leaving, catching poor Molesley in the middle.  And now the ball is in O’Brien’s court–so what’s she going to serve Thomas with next week?

Bates finding the contraband his cell mate planted.

Bates finding the contraband his cell mate planted.

And then we’ve got the ongoing Anna & Bates saga.  Bates’s cell mate is out to get him for unexplained reasons, but Bates receives a tip off from someone on his side, which allows him to hide some contraband the cell mate has planted before the jail wardens raid the room.  Anna continues to devote every spare moment to freeing her husband, this time interviewing a friend of Vera’s who lived nearby.  If you’re playing “collect the clues,” we know that Vera ate an arsenic-laced pie.  The neighbor indicated that Vera made the pie the afternoon before she was found dead, and when she came to visit her she noticed that Vera was scrubbing under her fingernails like mad–my guess would be to make sure there were no traces of arsenic that would lead anyone to suspect she had put it in the pie.

Ethel and Isobel
Ethel appears again in this episode to say the same line over and over: “I shouldn’t have come.”  I couldn’t agree more.  I was done with Ethel last season, so why do we have to keep picking at this thread?  Yes, I get that we’re trying to show the gritty, not so pretty side of life after the war, and Ethel represents that.  But I’ve just never cared much about Ethel for some reason.  However, Cousin Isobel seems dead set on helping her, and my guess is she’s going to wriggle her way into Ethel’s life whether she wants it or not.

Daisy, besides informing Lady Mary that she posted the letter for Miss Swire, didn’t have much of a role this week, except to ask Anna if perhaps she should speak her mind more like the American girls.  She also seems to have her eye on Alfred.  I’d like to see an outspoken Daisy, maybe it’ll spice things up downstairs a little bit.  Because, for me at least, this back and forth between O’Brien and Thomas just isn’t cutting it.

Sybil and Edith

Just a few final thoughts–give me more Sybil and Tom!  They were barely in this episode, but I loved Sybil’s saucy little comment to Edith about not sleeping on her wedding night.  And Tom was in black tie!  But I thought he’d never buy such frivolous clothes–what made him change his mind?  And why wasn’t he more outspoken about the family having to potentially downsize to a house that has its own village attached to it?  Maybe he’s trying to play nice for his wife’s sake?  It looks like next week’s episode is going to feature the couple more prominently (and Tom leaves his pregnant wife behind in Dublin because he’s on the run?  What on earth will Granny have to say about that?).

I hope now that the ghost of Lavinia has been laid to rest we can see more cheerful moments between Matthew and Mary.  Yes, I know they’re going to bicker and squabble, but they’re newlyweds.  Surely the honeymoon period hasn’t ended already.  Give us some more light-hearted “proposal in the snow” type moments!

And even though the day ended in heartbreak, Lady Edith’s dress was stunning and in my opinion trumped Lady Mary’s.  I think the very simple gown Lady Mary wore fit her pragmatic personality, but Lady Edith’s dress with the detail work on it was just gorgeous.  So even though she didn’t actually get a husband on her wedding day, maybe Edith can take solace in knowing that her dress was prettier than Mary’s?  Maybe?

Finally, I know that Downton Abbey has soap opera tendencies (like last season’s misdiagnosis that allowed for Matthew’s miraculous spinal recovery), but I really hope we don’t have too many more all-too-convenient plot devices that allow for difficult situations to be easily fixed.  That letter from Reggie Swire still bugs me.

All right everyone, now it’s your turn!  What were your thought’s about episode 2?

Miss the premiere of season 3?  Read my recap.

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Downton Abbey Season 3, ep. 1 recap

Well, it’s been a long year of anticipation, Downtonites, but boy did it pay off!  The premiere of the third season of Downton Abbey was well worth the wait.  If the first episode is any indication of the focus of this season, we’re in for a more “estate-centered” story that puts priority on the people living and working at Downton Abbey, as well as on the house itself, something I felt we got away from in season 2.  Not that I disliked the second season, it just felt all over the place at times and I’m glad to see we’re getting back to a central focus.  Now, onto the episode recap.

Warning: Episode 1 spoilers ahead!

Last night’s episode had Fellowes’s fast-paced story-telling style going at full speed, with plots piling up one after another.  There was a lot going on, so I am going to hit the highlights.

Upstairs it was all about wedding bells and money woes.  Finally (finally!) Matthew and Lady Mary are about to tie the knot, and it is so nice to see the two of them as a couple, swapping flirtations.  And Mary smiling!  Such a nice change from last season.  Of course, their impending nuptials are overshadowed by the fact that Lord Grantham, who apparently does not understand what “diversify” means, has lost the “lion’s share” of Lady Cora’s fortune in a really bad business deal.  I like how Lady Cora points out that what he did was stupid, but stands by her man.  Further proof that the woman is a saint.

Robert & Cora

The money troubles put a damper on the wedding, especially when Mary wants Matthew to use the potential money he’s inherited from Lavinia’s father to save Downton.  But Matthew, being the morally upright man that he is, just can’t bring himself to use money that reminds him of his betrayal to Lavinia.  Thus we have THE argument that leads to Mary storming off and possibly calling off the wedding.  Good thing Anna is there to remind Mary that good men aren’t like buses (“there won’t be another one along in ten minutes’ time”), and Branson, er, Tom, points out to Matthew that he’ll never be happy with anyone else.  So they kiss and make up.  I like how the two (well, mostly Matthew) realize that there are going to be some bumps in the road in their marriage, but they are just going to have to work through them because they love each other and want to be together.  We already knew it wouldn’t be smooth sailing for them, but at least the characters acknowledge it as well.

After making all that fuss about it being bad luck to see each other, why did traditionalist Mary open her eyes?

After making all that fuss about it being bad luck to see each other the night before the wedding, why did traditionalist Mary open her eyes?

One of my favorite portions of the upstairs drama was the interaction between the rest of the family with Sybil and Tom.  The two have obviously been living “a very different sort of life” and they both feel a bit out of place at the dinner table (of course, the constant questioning isn’t exactly helpful).  The scene in which Tom basically gets “roofied” by Sybil’s old suitor and Matthew steps up and asks him to become his best man was one of the best of the night.  The future earl is welcoming him into the family (after all, they’ve got to take on the “Crawley girls” together), setting the example for the others to follow. (Side note: I wonder if Mary would be quite as willing to welcome Tom into the family if he had married Edith instead of Sybil?  I didn’t think s0.)

Tom & Matthew

Matthew saves the day

Of course, we also have the introduction of Martha Levinson, Lady Cora’s mother, who travels from the States for the wedding.  She was a breath of fresh air, but I was somewhat underwhelmed by her presence.  It was a bit predictable, and so much hype surrounded Shirley MacLaine’s performance that my expectations were pretty high.  Still, the scene where she serenades Lady Violet was pretty classic.

The wedding goes off without a hitch.  Well, I assume it did, given we didn’t see the actual ceremony (which I was okay with–it was enough to have that little exchange between Matthew and Mary at the front of the church), and we cut straight to Mary and Matthew returning from the honeymoon (which again, we didn’t get to see–I would have liked a “first night together” scene, just because I’d like to know if Mary was afraid for her new husband’s life, given what happened the last time she took a man to bed–or if perhaps Matthew teased her about it.  But something tells me the Pamuk scandal is a sensitive subject).

Mary & Matthew in bed

Oh good. I’m glad to see you’re still alive.

In other upstairs news, we’ve got Edith flinging herself at Sir Anthony Strallan again.  I want Edith to be happy and I’m all for her take charge attitude, but she just comes off as a little bit desperate to me.  Does she really love Sir Anthony, or is he her “only hope” in her mind, given that so many British men were killed during the war?  By the end of the episode, despite her father and grandmother’s attempted intervention, it seems that Edith has secured her man.

Edith & Sir Anthony

While all the family drama and money issues are taking place upstairs, we’ve got health scares, workwoman’s strikes, and a new footman downstairs.  O’Brien manages to get her nephew Alfred Nugent a position as footman, and soon sets her sights on getting him promoted to Matthew’s valet.  For once I actually felt sorry Thomas, who worked for years to earn such a promotion.  I don’t blame him for disliking Alfred.  He’s not only being groomed for a position Thomas doesn’t feel he’s qualified for (rightfully so), but he’s put a wedge between Thomas and O’Brien, his only “friend” downstairs.  So naturally, Thomas and O’Brien turn on each other, and something tells me it’s going to get a bit nastier than coat-tail torching and shirt-stealing.  Each knows the other’s weaknesses and they’re going to use them to their advantage.

Thomas isn't about to help O'Brien's nephew learn the ropes.

Thomas isn’t about to help O’Brien’s nephew learn the ropes.

Elsewhere we’ve got Daisy, who STILL, three seasons later (that’s 8 years in Downton time) hasn’t learned to ignore Thomas.  She goes on strike, much to Mrs. Patmore’s amusement, and Mrs. Patmore, treating Daisy like the child she is being, ignores her until she finally comes around.  Most pointless and ineffective strike ever.

Daisy's protest of 1920.

Daisy’s protest

One of the more intriguing plot-lines was Mrs. Hughes’s cancer scare.  Given her status downstairs, the only person she has to turn to is Mrs. Patmore, whose bedside manner leaves something to be desired (but also led to some of the funnier downstairs scenes of the night).  How frightening it must be for a woman in a position such as Mrs. Hughes, who has no family to turn to in the event her health does decline.  How long can she stay on as Downton Abbey’s housekeeper?  And how long until she lets poor Mr. Carson know?

Mrs. Patmore & Mrs. Hughes

“If you must pay money, better to a doctor than an undertaker.”

Finally we have Anna and Bates.  Their storyline feels so out of place to me this season.  Everything else is revolving around the house, and here we have Bates stuck in prison, with his wife playing detective and trying to find the piece of evidence that will finally set him free.  I’m still interested, yes, but it does feel a bit out in left field to me.  Good to know that Anna bought a garter while in France, though.

Bates contemplating Anna's wardrobe addition.

Bates contemplating Anna’s wardrobe addition.

So, looks like we’ve got quite a few questions raised in the first episode to keep us tuning in.  Will the Crawleys be downsizing from Downton?  How tumultuous will Mary and Matthew’s marriage be?  What will Matthew do with his unwanted inheritance?  Will Edith and Sir Anthony marry?  When do we get to see more of Sybil and Tom (they left so soon!)?  Will Anna ever exonerate Mr. Bates?  How out of control will O’Brien and Thomas’s one-up-manship become?  What will happen to Mrs. Hughes?  So many questions, so much more Downton  to come that will hopefully answer them!

What did you think of last night’s episode?  And for those of you who have seen spoilers, please don’t mention them here!

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