Downton Abbey: Unlikely Turns of Events

Posted on January 14, 2013

Oh dear. That didn’t take long.

We’re afraid this episode represents pretty much everything that’s bad about the writing on Downton Abbey and all of Julian Fellowes’ worst instincts as a writer. The man has absolutely no sense of pacing and thinks plotting consists of one unlikely thing happening after another, over and over again, until he gets bored with it. Then, he wraps it up or resolves it quickly, in one scene, or sometimes in no scenes.

Mrs. Hughes might have cancer! Oh, no! Wait a minute, no she doesn’t! We think. All that hand-wringing only to have the reveal that she was healthy handled in such an obtuse way that we thought for a couple of minutes she was lying to relieve Carson’s fretting. We’re still not entirely sure if Mrs. Patmore was telling the truth, but she and Mrs. Hughes acted like they were happy, so we guess she’s cancer-free.

The Crawleys are going to lose Downton Abbey! Oh no! Wait a minute, no they won’t! Why? Because Lavinia Swire’s father left his entire fortune to Matthew after he broke his daughter’s heart and probably hastened her death. Uh… really? On what planet do people act like this? The only thing this silly subplot managed to do was to make literally every single person involved look terrible. Robert looks like an ass for losing all the family’s money. Mr. Swire sounds like an idiot. Mary comes off looking insanely materialistic and money-hungry, and Matthew comes off looking ridiculously stubborn, going so far as to obliquely accuse Mary of forging the letter. What awful people these are. And why on earth would Lavinia, on her deathbed, write a letter to her father to tell her that her wedding was off, but that Matthew is still a wonderful man? No one acts this way. Even worse, none of these subplots, which did actually have some meat to them, were given time to breathe. They were introduced last week and then resolved this week. Granted, we hate it when subplots drag out for too long, but it would have been nice to see them developed a bit more.

Edith’s getting married! No she’s not! This one, we didn’t mind so much. It made a certain amount of sense and it gives Edith some meat to her character. She truly is the Jan Brady of this family and our hearts went out to her when she ordered her two married sisters out of her bedroom, in shame and sorrow. Of course, even this part of the story makes little sense to us, given the time and place. It wasn’t at all unheard of for women of Edith’s station to marry men much older than themselves, so the family’s constant smirking and fretting over this marriage made no sense to us. Especially since Sir Anthony was floated as a husband for Mary not too many years ago. Edith made a good point last week when she noted how many of the men from her generation were killed in the war, but what we really wanted her to say was “What? He’s fine for Mary but I can’t have him? Go screw yourselves.” And why was Violet so opposed to it, when her own daughter was apparently widowed at a fairly young age and seems to be doing quite well for herself? And considering the embarassment that Sybil’s marriage caused them all, you’d think they’d be happy to see a daughter marry a titled man with a house, something that neither of the other Crawley girls managed. In many respects, Sir Anthony Strallan made a better husband than either Matthew or Tom.

Granted, the family has always treated Edith terribly, and you could argue that their attitudes here were more of the same, but inside the story, they made very little sense.

In other news, Bates is still in prison, walking around in circles (in more ways than one) and the long-suffering Anna is all over London, trying to find outzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Oh, god. Please end this subplot now. It’s more than played out.

Julian Fellowes seems to want to give these people character flaws, but then he never makes the effort to develop them further or to explore the ramifications of those flaws. Robert is foolish, Mary is materialistic, Matthew is stubborn, Bates is saintly, and everyone treats Edith like shit. And that’s all there is to it.

No, we can’t say we loved this episode, but just to end this review on an up note – and to try and stave off all the people who’ll call us big meanies, here are the things we liked:

  • Edith’s gown, which was much more fabulous than Mary’s. Score one for the so-called “ugly” sister.
  • Cora’s very touching promise to Mrs. Hughes to take care of her, no matter what.
  • Carson’s non-romantic, yet still very deeply held love for the woman who shares his life and his concerns, Mrs. Hughes. 
  • The Thomas vs. O’Brien War. Delicious. If we were Thomas, we’d be careful around bathtubs and bars of soap for a while. 

 

[Stills: tomandlorenzo.com]

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  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_3JSTXMWWVZN2QNP2UEKJMTWD7U Isabel

    If I were Thomas, I wouldn’t eat! Some of the cleaning supplies can be slipped in the food.

    • Karen Maslowski

       And they were more likely to be poisonous back in the day, as well.

  • https://twitter.com/Gayer_Than_Thou Gayer Than Thou

    Personally, I was hoping Lord Strallan would take on Thomas a valet, one thing would lead to another, and Edith would bust in on them doing a lot more than adjusting cufflinks (if you catch my drift).  Strallan, to avoid a scandal, would give Edith a quiet divorce and a lot of money and she’d go to Italy and paint and sleep with a bunch of hot Italian farm hands.

    • sweet_potato

      You need to write for the show.

    • decormaven

      That is ever so much better than what we got. Kudos!

    • siriuslover

      That’s a very interesting plot line!  I really liked Lord Strallan as a character and was disappointed with how he was treated as a character. I am also irritated at the hypocrisy of the family in how they treat Mary and Edith, but Mary was their favored child.  It was nice to see Cora unabashedly show affection for her middle daughter here. I liked seeing that side of her (as well as when she told Mrs. Hughes they would take care of her).

      • http://twitter.com/herong Heron

        That scene with Edith and Cora on the bed was one of the only bits of true acting I’ve ever seen on the show.  HEARTwrenching.  

      • Spicytomato1

        Agree with you about Strallan. I found it unbelievable that he would leave her, literally, at the altar. He truly loved her and was a compassionate man. It was out of character for him to humiliate her so thoroughly.

      • http://www.facebook.com/scott.carn Scott Carn

        Sir Anthony, not Lord Strallan.

        • siriuslover

          Sorry. Just used the same language as someone above me. Shan’t happen again, I assure you.

    • VeryClaire

      Wait, who’s fantasy is this?

      • https://twitter.com/Gayer_Than_Thou Gayer Than Thou

        If it were my fantasy, Thomas and Branson would run off to Italy and sleep with a lot of hot Italian farm hands.

        • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_2CNDPMVO4W23R5TVC2QMTJ5BZE Heather

          can i watch?

          • https://twitter.com/Gayer_Than_Thou Gayer Than Thou

            It will be airing on Masterbates Theatre.

        • http://twitter.com/otterbird otterbird

          Oh, to be a glove upon that (farm)hand, that I might touch that cheek.  Hell, both their cheeks. 

        • Topaz

          Sigh, but we’ll never get to see it. And see, now I’m bored AND angry. THANKS.

          Can Thomas and O’Brien hurry up and get their own spinoff where they’re marooned on a desert island with nothing but shellfish and a lot of hunky sailors who alternately want to be mothered and ravished for the two of them to fight over?

    • http://twitter.com/pattylapatty pattycupcake

      that happened to me once.

      • lilibetp

         Which part?  The busting in on a partner bit?  Or the going to Italy to paint (and other things) bit?

        • http://twitter.com/pattylapatty pattycupcake

          actually, none of it.  but it’s no more outrageous than any of the other stuff that happens on this show.  i enjoy this show a lot only if i pretend it’s a comedy show written by rude americans to poke fun at the british.

    • Boricua in Texas

       You need to start writing some Downton fanfic, seriously.

    • http://vhanna26.typepad.com Vera

      Yes, my gaydar blinks a bit at mention of Strallan, and that would have been a much more interesting plot.

      • librarygrrl64

        My gaydar is always off when it comes to upper-upper-class English gents. Gay? Inbred? Or just effeminate? It’s so hard to tell.

        • Spicytomato1

          I’d say “metrosexual” except that term didn’t exist back then! 

        • http://vhanna26.typepad.com Vera

          Gay or British?  Sometimes it’s hard for a Yank like me to tell.

          • AnneElliot

            That reminds me of my favorite bit in “Legally Blond:  The Musical” — a number called “Gay or European.”  Hilarious.  

          • Topaz

            Ask them back for coffee and see if they turn red with embarrassment.

            Oh, no, wait. That doesn’t help either…

      • Lilithcat

        I don’t think he is.  One marriage, as a matter of form, I could see, but why re-marry?

    • http://aspotofwhimsy.blogspot.com/ diane {a spot of whimsy}

      this would have been amazing.  i wish you wrote this show as well.

  • http://twitter.com/maggie162 Maggie

     I wonder how much rejiggering of episode beginnings and endings is going on.  It’s been a while since I saw season 3 and I wasn’t able to watch last night’s airing, but my recollection was that both the “might lose Downton” storyline and the “Mrs. Carson might have cancer” storyline went on for one additional episode at least.  I think the smooshing together of bits is not doing the show any favors.

    • http://twitter.com/AbbottRabbit Emily Dagger

      You’re right — it’s the whole PBS playing the 1st 2 episodes as one mega episode thing. Last night’s U.S. “episode 2″ is really the third episode as the series originally aired. 

    • Corsetmaker

      It sounds like you could be right. Even though the on screen time of the stories won’t be much different, having that viewing gap makes a difference. It’ like when you rattle through a DVD of a series, it all seems so much more hurried than watching the scheduled episodes.

      • H3ff

        Exactly. When I’m in the midst of an episode marathon, I always make sure to start a new season after at least a night’s break.

      • http://twitter.com/AbbottRabbit Emily Dagger

        Right on — and even if you back-to-back episodes, you get a nice psychological division every time you see the end credits of one and the beginning of another. Mashing two without the interruption destroys that. 

    • MilaXX

       PBS aired  eps last week so the doubling up may be why it feel shorter here.

  • BigShamu

    Lobster sculpture.  That is all.

    • Stubenville

      “Do you have any cheese?”

      • Adriana_Paula

        I like that the valet is basically Wallace.  He just needs a silent but clever dog.

    • https://twitter.com/Gayer_Than_Thou Gayer Than Thou

      I hope nobody ate those oysters.  It seemed they had been sitting out for quite a while.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_3JSTXMWWVZN2QNP2UEKJMTWD7U Isabel

        But, it’s cold over there. They don’t spoil as easily as in the Deep South.

        • https://twitter.com/Gayer_Than_Thou Gayer Than Thou

          Fair enough.  You first.

  • deathandthestrawberry

    YES! The Thomas/O’Brien face-off made me rub my hands with glee.

  • miagain

    agree agree agree… and yet I keep coming back for more!!

  • geans

    Excellent points. I’d completely forgotten that Strallan first came on the scene as a match for Mary. 

    Oh, Edith. I hope/theorize that fabulous things are coming her way. 

    • http://www.facebook.com/mwwgrimm Mariah W Grimm

       Oh yes, this is by far the best season for Lady E. Once the season finishes, I think it’ll be obvious what they’re setting her up for.

      • http://twitter.com/leasetegn Lea Setegn

         I think Edith should be shipped off to the States to find a husband there. And then stay there – she’d probably be happier in a big mansion on Fifth Avenue than on an English country estate.

        • O H

           My thoughts exactly!  She could return to DA as a, “Mrs. Doyenne of New 20th Century Money”!

    • CozyCat

      Really?  After finally landing the man she had pursued, Edith FINALLY got to be the equal of her sisters.  And you could see her become calm and forgiving in her happiness.  Then the bastard publicly himiliates her. 

      My guess is that she’ll be a Downton’s Miss Havisham.

  • VicksieDo

    I agreed with Lady Mary in this episode  why should her family endure such upheaval for no good reason?  What good would it do to refuse the money, Lavinia and her father are both deceased.  I didn’t see it as materialistic, but as a need to see DA go on if possible for everyone’s sake.

    I too am pretty sick of the whole Bates story.

    Edith will become more interesting in general from here on out.  She’ll bitch and moan but become something on her own.  I thought it was so sad to see the wedding cake packed up, and the rugs rolled out – but fun that the staff got the good food :-)

    Mrs. Hughes – that was indeed the health care system in the great houses, if you were part of the long-term valued staff, they would take care of you like that.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_3JSTXMWWVZN2QNP2UEKJMTWD7U Isabel

      The National Health System hadn’t kicked in yet. If you were a minor servant and got sick, you got sacked. 

      Valued servants got to retire on the estate.

      • VicksieDo

        That’s what I said.

        • O H

           Yeah…even today, the FMLA is not that liberal, or encompassing.  And, in 1921, women would not have made that decision without the full consent of their husband.

  • Julie Parr

    Personally, I think Bates actually did it. 

    • twocee

      I WANT to think that.  It makes his character and the storyline so much more interesting.  Otherwise, I’m rather over the whole thing.

      • Julie Parr

        Completely agree. But, this is a soap opera so things have to go crazy dramatic at some point. Bates being guilty is the only way. 

    • https://twitter.com/Gayer_Than_Thou Gayer Than Thou

      Even if he didn’t, he’s going to fuck things up somehow.  I just know he’s going to shiv his cellmate and we are never going to see the end of Anna’s suffering.

      • formerlyAnon

         Yes. I was pro Bates for a long, long, time, but now I’m over his masochistic and defeatist tendencies. I’ll be on Anna’s team for a while. But if it goes on too long I’m going to want to slap both of them silly.

    • allyc

      I think Ethel did it and that’s what she’s clamoring over with Mrs. Crawley.

      • samitee

        Oh, I SO hope that’s what it is! Then we could wrap up two dull, repetitive subplots at the same time.

    • http://www.facebook.com/lisa.bailes.7 Lisa Bailes

      Two years ago, in my first flush of love for my new cat, I named him Mr. Bates, as I was similarly in love with the poor longsuffering valet. TV Bate’s only problem then was his limp. Now I look at my cat and wonder where he’s hiding the arsenic.

      • http://www.tomandlorenzo.com/ Tom and Lorenzo

        That’s an adorable name for a cat.

      • WhiteOprah

        My college roommate and I had a cat named Mr. Bingley.  Then we found out it was a girl so we changed it to Lizzie.  

  • Susan Collier

    I predict passionate O’Brien/Thomas sex » post-coital cigarettes » Downton Abbey up in flames.

  • Stubenville

    I’ll take the word of the bitter kittens who pointed out that the earlier wedding gown had beautiful detail which didn’t show up well on TV. But Edith’s gown was a really beautiful period wedding dress and the embroidery detail was clearly visible. But sheesh, did we have to have the veil tossed over the railing to float down to the floor in slo-mo? [eyeroll]

    • BayTampaBay

      I loved the veil toss!

      • Stubenville

        On the floor would have been fine, but over the balcony rail took it into cartoon melodrama for me. 

    • http://www.thirteen.org/program-content/downton-dish-season-3-episode-1/ Gotham Tomato

      Edith’s also had a much better silhouette.

      –GothamTomato

    • Michelle Wesley

       Yeah, she should have thrown it down AT her father or grandmother or torn it to bits in anger and then tossed it.  Would have been less cliche.  But somehow she made it all the way back from the church by herself without tripping on it or getting frustrated by it enough to rip it off?  Doesn’t make sense to me.  I wanted to see her stomp that lovely leaf crown/headband thing to bits.

  • http://twitter.com/WCSAngel Emily

    Edith really is the “Meg” of the Crawley family. Everyone seems to completely hate her for some reason. I very much hope that she’ll get a happy ending at some point. This constant pattern of her almost finding happiness, despite her family’s best efforts, only to have it yanked away from her, is getting rather tiring.

    Also, did anyone else think that maybe Robert, Violet or Cora had a hand in Sir Anthony’s last-minute cold feet? None of them seemed as shocked as they should have been.

    • VeryClaire

      Grandma rushed right in to say “you’re absolutely right!” to Sir Anthony at the altar. Edith should never speak to her again!

      • http://twitter.com/aidanboleyn Aidan B

        I don’t know about that. Violet was against it from the beginning, true, but I think at that moment she was trying to spare Edith any more shame. If she would have made a fuss, begging and begging him to change his mind, in front of the guests and servants, she would have been even more humiliated once it was over. I think Violet got in there to cut things short and try to get Edith out of there with a shred of dignity left.

        • 3hares

          I think she would have given her more dignity if she’d cut it short by saying something about Edith being well rid of any man who would do this to her. Instead she said Edith’s public humiliation was the only smart decision he’d made in his life. It seemed like not only was Edith humiliated by his rejection but she had to know that everyone in the church thought he was right to do it.

          • http://twitter.com/aidanboleyn Aidan B

            That’s true, I had forgotten she’d said that. I think her instinct was to get Edith out of there quickly, but, being Dowager Countess, she couldn’t keep her mouth shut.

    • Spicytomato1

      I think Sir Anthony’s cold feet came from Robert’s inability to say he was happy about he marriage, when directly pressed by Strallan. He maybe have not been thrilled by the marriage but he was resigned to it. To me Robert seemed truly distressed when Sir Anthony dumped her. Didn’t he even say something like “Oh no it’s too late to back out now.” ? Even he knew how devastating that would be for Edith.

    • Jennifer Fritz

       Don’t forget that Cora made sure he could hear her in the chapel as she chastised the union.  I think that is what really made him change his mind…hearing her voice repeating his worst fears.

  • Stubenville

    “Spinsters get up for breakfast.”

    • MRC210

      And married women get to have breakfast in bed (as we saw last week).  What was the idea, did they think that sex was so exhausting that the missus needed to have a lie-in?

      • Puck Thornton

        It had all to do with status. A married woman (or a woman running her own household) was allowed to get served breakfast in bed (and she got her own personal maid). If you were an unmarried woman still living in your parents’ house you were to come down and help yourself to the breakfast buffet and eat with your male relatives.  

  • Beardslee

    Sorry to say I have given up on this.  The whole legacy to Matthew thing is just too much.  And Sybil’s husband is humorless and expects HER to accommodate HIM.  Losing interest for the reasons you describe.

    • Corsetmaker

      Oh noooo, don’t give up quite yet. ;)

    • formerlyAnon

        “Sybil’s husband [ . . . ] expects HER to accommodate HIM”

      Well, anything else would be wrong for the period. Even among *real* social revolutionaries.

      • Beardslee

         True, but I don’t like it when people expect justice and equality for themselves and then disregard other people.  Just not a sympathetic character for me.  Loved the way Maggie Smith shut him down over the morning coat.

        • formerlyAnon

           I’ve never been able to muster much sympathy for or interest in Branson. Nor, really, Sybil. I hope to god we don’t have to have any [more] about her struggles in her new life and marriage.

        • WhiteOprah

          I get what you’re saying, but a lot of movements were run by people who were only too happy to point out injustices against others yet be guilty themselves in another capacity.  I think of the Civil Rights movement and how those ideals didn’t seem to translate to equal rights for women.  

      • fursa_saida

        Branson is such a manarchist, it’s actually delightful. I know too many like him.

  • Jessica Goldstein

    Oh my goodness THANK YOU. The whole disapproval over Sir Anthony seems recent, contrary to the facts-on-the-ground (Edith hasn’t had many suitors; many men her generation and station are now dead; she wants a husband, baby, and house of her own), a complete 180 from season 1, and a contrivance to keep Edith miserable. The Mr. Swire nonsense brought out the worst in everyone such that I was rooting for Mary and Matthew to split and for the family to move to Downton Place.

    And why oh why do we get two hours and undue haste for Mrs. Hughes and the fiscal solvency of Downton but what feels like ages for the endless trials of Job… er, Bates. I loved him in season 1, but at this point I’d welcome a prison murder just to put an end to the plot.

    Still, I’ll be back next week. Just too much pretty to pass up…

  • siriuslover

    Love how the two conspirers (sp?) are conspiring against each other now. Very nasty.  I am agreed on nearly every one of your points, too. I love this show, but am so disappointed with the lack of development. We end up with a nasty caricature of this period the period of George V. I feel so very bad for Edith and hope that Fellowes does something very nice with her character, but I doubt it.  I do have to say I loved her line to Anna at the end about now she’s a spinster and spinster’s have to get up themselves. 

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/XPWSQ2BDU5XJIA23AMYVBRWZBA Eric

    Edith: “Lets not talk about the Marlborough divorce”
    Sir Anthony: “No.    …….ARE they getting divorced?”

    I think that he does love her in an idealized way, but she comes off as clingy and a bit frantic- I don’t think he’s all that keen on marrying a woman who is already speaking of how she’ll care for him when he’s decrepit.

    • Spicytomato1

      So do you think Sir Anthony thinks he’d be a better match with the divorcee who he loved back in the day? And that’s what really sparked his cold feet?

      • Lilithcat

        I doubt that Sir Anthony had any relationship with the Duchess of Marlborough.  The “ARE they getting divorced?” would have been because they’d been separated for 15 years already.  (She was also a rich American – a Vanderbilt – whose mother pretty much forced her to marry the Duke.)

        • Beardslee

           Yes, very sad story.  Poor Consuelo was married off at 19 and Sunny was no prize.  Am glad she found happiness in middle age.

        • Spicytomato1

          Ah. I missed the beginning of that exchange and didn’t know who they were talking about…I just assumed it was a neighbor or something. So when he talked about how had he loved/admired her (the Duchess), he just meant from afar, I presume.

          • BayTampaBay

            I think it was meant as a key to Sir Anthony’s personality.  The D of Marlborough was considered rather progressive (probably due to being American) in the way she went about her life.  I think Sir Anthony likes progressive women.

          • http://twitter.com/evangelineh Evangeline Holland

            No, it  was highlighting the age difference betweenn Edith and Anthony. He said outright that when he first saw Consuelo, Edith hadn’t even been born, and she coms back with she was born, but just wasn’t walking yet. Then there the “you’re my life’s work” line which exacerbated his insecurities about the match.

  • luciaphile

    Gotta love how Reggie Swire, who was in so much debt that his daughter handed over secrets on her uncle to the evil tabloid editor, suddenly had a fortune that can save Downton.

    • TRSTL

      Oh, EXCELLENT point……

    • Judy_S

       thanks. I THOUGHT I recalled that. Maybe he invested the tabloid money in non-Canadian railway shares.

    • http://twitter.com/aidanboleyn Aidan B

      I had COMPLETELY forgotten about that!

    • http://www.thirteen.org/program-content/downton-dish-season-3-episode-1/ Gotham Tomato

      There is a certain amount of disbelief you have to suspend to watch any drama, just like there is a certain amount of disbelief you have to suspend to get married.

      –GothamTomato

      • luciaphile

        This is a big budget production. They can afford to hire someone to do continuity. A better writer could have dealt with this another way.

    • http://twitter.com/cmkrcwi Tina Kramer

      Was he in debt?  I thought he had gotten involved in something that was potentially going to be very costly, but Richard Carlisle saved the day.  I could be wrong though.

  • Lisa Sangermano

    Just saying, on PBS they show two episodes at a time, so the pacing seems extra weird because what was planned to happen over four weeks has happened over two. Still Fellowes’ writing for this show kind of went off the deep end this season (and last) so even without the time crunch things were still awkwardly rushed.

    • luciaphile

      I have watched all of Season 3 (no worry, will not spoil anything) and trust me, the pacing still stinks if you watch it the way it aired in the UK.

    • https://twitter.com/Gayer_Than_Thou Gayer Than Thou

      I think only the “first” US episode aired as two episodes in the UK.  From here on out, it’s hour-long episodes, as in the UK.

      • librarygrrl64

        Correct.

    • http://www.lindamerrill.com Linda Merrill

       PBS only aired the first two hours back to back, starting last night, it was only one hour (aka Ep. 3 the UK version). I’ve already seen the entire series and I think whether it’s watched week to week, or in more of a condensed time period the pacing is wonky. Remember, they sell it on dvds where viewers will watch multiple episodes back to back.

  • Richard Harper

    Don’t care.  Still loved it.  Flaws and all.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_3JSTXMWWVZN2QNP2UEKJMTWD7U Isabel

    Two questions:
    1. When did Mr. O’Brien die? But, then Thomas was looking at Mrs. O’Brien when he was talking about spinsters.

    2. Why Granny Levison leave before Edith’s wedding? She would have smacked Sir Anthony over the head and ordered him to stay at the altar.

    • briecee

      1. Spinster =/= widow.  O’Brien wouldn’t ever have been married.  She’s not a Mrs. either- only the cook and housekeeper get a Mrs.

    • Elizabeth Silverstein

      “Mrs.” Obrien was never married, just like Mrs. Hughes and Mrs. Patmore. It was the convention for unmarried women in their positions and of their age to use “Mrs.” rather than Miss even if they were unmarried. This was explained in the episode where Mrs. Hughes’s old boyfriend comes calling. 

      And spot on with the second observation. Why would she not have stayed for the other granddaughter’s wedding?

      • http://www.lindamerrill.com Linda Merrill

        I think Granny L was set to leave right after the big dinner that became the indoor picnic, where Strallan and Edith got engaged. Her passage would have been booked and it was likely not common in those days, even for the super rich, to change transatlantic steamer travel. And the wedding was only a month later, so too soon for her to come back. Plus, she would have interfered with the Dowager Granny’s interference. I would have loved to see the two grannies duking it out over Strallan’s fitness as a husband, right at the alter.

        • Elizabeth Silverstein

          Ah logistics. Bummer. It would have been a fun twist to have Shirley save the day.

    • momjamin

      IIRC, there was never a Mr. O’Brien. There was an episode where an old flame of Mrs O’Brien came to the village, and renewed his offer (which she obviously rejected), and a line to the effect, “Housekeepers and cooks are always called Mrs.”

      As to Granny Levinson (ha!), I too had the impression that Edith was rushing to pull off the wedding while everyone was still visiting, but I guess that only meant the Bransons. (And Edith’s hopes to hook Strallan before he changed his mind.)

      Strallan was convincingly never as in love as Edith was in desperation. Perhaps if he’d actually been full of love and adoration, and not just thinking she was “lovely,” everyone else would have bought into the possibility of a good match.

      • Judy_S

         Wasn’t that Mrs. Hughes with the old flame?

        • momjamin

           Ah, you’re right. Do they ever call O’Brien “Mrs.” or just O’Brien?

          • Tally Ho

            She’s been called both O’Brien and Miss O’Brien. I don’t think I’ve heard her addressed as Mrs. Only Mrs. Patmore and Mrs. Hughes as cook and housekeeper got the honorific. When you think about it it wouldn’t be desirable to have a lady’s maid addressed as Mrs as they were presumably meant to be spinsters devoted to their mistresses. 

          • Judy_S

             Actually, I think she’s just called by her last name. I suppose it is a matter of fashion–the older generation uses a last name for the lady’s maid, but Mary calls Anna by her first name. Or perhaps it has to do with the history of the individual–if you came up from being a parlormaid (as Anna may have), you keep being called Anna, but if you come into the household as a senior servant, you are called by the last name. Thomas is Thomas but Bates and Mosely are Bates and Mosely.
            Not sure why O’Brien never gets a title at all. The servants tend to use titles among themselves–Mr Carson instead of Carson, etc.
            In Parade’s End, Sylvia calls her maid “Hullo Central” because she sounds to Sylvia like a telephone operator (this is in the novel). However, in the script (for the series soon coming to HBO) Tom Stoppard gave her a name, Evie, which Sylvia uses sometimes (really he should have ditched the Hullo Central thing entirely as it becomes confusing, even to Sylvia’s friends!). Sylvia is about the same age as Mary, I think.

          • fursa_saida

            I would imagine that it has something to do with the nature of the relationship, as well. It seems likely that Anna has been Mary’s maid for years, which means that in some sense Mary grew up with her, whereas O’Brien came into Cora’s life when they were both well into adulthood. 

          • librarygrrl64

            She’s O’Brien to almost everyone (that’s her official “work” name), especially the family and upper servants/superiors, but she would be Miss O’Brien to strangers or underlings. Mrs. Hughes and Mrs. Patmore are unmarried, but “Mrs.” was a courtesy title for housekeeper and head cook, the two highest-ranking female servants in a large household.

      • Lilithcat

         ”Housekeepers and cooks are always called Mrs.”

        However, O’Brien is neither a housekeeper nor a cook.  She is generally called “O’Brien” by upstairs, and “Miss O’Brien” by downstairs.

  • decormaven

    So far, I’m underwhelmed with this season. Was excited at the prospect of Shirley M’s character, but that just seemed to be a bit of fluff which didn’t seem to move the story along one way or another. The Edith/Lord Strallan wedding came off fairly quickly- why didn’t Shirley M’s character hang around for that? 

    • librarygrrl64

      Yes, they made SUCH a big deal out of her joining the cast, when all she ended up being was a guest star for two episodes. So far?

      • BayTampaBay

        It was the biggest piece of crap writing for the Martha Levinson Character.  A total waste for Shirley’s M’s talent.

  • http://www.thirteen.org/program-content/downton-dish-season-3-episode-1/ Gotham Tomato

    Edith will bounce back with her new boyfriend, George Glass.

    It was actually quite common for women of that WWI generation to either not marry or marry older men because so many died in the war. I didn’t get the sudden disregard for Sir Anthony either. The one thing I’ve been wondering though is, does anyone but Mary know it was Edith who outed Mary & Mr. Pamuk.
    –GothamTomato
    http://www.thirteen.org/program-content/Downton-dish-season-3-episode-2/#

  • http://twitter.com/SillyGrrlJen Silly Grrl

    O’Brien v. Thomas: I was all OOH SHE WILL BE THE ONE TO FINALLY END YOU, THOMAS. 

  • http://twitter.com/SillyGrrlJen Silly Grrl

    Also, every episode needs more Shirley MacLaine v. Maggie Smith. LOVE. 

  • TRSTL

    Ediths gown was fabulous, wasn’t it? And yes, it does seem forgotten that mary was thrust upon any unsuitable yet titled (thus “suitable”) man in season 1 and yet, poor Edith….  really, it makes no sense.  Matthew looks more and more stubborn and unlikeable in each episode. And Mary goes right with him but at least her character has been consistent in this. And where the heck was Coras mother for this daughters wedding?  And…… how did the explosive scandal of Mary f**king the life out of the Turkish gentleman simply evaporate?  Mr. Fellowes needs to get his ducks in a row and stop chasing lame storylines down the rabbithole.

    • LC3203

       I think Mary specified it was pretty much everything BUT the actual deed that took place.  Either way, if that got out she’d be ruined.  Because no one would believe her. 

    • Girl_With_a_Pearl

      You’re right.  I had (temporarily) forgotten that Cora’s mother had pushed Robert to allow Edith to marry Stratton.  So you’d think she would have stuck around for the wedding since she was the one responsible.  And if she was there, the wedding probably would have taken place.  So that’s why Fellowes had to get her out of there.  That and they would have paid SM more I guess.

    • librarygrrl64

      The whole Mary-Matthew relationship is poorly written. First, they hate each other. Then they spend a season and a half pining for each other. Then they finally marry…..and they seem to immediately hate each other again. I was never a big proponent of their union, but the season two Christmas episode was so lovely, and it would have been nice if after ALL THAT TIME we got to see them happy for an least an episode or two. 

  • VeryClaire

    I agree with everything you guys said, especially the snooze that is the Bates/Anna story line. I actually switched over to the Golden Globes whenever Bates came on the screen. 

  • Eclectic Mayhem

    I stopped watching just before the final episode of last season.  I don’t like Fellowes’ writing and agree with you about the pacing issues.  I also don’t like ‘soap opera structure’ and this is a soap opera, I stopped watching True Blood for the same reason.  

    I’m afraid – sappy and soppy though it may be – I like classical Hollywood closure and there are no happy endings in soaps…

  • Fordzo

    I can’t remember why Thomas and O’Brien are mad at each other.  Anyone?  

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_3JSTXMWWVZN2QNP2UEKJMTWD7U Isabel

      Mrs. O’Brien is trying to promote her nephew. Thomas is jealous that the nephew has someone looking out for him.

      • Michelle Wesley

         Also, I think O’Brien feels massively guilty about the whole bar of soap/bathtub thing and wanted to break from the evil plotting with Thomas against the horrible wealthy family anyway. 

  • Elizabeth Silverstein

    Thank you TLo for putting into words exactly what is going wrong with this show. I second everything you have just said.

  • Tally Ho

    Ahhh…. possibly the most relevant aspect of this episode is the realization that once you strip away hectic plot lines you’re left with a rather dull show, no matter how good the acting may be (and it wasn’t that great for this episode). The dullness, meaning that the viewer actually had time to carefully consider the plot, allowed me to focus on how implausible everything is. Yep. Implausible. Let’s start with, oh, say, the damn letter from Reggie Swire.

    Matthew inheriting a second fortune was implausible enough. But it turns out that Lavinia wrote a letter, on her deathbed, saying that Matthew’s still a good dude…implausible. That Reggie would still keep Matthew as a heir…implausible. That Mary would suddenly find a servant who remember the letter…implausible. Everything about this particular plot line was just implausible.

    The Edith/Strallan relationship. Implausible. No, not because of the age (it wasn’t uncommon to see huge age gaps between husbands and wives all up and down the social scales as women frequently died in childbirth and husbands married younger women who could still have children). But because of everything else. Being an aristocrat with a title and estate but not good enough? Implausible. He’s too old….implausible. He’s a gentleman but jilts his bride at the altar….implausible. “You know you can do better” is also just implausible given that Mary was flung at him in Season 1. I hated the little comments that were made by everyone, including Edith’s own implausible “I want to make you my life’s work.” Oh, why couldn’t there be a more, well, you know, plausible reason for the ending of their relationship which could range from an untimely death to the unpleasant discovery of a homosexual past for Strallan. Now, the latter would be both more plausible and a bona fide reason for the family to be opposed to the wedding, and could even give another plot line for Thomas as he could be the one to find this out and tell Robert. Then the family could send Edith off to Grandma in New York and Newport for a long visit where she would easily find plenty of young rich men intrigued by an aristocratic daughter of an Earl. 

    Speaking of the budding Thomas/O’Brien feud. Implausible. Oh, I don’t mind if two partners in crime turn against each other but we still don’t know why this particular one happened. Please, Fellowes, give us a plausible reason. They weren’t likeable as partners but it was fun to watch the two of them plot and have the plots backfire on them, but when they are enemies it’s just boring and tedious especially for Thomas whose only function now seems to be a pointless villain. 

    Mrs. Crawley and the newly prostitute former maid Ethel. I see there’s a baby crying in the background? Why didn’t it go to his loaded grandparents at the end of Season 2? Implausible. All the rich grandpapa had to do was to have a word with the local justice of peace or whatever and then the baby’s in a better place via court order.  Ethel’s clearly better off without the baby so we can’t have much sympathy for her as a mother anymore. This whole side plot line seems to only exist to give Mrs. Crawley something to do for the third season. 

    Anna and Bates – I can only comment on the prison cell search. What the heck was that thing Bates was hiding? The guards searched his cell but not him? Implausible. 

    Anyway, I have to say I much preferred Eruthyon (or whatever it was called) House to Downton Abbey. Such a lovely, pleasant and still quite large manor house. Downton was grand but Eruthyon was elegant. But only eight servants? My, the shame. 

    The ultimate failure of this episode, besides all the implausibility, is that Fellowes tried to give too many people face time and a plot line in less than a hour. Even the Granny didn’t have time for a proper zinger line. I’d have to rank this as the worst episode of all the seasons so far, even worse than any episode in Season 2. 

    By the way I’ve been watching the original Upstairs Downstairs from the 1970s and it’s impressive how much better and more realistic it is than Downton Abbey (and how much material Fellowes stole from it). There’s a wonderful episode in which a new maid turns out to be pregnant and the kind master’s attempt to help her out is slammed back by social pressures from all sides that he’s left unable to do anything. It was sad and poignant and very realistic for its time. 

    • Eclectic Mayhem

      You might enjoy The Duchess of Duke Street which was on in the 70s in the UK when I was but a wee thing.  It’s a little dated and set bound but still enjoyable. And Gemma Jones rocks.

    • jw_ny

      “implausible”…I’m picturing Vizzini from the Princess Bride with his “inconceivable”  XD 

      &, I so agree. 

    • Jessica Goldstein

       Very thoughtful post. I agree with all and think you sound like a script editor, something Fellowes either doesn’t have or doesn’t listen to.

    • sweetlilvoice

      Amen! I wish I could enter multiple likes. I second all you’ve said and I too have recently watched 1970s Up/Down….now that was a show. Of course, it was on for many years so lots of plot lines could be explored. I’m still a little shocked at some of the risque topics discussed including rape, suicide, infidelity, etc. One of the main problems with DA is the pacing and the fact that Julien has to cram everything and every plot line into each episode. Let them breathe! It is so overwealming to the viewer.

      I also have to agree about Lavinia’s stupid letter. When would she have had time to write that? Right before she stopped breathing? Didn’t she get sick very quickly? She couldn’t even go home, she had to stay at DA.  And Edith and Anthony? He jilted her and it’s ok? I wish there had been a real reason for that…a gay plot would have been good. And there is no way that Ethel wouldn’t have had that baby taken away from her by the powerful grandparents. Mother’s rights is a much newer concept. I’ve never liked Ethel and she is more ridiculous than ever.

    • Spicytomato1

      “I’d have to rank this as the worst episode of all the seasons so far, even worse than any episode in Season 2.”

      Agreed. I actually couldn’t believe how disappointingly awful it was. Your thoughtful assessment is spot on.

    • Girl_With_a_Pearl

      Oh, well said.  Regarding Upstairs Downstairs, I think how they handled multiple stories was really much more skillful. The focus would be on fewer stories running at the same time, but somehow the viewer still got to know all the characters.

      I was also thinking that Edith might end up on a trip to America to visit her grandmother to get over her heartache and return with another American.  Of course he’ll probably be loud and eat with his hands at the dinner table.

    • Adriana_Paula

      THANK you! Among the many insightful things you said, I was reminded of how ridiculous it was that the guards didn’t search Bates. 

    • http://twitter.com/lokibeat Everard Santamarina

      Thomas vs O’Brien has started because O’Brien asked Thomas to show her nephew the ropes and mentor him to become Mathews Valet. Thomas replied saying he should earn it like he had (hardly) then Thomas sabotaged the nephew by causing him to damage Mathew’s suit. One cant be sure that wasnt a genuine mistake but I dont think so. That escalated to O’Brien hiding the dress shirts. It seems quite plausible if not a little puerile that its gone this far but I don’t know why folks are surprised.

  • Lilithcat

    I am so over the Bates story line.

    My only thought about Reggie Swire’s letter:  ”How bloody convenient!

    I continue to loathe and detest Mary.  She’s a materialistic, nasty, self-centered bitch.   

    Edith needs something to do.  She was in her element during the war years, when she had a job of work.  She needs to hang out with Isobel, who may have her flaws, but at least doesn’t sit around with her pinky in the air.

    • Jessica Goldstein

      My husband watches Downton Abbey with me. The two times he’s laughed the loudest were last season when Matthew suddenly walked and then during Reggie Swire’s letter. I didn’t even hear the whole thing he was laughing so hard. Matthew getting one unexpected inheritance? Ridiculous. Two? More ridiculous. Letter written by father of dead fiance explaining that Lavinia told him all minutes before death and yet they all magically forgive? The ridiculist. If this thing were set in modern times, I’d tell  him to go buy a lottery ticket or invest in stocks.

    • dress_up_doll

      My favorite line about Mary came from Mrs. Hughes. You may recall, “She’s an uppity little minx and the author of her own misfortune.”

    • librarygrrl64

      I think Isobel actually chimed in with “Give her something to do” when asked how they could help Edith. I think she’s right.

    • AnneElliot

      It also struck me that it’s completely ridiculous that ALL THREE of those girls got through the war without a single war wedding!!!  With all those officers recovering in the house, I’m sure that one of them would have gotten a proposal.  Especially Edith and Sibyl who were nursing and would have looked like angels of mercy. 

      • O H

         Exactly!
        I recall that Edith helped the local farmer, drove his tractor (hehe), and managed to spark his interest, enough to warrant jealousy on the part of the wife.  To not have a recovering Officer be interested in a young rich woman, is sort of absurd.

  • nannypoo

    I actually loved this episode for some of the reasons that TLo consider to be flaws. The subplots that drag on forever can really wear even the biggest fan (me) down, so it was fun to have things happening so fast. Sure, a lot of it doesn’t make sense but it’s campy entertainment, not a documentary. My favorite part was when they went to the shabby old hunting cabin that they might have to stoop so low as to actually live in. Did you see that place? It’s only one of their properties, and they own the entire village. Desperate! Whatever shall we do?

    I think we will find out that Mrs. Hughes does have cancer. She was upset that everyone was talking about it and wanted her privacy back. She told Mrs. P. not to come into the doctor’s office with her. She set Mrs. P. up to tell Carson that it’s not cancer. Then she looks all dreamy and wistful when she sees how happy Carson is. I think she has gracefully manipulated everyone to stop pitying her and now she can come to terms with it in her own way.

    The noble martyrdom of the men on this show is an irritating component, and of all the elements Fellowes uses to drag it out I find this the most annoying. Here we have Matthew and the money and his guilt over the pathetic and long suffering Lavinia, who steps up even in death to rescue a family who resented her. Blah blah blah. I’m glad they put this business out of its misery, although Matthew will surely find something else soon to be stupid about.

    And there’s the ancient Strallan with his major, life-threatening disability. Oh, wait, it’s a 45 year old man with his hand in a tiny sling. Well, much better that all of Edith’s hopes should be dashed and she should remain a life-long spinster full of good works and serving others than that she should be stuck with a man who will need her to ring for a servant whenever he needs his cufflinks inserted. Whew, that was a close one! I wish she would take up with O’Brien’s nephew and tell them all where they can shove it.

    Anyway, I think it’s all a hilarious good time. The materialism, the greed, the posturing, the snobbishness, the unlikely subplots and their silly conclusions – I love it all. And the dress was gorgeous.

  • Angela_the_Librarian

    Poor Edith! I’m a middle child to so I tend to empathize with her more than the other sisters. I think it would be wonderful if she went away on a trip to see her grandmother in American. Wouldn’t it be great to see high society Baltimore(?) in the roaring 20s!

    I was really rooting for Anna and Bate last season, but that story line is getting really old now. She needs to find the magical piece of evidence exonerating him,  he needs to escape, or he just needs to tragically die off. Let’s move on already!

    • Lilithcat

      I think we should form a support group:  Middle Children for Edith!

    • LC3203

       Or, we need to find out he actually did it.

      • janierainie

        That’s my theory, and it opens and opportunity for Anna’s character to develope. What would she do?

  • jw_ny

    I thought for sure that Sir Anthony would make some minor gesture/wink/whatever to some guy as he fled from the church.  The only explanation I can think as to why he’d be so tormented throughout their courting, and then ultimately bolt…but nope, nothing. 

    The pace of the story lines and the convenient resolutions to all the problems is ridiculous.  The cast, costumes and scenery are so amazing; it almost hurts that the writing is so weak. 

  • MRC210

    After all the foreshadowing, I was sure Edith’s wedding would be a disaster but I thought it would be because Sir Anthony couldn’t get it up on the wedding night, not that there wouldn’t be one.  I still think that will turn out to be the reason, we’ll find that Sir A. was afraid he couldn’t perform and dreaded an awkward revelation.

    Otherwise I can’t see why he bolted.  Raised as he was, you don’t dump an Earl’s daughter at the altar, not if you hope to be invited to a social event in the county again.

    Edith should move to London and open a modern art gallery like June in The Forsyte Saga.  There was someone who got jilted by her man but got her revenge by living well.

    • LC3203

       I thought for sure either Robert or Anthony was going to drop dead.

      • formerlyAnon

         Yes. I was POSITIVE there was going to be a fatal motor accident on Sir Anthony’s way to the wedding. Leaving Edith stranded, wondering, at the altar until someone arrived in a lather to break the news to the family.  I would have bet large sums.

    • Lily-Rygh

       Amen!  And June got jilted in a way that was arguably even more devastating (if less publicly humiliating).  I hadn’t thought about that series in more than a hot minute — thanks for the reminder!

  • Hetha Innis

    Yes, maddening the way the cancer “reveal” was handled/not really handled. We’ll probably find out next week that she does, in fact, have cancer! And I’m also done fretting about Anna and Bates. Tie that shit up already! The wedding gown was spectacular, however. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1129137319 Paula Pertile

    What was that thing hidden in Bates’ bed? (I’m sure its obvious to everyone else, but I couldn’t figure it out.) 

    “Or you could give them to me.” (Violet, about the wedding leftovers.)

    The only thing better than Thomas and O’Brien being in cahoots is them being enemies. 

    A very eye-rolling episode, plot/writing-wise, yes. Still love it though.

    • MilaXX

       Love the Thomas/O’Brien feud. Never imagined I’d feel sorry for Thomas.

      • formerlyAnon

        I start feeling sorry for Thomas, and then I think, “really?” I don’t feel sorry for Thomas. I feel sorry for the person in that situation, but then I remember that it’s Thomas, and the sorry dissipates.  Perhaps it’s because I feel like O’Brien has reasons (some of which I’ve inferred, or to be blunt, made up in my head) for her bad attitude and nastiness, but Thomas was a shit stirring opportunist from day 1, with no real reason but that he wants a better life for himself.

        • MilaXX

          far enough.I feel for Thomas because I think (or fanwank) that part of the reason he wants a better life for himself is because he knows his chances of ever finding love are slim to none and if he elevates himself then somehow that won’t matter.

          • formerlyAnon

             Also fair enough!

    • Tally Ho

      I thought Violet’s comment about wanting the leftovers a bit tacky and out of character. It’s something one could expect Martha/Shirley MacLaine saying but not well-bred, well-mannered Violet who has her own cook and footmen. 

      • LC3203

         I think she was pointing to the fact that Downton was ruined so they shouldn’t be so cavalier about giving food away.  It was a dig at Robert. 

        • http://twitter.com/cornekopia Shawn EH

           Also, she knew what the food was (and the help weren’t so enamored of it): maybe she’d really been hoping for some lobster and asparagus!

  • Pennymac

    Agree to everything, Uncles. But, but, this show is so pretty…..I must continue to watch, if only for the scenery and costumes. I can suspend my belief for an hour or two at a time, I suppose!

  • http://twitter.com/TheRealSandraOh Sandra Oh

    LOL, I get ur hatred for this plotting but I loved every minute of the show.  They can stand there and read the phone book and I’ll still be enraptured.  

  • Judy_S

    I was explaining this aspect of Downton to my husband this morning and found myself pointing out that this is a show where the heroine’s virginity is restored, through the magic of memory lapses.
    Did anyone else actually hope that Mary HAD forged the letter from Reggie Swire? Now that would have given Matthew opportunities to develop a bit. But no, we are back to square 1, Mary and Matthew are noble, clever, and boring (if also respectively “materialistic” and priggish). 

  • http://asskickingadviser.com/ Ass Kicking Adviser

    Excellent wrap up. I am glad we are watching DT ‘together’ because you guys seem to be frustrated by all the same things as me and also clearly enjoyed all the same things I did. The thing with Edith and Sir Anthony, seriously, wtf? Why was he a good match for Mary and not Edith? Because of his arm? Violet’s insistance was just nuts.
    Oh yeah, and how many more times is Ethel going to visit Isabel and then run out saying it was a mistake? ‘Cause they’ve met up 4 times now. Four. It’s becoming the new, ‘Sybil’s going to the gargage again.’

  • annrr

    Everyone going on and on about how old Sir Anthony was was so inauthentic. Status and money would have meant more than age. Edith not being married at her age would have been a bigger deal. I also think the bad arm would have been a non issue considering they have servants do everything for them. 

    And Matthew not taking the money was not believable either. England just went through a war nobody in their right mind would turn down money after such uncertain times.

  • Boricua in Texas

    A few weeks ago, the A/V Club likened Downton Abbey to Entourage: “There are no stakes that last longer than an episode or two. No matter
    what the problem, there’s always a magical solution waiting in the wings…”

    Spot on

    http://www.avclub.com/articles/downton-abbey-and-entourage-are-pretty-much-the-sa,90446/

  • krelnick

    Two things:

    Lavinia didn’t know she was on her deathbed when she wrote the letter to her father.  We were told that the flu had such sudden and savage changes.  So she was just telling her father that the wedding was off but don’t be mad at Matthew etc., etc.  Still a ridiculous plot line, though.

    The Anna plotline wasn’t pointless.  I think there was a clue as to Vera’s demise.  The neighbor was talking about how Vera made pastries and was scrubbing her fingers raw afterwards.  Might she have been baking arsenic-laden pastries for Bates but et one herself?  Or not.

    • Judy_S

       Yes! I thought of that too.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/DBSIHWVY4ECXGNXAXFXJMSCNIE Katrin

      Good catch!

    • janierainie

      Yes the scrubbing jumped out at me too. 

    • O H

       Well, now, THAT’S an interesting point, literally scrubbing away the arsenic from her hands!  She erroneously ate her own pastry-the old, “turn the plate when they’re not looking” trick, and it backfired?  Or Bates knew?

      Yeah, Lavinia didn’t know she was on her deathbed, and when she was near death, the likelihood of her being able to write a letter of this magnitude is slim.  Why didn’t she summon Matthew instead, and profess her thoughts to him, instead..?

      Perhaps George Glass can clue us in as to what was hidden in Bates’ bunk.  It looked like a rolled arsenic cigar…ew…!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1013738129 Megan Nichols Sears

    Maybe it’s just me but I have always gotten the impression that poor Sir Anthony was always SEVERELY disinterested in Lady Edith.  He tried 15 ways to Sunday to brush her off, she just kept refusing to take the hint.  

    • Angela_the_Librarian

      I had the same impression about Sir Anthony. Edith was the one who pursued him. In last week’s episode when Sir Anthony spoke to Sir Grantham (he essentially wanted to be dis-invited from a family gathering) it seemed that he was trying to find a way to let Edith down gently instead of coming out right and telling her that he wasn’t interested in marrying her.

    • Corsetmaker

      I think he was flattered, but half-hearted. He’s a bit of a wally and I think that would’ve been disastrous longerm, because I was always sure she was talking herself into him than genuinely loving him. Which Violet saw, hence the objection.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1129137319 Paula Pertile

      But in the first season he was all ready to propose at that garden party, then Mary told him that lie about Edith trying to avoid some boring old guy (him) and he got cold feet and went away. This time … too much time had passed? His arm? Who knows.

      • Spicytomato1

        I think he did love her. This time, though, I think he tried to be prudent because of his arm and because of how it all backfired in the past. I wouldn’t blame him for being cautious about getting involved again after what Mary did! Then I think Robert and Cora’s obvious disapproval finally got to him. 

        • librarygrrl64

          But still, all of this aside, he is a gentleman and seemingly one who isn’t total dick (or wasn’t) and cares for Edith’s feelings, so to do this AT THE ALTAR seemed out of character to me. I mean, he couldn’t even pull her outside to speak with her privately?

          • Spicytomato1

            Agree, it was totally out of character for him to dump her at the altar. Whether he truly loved her or not the man has principles (remember how he stood up for Tom when his drink was spiked?) and clearly knows better. 

            He wasn’t just burning his bridge with Edith, he was burning his bridge with the family and that really seems uncharacteristic.

  • http://twitter.com/cornekopia Shawn EH

    I liked Mrs. Hughes subtle admission to Carson: “I don’t worship them like you do, but I will admit, I was very touched.” She’s a mistress of good boundaries, that one.

  • Judy_J

    Random thoughts: I found myself wanting to slap Matthew silly for being such a sanctimonious prig about the money. Edith’s wedding dress was much more fabulous than Mary’s….too bad she didn’t get to wear it longer.  Sir Anthony would have been an entirely acceptable husband.  I didn’t understand how he could be so affectionate then suddenly decide, nope, it’s off.  Poor Edith.  The strengthening war between O’Brien and Thomas is the only thing that was truly interesting in this episode.

  • http://vhanna26.typepad.com Vera

    Actually, I would have been stunned if Lady Edith did get married. Beautiful gown though. Love the clothes and starting at Matthew.

    I hope Thomas vs. Mrs. O’Brien will be fun. Let the villains have at it.

  • the_archandroid

    I’m kind of banking on Mrs. Hughes lying to Carson, I think it sort of ties in well with the implicit theme of the women sort of being the ones in charge sometimes overtly (Dowager countess) but usually more subtly while the men operate under the false impression that they’re in charge.  I will also be very happily tuning in for O’Brien V. Thomas: The Reckoning. 

  • http://twitter.com/FirstVine Tom Natan

    I love that the family is so concernet about Edith having to take care of Strallen in his old age, but didn’t bat an eyelash a season or two ago joking about how their old age would be just fine because they’d have Edith to take care of them.

    • formerlyAnon

       That whole subplot makes NO sense. There were very few men of the right breeding, with money, after the war, and everyone there would have known that. And anyone so stuck in the past to have missed the dearth of suitable men, certainly wouldn’t have thought there was any BETTER life for Edith than marriage to someone of suitable class and wealth.

  • Kathy Cooley

    spot on

  • allyc

    Did Mary and Edith wear the same headpiece or are they just very similar?

    • Stubenville

      I think the tiara was the same, the veil different.

      • allyc

        Okay that’s what I was thinking. Thanks :)

    • Tally Ho

      Same tiara. Obviously a family piece. 

    • librarygrrl64

      Same one. I liked that touch, insinuating that it’s a Grantham family heirloom. Very appropriate.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_WKSM57KFWUGRMKPDUW4SPL3GDM Kathryn

    It’s a really bad show, I don’t care how many people like it.  It is such a rip off of “Upstairs, Downstairs” for one.  But “Upstairs, Downstairs” was never so ridiculously soap opera-ish.  If it weren’t for the accents, clothes, and setting no one could watch it.

    • Corsetmaker

      To be honest I don’t know why anyone thinks it should be anything else. It’s ITV for a start, which is always a bit lower down the drama scale than the Beeb. And it occupies the Sunday evening slot that has traditionally had comfy, unchallenging and pretty shows like Monarch of the Glen etc. Not that the BBC are immune to soapiness, Lark Rise to Candelford was pretty lathery, but again… Sunday night slot. 
      Upstairs, Downstairs just came from a time when things were slower and less sensationalist. If you take a soap from the other end of the social scale, Coronation Street, it’s episodes from the same era would be seen as gritty Alan Bleasdale-esque social realism compared to the suspension of reality of more recent years.I sometimes think that people see period drama and think it should be in the same category as literary adaptations, when it really is just a Sunday night costume soap and should just be enjoyed as such :)

      • librarygrrl64

        Head of nail: hit. :-)

  • CeeQ

    I like this season so far – even if I do agree with your take =)  Downton is my guilty pleasure. Yes, everything is at breakneck speed & makes not much sense, except for Anna and Bates which holy cats enough already, but I’m still loving it =)  

    So yay Downton is saved cuz Lavinia had the good sense to send a letter before tragically dying! (Agreed, no one would do this! But remember Lavinia? She was unrealistically saintly too! Who watches their fiance get close to another woman without flying off the staircase in a fury?? Lavinia, that’s who!) Now Robert can avoid disgrace & the Crawleys can avoid moving into a tiny 10 room mansion & stay at the manor! Hooray! 

    Plus all the servants get to keep their jobs. And we get to watch Thomas & O’Brian fight to the DEATH cuz of the stupid pranks they pulled on each other. You can feel Thomas totally poo his pants when O’Brian swore vengeance. My money is on O’Brian. Bitter Spinster With a Chip on Her Shoulder always trumps Bitchy Social Climbing Queen.

    Will Daisy find her inner feminist & ask out the footman?!?! Will Edith be a tragic spinster forever? Is Mary really already pregnant?!? Scandalous. Will someone finally pull Branson aside & explain that rude & interesting are not the same thing? 

    And will Mr. Carson throw caution to the winds & ask Mrs. Hughes for tea in his rooms WITHOUT a chaperone now that she is ok or will he just hide his feelings like a good chap aka “The Remains of the Day”?? Unlike you guys I totally saw an undercurrent of LUUURRRVE. Maybe it’s just me =) 

    So much to look forward to!

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_3JSTXMWWVZN2QNP2UEKJMTWD7U Isabel

      Will Daisy leave DA? Her pop in law wants her to learn how to run the farm because she is going to inherit it. 
      Can women inherit if there is no male heir and are not rich? Won’t some male relative come out of the woodwork and make Daisy fight for the farm?

      • Tally Ho

        It’s unlikely that he owns the farm. Most likely just rents it from the local squire. If he actually owned the farm then William would never have been a footman because that would be going down the social scale.

        Assuming he did own the farm it’s unlikely there’s an entail. Entails were generally only utilized by the wealthy landowners (never industrialists or merchants) as a means of preserving intact land-based, agricultural estates. I should emphasize the point that not all estates were entailed (many weren’t) and properties belonging to small landowners such as independent farmers were rarely entailed. In short there was never a government law in Britain that said all properties must pass to the eldest male heir but it was a combination of social convention and private decisions utilizing entails that made it the norm for eldest sons of the land-based aristocracy and gentry to inherit the bulk of the wealth. Among the rest of the population that was not the case.

         

    • Spicytomato1

      Loved this recap, gave me my biggest laugh of the day so far. Thanks!

    • AnneElliot

      Yes, and they’ll be able to get by with “only eight servants”  . . . which is basically the entire downstairs staff!!!  A house like downtown would have had a HUGE staff.  Last week when Daisy was complaining about not having another scullery maid was a complete joke.  T

      • Corsetmaker

        It frustrates me that you see other maids now and then but they’re absent from the actual story. 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_3JSTXMWWVZN2QNP2UEKJMTWD7U Isabel

    Edith’s designer!
     Lucile, Lady Duff-Gordon!!!

    The other designer under consideration was Jean Patou, but Cora didn’t want Edith to look like a showgirl.

    (I am listening to the PBS version DA. My coworker is humming too much!! I’d rather hear a rerun than her songs.)

    • sweetlilvoice

      I totally forgot that Lady DG was a Titanic survivor too…another little nod to Up/Down maybe.

  • Girl_With_a_Pearl

    If Downton Abbey keeps going to 1929 (Season whatever), Matthew is going to need another unexpected inheritance to land in his lap.

    • Lisa_Cop

      Haven’t you kept up with the news? Dan Stevens didn’t renew his contract so they killed Matthew off.

      • http://www.tomandlorenzo.com/ Tom and Lorenzo

         Why on earth would you reveal this to someone who obviously doesn’t know it?

        • Corsetmaker

          If that’s what I think it was, that’s totally out of order. Might be better even to edit the post above because even that plus your own, and maybe even me saying so could add up to a spoiler. Kittens are smart.

    • Lisa_Cop

      Haven’t you kept up with the news? Dan Stevens didn’t renew his contract so they killed Matthew off.

    • O H

       Yes, and they’ll run straight into “The Waltons” running barefoot in the foothills of Virginia!

  • mskgb

    Carson’s ironing song was the highlight of last night’s As Downton Turns, followed by Edith’s dress (and gleeful statement that something going on at Downton was finally about her), and Isobel Crawley’s prostitute charity cases mocking her.

    • formerlyAnon

       I think I shall call it “As Downton Turns” henceforth. I like it.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_QYNAGYILEHAIYAZP2BEIPGJJIQ Cindy

    Fellows is the worst.writer.ever.  This show is cringe worthy and barely watchable.  The only things it has going for it is costuming and cinematography.  I can’t even judge the actors on their ability because their material is so horrible.  This makes Dallas look like high drama.

    • Tom Shea

       A least he can write well enough to spell his name. “Fellowes.” Marrone.

  • CassandraMortmain

    The plot twists are ridiculous and are seriously undermining a potentially great show.  I don’t think there was a single believable element in last night’s episode.  And yet, I still eagerly watch.  The good (the acting, the sets, the costumes, the characterizations, the portrait of a changing England) are all enough to make me dismiss the silly plot developments and bad writing.  I just like spending time at Downton Abbey, with these people.  It’s a delightful way to spend Sunday night.  However, the Edith abuse is really getting obnoxious.  An entire generation of English men died during the war and there were many women of all social classes (Ediths and Daisys) who remained single because there simply were no men to marry.  It’s beyond absurd to think that anyone in her family would have objected to the marriage for even a second. Maybe it could be some small consolation to Edith but her dress was much more beautiful than Mary’s and I though that in general Edith looked prettier and more glamorous.  I doubt that Fellowes will allow Edith a happy ending but I wish she’d go off to America, live with Granny Levinson and take New York and Newport by storm. 

    I too thought that Mrs. Hughes might have misrepresented her diagnosis because she wanted her privacy and didn’t want pity.  Still not sure about that but it will be interesting to see how that plays out.  And Carson and Hughes – that’s one below-stairs romance that I’d love to see play out.  But they both have too much dignity – and Carson is too bound up in propriety – for that to ever happen, but it’s good to know that there’s some love there.

    Matthew is an insufferable prig.  I’m 100% with Mary on this.  I don’t care in the slightest about Ethel and her bastard baby.  If we’re going to have subplots about former housemaids I’d much rather focus on red-haired Gwen.  I’d love to see how she’s doing on her own as a secretary.  But maybe she’s too busy trying to seduce Jon Snow and marching with the wildlings to do any typing.  I never thought I’d say this but Thomas has become a somewhat sympathetic character to me.  I guess his sort-of redemption story arc last season worked for me.  O’Brien, on the other hand, is a murderous bitch.  I hope Thomas takes her down, hard.  But it’s going to be good campy fun to watch the two of them do battle.
    re

    • sweetlilvoice

      I miss Gwen too! She was a great character, I’d love an update. Now that was a girl who knew how to get along in life and kick some butt. I am over stupid Ethel. Although I love that her name is Ethel. It’s like when bad girls in 50s movies are called Doris and Gladys.

    • formerlyAnon

      “It’s beyond absurd to think that anyone in her family would have objected to the marriage for even a second.”

      This. THIS. THIS THIS THIS THIS this this.

      Amidst all the improbabilities, this is the one that had me frothing at the mouth last night (and, last week when it first came up.) The man was the right social class and has money. Even before the war, he’d have been acceptable, if perhaps not ideal.

      • AnneElliot

        “like” times one million.  That is all.

    • Adriana_Paula

      Game of Thrones!!!  Now THAT’S a well-written soap opera.

  • Zippypie

    This was a sad show, and not in terms of emotion.  The ridiculous convenience of the money subplot, the out of character actions of Sir Anthony (no gentleman would have done that and he certainly had been presented as a gentleman of honor) and the endless no-drama of the Bates thing (what the hell was hidden in his bunk??  looked like a stogie!) plus the pacing issues – Fellowes needs to write with some new blood.  I found myself watching the scenery and the clothing details during the scenes instead of the action.

    My favorite points:

    - Edith’s scene with Cora after the jilting.  An actual real moment between mom and daughter.
    - Mr. Carson’s singing while Mrs. Hughes looked on.  I think she lied to Mrs. Patmore about her condition, that she does have cancer bc she suspects Mrs. Patmore told Mr. Carson and she wants to deal with it herself.
    - Thomas and O’Brien’s interactions.  Bring it on, bitches!
    - Edith’s wedding dress

    Please no more of:

    - Matthew being an insufferable prig and Mary being an insufferable materialistic bitch – I can hardly watch them anymore
    - Bates suffering in prison – end it already
    - Anna sherlocking around London
    - Isobel saying the word “useful”.  I believe that every single sentence Isobel uttered in this episode and the last contained the word “useful”.  NO MORE!

    • janierainie

      I agree. I loved the scene with Cora comforting Edith. 

      • O H

         Hmm…not for me.  Awkward, and rare.  Cora almost ignores Edith, and the pity, and words to her daughter about being “stronger” was not ones she would have said to Mary.  She would have told Mary that “the guy is a fool.”  Not so, here.  Pretty girls, like Mary, get sympathy.  Sensible girls like Edith get pep talks!

  • jennsilentcrow

    total agreement, what a disappointment after the excitement of the first episode. I dont want it to get boring, but last night i really felt like it was erring on the side of BD SOAP opera.
    ugh.
    Julian Fellows-get back on track, rescreen GOSFORD PARK and get inspired by yourself, please.

    • sweetlilvoice

      I recently read Julian’s book, Past Imperfect, and it was solid. Not sure why he has these writing issues sometimes. I also want to read Snobs.

  • janierainie

    I wanted so much for Mary to slap Matthew when he was snarling about not wanting to help out with his windfall. They seem to save the most unlikely storylines for Matthew. That ranks right up there with falling out of his wheelchair. I was hoping Edith would marry and take over Downton with her money and start calling all the shots. It would be like the Twilight Zone episode where the kid is wishing everyone into the cornfield. “Oh Edith did a good thing, a really good thing!”
     As for that Bates thing, the only plot that would be realistic is for Anna to slowly (not too slowly) realise he really did kill his wife. 

    I guess I’m kinda in a mood today, but like you TLo, I thought that last night’s storylines were ridiculous.

    • Lisa_Cop

      Apparently the whole Matthew wheelchair plot was because Dan Stevens hadn’t decided if he was returning to Downton Abbey for Season 3.

  • marilyn

    Was medical science even aware that cancer existed at that time?  I realize this is fiction, but come on.

    • Stubenville

      The American Cancer Society was originally founded in 1913. So yes. But whether it was on the radar of a village hospital so soon is a stretch.

    • Tally Ho

      Yes. Speaking of breast cancer the earliest attempt to block the spread of the cancer by removing the breast was conducted on John Adams’ daughter in the late 18th century. People were aware of cancer. The difference, perhaps, is that cancer wasn’t quite as prominent as people tended to die first from other causes. 

      • Lilithcat

        Actually, the French were performing the operation in the mid-18th century.  Indeed, they knew about the importance of removing affected lymph nodes.

    • Lilithcat

      Please.  The ancient Egyptians first described the disease. Hippocrates knew about cancer.   According to the OED, the word “cancer” was used for the disease in Old English.

      So, yes, an English doctor in the 1920s would have been well aware of cancer.

  • Nancy Virzi

    I actually FELL ASLEEP! What an overall disappointment. I woke up and watched it on DVR, realized I really didn’t miss much other than poor Edith (her headpiece was stunning) get dumped at the altar.  Fellowes really needs to let go of his ego a bit and allow some input from other writers. This episode is a prime example of why collaboration is a good thing. And in the case of Downton, probably necessary. That said, he probably wrote the entirety of Season 4 solo; if things continue as they did last night (I don’t want to give away spoilers that force plotlines to change), we’re going to see more of this than what we saw in the first two seasons.

  • http://twitter.com/ponybaloney213 AnnieN

    Anyone else find it odd that Branson is now all of a sudden Totally Cool with wearing his tux to dinner? I know, minor snappy wrap up compared to a few of the other ones last night, but that one really bugged me for some reason.

    • RroseSelavy

      I thought it fit in very well with the condescending tone of our “tamed revolutionary” or whatever it was he was called by the Master of the House. Loved it!

    • megohd

      It was still the wrong suit, right? He was in black tie while the others were in white, IIRC.

    • http://twitter.com/cmkrcwi Tina Kramer

      That’s explained in a later show.

  • Girl_With_a_Pearl

    Poor Edith.  I knew something was going to go wrong when they were going to show the ceremony.  If they didn’t have time to show Mary and Matthew’s wedding, something bad was going to happen if the camera stayed on Edith and Sir Anthony at the church.

    Oh, and the photo with her sisters.  Did she want the photo of the three of them out of sisterly affection?  Or was it Edith’s way of saying “look, I’m as good as you two since I’m a new bride too.”  Either way, it was sad.    

    • librarygrrl64

      I think she truly wanted to capture a day when all three were happy together. Ironic, no? And, yes, sad. I would never want to see that photo again.

  • Martin Phillips

    Can’t read all the comments to see if anyone else has mentioned this, but the reason some of these plot lines were so abrupt is because of the way PBS edits the shit out of the original BBC version of each episode.  In the BBC version, you actually got to see Mrs. Hughes get the news she doesn’t have cancer from the doctor. Just one of many edits by PBS.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_VZLU6YVO4BRTELTTH3GRAAMWZQ Dot

      Really? I had no idea that US viewers were watching an edited version of the show, with entire scenes having been cut. I feel very slighted now.

      • http://twitter.com/cmkrcwi Tina Kramer

        Actually, this season we’re getting added scenes that weren’t in the UK production.   For instance, the scene where Lady Edith told Anthony she loved him because of his infirmity was not in the British show.  Neither was the one where Thomas and Lord Grantham were talking about O’Brien’s possibly leaving.

    • formerlyAnon

       Thank-you for the info!

    • Spicytomato1

      Oh wow. So much for the speculation that she does have cancer and is lying to make everyone feel better.

    • Corsetmaker

      Did you? I’m wracking my memory but I was sure I thought it was ambiguous at the time too. I couldn’t swear to it though… must get the DVD!

      • Lisa_Cop

        I have the UK DVD and there was no scene showing Mrs. Hughes getting the news.

        I have the ITV DVDs for all 3 seasons. Seasons 1 and 2 were heavily edited. In season 3 the episodes run about 45 minutes so PBS hasn’t had to edit them down.

        • Corsetmaker

          I didn’t think so. I mean I’m in the UK so it’s a while since I’ve seen it, but I remember wondering if she was lying which obviously I wouldn’t if we’d seen her being told.

        • BayTampaBay

          Don’t you mean “edited them up” as Masterpiece is right at 60 minutes per episode with no commercials.

  • formerlyAnon

    After the Matthew inheritance subplot, THE most ridiculous and unbelievable bit to me were the objections to Strallan for Edith. The war has been over for several years, and the “surplus women problem” was raised even before the war was over. Every adult in the house has to have been aware of the dearth of the usual society weddings, and the number of weddings or broken engagements among couples in which the groom (or would-be-groom) came home from the front seriously injured in body or mind.

    (A book on the subject based largely on interviews and memoirs of the period came out a few years ago. Rather melodramatically titled “Singled Out: How Two Million Women Survived Without Men After the First World War.”)

    Thomas v. O’Brien is the best thing to happen to this series since the first season.

    • Spicytomato1

      I think Thomas and O’Brien are more compelling when they’re scheming together. Separated and up against each other, they each seem more pathetic to me somehow. 

      I have to say, though, it was a great bit of acting at the end when Thomas let us briefly glimpse how rattled he was by her threat.

      • formerlyAnon

         In a strange way, I think the way in which they “seem more pathetic” makes them more appealing because it humanizes them for me. Especially, for me, Thomas. I’ve always been able to see good and bad in O’Brien. Except for a bit of compassion that his sexuality is so unlikely to ever find tolerance, let alone acceptance – especially if he continues to live and work in the closed community of a “great house,” I’ve never been able to see Thomas as anything other than a shit stirrer who pursues his own interests amorally. With the occasional flash of resentment and malice.

        • Spicytomato1

          I completely get that. When Thomas trashed his black market goods in his fit of rage, I almost felt sorry for him…until I reminded myself of all the horrible things he’d done. I think the actors are in large part responsible for injecting that humanity into what could otherwise be simply evil caricatures.

  • librarygrrl64

    Edith’s gown KICKED MARY’S GOWN’S ASS!!! She was glowing. And I loved that they used the same headpiece, which was beautiful. In fact, all of the ladies looked lovely at the wedding-that-wasn’t. I don’t understand the hate for Edith, other than the audience bandwagoning on the writers’ hate for Edith. She’s the one I’m rooting for.

    Looking forward to more Thomas vs. O’Brien. :-)

    • Lilithcat

      And I loved that they used the same headpiece, which was beautiful.

      Family heirloom, I’m sure.  ”The Grantham tiara.”

      • librarygrrl64

        Yes, that was my guess as well. Nice touch from the costuming department. :-)

  • Tom Shea

    TLO: This episode sucked! Pacing plotting hack instincts waaaaaaaahhhh!!!!!
    JULIAN FELLOWES: Say it, gentlemen.
    TLO(Sheepishly): See you next Sunday.
    JF: LOUDER, if you please…
    TLO: SEE YOU NEXT SUNDAY.
    JF: I thought so. (Goes to work on his seventh BBC series, involving the mid-70s Yorkshire miners and the fashion models who loved them)

    • Lattis

      ha – this made me laugh. It epitomizes me in relation to JF and this show. I think it was the bots on MST3K who said 
      “Seen it.”
      “Hated it.”
      “Taped it.”

  • http://twitter.com/SharonAJJ Sharon Jessup Joyce

    Let me echo the laments of others – what a disappointment.
     
    Things I liked: Cora’s picnic ensemble (gorgeous hat, both shape and colour); Edith’s dress, veil and headpiece; Mr. Carson trying desperately and touchingly to spare Mrs Hughes work; O’Brien’s long, cool gaze at the end, saying “just wait” to Thomas.
     
    As for what disappointed me, that list is too long, but TLo’s review caught most of what annoyed me, and the rest of you mentioned the remainder.  I think the thing that jarred the most for me was the story of Lavinia’s letter. (“Just let me prop myself up on my deathbed, laboured breathing and high fever and all, and dash off a quick note to my Papa, with this conveniently-placed notepaper and pen that I found under my pillow, for the kitchenmaid to post, since the most important last message I have for my only surviving relative is that I am a self-sacrificing twit who wants him to share my view that Matthew Crawley shouldn’t marry me, but should marry his distant cousin instead.”)

    Why do you think it’s become so crummy? Is Fellowes bored with the show? Or is it that he had ideas for one great season, and now has to scramble to fill multiple seasons? If that’s the case, those of you who suggested he get writing help should write personally to tell him so. The rumours of discontentment and departures on the part of some cast members make more and more sense, no?

    • AnneElliot

      I’m getting a little tired of the constant miraculous saves.  It’s all just TOO CONVENIENT.  Next, Anna will miraculously discover Vera’s suicide letter.  Riiiight.

    • http://twitter.com/cmkrcwi Tina Kramer

      How was the letter implausible?  Remember that for most of that day, it was Lady Grantham who was very ill and looked to be dying.  Lavinia was well enough to get out of bed which is how she saw Lady Mary and Matthew dancing and kissing.  And apparently when the patient seemed to be on the road to recovery was the most dangerous time.  Why couldn’t she have written a letter during that time when it looked like she was going to be fine?

      I do agree though that Matthew has the most amazing good luck to the point where it starts being a bit silly. I mean he’s a middle-class solicitor and he suddenly becomes heir to a grand title and fortune.  He’s paralyzed in the war, but wait, it was just a misdiagnosis!  It looks like Downton Abbey is going down, but wait, his deceased almost father-in-law conveniently leaves him all his money.

  • Buffy

    Edith’s gown was ever so much nicer than Mary’s.  The sight of that poor tiara on the floor made me want to cry.  The whole jilted at the altar thing rankled as a gentleman would never do that and Sir Antony was always portrayed as a gentleman.  I thought since they kept going on and on about his age that maybe he’d keel over and die at the altar.  Now *that* would have been heartbreaking and somewhat face-saving for Edith.  I hope they have something *really* nice planned for her later on and not just have her continue to be the whipping post.  As for Matthew’s newfound fortune, how conveeeeenient.  The “little” house looked pretty damn good to me!  

    • Spicytomato1

      And Cora seemed to like the new, smaller house. She is remarkably serene in the face of her husband losing her fortune.

      • formerlyAnon

         Cora married a man she did not love (yet), in a strange country, for a title and social standing (and, maybe, for a bit of an adventure?).  When the war required her to take on responsibilities she’d never had, she seemed to thrive on them. I think that she is, at heart, more practical and adaptable than most – certainly more so than her husband.

        • Tally Ho

          There’s a surprising paucity of information about the background of all the characters in Downton Abbey. Take the various fortunes – first Cora’s and then Matthew’s, we’re never told how big they actually are. A hundred thousand pounds? Five hundred? Or the estate itself, not a clue to how large or small it may be 5,000 acres versus 25,000 acres. 

          Likewise with Cora we’re never told if she loved Robert when she married him or if she was goaded into a marriage by socially ambitious American parents? I’d like to think that Cora was raised by completely domineering parents (no surprise after seeing her mother) and then married into a completely domineering social class where she’d have to deal with women like Violet on a daily basis. Cora’s had all the benefits of wealth and privilege and she’s learned how to subvert her own feelings and desires and gracefully fill the roles expected of her by her family but underneath it all she’s indeed, as you indicated, practical, pragmatic and adaptable and knows that life at Downton Place still wouldn’t be bad. After all they’d still have eight or so servants plus a dress allowance from Mommy dearest. 

          • Lilithcat

            Likewise with Cora we’re never told if she loved Robert when she married him or if she was goaded into a marriage by socially ambitious American parents?

            According to Fellowes, she loved him, and he married her for her money. He is also working on a “prequel” (atrocious word) which will deal with their courtship.

          • Lattis

            prequel. bugs me,too.

          • BayTampaBay

            According to Downton Abbey Wiki Cora was in love with Robert but it was her father, not her mother, who pushed for the marriage to an English peer. Martha was against the marriage. Daddy appears to have been the social climber

            According to the “Forbes Fictitious 20 List”  Cora’s “marriage settlement” was $5 Million USD which her father-in-law had entailed to the estate so that if the marriage did not work out he did not have to give the money back nor pay a large amount of spousal support.  We are talking $5,000,000 in 1880.  Not a small sum at all but nowhere near the marriage settlement of Consuelo Vanderbiltof NYC  or Mary Leiter (???) the real estate heiress of Chicago

    • LittleKarnak

      As for Sir Antony, am I the only one who thinks he might be gay??

  • formerlyAnon

    Forgot to mention that in the Matthew vs. Mary over Money debate, I’m 100% with Mary. If he didn’t want the responsibility to the estate, he could have walked away from the inheritance. Wasn’t it a major plot point, at one time, that he kind of wished he had the courage to do that?

    It’s too bad, though, that Mary so often come across as snippy and entitled and unthinkingly arrogant. Makes it much less fun to take her side.

  • Sing4yursupper

    “We’re afraid this episode represents pretty much everything that’s bad about the writing on Downton Abbey and all of Julian Fellowes’ worst instincts as a writer.”

    You said it. Downton Abbey is the the best bad TV ever.

  • Lattis

    Aside from plot points in melodramas . . . 

    HAS ANYONE EVER SEEN A PERSON LITERALLY GET JILTED AT THE ALTAR?

    I’m really asking. I never have. I can cite a number of engagements that have broken up but I’m beginning to think that being left standing alone at the altar is more like horrifying urban legend stories (. . . they got home and there was a HOOK attached to the car door). Or like common bad dreams (I took off my coat to put it in my locker and I didn’t have my skirt on).

    • nannypoo

       I know a woman who jilted the groom at the altar. At the last minute she just couldn’t go through with it. They went ahead with the reception, though. Petit fours and punch in the church basement.

      • janierainie

        I was at a wedding where the best man threw up in the middle of the ceremony. It’s not the same thing, but I thought I’d mention it because it was very dramatic. lol

        • megohd

          I was at a wedding where the bride cried hysterically through her vows—not happy tears. When the groom took her hands to comfort her, she pulled away—it looked like a tug of war. Several years later she left him for another woman.

          • AnneElliot

            My sister’s sister-in-law wanted to leave her first husband before the wedding.  She told her father she couldn’t go through with it before they walked down the aisle, and his response was “If we don’t, your mother will kill us both.”  The marriage didn’t last long, needless to say.  Sad.  

          • http://twitter.com/SharonAJJ Sharon Jessup Joyce

            I do know of MANY people who went ahead with marriages about which they had doubts because they felt overwhelmed about calling off the weddding.

          • formerlyAnon

             Yes.

        • WhiteOprah

          I was at a wedding where one of the groomsmen suddenly said he would not stand up at the wedding a few weeks before.  Apparently the groom-to-be confided to him that he was gay but he wanted to have children.  He left the bride for another man several years (And children) later.  Not the same thing, but pretty dramatic.  

    • formerlyAnon

       The closest I’ve seen is a minister standing before the guests reiterating what a serious and thoughtful decision a marriage is and thanking the guests for expressing our love and caring for the couple by coming, before saying there’d be a short delay.  He was actually giving them time (we found out later) in case they decided to call things off. This was an outdoor wedding, and we could all see the couple deep in confabulation far off stage left – those of us who knew them as a couple knew they were fighting about something. (I no longer remember, if I knew, what it was.)

      But they did get married & the bride made a joke of the delay among her good friends. Stayed married 11 years, fighting all the way aaaannnd are today in the middle of a contentious divorce. 

    • http://twitter.com/SharonAJJ Sharon Jessup Joyce

      No, but at my first wedding there was a rumour going around that the groom almost didn’t go through with it (in hindsight, better if he hadn’t). The reality was that my husband-to-be had his car sideswiped on the way to the church, and was delayed. Instead of straightforward announcement to that effect, the officiant decided to address the delay by making a jocular remark: “I’ve almost lost a few brides over the years, but this is the first time I almost lost a groom!” And then he gave no other explanation, and just let the organ play on. The congregation of 80 or so, not knowing about the minor car accident, assumed the wedding was late starting because the groom had second thoughts. The wedding party spent a fair bit of time during the reception clarifying the situation.

      Addendum: I’m happily married to someone else now, as is my first husband, so it all turned out for the best. I was invited to a wedding that was cancelled three days before it was to take place, but it wasn’t actually at the altar. The groom called it off and took a job in another city, leaving his bride and the two families to deal with the aftermath. That bride is now happy with someone else, too. Maybe Edith has a very hot romance in her future – wouldn’t that be great after all she’s been through?

      • AnneElliot

        I want Edith to go visit her other grandmother in New York and meet a hot jazz musician.  Or maybe a mobster. . . maybe she can cross over to Boardwalk Empire.  

        Or a hot cowboy!

        • formerlyAnon

           Any of the above – even a forward-thinking New York businessman, in a pinch – but they must have TONS of money and also adore her and be willing to politely shield her from  her family’s expectations.

          She hasn’t always behaved well but I think she’s suffered more than enough and I think she’s due some excellent compensatory happiness.

          • Lattis

            I think she’s suffered more than enough
            YES – I think it might have been Rhett Butler making a comment about how people will like you after your bad fortune exceeds their dislike of you. That’s where I am with Edith. The amount I disliked her has been far exceeded by her bad fortune. 

  • Lattis

    Aside from plot points in melodramas . . . 

    HAS ANYONE EVER SEEN A PERSON LITERALLY GET JILTED AT THE ALTAR?

    I’m really asking. I never have. I can cite a number of engagements that have broken up but I’m beginning to think that being left standing alone at the altar is more like horrifying urban legend stories (. . . they got home and there was a HOOK attached to the car door). Or like common bad dreams (I took off my coat to put it in my locker and I didn’t have my skirt on).

  • PaulaBerman

    HATED that Sir Anthony left Edith at the altar. HATED IT. I also hated the Dowager Countess for intervening. It was just awful. Like, I almost want to stop watching awful. As if I wasn’t hating them all enough. I can’t believe that the character I sympathize with the most is Edith now. Ugh.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=513728043 Brandon Carroll

    I watched this right after it aired in the UK, so I’m a bit fuzzy on the details, but if I recall correctly, the reason that the family was so down on Edith’s engagement was because her husband-to-be was disabled in some way. His hand, perhaps? It wasn’t about his age so much as that he might not be able to provide for her down the road when the combination of age and disability became a bigger problem.

    • 3hares

      He doesn’t need a hand to provide for her since he doesn’t work for a living. 

  • MichaelStrangeways

    Thank you for pointing out the main problem with Downton Abbey…Julian Fellowes and his HORRIBLE writing. I agree with EVERY one of your assessments.

    It’s now obvious that “Gosford Park” only worked because of Robert Altman’s direction.

  • desertwind

    Edith should move to London and become a Bright Young Thing. Buzzing around in a sports car, Jazz,cocaine! Etc. And tell her family to fuck off while she’s at it. Please please don’t let Cousin Isobel rope her into “good works.”

    God, I’ve grown to hate Cousin Isobel. She was fun in season one.

    And The Idiot Earl from Grantham? Too stupid to live. Maybe he and Isobel can be ripped limb from limb by a mob of her prostitutes!

    Mary and Mathew? Boring old couple squabbling about money. Ugh.

    What if Sir Richard re-enters the story ’cause he killed Vera? Delicious. Mary’s scandal gets out!

    If not that, I’d wish for Bates to be guilty and hanged, but… I love Anna.

    Thomas doesn’t stand a chance in this fight. This show is desperate for juicy intrigue.

    Daisy and Long Tall Al sittin’ in a tree!

    Irish Tom on the run from Republicans who don’t trust his wife? or like his writing?

    Speaking of writing – Julian, Julian, Julian – man needs Bob Balaban and Robert Altman in the worse way.

  • http://www.thirteen.org/program-content/downton-dish-season-3-episode-1/ Gotham Tomato

    Yes, I think that, more than fluff, it’s a commitment issue. They seem to be rushing through stories without committing to them (maybe to cover a certain number of years before it ends?? I don’t know.)

    But even with its faults, it’s still better than 95% of anything else out there on TV.

    –GothamTomato–GothamTomato

    • http://twitter.com/SharonAJJ Sharon Jessup Joyce

      I think you’re right about the commitment issue, which is what made me wonder if Julian Fellowes is more interested in newer projects, or is just in over his head on a multi-year television series. I also feel frustrated with characters behaving ridiculously just to further storylines. It goes back to Mary sleeping with Pamuk…yes, it led to some interesting and rewarding (in terms of storyline) plotlines, but it was a bizarre and out-of-character thing for her to do. On a more minor level, the same goes for the dowager inviting Sir Anthony to tea in the first (or second?) season to foster his romance with Edith, and now being in a snit over the romance in this season. Or Lord Grantham knowing Thomas is a dishonest, thieving creep, and now taking his advice. Yes, Thomas (apparently) tried to rescue Isis last season, but come on! Fellowes isn’t respecting his characters or his audience with these inconsistencies, which are, increasingly, adding up to distract from viewers’ enjoyment and ability to even begin to suspend disbelief. There’s so much to love about this show – the concept,  settings, actors, costumes, music – and the problems with the pacing and writing are so fixable. It’s disheartening.

  • http://www.thirteen.org/program-content/downton-dish-season-3-episode-1/ Gotham Tomato

    Well, if Dr. Clarkson says she doesn’t have cancer then she probably does. He hasn’t gotten a diagnosis right yet.

    –GothamTomato

  • http://www.thirteen.org/program-content/downton-dish-season-3-episode-1/ Gotham Tomato

    I second that emotion. It is the only thing on TV that is a total escape.

    –GothamTomato

  • http://www.thirteen.org/program-content/downton-dish-season-3-episode-1/ Gotham Tomato

    There was a clue – Mrs. Bartlet said Vera had to post a letter. Who was it too? Where is it? What does it say? Was it a suicide note? A confession? What?

    –GothamTomato

  • http://www.thirteen.org/program-content/downton-dish-season-3-episode-1/ Gotham Tomato

    Exactly. Same goes for EastEnders. The majority of the TV audience nowadays expects a faster pacing – they don’t have the attention span for the kinds of stories that were made 30 or 40 years ago when the original Upstairs Downstairs was made, so we’re talking apples and oranges.

    And I don’t understand the ‘soap’ label being used like a pejorative. All continuing dramas are soaps. So are most sports at this point.

    –GothamTomato

    • Corsetmaker

      I think the change came, here anyway, with Dallas, Dynasty etc coming into the UK. Whether that was cause or coincidence I wouldn’t like to judge but the change in how soaps approached storylines changed in the 80s. Eastenders was the first UK soap to play to that, in a smaller way at first then increasingly as time went on.

  • LittleKarnak

    And the best line from the Dowager Countess: ‘If the poor don’t want it, send it to me.”

  • megohd

    I’d like to see the sisters unite to make Sir Anthony’s life miserable. Mary can use her bitchery for good.

  • http://twitter.com/OhFaerieNuff Laurie S. Neilsen

    I read on Twitter that it all makes sense if you imagine the residents of Downton Abbey are well-meaning, but very stupid aliens.

  • Farthingale

    What WAS that thing hidden in Bates’ cot, a lamp wick???

    • O H

       An arsenic cigar of sorts?

  • desertwind

    PS re Bates in prison — who is funding the plot against him? And why?

    • Farthingale

      Do you mean the plot to hide the contraband “thing” in his bed?

      • desertwind

        yeah. That – plus payments to his new cellmate and indication in preview for next week that the guards won’t mail his letters to Anna.

        He’s not the only murderer in the prison and it’s not as though he was convicted of murder of children or some other sensational charge.

        I suppose (given JF’s improbabilities in plotting) that it’s possible the prison governor just doesn’t like that Bates has an earl as his champion?

  • SewingSiren

    I’m glad nobody else know what the hell that thing in Bates cot was. Not that I give a fig one way or the other because it’s boring.
    I was surprised that Edith (poor Edith) was jilted at the alter. But when I saw ol’ Sir Anthony standing their like he had a loaded diaper. I kinda got the picture.
    Over all the story was dumb. But I lurved the dresses and the sets. Oh I just loved Vera’s friend’s house. 

  • kaking17

    I suspect an Agatha Christie plot coming into the Bates murder plot.  Vera’s friend told Anna that Vera had a glow or halo around her head – I don’t recall the exact words, but that’s close.  That is a vital clue in a book and a short story featuring Poirot.  No spoilers, so  I won’t say what it was, but am curious if any other Christie fan picked up on that.
     

    • Pseudonymous Jones

       This totally jibes with my impression of Julian Fellowes’ writing since the first season — he’s the master of plot sampling.  I think of him as Girl Talk but with samples of Agatha Christie, Upstairs/Downstairs and classic movies instead of Cream and Grand Funk Railroad.  It bugged me no end the first season — I had just seen the Dowager’s rose-growing subplot on some 1940s movie on TCM a few weeks before.

    • http://twitter.com/SharonAJJ Sharon Jessup Joyce

      I thought of that story, too! :)

  • http://twitter.com/leasetegn Lea Setegn

     Funny – that’s why I loved about Entourage!

  • Michelle Wesley

    The guy who brought Pamuk to the house in the first place knows since he’s the one who told Mary in the first place.  And the Turkish Ambassador knows since he received the letter from Edith.  Who knows who else they could have talked to.  So, it certainly could come back to haunt them at some point. 

    • http://twitter.com/evangelineh Evangeline Holland

      The Pamuk plotline is done–it was just there to give Mary a temporary inferiority complex regarding her worthiness for Matthew and to give Sir Richard a scandal to hold over her head. Mary told Matthew and married him, and Sir Richard is MIA, so bye bye Pamuk.

  • Sweetpea176

    I’m a bit irritated about a few things with how the show presented the possible loss of Downton.  First, the fact of Matthew’s being the heir to Downton never came up in the discussion about whether he should use Reggie Swire’s money to save the place.  Grantham’s loss of Downton is also his loss of Downton, which, granted, he hadn’t originally wanted anyway.  But now he’s adapted to the life of a gentleman, and, as a married man, he might have his own heirs that you’d think he might be thinking about (although, I don’t have a lot of hope for that relationship — those two don’t seem to like each other very much).  Or he might be thinking about having to go back to work, if both of his (unlikely) inheritances were gone.  Or, conversely, he might have resented the idea of having to shore up an estate in order to one day inherit it.  In other words, Matthew seemed so detached about the whole thing, when, really, he has as much a vested interest in what happened as anyone.  

    Also, the loss of Robert’s money meaning the end to Downton in first place was never discussed in the context of whether and how to save it.  Meaning that the implication is that the estate is already not self-sustaining — Granny Levinson seems to be the only one noticing that this place needs a second bailout.  What sense would it make for Matthew to put his money into a sinking ship?  (Maybe in future episodes, Matthew insists on a sustainable business plan, now that he’s a partner?)  And why would he even consider just giving Grantham the money?  Why not offer to buy it from Grantham?  For a lawyer, he doesn’t seem to think like one.

    It also irked me that if Grantham was resigned to selling off the land in chunks, why not sell off land and try to stay in the house?  If the premise is that income from the estate is required to sustain the maintenance on the house itself, then how is he expecting to sell it without the land?  

    It seems to me that all of these other possible conflicts would have been WAY more interesting than the only conflict Matthew actually had — which was whether to use the Swire money.  If the premise of the whole series really is about all these questions around the changing economics of the time, you’d think the potential loss of the estate would give the show a chance to actually explore these things. 

    Frustrating.  Pretty, but frustrating.

    • Corsetmaker

      I don’t think it constitutes a spoiler to say there will be more about the estate management etc to come which will cover some of your points. Also to defend JF slightly, on this one he does have lots of examples to draw on regarding these types of estates. Those big houses are money pits, which is why most of them are open to the public now.

    • Tally Ho

      The only way the whole crisis as portrayed by Fellowes works is if the estate is indeed very small, much smaller than the size of the house would indicate otherwise the logical solution would have been to sell the house but keep the rest of the estate and move into the dower house or just lease out the house to someone like Richard Carlisle. That’s how a lot of families handled it in the day. Wide scale demolitions of stately homes didn’t really take off until after WWII. 

      Selling the entire estate as implicated in the episode indicates that the estate was so small that the revenues from it was so minor as to be irrelevant and that there’s also no spare land to be sold off. I’m resigned to assuming that the estate is only a few thousand acres, if that, whereas the archetypical earl of the day had tens of thousands of acres. The alternative scenario would be that the family’s expenditures were so high through wasteful extravagance that they ran up huge debts, so the sudden lost of the capital would have hit them very hard. So far there’s been no mention of debt and their lifestyle, while pleasant enough, isn’t quite in the league of people who had shooting estates in Scotland (major money pits), frequent visits abroad, lavish gambles at the gaming table, extensive entertaining on a large scale etc – at least we’re never told about it. 

      • Sweetpea176

        ANY conversation or dilemma around the estate would have been more interesting than Matthew’s guilt over Lavinia.

        • formerlyAnon

          Oooh my God YES!

  • Sweetvegan

    I’m so sick of the Bates story line. Not because he’s saintly but because they keep dancing around the question of whether he killed his wife. He keeps acting guilty, never directly saying that he’s innocent and even questions why Anna believes in him so thoroughly. And he’s a brute in prison.  
    The contents of Reggie Swire’s letter were just too perfect. Who writes a letter to their heir telling him that he should take the money and do whatever he wants, and not to wallow in guilt?
    I still love the show, but it’s starting to fall apart. The worst story line is still the appearance/disappearance of “Patrick.”

    • formerlyAnon

       The part of me which is the most entertained when the plot gets the most ridiculous is quietly waiting for “Patrick” to re-surface. That’d be a right deluge of cold water thrown all over our contentiously blissful newlyweds.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1253616180 Catherine Carter

    GT, that is an awesome comment about George Glass.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1069083922 Brady Galan

    Perfect synopsis!  Some of these plot-lines seemed very thin this episode.

  • samitee

    Best part of O’Brien vs. Thomas this week? MOLESLEY OMG. I don’t understand how the whole “Poor Molesley can’t get anything right” bit never gets old, but it always cracks me the eff up.

  • Joshua

    To be fair, PBS aired the first two episodes in one, so maybe if you had watched them spaced out they way they aired originally, you would have felt at least a little more breathing. But for a 8-episode season plus one Christmas super special, subplots are still coming and going pretty dang fast.

  • http://twitter.com/IzzymadsterNYC Izzy Decauwert

    I totally disagree with the review. But I still love you. xoxo

  • Trisha26

    Agree with all your upbeat ending points – LOVED Edith’s gown. I was hoping for more drama/intrigue/mystery/scandal about why Sir Anthony jilted Edith, but presumably that’s over and done. Darn it! As for the other easily resolved plot threads – WTF? I was dreading a long, drawn out drama on each one of these, but can we hope that Fellowes knows what he’s doing? That sometimes life’s little bumps in the road actually sort themselves out quickly leaving room for something far worse? I’ve successfully avoided spoilers for this season so I’m hoping something meaty & angsty & significant is coming.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=7407059 Christopher Melchiors

    O’Brien will have to be a little craftier. Somehow I don’t think Thomas is a stranger to dropping bars of soap…:-X

  • http://twitter.com/evangelineh Evangeline Holland

     Ditto!

    It’s like…Edith is being tested for having a family who hates her and undermined the confidence of her groom-to-be? Thanks Mom!

  • http://twitter.com/evangelineh Evangeline Holland

    Probably because soap operas rely upon the plot moving the characters, not characters moving the plot, which in turn creates characters who don’t change, learn, grow up, adapt, etc. Think about how some soap opera characters that have been around for 20-30 years are still pretty much the same–just older.

  • http://twitter.com/evangelineh Evangeline Holland

    The innate saintliness of John Bates provokes those who are evil to the bone.

  • BayTampaBay

    Well I think something will come out later as to why he did what he did.  This is pure “All My Children” soap opera writing at its worst.

  • BayTampaBay

    Remember, Lavinia was well enough to Walk downstairs and see Matthew and & Mary dancing so she would have been well enough to write a letter.

  • UglyTalents

    The whole will-they/won’t-they inheriting-the-Swire-fortune thing was silly enough (because you knew that the fortune would somehow end up saving Downton Abbey), but then the letter came and Matthew *wouldn’t even read it* … and that dragged on for the whole episode. So annoying, that “I refuse to read this letter,” subplot. And while I think the Edith story line is one of the better ones, you’re totally right: the family has no reason (based on the period and their past behavior) to find her choice of husband anything but a source of joy.

    Quibbles aside, DAMN I love this show. :)

  • BayTampaBay

    When did he wear the tails to dinner?.  I thought he only wore them to Mary’s wedding.

  • BayTampaBay

    Doew it seem strange to anyone but me that Sir Anthong has no childern?

  • BayTampaBay

    Remember, Lavinia was well enough to walk downstairs and see Matthew and & Mary dancing so she would have been well enough to write a letter.

  • fringebenefit

    TLo…thank you for expressing everything that we were screaming in this living room Sunday night as to the limitations of Mr. Fellowes’ talents as a scriptwriter. We saw this in evidence on the second to last episode last season, which was twelve seasons crammed into one episode on fast forward. We were laughing out loud at the absurdity. I would opt out of DA, as this point, sick as I am of the absurdity, but the rest of the house is committed. 

  • BayTampaBay

    Do you find it strange that he has no children?

  • http://twitter.com/NJedwina Edwina

    I will still view the future episodes but it’s disappointing how rapidly DA has become hate watching. The satisfying memory of The Hour, BBC’s far superior period drama, will have to sustain me.