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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. 5 recap

Great hall

This week’s Downton Abbey centered around Robert’s “surprise” birthday party, and the arrival of yet another new character this season, Charles Blake.  The love polygon downstairs took an interesting turn, and Isobel and Violet quarreled over missing knick-knacks.

Warning: Spoilers for episode 5 ahead!

Upstairs, the family is abuzz over the impending arrival of pigs, something I never thought we’d hear on Downton.  But Robert’s decided to get on board with Tom and Mary’s idea to work the land, and Tamworth pigs seem to be their latest idea.

Mary & Blake

Mary is also excited by the news that Evelyn Napier has accepted her invitation to stay at Downton, along with his friend Charles Blake.  Her hope that they will advise them on how to best manage Downton soon fades when, upon their arrival, Charles Blake explains that they aren’t there to help the landowners, but rather to figure out how best to use the land that is being sold off.  The two take an immediate disliking to each other, as Blake feels Mary is an entitled snob, and Mary feels Blake is an enemy who doesn’t care about families like hers.  I liked the dynamic between the two of them, and hope we get to see some fun sparring, which to me is when Mary is at her best.

Rose

“What’s everyone looking like that for?”

Meanwhile, Rose plans the big surprise for Robert’s birthday–and no surprise to us, it’s Jack Ross and his band.  We all knew Rose would find a way to see the charming crooner again.  Ross’s arrival sends shock waves rippling through both upstairs and down.  Not only is their a jazz player in their midst, but a black jazz player.  Mary receives the biggest surprise of the night, finding her cousin Rose doing some serious making out with Ross downstairs in a dark room.  Lest we forget, one of our first encounters with Rose last season was when she went to visit a married “friend” in London, where she stayed in his home for a few hours before heading out to a jazz club.  Looks like Downton hasn’t tamed her as much as her mother had hoped.

Mary, Rose, & Ross

Tom still contemplates the idea of going to America.  While he admits to Isobel that he’s come to love the Crawleys, he doubts another aristocrat is going to fall in love with him, and he’s not so sure the Crawleys would welcome a middle class Irish woman into the family.  As they dance to jazz in the Great Hall, Isobel points out that Downton Abbey, and the Crawleys, have the ability to change with the times, and perhaps he shouldn’t buy that ticket to America just yet.  I’ve enjoyed watching the developing relationship between those two, and it feels like Isobel has taken Tom in as a sort of surrogate son.

Uh oh, Edith

Uh oh, Edith

Elsewhere, Aunt Rosamund’s prediction for Edith looks like it’s coming true.  With Michael Gregson still nowhere to be found, Edith receives a note from the doctor informing her that her symptoms do indeed match those of a first trimester of pregnancy.  And there goes the possibility for an exciting storyline in which Edith becomes a career woman.  Instead we just get little snippets of Edith becoming increasingly worried about the whereabouts of Gregson–now with very good reason since she’s carrying his child.  She’s yet to confide in anyone about the latter, though both her parents finally seem concerned enough to talk to her about what’s going on (I laughed out loud when Cora told Edith her “mother’s instinct” led her to believe something was wrong.  It’s not like Edith was putting on a brave face and hiding her anguish!).

Edith

Downstairs, Alfred receives the exciting news that he has been offered a place in the cooking course at the Ritz after another student dropped out.  Daisy’s heart immediately crumbles, and as expected, she blames Ivy.  Ivy’s got issues of her own, though, since apparently trips to the pub and the movies equal hanky panky privileges to Jimmy.  When he tells her she owes it to him, Ivy realizes what a stand-up guy Alfred was, further angering Daisy.  After she cuts into her, a clueless Ivy asks Mrs. Hughes what that was about, to which Mrs. Hughes responds “Oh, I’d say it’s about the fact you had it coming.”  Mrs. Hughes has seriously gotten some of the best lines this season.

Anna & Bates

Then there’s Anna and Bates, who are still struggling to move on from Anna’s assault.  But “everything is shadowed” for the couple because of it, and while they decide going out to dinner and trying not to think about it for one night might do the trick, they still end up talking about it anyway.  Bates feels like he should have protected her, Anna wants him to stop looking at her as a victim.  And then who should show up to interrupt them but Lady Cora!  She just happens to be at the same “frightful hotel” for an orphanage committee meeting dinner.  But it’s a good thing she is, since the uppity maitre d’ had no wish to seat Mr. and Mrs. Bates at first, until he found out they were acquaintances of Lady Grantham.  At the end of the meal, she butts into their conversation and offers them a ride home (complete with the same creepy smile she had plastered on her face every time she spoke to them).  By butting into said conversation, she overhears that Anna’s been hurt somehow and Bates feels he should have protected her.  She relays the information to Lady Mary, while Baxter is in the room.

Baxter

And Baxter, who is being puppeteered by Thomas for still-unexplained reasons, reports the news, though she’s reluctant to do so.  She likes Lady Cora, but Thomas tells her she needs to decide where her loyalties are: with him, or with her ladyship.

Next week it looks like the rumblings about Uncle Harold and some oil scandal is going to blow up and become a bigger issue.  If he’s looking to Robert for financial advice, he must really be in it deep.

Now it’s your turn!  What did you think of this week’s episode?  And which “Mary suitor” do you like better, Lord Gillingham or Charles Blake?  Is it just me, or does it seem like Fellowes has essentially taken Matthew’s personality (from season 1) and split it in half, giving Lord Gillingham the kind-hearted, sympathetic-to-Mary part, and Charles Blake the “I don’t like rich people and their ways” part?

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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 3, ep. 6 recap

Matthew and Branson

Last night’s episode of Downton Abbey was the best of the season in my opinion.  We’re talking season 1 caliber here.  I genuinely enjoyed every single story line as they reached their conclusions (and the new ones introduced too).  My only complaint?  It was just a lot to process.  I know we’re used to having fast-paced plots thrown at us  by Mr. Fellowes, but I hardly had time to swoon over a Mary and Matthew scene before I was in the middle of O’Brien’s scheming and worrying over Thomas’s fate.  There was a lot of ground covered with this episode being two hours, so I am going to hit the main highlights.

Warning: Spoilers for episode 6 ahead!

Anna and Bates

Anna and Bates–together again

Bates is free!  Here I was thinking that surely something else would happen to drag out the jail scenes longer, but I was pleasantly surprised to find him sprung at the very beginning of the episode.  And it wasn’t until he arrived back at the house that I realized how much I had missed his character.  And he and Anna had some really adorable scenes as they set up house together.  Anna just can’t stop smiling now that her Mr. Bates is home again.  I don’t blame her–I was smiling too, glad to not have to watch Bates walk in circles around a depressingly gray courtyard anymore.  I mean, now we get to see him in a Panama hat keeping score at a cricket match!

Bates

But of course, Bates’s return means Thomas’s employment is in jeopardy.  And soon that’s not the only reason why.  Thomas finally falls for O’Brien’s multi-episode laid trap.  At first I wondered why on earth Thomas would believe anything that came out of O’Brien’s mouth, having been her partner in crime for so long.  How could he fall for it?  But, as Thomas tells Carson, he had hope, and that hope apparently blinded him.  Before the incident with Jimmy, he and Thomas are alone in the servants’ hall, and Thomas says to Jimmy: “We both like to look so sure of ourselves, but we aren’t so sure underneath now, are we?”  Such a telling statement about his character.  Hard on the outside, but underneath there’s a vulnerability that is closely guarded.  And for good reason too.  Because Thomas’s homosexuality was considered a crime in 1920, and he therefore cannot be who he truly is.  I found the subject well handled, wonderfully acted by Rob James-Collier, and it really added a layer of depth to the villainous Thomas.  The scene in which he is lurking in the shadows near Bates and Anna’s house was also very nicely done, when Thomas tells Bates he envies him his happiness.  Bates suggests that he be nicer to people, and Thomas replies that being nice is what got him into trouble.  Something tells me Thomas’s shell has been further hardened by his incident with Jimmy.

Thomas and Jimmy

But Thomas’s humiliation isn’t enough to satisfy O’Brien.  She pushes Jimmy to not only make sure Thomas is fired, but is sent away with no reference, which would basically destroy his future job prospects.  After his false accusation and prison sentence, Bates cannot stand by and let another man’s life be ruined by circumstances beyond his control.  So he invites O’Brien over to tea, and whispers something Thomas has told him in her ear, which quickly changes her tune.

"Her ladyship's soap."

“Her ladyship’s soap.”

Poor Bates–he does something nice for someone who always treated him so cruelly, and how is he repaid?  Thomas is made under butler (I didn’t even know there was such a thing!), which means he will now be in charge of Bates.  All because Lord Grantham wants to keep Thomas around because he’s a good cricket player and wants him to play in the big match.  Glad you’ve got your priorities straight, Robert.

Sybils christening

But I suppose Robert feels like he has to win somewhere in his life.  His granddaughter has been christened into the Catholic church.  Edith is going to work for a newspaper (more on that later).  And while he may be back in his wife’s good graces, even she won’t side with him when it comes to the future running of the estate.  Matthew’s certain that his business model to make Downton self-sufficient is the only way to ensure its survival.  And everyone agrees–except for Robert and his steward Jarvis.  The latter promptly turns in his resignation, which is probably for the best for the estate to move forward.  Plus, it provided an awfully convenient vacancy for Tom to fill!  And thus the Matthew-Tom bromance continues.  I love their relationship and the way Matthew (and Mary too, for that matter) has made Tom feel welcome in the family.

Branson

Tom is the one who brings Robert around to Matthew’s idea at last.  He explains that between his knowledge of the land, Matthew’s business sense, and Robert’s desire to do right by the farmers and employees on the estate, the three of them might be able to give Downton a future.  Well said, Tom!  Of course, it now means he has to play cricket to satisfy Robert, but still…wow, Robert really is obsessed with this cricket match, isn’t he?

Mary and Matthew

“Convince me again.”

Can I just say how nice it is to see some scenes with Matthew and Mary being loved up newlyweds again?  Mary has softened quite a bit, and whereas at the beginning of the season she seemed determined to stand by her father, she at last gives Matthew her full support, which seems to bolster her husband and their relationship.  Matthew continues to be concerned his war wound has caused fertility issues, but as it turns out Mary was the one with the problem, and after an unexplained operation (and a slightly embarrassing run-in at the doctor), she tells Matthew that all is well and they can now begin to start a family.

Matthew and Mary

Time to start making little princes.

Edith and Michael

Edith finally stretches her wings and becomes a columnist for a newspaper.  Which gave us an excellent excuse to see some very nice costumes–Edith wore quite a few nice ones while in London visiting her editor, Michael Gregson.

Edith

One of my favorites–love the hat!

Her editor admires her appearance, but Edith isn’t rushing in this time around.  She does a little investigating and finds out he’s married.  She confronts him, he admits that he is married, but his wife is in an insane asylum.  Poor Edith.  Let’s take a look at her track record, shall we?  Crush #1 was engaged to her older sister and died in the Titanic disaster.  Crush #2 was a much older man intended for her older sister, but who would have married her if said older sister had not meddled.  Crush #3 was a MARRIED farmer.  Crush #4 was a badly wounded soldier claiming to be Crush #1, who eventually disappeared without a trace.  Then there was Crush #2 revisited, who jilted her at the altar.  And now we have Crush #5, a married man whose wife is insane and who he can therefore never divorce.  Can someone please give this girl a break?  Please?

Rose

Rose at the Blue Dragon

This week we were introduced to Shrimpie’s daughter, the grand-niece of Lady Violet, Rose.  Here’s a girl who has no qualms about dating a married man.  I think perhaps my favorite scene of the episode is when Matthew, Edith, and Aunt Rosamund go to the Blue Dragon club and find their flapper relative cavorting with a married man.  It pulled us away from the rigid morals and tradition of Downton Abbey for just a moment, and boy do the three of them look out of place.

Entering the Blue Dragon

And apparently, since we haven’t seen Matthew dance all season, we got a little bonus by having him give Rose a stern talking to while on the dance floor.  Great scene, and one of the best of the night in my opinion.

Matthew and Rose

“Married men who wish to seduce young women always have horrid wives.”

And while Matthew promises Rose they won’t say anything to Cousin Violet about what happened, you can’t get much by that lady.  She uses her stealthy dowager insight to find out about Rose’s tart-like ways and sends her packing for Scotland.

The boys

The episode concludes with the cricket match, which was fun to watch (even if I had no idea what was going on).  It almost had the same feel as the season 1 finale garden party (the part before the announcement that World War I had begun).  Robert wards off the police for Thomas after finding out that Alfred has called them (I guess nastiness just runs in the family).  Tom asks Cora if he and the baby might live at Downton for a while, which of course delights Cora.  Mary and Matthew are as happy as they were during that snowy proposal at the end of season 2.  And Robert has at last given in and fully supports Matthew’s vision for the future of Downton.

Matthew and Mary

“I didn’t think it was possible to love as much as I love you.” ~Matthew

Now, I will be honest.  With all of this happiness in all of the plot wrap ups, I would almost (dare I say it?) be pleased if the entire show ended here.  Maybe it’s just me, but everything was resolved so well, and the episode was so nicely done, that I almost feel like continuing will spoil it.  But maybe Mr. Fellowes will prove me wrong and the next episode will be even better than this one.  It’s going to be a hard one to follow, though.

What did you think about this week’s episode?  Did you think it was as good as I did?  Do you think it would have made a good end to the show, or can you never get enough Downton Abbey?

Missed an episode?  Catch up with my episode 1, episode 2, episode 3, episode 4, and episode 5 recaps.

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Downton Abbey Season 3, ep. 5 recap

This week’s episode of Downton Abbey focused on its inhabitants in the wake of last week’s devastating tragedy.  Everyone is trying to come to terms with the death of Lady Sybil and the reminder that nothing can be taken for granted.  I thought the series turned out another quality episode to follow up last week’s in both its writing and acting.  The family (as well as the audience) needed time to grieve Sybil’s death, and much of the episode was devoted to just that.

Warning: Spoilers for episode 5 ahead!

Leaving Downton

Mourners leaving Downton Abbey

The funeral is over, the guests have gone, and now it is time for the Crawley family to resume life without their dear Sybil.  Tom (who turned in another wonderful performance this week) is grief-stricken, telling a concerned Matthew that his wife is gone and he is past help.  Cora’s role continued to have more substance as a grieving mother who cannot forgive her husband for not listening to Dr. Clarkson’s advice.  She barely speaks or looks at him, and when she does it is to tell him that his fixation on tradition, with his insistence on hiring a fashionable knighted doctor, killed their daughter.  The two parents are therefore left to mourn on their own.  In order to help her son, Lady Violet steps in and contacts Dr. Clarkson, asking him to review the evidence and find out what Sybil’s chances were of surviving eclampsia so that the rift between Cora and Robert might be mended and they can deal with their grief together.

Robert at breakfast

Robert upon hearing Tom’s plans to raise his daughter as a Catholic

In the meantime it becomes painfully apparent that Robert is lost.  Even more so than during the war when his house was turned into a convalescence home.  All of the traditions, all of things he’s found comfort in as certainties, are crumbling around him.  His response to the loss of control is anger and frustration, and he releases it wherever he can.  He almost explodes at the breakfast table when grief-stricken Tom announces his daughter (who he’s decided to name Sybil to remember her mother by) will be Catholic.  When Robert goes to his favorite daughter to rail against Tom’s “ghoulish” idea of naming the baby Sybil and for his insistence on breaking with the Crawley Anglican tradition, he finds no sympathy.  Mary disagrees with him, reminding her dear Papa that the baby is a Branson, not a Crawley.

Mary talking to Robert

Robert’s traditionalist boat is further rocked when Matthew brings up the mismanagement of the estate once more, which Robert wants to hear nothing about.  Matthew urges him that the time to act is now, that the money to keep Downton afloat is already “leaking through the cracks.”  Again, Robert looks like he might explode.  But Carson enters before he has a chance to and gives Robert a place to funnel his full wrath when he informs him that his mother, wife, and daughters are all at luncheon with Mrs. Crawley, eating food prepared by a former prostitute.

Robert at luncheon

Robert puffs up his chest and bursts into the luncheon, insisting that every one of them leave at once, blustering on about Ethel’s wayward ways and how Mrs. Crawley has exposed his entire family to scandal as a result.  He is put in his place quickly by his wife, who, after learning that Mrs. Patmore helped Ethel, looks straight at him and says she is glad her cook has a good heart and does not judge.  When he makes one last attempt to get them to leave, his mother states that it would be a pity to miss such a good pudding.  Once again finding himself in events outside his control, Robert exits with a firm slam of the door.

Mary and Robert

Just when I was ready to smack Robert to make him wake up and get with the program, he has a heart to heart with Mary that brought tears to my eyes.  After Mary tells him he won’t win on the christening, and spells out what we’ve observed all episode (“The world isn’t going your way.  Not anymore.”), he finally opens up about Sybil.  About how he forgets she is gone, and when he sees a newspaper article that will make her laugh or a rose she loves that is in bloom, he goes to tell her, and then he remembers.  Mary begs him to tell Cora this, but he knows she won’t listen.

Cora and Robert
Finally, Lady Violet orchestrates an intervention for her son and daughter-in-law, asking them to pay a call at her house.  There they find Dr. Clarkson, who explains that after a great deal of study, Lady Sybil had an infinitesimal chance of survival.  Even if they had performed a caesarian, it likely would have put her through a great deal of pain and suffering and she still would have died.  At the realization that death was inevitable for their daughter, Cora and Robert both break down, seeking each other for solace.  And Lady Violet saves the day once more.

Matthew and Mary

Robert and Cora took up the largest chunk of the upstairs story this week, but there were a few other plot points worth mentioning.  Sybil’s death seems to have reminded Mary and Matthew of the uncertainty of life, and that they shouldn’t take their marriage for granted, nor their home.  Nice to finally see a scene in which the two aren’t fighting about money, but I couldn’t help but wonder if their memories were completely erased of the previous years of angst they both suffered when they weren’t together–wouldn’t that be reminder enough not to take each other for granted?

Matthew and Tom

Matthew takes Tom on a tour of the estate and shares some of his ideas, and is surprised to learn that Tom has some experience of his own when it comes to farm management.  Is it just me, or would Tom and Matthew make an excellent management team for Downton?  But I won’t get my hopes up, because Tom seems determined to leave the place as soon as possible.

Edith

Edith’s ongoing indecisiveness about the newspaper job continued this week with a quick mention at the luncheon.  She is still unsure of what to do with herself, and proposes learning to cook (to her sister’s horrified “Why?”).  Please Edith, get thyself to London post haste, and get thee a fantastic job and a life of thine own.

Ethel

Downstairs also had some difficulty adjusting to change.  Carson and Lord Robert are apparently cut from the same cloth, and Carson cannot let go of the fact that Mrs. Crawley has hired Ethel of ill repute to run Crawley House.  And Molesley is right there with him.  But others, like Mrs. Patmore and Mrs. Hughes, are more understanding (except for when it comes to rouge–Mrs. Patmore is having none of that!).  And I will admit it–I’m totally invested in Ethel’s story now.  Her character bored me last season, and her arc was slow to start this season, but ever since she gave up her darling boy Charlie and has started to turn her life around, I can’t help rooting for her, and look forward to seeing where her story goes.

Daisy and Alfred

Daisy teaches Alfred the foxtrot

The love polygon between Daisy, Alfred, Ivy, and Jimmy (and Thomas off to the side) continues.  Even when Mrs. Patmore plainly points out that they’re all in love with the wrong people, it’s as if it goes straight over their heads.  Maybe if she took one of those copper pots Ivy is always cleaning and banged them over the heads they’d see reason, but I doubt it.

Thomas and Jimmy

Thomas still recovering from the loss of Lady Sybil

I’ve been feeling sympathetic for Thomas the past few episodes.  He hasn’t done one evil or nasty thing.  Which means I’m really dreading what must be in store for him courtesy of O’Brien.  Because if Julian Fellowes is trying to get us to care about one of the nastiest pieces of work at Downton, it means he’s setting that character up for a major fall.

Daisy

Daisy of the constant scowl finally had something to smile about this episode.  Mr. Mason informs her he wants to give her his farm and all of his worldly possessions.  Could Daisy have found a nicer father-in-law?  She explains that she plans to stay in service, but Mr. Mason, wise man that he is, asks Daisy if she really thinks that the world will keep turning as it has been for houses like Downton Abbey.  She’s got a lifetime of work ahead of her, and she may need to think of some other way to make a living.

Bates

The “Free Bates” campaign continues.  As I predicted, that no good jail warden got to Mrs Bartlett before Mr. Murray could.  Again, why do they hate Bates so much?  I understand their current anger (since Bates framed his cellmate)–but why was there an issue to begin with?  I really wish that could be explained further.  Bates tells Mr. Murray he knows why Mrs. Bartlett did not give the same story that she did to Anna, and that he is going to do something about it.  Anna tells him to promise not to do anything stupid, but Bates only says he’ll take care of it.

Bates threatening Craig

Bates then proceeds to threaten his former cell mate with a sharp object (where did he even get that?) and tells him he better put things right and get Mrs. Bartlett to tell the truth or else he’ll tell the governor that he and the jail warden were trying to involve him in a drug scheme, which would put the jail warden out of a job and give the cell mate five more years in the clink.

Anna

Apparently the threat works, as Anna receives a letter from Mr. Murray saying that he got the statement from Mrs. Bartlett and Bates will be freed.  But the process will take a few weeks, which means Bates isn’t out of danger yet.  After the threat he made, he should probably watch out for some sort of retaliation.  While it would have been nice to have him freed by the end of the episode, it looks like this storyline will be dragged out at least a little longer.  Sidenote: wasn’t that a sweet moment between Mary and Anna, when Anna says how touched she is to hear Mary say “we” when discussing Bates’s case and how much Mary cares about seeing him set free?

Anna and Mary

So much to think about for next week’s episode.  Will Robert finally set his pride aside and listen to Matthew’s ideas so Downton Abbey isn’t run into the ground?  Has Cora finally forgiven her husband?  If (though it looks like “when” from the preview) Bates makes it out of jail alive, and resumes his post as Lord Robert’s valet, what will happen to Thomas?  O’Brien’s set her trap, and I’m just waiting to see how it will snap.  Will Daisy accept her father-in-law’s offer to leave service and move to the farm?  What about Mary and Matthew?  I saw the way they looked at little baby Sybil, it’s obvious they both want a family.  And what will happen to Tom?  Will he make a fresh start in Liverpool, or will he perhaps be convinced by Matthew to stay at Downton?  And it looks like from the preview that Edith will finally work up the nerve to become a career woman!  But who exactly is this Rose they are introducing next time?  Looks like a “Bright Young Thing” to me.  Perhaps she’ll teach Edith the Charleston.

What were your thoughts about this week’s episode?

Missed an episode?  Read my recaps of episode 1, episode 2, episode 3, and episode 4.

 

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