Downton Abbey: Through a Bates Darkly

Posted on January 27, 2014

Brendan Coyle and Joanne Froggatt in Downton Abbey, on PBS

 

If Julian Fellowes were a more nuanced sort of writer, we wouldn’t feel the need to ask this question, but after this last episode, we have to wonder. Does he realize he’s writing Mr. Bates like an ominous, dangerous, dark figure? Because he seems to think he’s writing him as a loving, supportive, moral man. But what’s coming across onscreen is that all of Mr. Bates outward gentleness and support is merely a facade covering up the dangerously violent man who apparently lurks underneath. To be honest, we’d love it if this was Fellowes’ intent and the story was going to explore more of this. The idea that Anna may have made a mistake in marrying Bates is something the show never even hinted at before, but if they really had the balls to explore it, their relationship – which has been both full of ridiculous roadblocks and at the same time curiously boring – would be rendered in a much more interesting light.

But we’re not fools. That’s not where Fellowes is going with this. He may be toying with Bates’ dark side this season – and we are appreciative of that, because he’s been so saintly and put-upon in the past – but it’s still being presented as part and parcel of the “Mr. Bates, Good Husband” mode of thinking about the character. In other words, Fellowes gets to toy with the idea of a murderous Bates while still making him look like a supportive and loving (if no longer saintly) character. This has probably been the most frustrating thing about Downton Abbey as a series; Fellowes’ unwillingness to let any of his characters (except for the mustache-twirling villainous types) look too bad in the long run. He always skirts right up to really delving into someone’s dark side and then backs off from it. Robert’s behavior on the night of Sybil’s death was so awful that it should have forever cast him as an imperious, snobbish dolt of a man, but instead great care was made to ensure us that he’s really not so bad and besides, he feels really terrible about it. Then it never got mentioned again. This pattern plays out over and over again. Look at Mary. Sure, every once in a while someone calls her on her bullshit, but for the most part, everyone glosses over the fact that she’s been a shallow bitch over and over again; especially in her romantic dealings with men, and she glides into most scenes, secure in her place as the heroine of this tale.

Or take Tom, who is, by our way of thinking, easily the most interesting “upstairs” character right now and who has been rendered disappointingly bland and obsequious by Fellowes. You could write an entire series of epic novels based on the Irish revolutionary who married into English aristocracy, lost his wife, and wound up living a life he not only never saw for himself but actively despised for the entirety of his previous life. That’s some meaty stuff right there. But instead he dances with bejeweled dowagers at fancy parties and takes tea in the library with great ease and even skill, despite his protestations of discomfort. And even that would be something interesting to explore; this idea that under it all, he’s something of a hypocrite who loves the high life too much to cling to his former beliefs. But all Fellowes is doing with the character is showing him quite happily ensconced on the estate – but sporting a slightly furrowed brow. Dressed in gorgeous tweeds or white tie and tails – but ever so concerned about it. Sure, he’s talking about moving to America, but let’s see a show of hands: who thinks that’s really going to happen? No, he’ll wind up living in Crawley House or something, but he’s not going to leave the estate. He’ll stay and always pay lip service to the idea that he’s an outsider. And to be honest, he really should be more of one. The way the family treats him as a son is very sweet to watch, but kind of hard to believe. They seem even more protective of him than they were of Matthew, who was the heir apparent.

Anyway, back to the Bates marriage and its latest set of problems. We’re vaguely uncomfortable (but not at all surprised) that Anna’s rape has become all about Mr. Bates. On the other hand, the storyline has done a great job of playing on the characters’ histories and there’s enough darkness in Bates for us to truly believe that Anna’s probably right to withhold as much information from him as she can. Still, it says something about her choice of husband that she has to suffer this much in order to keep him from being hanged. And like we said, we doubt Fellowes will have the balls to explore that idea to its endpoint.

In other news, we have a mysterious new ladies maid (Is there any other kind?) who seems to be Thomas’ attempt at building himself his very own O’Brien. Also: Daisy something Alfred. Dowager something something gardener something Isobel. And there’s a hot little Yorkshireman who seems to be a setup for some sort of payoff down the line.

Oh! Evelyn Napier is back! And he apparently no longer thinks Mary is tainted for sleeping Mr. Pamuk to death. He’s clearly smitten. And she’s clearly THRILLED to have a man smitten with her since Lord Poutylips had the nerve to not pine after her for the rest of his life, instead choosing to become engaged without her permission. It’s a little gross how much flirting Mary’s been doing while still in her mourning clothes. We’re surprised no one’s called her on it. But like we said, she rarely gets called on her behavior. Not that we think she’s a whore or anything; just that we’re surprised Edith or the Dowager haven’t made some sort of bitchslap at her, just for the fun of it. Oh, and Edith’s probably pregnant, right? She wasn’t heading into that doctor’s office for some Botox. Dimples McNazi better haul ass back from Germany pronto.

 

 

 

 

[Photo Credit: Nick Briggs/Carnival Film & Television Limited 2013 for MASTERPIECE]

    • ScarlettHarlot

      Thank you for discussing the awkwardness of Bates as both loving protector and dark, violent man. I agree, I don’t believe Fellowes has really thought it out, or at least not written it very successfully. Both scenes with him confronting Ms. Hughes was incredibly uncomfortable. He bullied her and threatened her, and I didn’t see how making a victim of Ms. Hughes reflects well on him at all. Are we meant to overlook it since it’s for “justice?” (PS I don’t see it as justice for Anna so much as vengeance upon the rapist).

      • AudreysMom

        Yes, great critical discussion on Bates. After he played Little Miss Passive Aggressive with Mrs Hughes to force her to tell him 90% of the truth (but the reveal was inevitable), then cried in the hallway I screamed at the TV, “It’s not about you!”. And so it’s become. Now poor Anna and Mrs Hughes having to worry about his behavior rather than helping Anna truly move on and heal.

        • Chris

          Well I can’t fault the poor guy for crying when hearing about what happened to his wife. And I can’t blame him for wanting to know why in the course of an hour his wife can’t stand the sight of him. I agree he was passive aggressive with Mrs. Hughes but again, if you were the spouse with no idea why your partner had turned on you and you knew someone else knew wouldn’t you try to find out? And to be fair he’s playing nice with Anna- she thinks he accepts the story and is moving on. It’s Mrs. Hughes who got the earful. Which just shows prison didn’t teach Bates everything.

        • SayWTH

          Except that back then it would have been all about him. Anything a woman did or had done to her was a direct reflection on her husband. What she thought, felt, experienced etc. had nothing to do with anything except how her husband felt, experienced, thought etc. So Bates is not thinking of “justice for Anna” but “vengence for touching HIS property.”

      • Saturnine

        I agree. “Justice for Anna” would be not making this any harder on her. A nice turnaround for the character would be for Bates to realize that meeting this monstrous thing with obliterating vengeance wouldn’t solve the problem, but would make things worse for Anna in the long run. But, then we wouldn’t have melodrama.

        What if he killed Greene the valet with arsenic? Gasp!

        • Chris

          Oh I can’t imagine Bates using poison. He’d want something more up close and personal- and violent. Strangling or beating (or shooting) sounds more like him.

          • Saturnine

            Oh, agreed if he really were to go after Green–but didn’t his first wife die from self-administering arsenic?

            • Chris

              Yes you’re right. I think I took your arsenic joke too literally.

          • ScarlettHarlot

            Or bopping him on the head with his cane, like when Santa got mad in Miracle on 34th Street

          • 3boysful

            Oh, no, I think Mr B would appreciate the irony of offing the evil valet in some hard-to-detect manner that Bates picked up in prison.

        • rainwood1

          I’m hoping that Fellowes reverts to his Gosford Park plotline and the valet gets killed by multiple people in some sort of downstairs conspiracy, maybe Bates and Mrs. Hughes and Mrs. Patmore. Or Colonel Mustard in the library with a candlestick.

        • VivianAdvanced

          Bates should use his cane to whack the rapist/valet to death; he certainly doesn’t need it for his gamy leg anymore. As a veteran soap watcher (“Guiding Light” for most of my life), I am relieved they didn’t drag the Bates-not-knowing thing out. Like all soaps, DA’s characters all have excellent eavesdropping skills, and I’m glad Bates’ ears were in the right place in this case. It would have driven me nuts for him to have kept wondering what the hell he did to turn Anna off. However, we’ll have to endure him seeking revenge for the rest of this series. Thank goodness, Anna isn’t preggers! Meanwhile, I wish they’d come up with a cute boyfriend for Mr. Barrow.

      • Terri Ellis

        The music being played in the background of all the scenes with Bates tells it all. It’s dark, ominous, villain type music! It actually makes his scenes rather hilarious to watch.

        • decormaven

          Always follow the music. It’s the tell.

          • Isabel

            You learn things in GAOL.

        • AudreysMom

          YES! Great call. This was stunning in it’s awesome, change of tone, overthetopness. Watch the replay on PBS and forward to 30 seconds before Bates enter the scene. Hilarious!

      • http://www.thirteen.org/program-content/the-downton-abbey-dish-season-4-episode-2/ Gotham Tomato

        Actually, Fellowes has said in interviews that he believes that Bates has dark undercurrents and always has. Whether we ever find out the details of exactly what this has meant in the past or not remains to be seen. But it has always been the intention.
        –GothamTomato

        • Chris

          I believe that- remember in the first series where Bates confessed to being a drunk and being in Military jail was it? He took the fall for his wife for a theft if I recall correctly. Fellowes has always seemed to show Bates as darker. While some people saw him as saint-like, I always took it as him atoning for his “past” that I didn’t think we heard whole story about. Even when he went to jail he adapted very quickly and survived threatening and roughing up some pretty hardened criminals. While Thomas is a schemer, criminally he’s a lightweight and got taken in very easily by his black market supplier. I’ve always gotten the impression Bates had seen the seedier side of life even before his imprisonment for murder.

          • rainwood1

            Great comment. I couldn’t have phrased it nearly as well, but that’s what I believe too.

          • melchiscott

            Agree!! Great points. I’ve always wondered what he did for Robert in the war (was it the Boer War?)? It must have been something remarkable for Robert to feel the obligation he did to take Bates on in the first place (it was presented as something more than garden variety noblesse oblige). Or did they tell us already and I missed it?

            • Tally Ho

              Bates was Robert’s batman during the war, in other words his valet who looked after Robert’s military equipment, kept his quarters clean etc cetera.

          • AnotherJulie

            I agree. Very well put. Thomas is no match for Mr. Bates.

      • http://www.thirteen.org/program-content/the-downton-abbey-dish-season-4-episode-2/ Gotham Tomato

        BTW, I don’t think Bates should kill Green: I think Mabel Lane Fox should kill Green. She already has 3 names, which makes her practically a serial killer already.

        –GothamTomato

    • megohd

      Tom finding America not to be such a democratic land of opportunity for an Irish immigrant might be kind of an interesting storyline.

      I like the way whatever happened with Edith happened with no fuss. Not that that will be the end of it, but the way it’s unfolding thus far reaffirms Edith’s general awesomeness.

      Mr. Bates: You’d think someone who spent time in prison would have more sense than to lose his mind for revenge. And yes, I think it would be interesting to find that Anna is a little afraid of Mr. Bates for reasons pertaining only to their marriage–not his criminal past.

      • andreawey

        You’d think Bates would have more sense than to let Mrs Hughes know of his intentions

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

          Telephone, telegraph, or tell Mrs. Hughes.

      • Lilithcat

        Tom finding America not to be such a democratic land of opportunity for an Irish immigrant might be kind of an interesting storyline.

        If he’s smart, he’ll head to Boston. At this time, James Michael Curley was pretty much running things, and you almost had to be Irish to get a city job.

        • Isabel

          Great GrandMaMa Shirley is also nearby!

        • Tally Ho

          Methinks Tom wouldn’t have approved of the Irish mafia or political machines in the east coast cities.

          I see him heading instead to places like Denver or California where backgrounds would have accounted for nothing.

        • greenwich_matron

          I think Tom is perfectly set up to go to meet Mr. Ford and Mr. Edison and become a big shot in Detroit. “Cars for the common man” would be a perfect rallying cry for an chauffeur with managerial experience and posh connections. He really should move to the U.S.: the Crawley’s earldom can’t support everyone forever and little Sybil is will grow up to be the poor cousin in an Agatha Christie novel.

        • Gatto Nero

          Also see: Joe Kennedy Sr.

        • Jackie4g

          It was a whole lot easier to be an Irish immigrant in 1923 than it had been in, say, the 1860s. Irish people were very high profile in cities where thy accounted for a large percentage of police and fire fighters. Anyway, Tom has relatives in the US that he briefly mentioned as doing well.

    • ScarlettHarlot

      Why is Molesly still on this show? His story line should have come to a logical conclusion with Matthew’s passing. Is anyone invested in his character at all?

      • Mismarker

        Every time I see Molesly, I hear a sad trombone.

        • Chris

          Like the Debbie Downer sound on SNL.

          • Mismarker

            Yep!

          • AnnaleighBelle

            I should read before posting…

      • AudreysMom

        Like Edith, poor Molesly appears to be another character that Jullian Fellowes uses as an example of someone who life is just not happy for. Unlike Edith, his story is sadly played as some kind of comic relief on the show.

        • Tally Ho

          Yep.

          Do you think Carson would really offer him the job before he knew whether Alfred had been accepted into the training program? Big time jumping the gun here and Carson is usually so conservative and cautious. The whole side show was set up to make Molesley look like an idiot in a vain attempt for us to have pity for him.

          • greenwich_matron

            Carson had no reason to talk to Molesly – he wasn’t that optimistic about Alfred and he knew Molesly wasn’t going anywhere. It seemed gratuitous.

        • frazer

          I think it may also be an attempt to show how much the “lower classes” bought into the whole class system, including the differering layers of status below-stairs.

      • minnowmama

        I think they must be setting him up for a suicide plot line right?

        • Mismarker

          Or, perhaps more interestingly, they are beating him down to show him being built back up in some way later on? If not, he should be shuffled off. He’s getting to be very boring!

          • ScarlettHarlot

            Lol, maybe he’ll step up and offer to marry Edith to save her from her shame. (We know her story line is headed toward disaster. She is Edith, after all.) They’ll have a ho hum life in a ho hum cottage with boring, sad, children.

            • Anne

              Like in the Studio 54 Downton musical! “Edith, let me cleanse this palate. / For you I’ll be more than just a valet!”

            • http://howtofaint.tumblr.com/ How to Faint

              Boring, sad, children with boring, sad hairlines. :'(

        • Saturnine

          Oh boy, I hope Fellowes does not go that route. Playing the character mainly as a sad trombone and then offing him that way would be cruel. It would also sharply elevate the comic relief into something tragic, which seems out of left field. If anyone was headed in that direction in the series, I thought it might be Ethel when she gave up her child, but there the despair was pretty clear.

          I like Mismarker’s suggestion that he’ll be one of those characters to find some way to turn it around. Maybe he can invent velcro or something.

          • http://howtofaint.tumblr.com/ How to Faint

            Mosley goes on to found the 3M corporation and invent the Post-It.

        • Scott Cooper

          I think it’s far more likely he’ll discover a long lost letter bequeathing him Downton Abbey and he becomes the lord of the manner, forcing Lord G and his wife to work in the barns and Carson to go back to the stage.

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

            That would be awesome, but I’m assuming that Edith foolishly signed away everyone’s rights to Downton Abbey when she signed whatever it was she signed without reading last week.

            • another_laura

              That would be too good to be true….

            • Gatto Nero

              She doesn have that power legally, but it would be a fantastic story line.

            • Chris

              It’s sad but I was never very worried about what Edith signed simply because I can’t believe she would have much of anything or that her family would let her have control of even her pocket money.

            • greenwich_matron

              I agree. She has nothing to sign away. My guess is that it is either something potentially embarrassing or some device so she can inherit another one of those large, unclaimed fortunes that seem to be floating around.

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

              I figure it’s either signing away all of Downton Abbey, or signing a document that says that no matter what the DNA tests show, Gregson is not the father of her illegitimate child.

            • greenwich_matron

              DNA won’t be around for a while – maybe an inherited birthmark? “I don’t care if he has my inherited pink birthmark showing all the dominions of the British Empire – it is not my child!”

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

              Hmm… I wonder if maybe she was signing a cell phone contract for Gregson, one with no data plan…

            • BayTampaBay

              That has always been my thought on the matter. I think she will end up editing Gregson magazine, The Sketch, and then find out he owns or has a healthy financial interest in a whole big slew of magazines…ie…Conde Nast.

            • greenwich_matron

              …and then she will find the hidden letter where he writes that he wants her to inherit it all. Another windfall inheritance would be too funny.

            • Saturnine

              That wouldn’t be a bad concept for a show: “And this week on ‘Windfall Inheritance Manor’ . . . .”

            • Saturnine

              And if she’s carrying his heir, all of that would go to baby Gregson.

        • ScarlettHarlot

          Oh I hope not, that would be so mean-spirited considering the entire season he’s been kicked around and humiliated.

        • CheriCPat

          He is going to wind up as Robert’s valet. When Bates leaves to kill Green, or goes to prison for doing it, or just leaves with Anna, that will leave an opening that Moseley will take.

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

        I felt like Carson was all kinds of asshole in his dealings with Molesly. Can Carson really not understand why Molesly mightn’t want to be a footman? The idea, while presumably well-intentioned, is palpably humiliating, since a) everyone upstairs knows Molesly used to be a butler, which is several steps above a footman — indeed, he used to be Isobel’s butler, and she is a frequent guest at dinner at Downton Abbey, where he would be serving. And b) he’s years older than the typical footman. Even dinner guests who know nothing of the history would spot right away that something is likely off, or that there’s a story there. Sure, it’s an income, and a job that more suits Molesly’s training and experience. But for Carson to be all huffy about Molesly’s wanting to think about it, and then to be all “sucks to be you” when Molesly accepts the job too late … it didn’t endear me to Carson.

        (Also, since when does Carson get to spend the Crawley’s money like that? Surely he would have to consult with someone upstairs before taking on another full-time employee.)

        • ScarlettHarlot

          Agreed, Carson was very cruel in his “you snooze you lose!” response to Molesly’s acceptance. He really shouldn’t have offered until it was a sure opening.

          • Mismarker

            I thought it was especially cruel for Carson to let Molesly yammer on about how he came to the decision to accept the job. He should have just cut him off and told him the job was no longer available. Let the man save what little face he has left!

            • Chris

              It’s like Carson was taking petty revenge for Moseley having the nerve to want to think about the job first after doing “delivery work” for someone else.

        • Call me Bee

          He didn’t have to, since he was replacing one employee (Alfred) with another (Mosely).

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

            Even so, it would surprise me if he had that kind of discretion. Grantham might be thinking of cutting staff as people leave, for example, or Molesly might want more money (given his prior experience). Or Grantham might not even want Molesly (because of how it might look, given the general preference for young, tall, good-looking footmen and because of Molesly’s prior work history).

            • http://howtofaint.tumblr.com/ How to Faint

              That’s exactly the kind of discretion the butler of a large country house would have, though. People like Lord Grantham didn’t want to bother with such trivialities, so the housekeeper was in charge of hiring female servants, the butler in charge of male servants, and the steward concerned himself with outdoor staff. A gentleman hired and dismissed his own valet; a lady would deal with taking on her personal maid and any nursery staff (nanny/governess).

        • AmeliaEve

          Robert clearly has no idea where most of his money goes, except away. I sense that he would much rather just turn things over to Carson so he doesn’t have to trouble himself about ugly little details. And a footman’s annual salary probably cost Robert about the same as a weekend in London with the family.

          • BayTampaBay

            From what I read, In the big houses like Downton, the Butler or Steward was given a budget to run the house. The Butler or Steward was really in control over how much the household (not personal staff, Ladies Maid, Valet, Nanny/Governess) staff was paid. This gave him much power.

      • axogrl

        I love Molesly. Every scene he is in is great. His self depreciation is well played. He is great and Mr. Carson is a boob.

        • rainwood1

          I like Moseley too. I also like Mr. Carson and took that scene as the butler trying to do something nice, believing that he would be thanked for it, but not understanding people as well as Mrs. Hughes does, who saw the potential problem immediately. Carson has his flaws, and he’s not as people savvy as he could be, espeically now that times have changed.

    • Donna Luder

      I dunno… murdering his ex-wife notwithstanding, Mr Bates is drawn so one-dimensionally. He’s got kind, he’s got saintly, he’s got supportive. Painting Mr Bates as murderous is like a commercial where Mr Whipple goes on a rampage because someone squeezed the Charmin.

      • ScarlettHarlot

        Agreed, I’d be more interested in Thomas finding out about it and using his nefarious powers to undo Mr. Green in a non-violent fashion. (I know he’s ridiculous and awful, but I can’t help it, I am a Thomas fan.) I was hoping they were hinting to it last night when he clarified that he doesn’t dislike Anna to Baxter.

        • Kathy

          Now THAT would be interesting.

        • nannypoo

          I am absolutely confident that Thomas will be the one to get revenge on the valet, and he’ll be a lot more sophisticated than Mr. Bates in carrying out whatever plot he will devise to ruin and humiliate, but not kill, him. Thomas is my favorite character on the show. No matter how evil and conniving he is, he also is a sympathetic character with a lot of depth. I think he’s definitely the man for the job.

          • http://howtofaint.tumblr.com/ How to Faint

            He is, and that would be a great scenario. Unfortunately, this is Julian Fellowes, so it’ll probably be something like Bates bludgeoning the rapist to death and leaving all kinds of physical evidence that makes it obvious Bates did it and Anna will find out and try to conceal it but get caught and cue another season of jail but this time it’s Anna and oh god I give up I give up forever.

      • Aurumgirl

        He’s also got “criminal”, don’t forget. Or, at least, we’re not being allowed to forget. And I wholeheartedly resent the whole idea that he would feel entitled to go on a killing spree simply because somebody squeezed “his” Charmin.

      • AnotherJulie

        Interesting. I think we are supposed to think he is a violent man whose soft side is due to the Love of a Good Woman.

        • Donna Luder

          Yah I think you’re right…. part of the problem is this storyline is cast against his physical type. C’mon, the concerned furrowed brow, the tucked chin, the overall kindliness of his visage. He’s a department store Santa, or a gentle rescuer, or a beleaguered grocery store manager. Violent? Threatening? That’s not even creepy, it’s just WTH?

      • Cordelia_Gray

        Upvoted for your Mr. Whipple reference. I mentioned Mr. Whipple to my husband the other day, and he had no idea what I was talking about. :-(

        • SierraDelta

          Then he probably never heard of Manners the Butler either.

    • BayTampaBay

      I agree with TLo that Tom Branson is the most interesting upstairs character. I hope Fellowes continues to develop Tom Branson.

      • Paula Pertile

        I’d love to see someone write a good meaty novel to properly flesh out all the characters and story lines.

        • Qitkat

          Funny you should say that. I was just thinking that what this story needs is a Jane Austen. I am of the impression that Fellowes writes each and every one of the episodes all by himself. He needs a strong secondary writer to counterpoint and occasionally countermand the situations.

      • rainwood1

        I know Branson is a favorite with many, and I can’t figure out why I find him as dull as dishwater. Always have. It may be partly how the character is written, but I also don’t think the actor does as much with the role as someone else might. There’s no there there, to quote G. Stein, in much of his work. He can rise to the occasion as when Sybil died or he gets angry, but the nuances and subtleties aren’t there for me in most of his screen time. Sacrilege, I know, but I’m hoping Branson leaves for America.

        • BayTampaBay

          I disagree. I think the Branson character is poorly written and not fleshed out. I think Alan Leech does fantastic work with what little material he appears to be given.

    • MilaXX

      As much as I initially liked seeing this darker side of Bates, by the end of this series, he was coming across as a bit of a psychopath.
      Poor Edith is definitely knocked up. I’m also wondering if the card shark guy didn’t set up McNazi guy as payback for catching his scam.

      • ScarlettHarlot

        One has to wonder if this is a glimpse into Fellowes’ misguided interpretation of chivalry.

        • Farthingale

          I’m afraid it might be, and Lordy–it’s tiresome.

        • Aurumgirl

          I was thinking the same thing.

      • Saturnine

        Interesting angle–set up how?

        • MilaXX

          My guess is he’s been mugged or worse.

          • Saturnine

            Oh. *that* kind of set up. Possible, although I would rather he remain mysterious and slightly shifty in the story, rather than sympathetic and acted upon.

      • Tally Ho

        The thing about Edith – we only saw her going to a doctor’s office. Doesn’t mean she’s knocked up (how much time has passed since their, err, romantic encounter?). There are two plausible alternative explanations: 1. Gregson is at the doctor’s and maybe that’s why he was AWOL. 2. Edith is finally doing her research and the AWOL wife is connected to the doctor in question.

        It’d be a classic red herring device to have us assume she’d pregnant just because we see her going to the doctor’s following her first sexual encounter.

        • MilaXX

          It’s Julien Fellows. I don’t think he would be that kind to Edith. She is the family Eeyore. Nothing will go right for her. Of course she’ll be knocked up with no husband.

          • ScarlettHarlot

            Or knocked up with an absent German National Socialist husband. Either way, as much as I hated Edith in the first season for sabotaging Mary (and by extent, the entire family) I just can’t with this constant sadness for her.

            • Gatto Nero

              In Edith, Fellowes has his first real opportunity to develop a story line for a titled woman who opts for a career instead of marriage and indolence. But he seems to enjoy just beating her up more.

            • leahpapa

              He really does seem to enjoy her as a narrative punching bag, and I think there’s deep misogyny behind it. Edith and Mary are equally shallow, petty, self-absorbed, and privileged, but Mary is prettier, so she gets to be the “heroine” of this soap-opera-for-people-who-don’t-watch-soap-operas? It’s puerile and tedious.

            • BayTampaBay

              Mary was prettier but I think they are neck & neck now.

            • ScarlettHarlot

              Although in real life I find Laura Carmichael prettier than Michelle Dockery.

            • Munchkn

              She’s the month’s IT girl in the February Vogue.

            • AnotherJulie

              Wow. I never really thought of JF as hating Edith. I just assumed it was the typical older sister / middle sister / birth order plot line. The whole DA series plot is based on Mary attracting Matthew whose $$ was essentially to Downton’s survival.

            • not_Bridget

              We’re about a decade early for flakier members of the British Upper Classes to be enamored of Hitler. His folks are still street toughs & he hasn’t written Mein Kampf.

              Those chiseled Aryans in the divine uniforms are still in the future….

            • BayTampaBay

              Still don’t get all the Gregson hate. I think Gregson will turn out to be a great guy.

            • ScarlettHarlot

              I don’t hate him, I actually find the actor charming. I do question Fellowes’ intention, and there are too many red flags about the character, starting with his ripped-from-Jane-Eyre crazy first wife story.

            • Courtney

              I’m not entirely sure about him as a great guy (at times he’s too smooth by half), but I don’t quite see where so many are coming from that he’s evil/a gangster/corrupt/a Nazi.

            • Saturnine

              The first three in your list are plausible, just from the red flags that ScarlettHarlot mentioned. I’m presuming (not wrongly, I hope) that a few of the minds here (mine included) are just riffing on the darkest/most nefarious thing about “becoming a German citizen in the mid-1920s” that we can come up with just because its Edith. Others have posted with much more historical knowledge about relations between Britain aristocrats and Germany in the 1920s, so I defer to the experts as to whether it’s possible he’s really going down that path.

            • Courtney

              It’s not impossible that he really is any of those things, I just don’t share their certainty that he is.

              The only way he’s currently a Nazi is if he’s an entirely different character than has been portrayed. The Nazis of the 1920s were still way too radical to appeal to anyone middle class or higher, and won’t be until after Hitler serves his prison term for the Putsch. While I don’t put it past Fellowes to pull a WTF character development like that out of nowhere, it doesn’t seem quite on the cards for things as they are right now.

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

              The Nazi line was a joke.

            • Courtney

              Yes, I know that you meant it as such. I didn’t mean to imply otherwise. I was speaking of a larger view of Gregson’s character in the fandom of the show. Apologies.

            • Saturnine

              Not currently a Nazi, no, and most likely not ever. But I do think a WTF character development for Gregson could absolutely be in the works, simply because of his association with Edith, and his mysterious German coming and goings, so I read “Dimpes McNazi” to be shorthand for that.

            • Courtney

              Edith is almost a Black Widow in that regard, isn’t she? Get involved with her, and a WTF Character Moment is almost certainly in your future.

            • Saturnine

              I have to agree, sorry to say for my poor Edith, no matter how many jolly things she does with her hair.

            • Gatto Nero

              I don’t think it’s as black and white as his being a Nazi or not (and the “Dimples” moniker was a joke). I think Gregson may have “business” interests in Germany that could flourish under the Third Reich. (Art theft, anyone?) The English — aside from the upper-class dopy sympathizers — were not keen on Germans or Germany for the entire period between the wars; his moving there would have been seen as suspect. He has hinted at dark secrets in his past, and he didn’t learn how to cheat at cards like that at journalism school.

            • Courtney

              I think the art theft angle is still too far in the future to be on the table now, though. The conditions for it aren’t quite right. I suppose an investor could do well in purchasing paintings from Germans hurting from the hyperinflation at the time – people would be desperate to sell valuables. That would be within the letter, if not necessarily the spirit of the law.

              As I said, I can see how people have drawn the conclusions that they have. I just don’t share their certainty that he’s up to something more sinister. My uncle can count cards, and he was a rocket scientist. Having “sketchy” skills doesn’t necessarily make one sketchy. Maybe he played to pass the time during the war. There can be legitimate and illegitimate explanations for everything his character has demonstrated. I’m simply leaning more towards legitimate at this time.

            • Farthingale

              The widespread suspicion (not hate) comes more from the experience the viewers have with Fellowes’ handling of the character of Edith than from a literal interpretation of Gregson’s charm, behavior, or card skill.

          • Farthingale

            Too bad Braithwait didn’t leave her copy of “Married Love” on Lady Edith’s bed before her exit.

          • Farthingale

            Lady Eeyore.

        • ImpertinentVixen

          Lady Eeyore is absolutely, positively preggo.

        • janierainie

          Maybe she has an STD and is going to find out his story about his wife is a lie and he’s a philanderer that’s cheated wealthy women out of their inheritance. She signed that paper in a rush.

          • AudreysMom

            Good thought. Pregnancy has been such a ‘go-to’ plot line in this show. Hopefully something more delicious is in store for Edith. And by delicious I mean something truly horrible like an STD and no Gregson wife and cheated out of her inheritance. Poor Edith. It’s like over the seasons JF is toying with our emotions by moving this character from evil middle sister to the center of everyone’s sympathy and doomed optimism.

          • AnotherJulie

            Too obvious – which is why it will probably happen exactly this way!

        • AZU403

          Unless it turns out that there is no Mrs. Gregson…

          • Saturnine

            Ooohhh! See, I think that’s why I like this plot line so much. Gregson really could be anything–from Edith’s saviour (though doubtful) to the guy who plants the seeds of German fascism in Hitler’s brain on the train to Munich (I kid, also doubtful). There’s wide swaths in-between, though.

        • AnotherJulie

          I like the idea of Edith finally researching Gregson’s wife, if she exists. Better late than never!
          But Edith apparently isn’t smart enough to actually read before signing the document Gregson stuck in front of her. A guy smart enough to cheat a cheater (the cards plot line from a few weeks back) is certainly capable of tricking naive Edith into signing over her inheritance etc. to him…….

          • Lower L

            I love Lady Edith (middle sisters of the world, unite!), and I’ve been happy to see her happy, but I share the common suspicion that Fellowes has something against her. My guess is that Gregson (whom I actually like) was not trying to swindle Lady Edith when he had her sign the paperwork, that she is now legally his representative for his affairs, but something unforeseen occurs and she learns things about his marriage that cast him as the villain.

            • BayTampaBay

              Lower L, this is exactly how I see it playing out. Edith through many trials/tribulations involving Gregson will be handed power and/or money, which is actually the same thing for the upper class, by Gregson.

            • Anne

              I agree, I don’t think the paper had anything to do with Edith’s money. I thought he was sort of authorizing her to handle his affairs/the newspaper while he’s in Germany.

        • MissDelaware

          Forget the plot — let’s talk about Edith’s coat! Oh my, I want that coat/hat/dress combo.

    • ‘Becca’lise Deveaux

      Evelyn Napier…don’t remember him at all. I’ll have to bust out my DVDs.

      • Mismarker

        Pamuk arrived with him in season 1, I think.

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

        The man who introduced Mary to the infamous Mr. Pamuk.

        • ‘Becca’lise Deveaux

          Ah yes, thanks TLo and BKs! Aw, I miss Pamuk. Or rather, I miss the way everybody would say “Pamuuuuk” all the damn time.

          • SundayNights

            I think Pamuk was the most oft repeated word on Downtown Abbey, followed closely by Isobel Crawley saying, “But you see …”

            • Saturnine

              Or, “I’m glad . . “

            • SundayNights

              Yes! But you see, I can hear her say it. And I’m glad.

            • AnotherJulie

              don’t forget Isobel Crawlely saying the word “Prostitute” a zillion times re: Ethel

          • Tally Ho

            It was “pamuuukkeeed” wasn’t it?

          • Anne

            My lovahhhhhhhhh.

        • Chris

          Do we know why he is the assistant? Is it supposed to mean he has come down in the world since the War? Or just that he is relatively young?

          • Tally Ho

            He was connected to the Foreign Office (I think) when we first met him, which is how he was teamed up with Pamuk, who was a visiting cultural attache of some type from Turkey.

            Being a civil servant of the Whitehall Mandarin type was a perfectly respectable occupation for the sons of the aristocracy as they waited to inherit their family’s title and estate.

        • BayTampaBay

          And told Mary that Edith had written the letter to the Turkish Embassy and was responsible for starting all the Pamuk gossip & rumor

      • Tally Ho

        Son and heir to Viscount Napier, was Mary’s preferred one before Pamuk and Matthew arrived on the scene.

        • Lilithcat

          Viscount Branksome, no?

          • Tally Ho

            You’re right ;) My bad.

      • pottymouth_princess

        Napier was also alluded to in Season 2 after he was injured in the war and wished to recuperate at Downton, but was refused, much to Robert’s chagrin.

    • AudreysMom

      I do like the introduction of Baxter, the new ladies maid. They present her in a way that has us echoing Bates, if she’s this nice what can Sleezeball see in her. But then we do. And wonder, what he has over her that he can manipulate her into getting in with the upstairs crowd to get him valuable information for advancement. What DOES he have up his oily sleeve? And DOES he have on Baxter?

      • 3boysful

        I am wondering if she is his sister. He was the one who suggested her for the position. Or at any rate, he told someone–Mrs Hughes?–that he had a good candidate, so I assume it is Baxter.

        • Eric Stott

          I don’t think she’s a sister- there’s a suggestion of prior acquaintance but no familiarity – and they have quite different accents.

          • 3boysful

            Ah, you’re right–didn’t think about the accents. There is also some sense that she doesn’t need/want this job, that she’s just doing it for Thomas.

            • Eric Stott

              In front of Thomas she has a thinly veiled contempt for the job – almost as if she was a skilled actress impersonating a maid.

            • Gatto Nero

              But she told Thomas she was grateful for the job — the implication being that she might have had trouble finding employment otherwise (for some reason not yet revealed).

        • Farthingale

          My hunch was also a family member.

          • ScarlettHarlot

            Maybe a cousin. Or, in a classic Downton twist – his mother! Dun dun duuuuuun!

    • Cee Layton

      I find myself nearly praying for Bates to be a murderous freak, a sort of vigilante to all he deems bad. So, sort of a Dexter in Victoriana.

    • Mismarker

      Wait, is Mary still in her mourning clothes? I don’t think she is.

      • Cee Layton

        The color Purple illustrates half mourning attire.

        • ScarlettHarlot

          Thank you for clarifying that, I was also confused since she’s moved out of black.

        • Mismarker

          Half mourning? I didn’t know there was such a thing. Interesting. Would it follow that burgundy and fuschia fall into the half mourning category as well? She has worn both colors, in addition to purple, in the last couple of episodes.

          • decormaven

            Mourning in the day was an entire ritual with several steps. I wonder if Mary wears a mourning brooch- need to look back and see if it’s in view. It would carry a lock of hair and perhaps Matthew’s portrait or daguerrotype. It was popular in the Victorian age- while Mary is quite the modern woman in some respects, I think she might carry on with this tradition.

            • Eric Stott

              When you were in half mourning you were permitted to wear other colors if an occasion required it, providing they were not bright colors. Isobel is slowly moving into half mourning. The Dowager, like many widows of her era, never moved out of it.

            • AZU403

              Queen Victoria popularized onyx jewelry during her lifelong mourning for Prince Albert.

            • Gatto Nero

              Jet jewelry (the genuine thing) was popular then.

            • BayTampaBay

              The Victorian age is over and was in 1901. The Edwardian age and Marlborough Hose set was 1901-1918. We are now in the inter-war years dominated not by the crown and/or heir but by cafe society. Edward VIII did not start cafe society but became part of it.

            • decormaven

              Yes, we’ve moved on in history, but I wondered if she might have carried on the tradition from an earlier era. In looking over her choices in clothing, hair, etc., she probably would not. I’m selfish – I’d love to see a mourning brooch because I’m a vintage/antique jewelry nut.

          • AZU403

            There is French dish called “chicken in half-mourning” – it’s got truffles in it.

            • Saturnine

              Sounds divine.

            • Mismarker

              That is amazing. : ) If the chicken gets truffles, I think it’s alright for Mary to smile and flirt a bit more than is perhaps socially acceptable. Decorum, be damned!

    • newleaf1

      Dimples McNazi. Gonna have to find a way to use that in a few sentences today!

    • Tally Ho

      I was thinking about this last night. We have a bunch of small story lines playing out here, most with no great success so far and the Bates the villain/hero is easily the most interesting one and that’s saying a lot about this season so far. But there’s something still missing and I realized it’s because there’s no longer an overall point to Downton Abbey from a plot perspective. We have no great story arch going on anymore.

      Season 1 and even Season 2 had a story arch that propelled the overall story forward: will Matthew and Mary get together and thus both correct the injustice of the entail/Cora’s money and save Downton Abbey for the aristocratic Crawleys? Everything else, no matter how interesting it may have been, was secondary to this overall story arch and it was the Matthew/Mary story that pushed the show forward.

      I do remember thinking at the very onset of Season 3 that M+M were now married and thus what was going to happen next? The opening episode with Robert losing all his money did promise a new story arch as the propellor for the show: can the Crawleys save Downton Abbey despite losing their wealth? There could have been lots of interesting episodes based on figuring out ways to raise money, conflict over selling off parts of the estate, laying off lots of the servants, tensions among the servants over an uncertain future, tensions among the aristocrats about no longer being able to afford fancy house parties, couture clothing, keeping up appearances, blah blah. The suspense over whether DA could be saved would be enough to keep viewers checking in every week. But it was resolved way too early and too easily thanks to the windfall inheritance.

      But in Season 4, now that the Crawleys have money and the estate and a heir in baby George, we have all these minor character plot lines weaving all over the place and in random ways that lack direction or purpose. These baby stories have limited entertainment value, they only keep us guessing to the next episode, not all the way to the season finale. The characters are starting to become cliches such as poor Edith never the lucky one, or Mrs. Patmore’s fear of new technology (why is she afraid that an electric ice box replacing a cold room is somehow going to cost her her job? Get over it, lady), or Molesley never finding a job or Thomas the sinister guy.

      • Saturnine

        All so true-especially about Season 3. I wouldn’t mind seeing more interaction with the tenants; they’re not aristocracy and they’re not estate servants, so they can bring another dimension to the story. I think that’s why I find Tom’s character the most compelling this season; his outsider status (while itself a cliche) can actually be mined for good story lines.

        • BayTampaBay

          If Dan Stevens had not left the show, the ongoing story arc was to be about about Matthew & Mary’s inability to conceive. The next supposed male heir after Matthew was going to be another long-long cousin of Canadian nationality. I read this somewhere on the internet but cannot remember where.

    • Chris

      I personally think it’s interesting if Fellowes is willing to explore a darker Mr. Bates. To me, it’s always felt like it was there under the surface, which is why it was relatively easy for the wife to frame him. He’s gone to war, had a drinking problem, took the fall for his wife’s stealing, been humiliated a number of times and finally did hard time (for a good long while) for murder. It would be impossible to have someone go through all that and not be hardened by it. I think he is one of those characters that sees Anna as his personal redemption. (It’s straight out of a 19th century novel- but they aren’t so far from that at Downton). I think it’s also telling that Anna is so terrified he will murder the valet (not beat him up etc. which I think even Mrs. Hughes probably would have endorsed). One thing he hasn’t learned in prison is discretion: whatever he does he pretty much telegraphed it to Mrs. Hughes. Let’s hope she isn’t called to the stand again in another of his trials.
      Thank you for addressing Lady Mary- as I was watching last night thinking she is the most unlikeable character on that show. She is so brittle and selfish. I mainly spend her screen time admiring her half mourning clothes and hairdo. Are we as viewers supposed to feel sad that six months after losing her husband she turned down the man who proposed after spending a few days with her? Not to mention he was all but engaged to someone else at the time. And is now officially engaged to her. What a catch.
      I do like the character of Branson but I wish they would find something more interesting for him to do than get drunk at parties and get manipulated by a pushy lady’s maid.

      • leeann

        Yes, it is satisfying to see someone come right out and say it: Mary is a shallow bitch. What these men see in her is a total mystery to me. She’s no barrel of laughs, she’s as imperious as her father and has a poison tongue. And apparently that’s not the only part of her that’s poison.

        Nice to see her back to snapping at her sister again like a petty adolescent. Not.

    • Pennymac

      I watched Jullian Fellowes take on the Titanic this weekend. Same weird plotting issues and character development. It almost as if he has a good idea about a character, then gets ADHD and resolves a MAJOR issue with one or two sentences. His writing for Downton suffers from this immensely. It is possible he’s setting Bates up as this simmering cauldron of evil but in an episode or two he’ll be like “Aw, I’m over this plot line–Hey look! Squirrel!”

    • Emily Dagger

      I can’t give credit to Fellowes for doing what you suggest — the show would be so much more interesting if he was even half that clever — but I do think the actors are *maybe* a touch more aware of how things really play with the audience than he is, and *maybe* let that be the subtext guiding their performances. Because otherwise…. you’ve got a dude writing that “you’re purer for suffering” nonsense sincerely, and another dude *saying* it sincerely, and I just can’t keep my breakfast down if that’s the case.

    • MarieLD

      1. I did Edith tried to call Mary on it, but Mary shot back something about Edith having the wrong end of the stick. (Even though Edith was right.)
      2. I’ve always thought Bates was somewhat evil — he doesn’t always limp or use the cane. Maybe he’s hiding something.
      3. It’s a little disappointing that Anna isn’t preggers.

      • decormaven

        I don’t think that is truly ruled out yet. Maybe her visit to Ripon included a stop by the doctor’s office.

        • ImpertinentVixen

          Anna is not, but someone else is.

        • Gatto Nero

          No, Mrs. Hughes (in their clandestine little talk that Bates overheard) said to Anna that at least we know now that there’s no baby.
          And I’m relieved that Fellowes didn’t go for that tired storyline, at least.

          • decormaven

            Yes, but something in the way Anna replied made me think she was being less than honest. I agree- I can’t go with that storyline, either. Honestly, we already watched Anna suffer through Bates’ incarceration and trial.

            • Chris

              I think it’s “poor Edith” that’s pregnant. She and Moseley are destined to be the Eyores of Downton Abbey.

            • jeneria

              What if Edith being pregnant isn’t an Eeyore move but a calculated attempt to get what she wants from her family?

            • leeann

              What would that be? Permanent exile and being cut off financially?

            • AnotherJulie

              I felt the same way… something suspicious about her demeanor, and not just post-rape trauma…..

    • PeaceBang

      I find it far more interesting to read TLo’s suggestions to Julian Fellowes about how to write a better show with more interesting characters than to watch the actual show. Interesting.

    • http://www.ellenciompi.com/ NurseEllen

      This may fall into the category of TMI, but as a couple that has been through the Anna/Bates scenario, I have to tell you that their scenes were extremely well written, rang emotionally true, and reflected a lot of the same emotions we experienced. We were both in tears by the end of the show. My husband is not at all a violent or vengeful man but during that episode in our lives I realized he had the capacity to be positively brutal in the care of and defense for the woman he loves, and completely single minded in the pursuit of revenge. Not that he actually DID anything; the courts took care of it. But he sure wanted to. So I don’t think it’s a poor character arc that has Bates forgetting his misery in prison in his intense anger. Testosterone is a hormone that cuts a lot of ways, in my experience.

      PS: thanks for making an atmosphere here at your website that makes me feel safe & among friends to share! xo, Uncles.

      • otterbird

        I think a lot of the frustration is that the plot is no longer about how Anna is affected; it’s about how it affects Bates. Mind you, I totally bought his reaction, but as it was EXACTLY what Anna had predicted it would be, my first thought was, “See Bates? This is why nobody ever tells you anything.”

        I’m so sorry for your experience and very glad that (I assume from your reference to the courts) the legal system worked as it is supposed to.

        • http://www.ellenciompi.com/ NurseEllen

          Well…..the courts worked, after a fashion. It was over 30 years ago, I’m sure things would be handled better, more efficiently & sensitively, now. But in parsing the experience over the years, it was a revelation to me that my dad and my husband felt almost as emotionally violated as I did. I knew they’d be horrified. I wasn’t prepared for the anger.

          • DebbieLovesShoes

            Wow, thanks for sharing that insight.

            • http://www.ellenciompi.com/ NurseEllen

              Then again, they are two ITALIAN men. Maybe I shouldn’t have been so surprised! LOL Thanks, everyone, for your kind words of support…..BKs are the best.

      • vickilu

        The actor who plays Bates did an incredible job this season, I haven’t been following the US schedule so I can’t remember where some of the best scenes are, but at one point it just shocked me that he could give off SO MUCH emotion. I still can’t stand Bates, but you really have to give him credit this season.

      • Scimommy

        Don’t know what else to say besides I am so sorry to hear about what you went through.

      • Call me Bee

        I thought the same thing. There really are men out there who have incredibly deep and sometimes scary emotions regarding their women. That Bates/Anna scene had us in tears as well. My DH didn’t experience what yours went through, but had his bad times. We started dating just as he was coming out of his trials. He feels the same way Bates does–his wife was/is his “redemption”. So I do believe Bates’ can have that depth of emotion, be it anger, devotion or want of revenge.

      • AZU403

        I know whereof you speak, both in my own life and those of friends. And sometimes the people you tell have rather strange responses, even if they mean to be supportive.

      • rainwood1

        I’m so sorry that you went such a terrible experience, NurseEllen, and am glad you feel safe to share with us. Although I haven’t been through anything like what you have, those scenes rang true for me too. People are capable of having many different aspects to them, some of them seemingly contradictory, and when their loved ones are brutalized can feel brutal thoughts in return. That Bates is such a person is no surprise, but I don’t condemn him for it. And I wonder how much two stints in prison have encouraged him to act on those feelings more than others might. I have empathy for Bates.

      • SierraDelta

        Many of us in that era were afraid of the court system. We knew we’d be portrayed as the sluts who brought it on ourselves, and we weren’t even sure that we’d have the full support of our families if it became public. It was easier to keep silent, which rapists counted on. But we made damn sure when our daughters and nieces went off to college in the years afterwards that we had given them the skills never to put themselves in that situation. We taught our sons to respect women and to call bullshit on anyone who saw us only as objects of male gratification. That’s the only comfort I’ve ever been able to give myself.

        NurseEllen’s PS goes for me, too. XOXO, Uncles.

    • otterbird

      It’s a sign of trouble when the only moment I was emotionally involved was when Alfred was taking his cooking test. And even then I kept thinking of him as “the other blond footman.” And Mr. Carson was just an asshole to Mosley. Him claiming that if Mosley had accepted the job on the spot, he’d have had to keep him….riiiiiiiight. Because he would trot right up to Grantham and say, “I hired Mosley; Alfred isn’t leaving but we’ll keep Mosley anyway then, won’t we? Because we’re only worried about money when it serves the plot, otherwise we’ve got scads, right?” And I really, really don’t like what Fellowes was saying- about the working class not wanting to take a job that is a cut below, in status and pay, what they used to do deserving not to end up with anything. He really seems to be saying that people unfortunate enough not to be born into the gentry should take whatever scraps the upper class deems fit to drop from their tables, because it’s all they deserve. I tire of rich people telling us working stiffs how we should live.

      • Chris

        I took it to mean Mr. Carson is a bigger snob than a lot of the aristocrats that live at Downton. This would be accurate as the downstairs hierarchy was every bit as bad, if not worse than the one upstairs. He was the one, along with the Earl, who was outraged at the thought of Nellie Melba getting a place at the table with the gentry. In his eyes, she is just a trumped up servant, and servants should know their place. He is very happy at the top of the servant’s ladder. He is such a forceful personality, and someone who transitioned successfully from disreputable former career to the the most prestigious position someone in service could obtain that he sees Moseley as “weak.” Carson does have a cold personality and can be cruel. It’s Mrs. Hughes (and sometimes Mrs. Padmore) who work to keep him human.

        • otterbird

          I absolutely agree with your observation on Carson, but my problem is that it was portrayed as comic relief- “Oh, look, stupid Moseley getting the short end of the stick again.” I just haven’t seen the humor in his travails at all. I didn’t think the Dowager’s butler sabotaging him was funny and I didn’t think Carson offering a job only to take it away again was funny either. As for Carson, for someone at the top of the service profession, he sure has contempt for others who don’t want to take a lower-status and lower-paid position than what they’ve had before. I think it was mean and says some pretty unpleasant things about what Fellowes thinks of the working class and their aspirations. Maids are hussies for wanting to marry above them and butlers are ungrateful for not jumping at the chance to be footmen.

          • Eric Stott

            This makes his support of Alfred’s cooking aspirations rather unusual- I’d expect his thoughts to be something like “Do you mean to say that you not only intend to leave us- but that you intend to train yourself for your new position using OUR time and OUR resources?”

            • otterbird

              Well, if the previous three seasons have taught us anything, it’s that consistency, thy name is not Fellowes.

            • Chris

              Well at least Alfred isn’t trying to rise above his “station” and I believe most cooks in the great houses were women so he would have to go to a hotel to become a “chef.” I think Carson also has no use for Moseley because he sees him as a loser and a sad sack. In his mind Alfred is probably a “go-getter” like he was and Moseley’s misfortunes are of his own making.

            • Eric Stott

              I’m wondering if Mrs Patmore isn’t going to have a genuine heart attack so that Alfred will need to step into her position. They’ve been giving little foreshadowings that make me think so.

            • Anne

              Oh, I hope not. I love Mrs. Patmore.

          • nosniveling

            I wonder if we’re being primed to have Moseley go postal at some point.

            • otterbird

              Maybe he and Bates will go on a two-man vigilante spree, striking blows for women and the working stiff!

              Come to think of it, I’d watch that show.

            • Eric Stott

              His notion of going postal would be to go around ringing doorbells

          • Chris

            Oh I agree 100% about it not being funny. It was so sad and upsetting to me it didn’t really dawn on me it was comic relief. I thought it was one of the few times Fellowes makes a character historically authentic. (Like Carson’s horrible reaction to Thomas telling him he was “vile” or something like that). Mr. Carson and Lady Mary have a lot in common. Lack of sympathy being chief among the traits.

            • otterbird

              Heh. Maybe they’re Fellowes’ idea of early 20th century psychopaths, unable to experience empathy! I look forward to Mary setting up her torture chamber where she walks around in a riding habit and torments her prey with barbed remarks.

            • Chris

              I find Lady Mary so unlikeable this season. She was always cold, but understanding why she was so desperate to marry and find a place for herself made her machinations at least understandable when the show started. Seeing her longing for Matthew and regretting her behavior during the War made her seem human. Now she has it all, security, position, a child and she is exactly back to where she was in season one. She has learned nothing and seems the same cold, selfish person sniping at Edith and needing to be admired constantly. She does wear clothes well I’ll give her that. She and Carson are so like minded when she gave him that verbal slap down it was almost like he agreed with her too much to be too offended by it.

            • Tally Ho

              “Cold, selfish person…needing to be admired constantly.”

              Well, she is an aristocrat….

            • leeann

              But her sisters are not like that, so it’s not an excuse in itself. Mary’s just a narcissist who gets a bang out of tongue-lashing her sister. No one has ever really tried to stop her so it’s too late for her to change. Well, Edith used to try to stop her but to her credit, she has basically ceded the stage to Mary and moved on from their old rivalry.

              In other words, Edith has grown up (for the most part) and Mary hasn’t. She’s an arrested adolescent.

            • Saturnine

              Totally agree. And she sheds tears over Lord-So-Unbelievably-Uninteresting’s upcoming marriage, which is incomprehensible. I take that back–maybe she’s crying because she feels a bit on the shelf and life is going on without her. She’s miserable to Edith, though.

            • Farthingale

              Yes, Mary is never too low to give Edith a kick.

          • Tally Ho

            Well, we did have Gwen the maid who left to become a secretary….

            You’re being a bit harsh on Fellowes as I seriously doubt he writes the script intending to keep the working classes in their places. Fellowes certainly knows there was an unemployment crisis in the early 1920s that made it very difficult to find new work. He has us supporting Alfred in his endeavors to move into a new industry. Ambition would have meant leaving DA and it’s not in the interest of the story to have the entire staff of servants come and go every year.

          • AnotherJulie

            I have always thought Carson’s snobbishness was hilarious – but it took a mean turn tonight re: Moseley. It was not funny. I am getting nervous that a something tragic will happen to Moseley

          • Gatto Nero

            Carson has attained the highest station he can hope for in his life. We don’t know a lot about his past, except for his performing days and broken heart, but can probably assume that he rose through the ranks through many difficulties over a period of many years. People in positions of relative power in the servant classes are often depicted as being the hardest on those serving beneath them. They seem to be clinging to their superiority with all their might.

          • Courtney

            You’ve said exactly what was on my mind. How dare Moseley want to do the job he’s qualified for and trained for, instead of taking whatever crumb Carson deigned to throw in his direction. And Carson (who at times I actually like) was so insufferably smug in his sureness that Moseley would jump at the chance to take the position. I grow so very tired of Moseley being kept around to act as the chew toy. Either give him something legitimate to do or stop writing for that character.

            • Lilithcat

              While Carson’s attitude was truly condescending and offensive, he didn’t have to offer Moseley any job. He offered him the only one that might be available. It’s all very well to say that Moseley should have “the job he’s qualified for and trained for”, but there was no such job in existence.

              Having been in a situation where I took a job below my skill set in order to have the opportunity at the appropriate position when it became available, I don’t have too much sympathy for Moseley’s “I’m too good to be a footman” attitude. If he indeed wants to return to service, it would have been a good “in” for him.

            • Courtney

              I think everyone comes at that kind of situation from a different perspective. I completely understand the idea of taking any job, if it puts food on the table and pays the rent. I spent several years substituting before finding a full time teaching job. But I can also appreciate someone wanting to hold out for a position that is in keeping with what they’re trained and qualified to do, and wanting an opportunity to think about taking a lesser position before committing. I don’t see that Moseley did anything “wrong” in asking for some time to think it over. I think Carson acted pretty despicably in the way he went about the whole situation, even if he made the offer with good intentions at the core of it.

            • Saturnine

              Agree on the entirely understandable inclination to want to think the offer over. It’s actually a pretty modern position to take! Carson also seemed somewhat to enjoy pulling the offer back. I love Carson, or at least I can usually forgive his rather conservative worldview at Downton, but this seemed a little (a lot) mean.

        • Eric Stott

          Carson is most definitely a snob, the sort who may form a warm relationship with people he knows personally, but qualify it as something like “She’s Irish, but of a better sort”.

        • rainwood1

          I thought Carson’s offer to Moseley was him trying to be nice, and when it wasn’t immediately accepted, Carson became very offended because he doesn’t like to be challenged and usually isn’t given his position in the household. To me, it was the battle between the two true downstairs snobs, and that’s why the later scene played as it did with one exception. Carson would not have let Moseley go on and on first. That part struck me as totally false to Carson’s character.

        • AnotherJulie

          I used to hope Carson and Mrs. Hughes would get together romantically – but Mrs. Hughes is too smart and grounded for the ridiculously snobby Carson.
          I briefly felt bad for Carson when Mary bitch-slapped him a few episodes back, but his treatment of Moseley was so heartless last night that it was like kicking a puppy.

      • Lilithcat

        I was surprised that Carson would even make an offer to Moseley without knowing for certain that Alfred was leaving.

    • Angela_the_Librarian

      After it was noted that Anna wasn’t pregnant (thank goodness for that), and Edna likely wasn’t pregnant, I figured that Lady Edith would probably be the baby contender. It will be interesting to see how her family will react. Do you think they’ll send her away further into the country to hide her condition and make her adopt out the baby? I’m not sure what the nobility would have done in this situation 1920’s.

      One of the more chilling moments last night was one of the conversations between Mrs. Hughes and Bates in the hallway. She said that even if he threatened her with a knife she couldn’t reveal more information…it’s telling that Mrs. Hughes would assume that Bates could perhaps get that violent to achieve his ends.

      Also, I was really hoping that Alfred would have been accepted into the culinary program just so that they can move on from the kitchen love quadrangle. Then again, having Mosely as a footman would have gotten tiresome.

      • Tally Ho

        What happened to unwed mothers from the nobility are the following:

        1. Back alley abortion courtesy of a socially prominent London doctor with connections.

        2. Banished somewhere, either a village deep in the countryside or the continent or even America with a fake story about a husband being overseas. Baby is born then quietly offloaded to a couple looking to adopt. If lucky they’d find a well to do family wanting a baby.

        3. Baby is born and passed to some distant relative to raise via governess and boarding schools and has limited contact with the family in question.

        4. A man is quickly found to marry off the pregnant daughter, usually bribed with an enormous dowry. I know Fellowes is constantly using the shortage of men post WWI as an excuse but they would still have managed to find a dim but socially acceptable younger son somewhere, especially if there’s enough money to bribe him.

        • DeniseSchipani

          This reminds me of when Cora and Violet were trying to figure out what to do about Mary’s post-Pamuk ruin, and Violet made the suggestion of sending her to The Continent: “One can always find an Italian who isn’t too picky,” or something like that.

        • Angela_the_Librarian

          I don’t think Downton Abbey will go the abortion route, so it will be interesting to see what happens. Maybe Tom and Edith will be setting out for America together (or maybe they will convince Tom to marry Edith!)

          • Gatto Nero

            There’s always miscarriage — the cowardly writer’s way out.

            • Angela_the_Librarian

              You just know they would take a page out of the old soap opera play book and have her take a tumble down the magnificent main staircase.

            • AnotherJulie

              They have already had one miscarriage – remember Cora and the perfectly placed bar of soap under the tub by O’Brien?

              It would be tough to top that one for drama and sheer imagination, on Fellowes’ part.

        • greenwich_matron

          Don’t forget the mother/daughter joint holiday abroad where the mother finds out she is miraculously pregnant.

      • Tally Ho

        Speaking of the culinary scene, did anyone notice that the floor was covered with what looked like a thick dusting of flour? That’s actually sawdust. Large professional kitchens covered their floors with sawdust to soak up anything that spilled or fell, and each night the sawdust was swept away by the kitchen boys and relaid with a fresh coating. It was a nice historically appropriate touch that most people probably missed.

        • Paula Pertile

          I loved that scene.

        • Call me Bee

          Speaking of the culinary scene, I thought it quite telling that all the candidates for the culinary school were men. While women were the cooks in the big houses, I’m sure most were self-taught, or taught while working, as Daisy and Ivy are taught. Weren’t all culinary schools pretty much men-only until Julia Child attended in the 50s?

          • Lilithcat

            The Cordon Bleu, in Paris, where Julia Child took a course, was founded by a woman, in 1895.

          • Tally Ho

            Chefs have traditionally been male. The head cooks of the great aristocratic houses were more likely than not men. Hotel kitchens were almost entirely staffed by men. They also commanded higher salaries.

            The culinary schools that existed at the time primarily served to train chefs to cook in grand hotels and aristocratic houses so they would have been male dominated. The closest women got to professional training was usually through a local school or training organization, or on the job training as with Daisy.

        • rainwood1

          Thanks for telling us. I didn’t spot it and had no idea.

      • AnotherJulie

        … but at least Moseley is more interesting than Alfred! Plus we would get to hear Maggie Smith say “Moseley” which is worth the entire hour’s show

      • The Biscuit

        I’m wondering if it isn’t Ivy who’ll be pregnant—she’s the only one of the four contenders who hasn’t been teased yet. I can see a storyline in which Jimmy skips out on her and Alfred steps up to marry her; how that would play out with his obvious destiny at the culinary school I don’t know.

        If it is Edith, I imagine she could find a husband, via Aunt Rosemund or on her intrepid own, to cover her indiscretion. It does seem significant that she hasn’t heard from Gregson yet and is obviously concerned about it.

    • acevedob

      Completely agree. Can we have a show about Tom’s life only? He’s my favorite character.

      • leeann

        I would watch that, but only if he could get his fire and spine back. Otherwise it would just be depressing.

    • Corsetmaker

      Bates has always struck me as a man who knows he has a temper, knows he has the capacity to lose it and a dark side and is very careful to keep calm and controlled, even over-compensating. Anna and Downton help him keep it under control and if he lost them then he is lost. They keep him away from drinking too. Anna knows this too.
      Something that has always struck me as odd is that in relation to Tom, and the various Irish issues that have come up, there has been no reference to Bates background being Irish. The character’s mother was Irish and he’s played by a half Irish actor. You’d think even an aside in a relevant conversation.

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

        When Bates said that line about Anna’s suffering making her “holy” and raising her up, we tweeted that you couldn’t possibly come up with a more Irish sentiment than that. It is curious that his Irishness isn’t openly referred to more often, but he’s more culturally Irish than even Tom is sometimes.

        • Eric Stott

          I think that playing up ethnicity (and possibly politics) would lead the show down a more complex path than Fellowes desires. He may touch on issues of the day but he doesn’t really explore them.

        • AnotherJulie

          Sorry… I didn’t read this far down before posting my comment which sounds repetitive.

        • not_Bridget

          Back at the time of the Easter Rebellion, it would have been interesting to hear what the downstairs folks thought. We heard from Patriot Thomas. But what about half-Irish Bates? And O’Brien? The Irish People did not rise up to support the rebels–so it would have made sense to hear some non-patriot response from those with Irish ties….

          Fellowes likes the occasional dash of History but doesn’t take that stuff seriously.

        • Corsetmaker

          Ah, missed that but it’s a while ago for me. Yes, the actor is half Irish, half Scottish but he always comes over very Irish and I agree on Bates being very culturally Irish. One of those Fellowes’ halfway house decisions – we’ll cast Brendan Coyle, give the character an Irish mother (and wife), then ignore the fact when anything relevant comes up!

    • AnotherJulie

      I have a slightly different take on Bates: Why can’t he be a compassionate protective husband who truly feels for Anna’s awful experience, AND a violent revenge-seeking husband? I’m pretty sure most of us have that capacity.

      • Chris

        I don’t think Bates is a bad husband either. I thought his speech to Anna was pretty progressive for the times. With any other character but Anna (because the audience would despise Bates) they could have had the husband blame the wife in some way, which is both horrible and something that happened. Still happens, sadly. I saw him devastated because Anna was hurt and didn’t see it as him making it about him. I think he is desperate to do something, anything, and feels powerless. He clearly has violence in him and it’s so pronounced that both Anna and Mrs. Hughes would rather protect a brutal rapist than risk unleashing it. He may not be the most stable person in that respect but I agree it doesn’t mean he is an unkind or cruel husband.

        • AnotherJulie

          Exactly. I saw his crying as genuine pain FOR Anna and not about him…. also Bates is Irish and these traits are stereotypically Irish male traits.. Fellowes tends to do stereotypes so I wish he would make Bate’s Irishness more prominent!

          • Shawn EH

            I admit openly that when he assured Anna she had done nothing needing forgiveness and he loved her more than ever, I was blubbering just like they were. Boring and misguided or not, I’m invested in their relationship.

            • AnotherJulie

              To be honest I find their relationship tiresome and unrealistic (Bad Boy Bates kept at bay by eternally supportive Saint Anna) but will admit Brendan Coyle and Joanna F have done some amazing acting during this plot line.

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

        I’m not sure I understand the question. We’re not saying he can’t be both of those things. We’re saying Fellowes will almost certainly fail to explore the darker sides of that.

        • AnotherJulie

          Got it re: Fellowes And I agree. Fellowes simplifies and stereotypes his characters to an infuriating degree.
          In another comment here, I expressed frustration with the whole Saint Anna theme which I find ridiculous – and appalling. Are we expected to believe the second she is raped, her immediate concern is How can I protect my poor husband from going back to prison?

    • Eric Stott

      Thomas is getting quite interesting- he’s still slimy and calculating, but there are some unexpected bits of humanity now and then: a little bit of conversation with Daisy (misinterpreted by Mrs Patmore) and his comment to the new lady’s maid that Her Ladyship is really quite decent. He’s being built up for some major plot revelation.

      • ScarlettHarlot

        Don’t forget, he has (in my mind) genuine affection for little Sybil, as he was so moved by her mother’s death. I think he didn’t like the nanny in episode 1 bossing him around, but if you recall, he also disagreed with her twice about her treatment of Sybbie. Also, I don’t remember the exact line, but when he burst in to tears after Sybil’s death because she was the only one who had ever been truly kind to him, it made me feel like he wasn’t totally irredeemable.

        • Eric Stott

          I agree- I can’t see a redemption storyline, but I think there’s going to be some sort of crisis which will require him to choose between his own interests and that of downton.

          On the current front though, he’s cooking up something.

      • Chris

        I think it’s interesting that Thomas seems to at least be getting more clever in his machinations. More subtle anyway. He appears to have a more overreaching plan than just sabotage someone for the fun of it. I like the new Lady’s maid. There was some reference to a problem in her past but she seems like she just wants to work and get along in her new position.

        • Tally Ho

          Yeah…it’s clearly building up to a situation where he wants her to do something and she won’t want to do it because she’s not a bad woman but she’ll feel pressure to do what Tom wants because he knows of her dark secret, whatever it may be.

          The thing is, being referred by Tom wouldn’t have been enough to get the job. As a ladies’ maid she would have come with good recommendations from previous employers. Makes me wonder what the dark secret is.

          • Chris

            She is clearly an experienced lady’s maid and very good at her job. Sewing machines would not have been cheap either and the sense was it was her personal machine correct? That means she worked long enough at a good salary to afford one. Obviously she had some scandal in her past and Thomas knows about it. My hunch it’s a affair or something of the sort.

        • Gatto Nero

          Thomas clearly has something on her — a disreputable relationship, run-in with the law, or some other dark secret from her past.

          • Chris

            Thomas really is incredibly handsome. He’s one of the few men who can pull that period hair style off and look smashing. A lot of the men look a bit goofy with it. His features are just perfect. IMHO he is the best looking man ever on Downton.

            • Gatto Nero

              Agree. Better looking than the insipid Matthew. Though I have a soft spot for Tom, too.

            • Chris

              I’d say Branson is cute and Thomas is handsome. I have a soft spot for Branson too. When you think about how daring it was for him to even speak to Sybill let alone pursue her, you have to admire his nerve. It’s a bit sad that he seems more intimidated now by the aristocrats than when he was a chauffeur/fill in valet ready to dump….. stuff on one of their heads at the dinner table. But I suppose the point is now he has more to lose for himself and his daughter.

            • Gatto Nero

              Yes. Even a firebrand could get comfortable in a house like that.

    • luludexter

      I agree with more Tom Branson please! He is the character who is now most in the spirit of the original season – a character that the changing times of Downton could be realized through if only they would do something with him. I loved his response in the conversation about the tenant – “I haven’t abandoned all my socialism…” could be so interesting and complex, and let’s be honest, very nice to watch as well!

    • Judy_S

      I think Anna’s rape was the proverbial jumping of the shark for me. I’ve stopped watching even though I stay up for Sherlock! But it’s fun to read these recaps.
      My first disappointment in the show was Mary’s dumping the press lord. I really was salivating over the possibilities for sex, lies, and catty remarks. Maybe even babies whose paternity was questionable. But no dice, or no soap, or whatever,

      TLo said: “Sure, [Tom]’s talking about moving to America, but let’s see a show of
      hands: who thinks that’s really going to happen? …he’s not going to leave the
      estate.” I add: Unless Allen Leach gets some movie offers…

    • andreawey

      I like the TLO version much better!

    • Kelly

      You’ve nailed it, boys — yep, the rape is all about how it affects the man, and the Tom plot is being treated just as you say. The show is one lost narrative opportunity after another, despite how much I love the clothes, even the anachronistic ones. And how Mary got to be the heroine is still a mystery to me. I’ll take the downstairs love dodecahedron (or however many sides it has now) over Queen Mary and her court of dippy admirers any day. Still, it’s the show I love to whinge about, so I never miss a minute.

      • Saturnine

        100 Points for “downstairs love dodecahedron.” :-)

    • Julie Parr

      I always said I thought Bates actually did murder his wife. Now, I realize Anna knows it too but was too happy to have him so she ignored it. Or she thought that she was different than Bates’ last wife, so perhaps she wouldn’t meet the same fate. Maybe Anna isn’t worried about Bates killing the rapist at all. *Maybe* she’s worried that Bates will kill her, just like he did his first wife. So obvious I can’t believe this just occurred to me.

      • Chris

        I never read it as Anna being afraid for herself in any way. I think she knows Bates worships her, to an unnatural degree some would say, and someone hurting her in that way would push him over the edge.

        • Julie Parr

          Oh – I was totally wrong. I took it a step too far! But, I still think Bates murdered his first wife.

          • greenwich_matron

            I don’t think you were “totally wrong.” Anyone who is certain that her husband is capable of imminent murder and feels he may see her as soiled would be very naive to not recognize that his anger may be turned against her. Blaming and killing rape victims is not unprecedented.

    • Tally Ho

      I almost didn’t post this as it’s a very minor nitpicking point but those of you who recognize me will know that I admittedly enjoy criticizing the historically inaccurate aspects of the settings or and speculating on what could have been done much better.

      Last night I was staring at Isobel Crawley when she morosely said, “I’m not one of them,” in reference to the aristocratic Crawley. Fine enough, she’s merely an educated upper middle class woman, not from the aristocracy. But she’s saying this while sitting on a very elegant Georgian sofa in her very elegant, even rather aristocratic looking, Georgian drawing room with very nice Georgian antiques and family portraits and silver. She sure does look like someone if not from the aristocracy then from the landed gentry.

      The educated upper middle classes like Isobel would have had much more contemporary tastes and for that time it meant a deep appreciation for the arts & crafts movement that swept through Britain in the late 19th century and Edwardian years. As much as I loved Isobel’s drawing room (it is one of my favorite rooms on the program) I would have liked to see more, oh, say oak arts and crafts furniture, Morris wall hangings, arts and crafts pottery in the cottage style, the kinds of things that are highly collectible today and historically accurate for someone like Isobel and more fuel for Violet to use while sneering at her. Matthew and Isobel Crawley were supposed to be the middle classes but we’re really only told this rather than show why and how they’re middle class and not aristocratic, given that the difference between the two rested on a lot more than just money.

      • Saturnine

        19th + early 20th century Arts and Crafts–now you’re speaking my language. Isobel’s sitting room is exquisite. That shade of blue on the walls, framing the rose garden through the giant window . . .

        • decormaven

          Yes, I love that shade as well. Also admire that settee in that room as well. The set decorators have done an excellent job in dressing the rooms.

      • Ginger Thomas

        I think that the house is part of the estate, loaned to Matthew and Isobel when they came to Downton. I’d bet that the house they left in Manchester was just as you describe.

        • Tally Ho

          The house is on the estate but as for the interior furnishing it’s one of those vague details that’s never been confirmed. I remember in Season 1 Isobel coming to the house for the first time (her servants had already been sent down in advance with their belongings) and saying to the maid that she’d done very well in setting up the house. Implication – their stuff. Isobel didn’t go around oohing-ahhing as if she’d never seen the contents before. Even if the furnishings came from the estate, Isobel would have had her own tastes, not to mention her own furniture and silver and china, which she would have incorporated into the house.

          But you’re right, the one single shot we have of their house in Manchester showed a dining room with arts & crafts wallpaper. Very correct, even if the exterior of the house was completely wrong – it was a 18th century London townhouse whereas the Manchester middle classes were by now living in detached villas in the suburbs, usually mock-tudor Cheshire style (yes, I like to nitpick!). Manchester was a great Victorian boom city so what survived of Georgian Manchester was not where the middle classes wanted to live.

          • http://howtofaint.tumblr.com/ How to Faint

            This is the greatest nitpicking I’ve ever seen on the comment section of this site, bar none.

      • Qitkat

        One of my very favorite eras. I love your take on this, but my question is, what does Isobel live on anyway? I’m not clear at all on the source of her income or Violet’s for that matter.

        • AZU403

          Violet most likely an allowance from the late Earl. Isobel is a widow and she may have one too. While her people, as they used to say, were not aristocracy, they were clearly well-off. I forget what Matthew’s father did, but I assume he was a lawyer as well.

          • Mismarker

            I think Matthew’s father was a physician.

          • Tally Ho

            When the late Lord Grantham died Violet would have inherited her widow’s “pension” as per her husband’s will, plus use of the dower house and there was probably even her own dowry that she might have brought to the marriage. If insufficient it would have been supplemented by Robert out of the family’s income from the estate/capital.

            The late Dr. Crawley was a Manchester physician. A conversation between Isobel and Dr. Clarkson in Season 1 reveals that her husband had conducted well-known medical research along with being a practicing physician so I assume him to be connected with the medical schools at the University of Manchester and/or teaching hospitals etc cetera. Late Victorian doctors at the top of their field generally had very comfortable incomes, say between 1,000-1,500 pounds a year if not more. Fashionable London doctors made even more (as a comparison the highest paid butlers in England made around a hundred pounds a year and typical housemaids made around 20-30 pounds a year).

            Incomes for the upper classes and the upper middle classes in those days tended to come from a variety of sources. Dr. Crawley would have had his income from his profession but he may have also inherited money from his family, which along with what Isobel inherited from hers, would be combined to provide what was termed “capital” and yielded extra annual income via dividends from investments or yields on savings accounts and bonds. In these pre-pension days the middle classes were very careful to build up as much capital as they could because the yield from the capital was what the widows lived off of and eventually provided supplementary incomes for the children. Thus Isobel would have had what she inherited from her husband and her own family, and also given that Matthew lived with her, his income, then again it’s also likely Isobel was subsidizing Matthew’s living expenditures as he was just starting out as a solicitor.

            Robert may have provided extra income but I doubt it was that much nor do I think either Matthew or Isobel would have welcomed it. They were reluctant enough to move into the dower house.

            • greenwich_matron

              Thanks for these details, I really love them. I got the impression that before he became the heir presumptive, Robert barely knew that Matthew existed (it was probably for the audience, but he didn’t seem to consider that he had relatives low enough to be doctors and lawyers). Also, how would Matthew wind up with a different family name if he represents the unbroken, legitimate male successor?

            • Lilithcat

              how would Matthew wind up with a different family name

              He didn’t. His name was also Crawley.

            • greenwich_matron

              Oops, I had conflated the name Crawley with Grantham.

          • Lilithcat

            Isobel’s late husband was a medical doctor.

      • greenwich_matron

        I remember looking at the scene and assuming that the cinematographer must have set it up that way to highlight the complexity (irony?) in what she was saying. The gardener also made the point about the rest of the world not seeing the distinction that Isobel thinks is so important. Have they used that room before? I don’t remember her house as looking so elegant.

        • Tally Ho

          They’ve always used the same sitting room whenever we see Matthew/Isobel at home. The room in question actually doesn’t come from the house whose exterior we see. Don’t ask me why although I wouldn’t be surprised if the room and its contents comes from a house belonging to a friend of Fellowes and they’re using it primarily because Fellowes is being friendly with his friends, who will get a tidy sum each time a scene is shot in the room.

          But your other comment is correct. Isobel may not see herself as one of the aristocracy but in the eyes of the villagers and most people she’s definitely “posh.” As upper middle class she belonged to an incredibly privileged minority.

          • greenwich_matron

            I suspect that the bottom portion of the 1% don’t realize that they are in the 1%.

          • BayTampaBay

            In the eyes of the villagers and local people, she is a member of the family in the big house.

      • BayTampaBay

        Well Sir Richard Carlise was not one of them (aristos) either and I am sure he has townhouse full of the very best pictures, silver, china and furniture.

    • nosniveling

      Don’t understand the Branson love, myself, he’s humorless and boring.

      • SundayNights

        I don’t understand it either, but seeing him play hurricane with baby Sybbie made my heart melt a little bit.

      • rainwood1

        I said the same thing up-thread before I saw your comment. I’m glad I’m not the only one.

    • SundayNights

      Thoughts:
      1) Did anyone else feel that Bates (Norman? Psycho??) was threatening Mrs. Hughes in the hallway at the end? It seemed like he was saying he’d get the information from HER or else. Maybe it was a bad interpretation on my part, but my thought is don’t fuck with Hughes!
      2) What’s the deal with Pegg, the simple gardener who reminded me of Being There’s Chauncey Gardiner. And why is Isobel so hell bent on the the quality of his character? She met him for all of 30 seconds and she defends him without reason. I thought it was ominous that the stolen item is a paper knife …. not a letter opener. Knife is so much more a threatening item.
      3) Why isn’t Daisy running Mason’s farm yet?

      • Chris

        Actually a paper knife is rounded not sharp. It’s to slide between the pages that may be uncut in a book. Imagine a large thin popsicle stick shape. It’s to press against the folded paper to make a smooth tear. It’s a nice period touch that they used paper knife as they go out of use as book pages become more uniform. A letter opener would make a better weapon.

      • Isabel

        Daisy – I think she still feels guilty about marrying First Blond Footman/Soldier even though she didn’t love him.

        She is going to need some help in running it. She needs to get a man for that.

        She is saving her money for a rainy day.

        • Qitkat

          Let’s ship Daisy and the new hot Yorkshireman farmer ;-)
          Although he’s probably more of Rose’s type.

          • Chris

            I would love to see Daisy have a nice admirer. I do not get her attachment to Alfred. He’s so boring and sullen all the time. Rose went out and found some other working people to dance with. Can the kitchen staff not do the same on their days off?

      • Saturnine

        Oh, I forgot about the stolen paper knife. It can’t possibly be Pegg, so who/what is this plot line in aid of? At first, I though Violet was accusing Clarkson and Isobel was defending him. I was all “he’s pretty calm there after just being accused of stealing a desk ornament by the Dowager Countess . . . “

    • Molly

      Wait, Edith’s married guy (can’t recall his name) is going to Germany to be a Nazi? I missed that!

      • Chris

        He’s becoming a German citizen because his lawyer advised him it’s a place where he may be able to obtain a divorce from his mentally ill wife. The Nazi part is just speculation at this point.

        • Molly

          Thanks! That would be an interesting road to go down…

        • Gatto Nero

          And the lawyer and wife story may be a lie altogether.

          • Chris

            Oh poor Edith indeed! I don’t even want to think about that happening. I didn’t get the feeling he was a villain but I do think he was selfish pushing Edith into a physical relationship when he is still married and unlikely to be free any time soon. She is running all the risks. I’m just afraid he is going to go off and crash his car like Matthew or some other horrible thing will happen where Edith is left in the lurch again only this time pregnant. If he turns out to be a jerk on top of it I’ll scream.

            • Jackie4g

              It occurred to me that Aunt Rosamund’s scolding of Edith might have been based on a similar experience. Just guessing.

      • AZU403

        It’s 1922 – Nazis don’t exist quite yet.

        • Courtney

          Oh, they existed. They just weren’t quite the party they’d be 10 or even 5 years down the line. The Beer Hall Putsch will happen in 1923, and it’s after Hitler’s release from prison that he makes a concerted effort to make the party appear less radical and more palatable to the masses.

        • Molly

          Funny, I had to google that myself. It was called the German workers’ party, and it started in 1919.

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

      Dimples McNazi? Oh you guys make me laugh so hard….

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

        Those were some great coat hooks.

        • Eric Stott

          Molesley could hang himself from them…

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

          Rather large though. I was distracted by the thought of him bumping his head.

          • Saturnine

            Yes!!! Cry, poke your head, cry, poke your head . . .

        • Paula Pertile

          I marvel at how you guys can watch all the shows, tweet it all, then write pithy insightful blogs posts about everything (all while looking fabulous at the same time, no doubt). I can barely handle watching DA and Sherlock back to back, then get the cats organized for bed. And yes, those were nice hooks.

          • Gatto Nero

            Just enjoying the image of your “getting the cats organized for bed.”

        • Gatto Nero

          I notice those, too. In the midst of his sobbing, I was thinking, Where can I get those?

        • Call me Bee

          My husband makes coat racks just like that for sale on Etsy. Shameless plug: UncommonWoodworks

    • Dan_In_NYC

      Interesting perspective. Not sure I agree that Fellowes is casting Bates as loyal – all I got last night was scary and dark. And also manipulative “If no one tells me what’s going on, I’ll just leave Downton.” I like the Anna/Bates tension…. and like idea of a ladies maid who can have everyone like her AND be devious. Albert, Daisy, Carson, Molesly = yawn.

    • AnneElliot

      Dimples McNazi — too funny!!

      And thank you for calling out Fellows about his wishy-washyness. The show would be so much better if these characters could go full-on with their characters — but no, he keeps pulling them back and trying to make them more likable when it suits him, like Thomas.

      Maybe he will let Tom take little Sybil to America; then she can come back miraculously grown up in a year or two, and be the troublesome teenaged granddaughter.

      • AnotherJulie

        I know!! (re: Fellowes pulling characters back)
        But I am so GLAD he brought back the real Dowager C. Last week she was all sweetness and light re: isobel and thankfully, it didn’t last.

    • AnotherJulie

      I may be the only one who feels this way, but I find the “saintly” Anna the more unrealistic and infuriating character of the Bates/Anna duo.
      She gets raped, a truly horrific experience, and immediately has the presence of mind that her first thought is how to protect her husband? And she is willing to ruin her marriage, leave her home, etc. to do so?
      This long suffering Married to a Murderer/ Prisoner Who May Murder Again role is trying my patience. And when Bates basically called her a saint for her suffering… please

      • Chris

        Well I don’t want to pick on the victim- but I did find it alarming that Mrs. Hughes and Anna let that crazed rapist go off to heaven knows how many more households and unwitting women. At least at Downton no one would question Anna about her story, she would be believed absolutely. I keep thinking about the next poor kitchen maid or girl he gets alone. Or the poor one you know came before Anna.

        • http://communionoflight.com/ Frank Butterfield

          I think that they let him go off without telling anyone is the one part of this story that is precisely correct for the time.

          • BayTampaBay

            Must agree 100%. The police would not be interested in arresting the valet of a Lord over a woman reporting a rape.

        • AnotherJulie

          I sure hope you don’t think I was picking on a rape victim…. the decision not to come forth in 1920 was infuriatingly accurate for that time – but that is not the reason I am annoyed by the Anna character.
          I am annoyed that her motivation first and foremost was her immediate desire to protect Bates, as she crouched on the floor post-rape. Then, later, saying she is unclean and not good enough for Bates, while basically acknowledging he is/ will become a murderer! So this saint isn’t good enough for a murderer. Ridiculous!

          • Chris

            No I was directing the “picking on” comment at myself- like a disclaimer before my comment. I understand completely why Anna was so afraid and the stigma of telling anyone or prosecuting him at the time. I just found it unlike Mrs. Hughes mostly to knowingly let that guy traipse off to do heaven knows what where. She is usually good at coming up with a scheme and working around people in some ways I would have thought she could have come up with some way of getting him in trouble for something. When you saw the way she handled the Lady’s maid who was manipulating Branson, and knowing how much she cares for Anna it seems like she could have come up with something on the fly. Also Anna is so saintly on the show apart from her fears for Bates I would think she would be worried about it happening to another woman or girl but thinking back she was just so dazed and overwhelmed by it the poor thing seemed like she was just trying to survive.

    • surfergirl70

      “Dimples McNazi” – snort!

    • DebGuss

      “Dimples McNazi” – -best name ever. Also, the Jekyll/Hyde Bates writing is bad. Why can’t Mrs. Hughes just say, “Dear, your response is exactly why Anna didn’t want you to know about this. Stop it.”

      • Farthingale

        Especially since she dispatched Edna so efficiently.

        I also thought Mrs. Hughes would have pointed out to Bates that his reaction is precisely why Anna refused to tell him. She was quaking in her boots. I guess underneath it all she too assumes bates murdered his wife.

    • Gracie82

      Oh my God, is Edith’s boyfriend going to turn into a nazi?!

    • Presumptuous Insect

      Speaking of bad writing, I thought it was a shitty thing for Bates to do when he told Mrs. Hughes that IT’S NOT OVER. Why would he dump his emotional turmoil all over her? Why is it her problem? Didn’t seem in character.

      • AnotherJulie

        I must disagree that it wasn’t in character. I think Bates’ real dark sinister side has only just begun to come out.
        After all, Anna is positive Bates will become a murderer, if he isn’t already (the ex wife).

        • Chris

          I agree it’s in character for him, but it just makes him seem dumb. For a guy who did hard time for a murder he didn’t commit based on circumstantial evidence it’s pretty darn stupid to tell someone flat out you have something nefarious planned.

      • Shawn EH

        Wasn’t it rather presumptuous of her to assume it was all over, just because she wished it so? How could she not expect him to want to avenge his wife, rather than simply accept this horrible thing she suffered? She’s already embroiled in the turmoil by being Anna’s confidant.

    • Passionflora

      Thanks for your thoughtful analysis, gents. You hit the nail on the head with where Fellowes is likely going with Bates’s character. Although I watch every week, the characters have become hopelessly predictable. Of course, Edith is pregnant and Tom will remain uncomfortable upstairs as the dutifully son-in-law. Baxter will be the new O’Brien. I’m dying for a real surprise.

    • AnnaleighBelle

      First off, Bates, way to prove that Anna knows you through and through. Just save time and give Mrs. Hughes your last meal menu now before heading off to the gallows.

      Also, and I know that this is too cruel for this show, but it would have been interesting to see SOMEONE react the way people often did react not so long ago toward a rape victim – that it was somehow her fault. I wouldn’t have been surprised to see Bates blame her. As a matter of fact, I feel like that character’s only saving grace has been his love for a good woman, or he would have ended up badly long ago.

      Tom is disappointing me. He’s now just the family’s pet socialist. It would be nice to see him at least calling back to the original firebrand he was trying to be (maybe helping someone unsavory).

      Gilligan or whatever his name was bored the bejeebus out of me. I blame Mary’s social isolation for the fact that she even entertained him or is regretting him now.

      And I’m shipping Isobel and Dr. Carson so hard right now.

      Poor Molesley should have the Debbie Downer horn wah-wahhh music as his personal theme.

      • DeniseSchipani

        I have a friend who was raped by an employee in a Caribbean resort while she was vacationing on her own for a week or so. When she got back and told her husband, he COULD NOT DEAL with it, and though he never said so outright, there was a horrible, shameful level on which he blamed her.Their marriage did not survive. And this was obviously recently (well, the 90s). Bates’ reaction — not the urge toward violence, which I understand as in character — but the “you are more holy now because of this ordeal” strikes me as NOT quite right. But who knows. It’s complicated.

        • Gatto Nero

          As TLo commented below, this “sainted sufferer” reaction may be in keeping with Bates’s Irish background, though, which Fellowes has hardly mentioned.

          • AnnaleighBelle

            Whether it’s Bates (who I could see going either way given that they sort of set him up for not liking Greene and Anna defending him) or someone else, it would be a bit realistic for someone to at least question Anna about how she let that happen or what she did to lead him on. Everyone just seems a little too enlightened about it. I guess if the police got involved then it would be more likely to happen that way.

          • AnotherJulie

            Exactly- I hope Fellowes expands on this theme although so far, it isn’t promising…. Not only is Bates’s perception of Anna as Saint ridiculous, but Fellowes’s creation of her character is simply unbelievable.

        • AnnaleighBelle

          I’m not even sure, now, if it is beyond the pale to bring up what a woman (or man) was wearing, how much s/he had to drink, why would s/he go to a place like that to cast doubt on the accusation. At that point Bates had already made it a point for Anna to stay away from Greene so I would believe his going either way as a reaction.

    • keldy

      I know the downstairs love quadrangle subplot is a snoozer, but for anyone who may have cared about that angle of the show – or at least Alfred’s cooking ambition – does anyone else think that maybe the non-Alfred guy tampered with the reply from the Ritz? It seemed odd to me that they showed non-Alfred outside as the postman was walking up, then cut to the letter going to Alfred. Non-Alfred could have used the stolen paper knife to unseal it and replace the letter. Though I’m not sure why he would do that, since I would think he would be motivated to get rid of Alfred (unless he simply didn’t want Alfred to succeed, particularly given the admiration the non-Daisy girl showed for his ambition), and I’m not sure why he would have needed to get the paper knife from the Dowager’s instead of using something more handy.

      • Chris

        I think there is something in store for Alfred. Why bother showing the Ritz cooking school and make a set for only one scene? Plus the letter made a big point (and Fellowes is not subtle) that he just missed making the top four. Maybe there will be a re-test or another opening or another class is held? It seems like a lot of effort for nothing to come of it.

        • Eric Stott

          Possibly one of the winning candidates will be disqualified

      • Saturnine

        That’s what the stolen paper knife was for!

      • Gatto Nero

        But — motive? And stationery?

        • keldy

          I acknowledged that I wasn’t sure what the motive would be (again, unless he just didn’t want Alfred to succeed). I don’t think they showed the actual letter, which may not have had the Ritz letterhead, but maybe I’m wrong there. He could have reused the envelope after opening it with the paper knife. No, it’s not a perfect theory by any means, but I think there’s more to it because (as the commenter below points out), it seems like “Alfred tried to get into the Ritz cooking school but didn’t make it” can’t be the whole story.

          • Gatto Nero

            I don’t think the story is played out yet, either. But allowing Alfred to succeed on his first try would (sort of) resolve the love quadrangle below stairs too soon. Fellowes probably wants to draw it out. Alfred will probably reapply, and Ivy’s admiration for him will grow …

            • Kwei-lin Lum

              And/or Alfred will start to look at Daisy more favorably because she will help him with his cooking skills.

      • Lilithcat

        Seems unlikely in the extreme.

        You seem to suggest that he had plotted out to get the letter whenever it came, and stole the Dowager’s paper knife in anticipation of need. But why do that? Are there no sharp instruments at Downton? In any case, the Ritz logo was on the envelope, which showed no signs of being tampered with. Perhaps he steamed it open with a tea kettle? (Ah, there, Miss Climpson!)

        And, as you rightfully point out, he had no motive for wanting to keep Alfred around.

      • Gatto Nero

        I replied earlier that this was unlikely. But I just rewatched this scene, and they’re signaling some kind of mischief.
        Jimmy did collect the mail. And when Alfred is opening the envelope and reading the contents, the camera keeps cutting to Jimmy, who looks pretty pleased with himself.
        Ivy had told Jimmy earlier that she admired Alfred’s ambition. Seems like a pretty thin premise, but maybe shaming Alfred was Jimmy’s only motive. I still don’t know how he would’ve managed the switch, though. Theft of the paper knife seems crazily reckless and may be part of a separate plot thread.

    • Presumptuous Insect

      I am waiting for Tom to do something “manly”–you know, be the muscular sweaty Irishman. Seems like it would be fitting for this classist tale, for them to portray differing kinds of masculinity.

      • http://communionoflight.com/ Frank Butterfield

        If this was a Merchant-Ivory production, you can bet that we would have had SEVERAL scenes of Tom out in the fields working alongside the tenants and other workers and in varying states of undress. Of course, I believe they shared the E.M. Forester sensibility that the working man embodied true masculinity, integrity, and morals.

        • Gatto Nero

          And if this were D.H. Lawrence …

      • Farthingale

        I WOULD like to see him with his shirt off, now that you mention it.

        • Gatto Nero

          We did, briefly, last season when Edna made her first pass at him.

    • LC3203

      I think what’s being missed here is that back then Bates’ reaction to Anna’s rape was not only normal, but expected. The courts in ordinary circumstances would probably be somewhat lenient toward a man defending his wife’s honour. Anna’s concern is for a man already accused of murder once. Who did time for it. If he were to murder her rapist, the courts might not be so sympathetic towards someone already accused of an unsolved murder. It just doesn’t look good. So, I think this is less about Bates’ character than it is about the fact that he’s already literally used his Get Out of Jail Free Card.

      To your point about Tom: They are being more protective of Tom because they don’t want to lose Little Sybie. Plain and simple. Yes, Matthew was heir apparent. But there wasn’t a grandchild involved. And any tie to Sybil is something they’re going to want to hold on to.

      • Lilithcat

        Anna’s concern was not the prior murder accusation, a charge for which he was exonerated. It was that he had a prior felony conviction (when he took the blame for his first wife’s peculations). As a recidivist, he could expect little, if any, leniency.

        • LC3203

          THAT’s it. THANK you. I knew I had something wrong about his prison term. Right. So yeah. It’s not that she’s all “he’s a psycho”, it’s “He’s my husband, who is well within his rights to go kill that guy, but because he’s a felon, he’ll get into a LOT more trouble for it”. Thanks again!

    • dorrit

      Agree with everyone else that Carson was needlessly cruel to Molesly.
      But this is what is bugging me:
      We have several scenes of Isobel going out of her way to help various men she barely knows find employment, yet she fires Molesly after Matthew’s death and refuses to take him back on in her household when she knows that his situation is desperate? Not that I expect character consistency from Fellowes, but it’s ridiculous that do-gooder Isobel would let Molesly suffer.
      We also already know that Violet is concerned for Molesly, too. When Isobel was pushing Violet to hire that random kid as a gardener’s boy, I kept expecting Violet to say fine, I’ll do it if you’ll hire Molesly back!

      • Eric Stott

        Molesley is one of those people who act as if they are debasing themselves to accept your help.

      • Gatto Nero

        Isobel doesn’t pay Molesley’s salary — Lord Grantham (or the estate) does. And now that Matthew is dead and no valet is needed at the Crawley household, she can’t justify keeping him on. I don’t think this is a choice she would make personally.

      • AnotherJulie

        I think they kept Moseley on the payroll for 6 months after Matthew’s death, but finally had to let him go. Violet gave M an opportunity to help out but her own butler sabotaged Moseley. Now Carson is messing with him.
        Moseley is a downer but he certainly has had a run of bad luck!

    • ScarlettHarlot

      Two more thoughts:

      1. I adore the blue coat Edith wore to the doctor’s office.
      2. Let’s have a spin off with Thomas, Tom, & Sybbie. Tom can be a politician, while Thomas is his manipulative chief of staff. Together they share a flat and raise Sybbie. Hijinks ensue. Possible titles – “Branson & Barrow,” “Thom & Tom,” “My Two Toms.”

      • Kit Jackson 1967

        They hire a nanny to raise Sybbie. Then you can have crazy love triangles or “Three’s Company” style bedroom farces with people hiding significant others, because someone was supposed to be out of the apartment that night, but are still there.

        • ScarlettHarlot

          And for a ratings boost, O’Brien can come for a visit to turn their world upside down with her shenanigans!

          • Kit Jackson 1967

            I see O’Brien working in the office. She can manipulate the junior staff and secretaries.

    • http://www.thirteen.org/program-content/the-downton-abbey-dish-season-4-episode-2/ Gotham Tomato

      I wish I had time to look for the link, but Julian Fellowes intent with Bates has always been for him to have a dangerous side. I hope we see that explored more at some point.

      –GothamTomato

    • Jill

      Dimples McNazi made my day. (Not in the same way he made Edith skip her period.)

    • http://www.fairestrunofall.com/ Jenn @ Fairest Run of All

      So… I’m really curious. How come the only person who seems to know how to operate some method of birth control is Edna? What was available at the time? Would the aristocracy be too sheltered? I know in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Sissie works in a condom factory – admittedly that’s America but it takes place about a decade earlier… Anyway, it seems like no one but Edna has ever approached sex with a plan. I mean, I still despised her and I hope she’s gone for good but at least she was thinking ahead, y’know?

      • http://howtofaint.tumblr.com/ How to Faint

        Condoms have been around in one form or another for centuries, so I don’t know what the deal is beyond Edna and the future brown shirt were thinking beyond “we’ll be hitched soon, so who cares”. More’s the pity.

      • SEPA_Q

        My thought was that Edith’s visit to the doctor’s office (in London) was to consult on methods of birth control which might be available to her at that time.

    • Lynn Landry

      DIMPLES MCNAZI! AAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. The rest of this was really dead on, but DIMPLES MCNAZI. Made my week.

    • http://communionoflight.com/ Frank Butterfield

      I wrote a comment below (above) about how if this was a Merchant-Ivory production, we would have seen several scenes already with Tom out in the field, working alongside the tenants and other workers and in various states of undress. And it got me to thinking about the difference between this story and Gosford Park as compared to the E.M. Forster novels that M-I brought to the screen. I know that Sir Julian is creating this story out of whole cloth (with some help from Dorothy Sayers, et al., as many of us have noticed) and that there is a difference between that and adapting a novel.

      I’m just curious as to what our beloved Uncles and other various kittens, bitter and otherwise, might think about this difference.

      What happens when a thoroughly English and Conservative peer writes a story about the beginning of the end of the landed aristocracy?

      And how to compare what he is creating with the productions and adaptations that came from what Merchant once described thusly: “It is a strange marriage we have at Merchant Ivory … I am an Indian Muslim, Ruth is a German Jew, and Jim is a Protestant American. Someone once described us as a three-headed god. Maybe they should have called us a three-headed monster!”

      Is Fellowes writing from within the system? Did M-I and Forster look outside-in? I know the comparisons are not exactly perfect but, for myself, I have had an epiphany that a lot of my frustration with the DA story lines comes from my subtle comparisons to M-I.

      • Qitkat

        Great insights. I’ve got no answers but wanted to commend you on thinking this through more deeply. Between the blogging and commentary on this show and Mad Men, I have become much more aware of all the varied experiences and knowledge folks bring to the table, which always enriches my viewing, and enhances and expands my point-of-view. Sometimes I get so hungry for true critical thinking without rancor on the internet. This site is extraordinary that way, sometimes most unexpectedly. Added: but I hang out for the humor too ;-)

    • http://www.flickr.com/photos/divine_aphasia/ Constant Cat

      Dimples McNazi – one night only at the KitKat Club!

      I like the Bates storyline, if only for the tension it created and the exploration of how rape was covered up… touch of Gosford Park in that plot line, with a different power structure.

      Downtown is a bit more forgiving to its characters than say, Mad Men or a variety of other contemporary shows. I enjoy elements of it – a lot of equally lauded shows get very, very dark, and I suppose I watch Downton as a pleasant contrast. But I agree that there is a lot of under-the-rug sweeping going on, in terms of covering up shady actions in past seasons which detracts from the overall quality and isn’t necessary. It’s dabbled more in melodrama than real darkness! I DO like that even the mustache twirlers (love) are given some redemptive moments: bitchy Barrow comes to mind. Many touching scenes (the blinded soldier comes to mind) in past seasons, giving him a rounder edge, pushing him beyond mere villain into human being territory.

      I wish Alfred had gotten the job! Get him outta there. And Mosely back and forth is less funny. He’s become the Droopy Dog of the show, but c’mon, cut the character some slack!

    • rainwood1

      I feel like a bit of an outlier after reading T Lo’s post. I’m finding the upstairs to be a complete snoozefest, especially Branson. I posted on this more specifically elsewhere, but I’ve always found him dull and boring, and it’s not just because the character is written that way. The actor who plays him is good at crying and being angry, but shows no nuances or subtleties otherwise.

      And I love that Bates has multiple sides – dark and light – to his personality. No one is usually full-on evil or good, and I find it more interesting when characters have that duality. I’ll admit he had me in tears after he found out, and I didn’t notice the coat hooks.

      I agree about Mary though. She was right about being afraid that Matthew’s death would cause her to lose whatever softness he found in her. Ever since her walk down the stairs a few episodes ago, she’s been auditioning to play Mrs. Danvers. I love Evelyn Napier though. I’m not sure why, but he seems to have a certain intelligence and wit you can see in his eyes. He deserves better than Mary though. Everybody does.

    • HobbitGirl

      His confrontation with Mrs. Hughes was SO rapey to me! Here he was bullying and threatening her to get what he wanted, and because he ostensibly wants the information for…what even?…we’re supposed to think it’s noble and acceptable. I don’t think for a second Fellowes gave any thought to how it was coming across, but I stopped watching after this episode (I was in the UK last fall) because I just couldn’t handle that Anna’s rape was All About Poor Mr. Bates.

      • Gatto Nero

        Did I miss something? I didn’t get that Bates was threatening Mrs. Hughes in any way personally but was threatening to leave Downton if she didn’t tell him what had happened with Anna. (And why not? If his wife had actually turned away from him for good, he had no reason to stay.) I think that if my spouse had changed toward me so dramatically in the space of an hour, looked completely traumatized, and wouldn’t tell me why, I would be similarly desperate for information.

        • Shawn EH

          Don’t see rapey towards Mrs. Hughes. She so clearly wanted to tell him he hardly had to push at all. He manipulated, sure, but that’s just one of his prison skills.

          • Gatto Nero

            In fact, at the end of the conversation Bates got ready to leave the room, and Mrs. Hughes said that he could stay as long as he liked — that he’d just “had a shock.”

            • Shawn EH

              Which he had, as he burst into tears when he was alone. What I got out of that was something refreshing: he wasn’t crying over the destruction of their relationship (as some stories set in the period might have done); he was simply heartbroken over something so horrible happening to someone he loved most of all.

    • http://ultimatevariety.blogspot.com/ Thombeau

      Tom and Lorenzo, you guys are far too insightful about all this. And I love you for it! XOXO

    • Jennifer Ford

      *heeheehee* Dimples McNazi…
      *heee*

    • Cheryl Wingate

      I predict that Edith will get advice from Rose’s nightclub singer at the next party on where she can get a back alley abortion.

    • Anne

      That farmer appeared and I was like…there’s no way they’re going to cast an actor that good-looking and charismatic if he’s not going to be important down the line.

      Highlights of this episode for me: Alfred at the Ritz, the lovely relationship between Dr. Clarkson and Isobel, and Mrs. Patmore saying that she wouldn’t mind ditching her corset.

    • BayTampaBay

      Someone said: “Tom is disappointing me. He’s now just the family’s pet socialist. It would be nice to see him at least calling back to the original firebrand he was trying to be (maybe helping someone unsavory).”

      I think Sir Julian is setting up Tom to be a “pivot character” in that the Crawleys need him more than he needs them. Robert admitted as much but back peddled and attributed this need to keeping Sibbie in the house. Tom is turning into the brother Mary never had. The only man who she is close to and trust but does not flirt with nor wish to mentally seduce. Violet who respects Tom more and more is also responsible for the development pf the Mary/Tom relationship. Isobel, Cora and Rosamund have always “loved” him for lack of a better word. More & more of the story lines will pivot around Tom because he is the only character that has a “foot hold” in all the story lines and interacts one-on-one with all the major characters.

    • Marjean Fieldhouse

      Can we please introduce Anna to Idgie Threadgood and dispose of the rapist ala Sweeney Todd via some lovely pies. I’m sure Mrs. Padmore is up to the job. And Tom could show his IRA street cred by doing “Body disposal 101″ All that talk of bringing pigs to Downton could be a useful tipoff

      • http://communionoflight.com/ Frank Butterfield

        TOWANDA! (I happened to stumble across that town where Fried Green Tomatoes was filmed about a month ago. Very quaint. And exactly like the movie.)

        • Marjean Fieldhouse

          can I ask where it is? I remember watching the film at a theater in San Francisco and there were about 3 of us in the theater laughing at times the rest of the audience didn’t. One guy stopped me after and said “I’m from Georgia and I KNOW you are from the South”

          • http://communionoflight.com/ Frank Butterfield

            Oh sure! Juliette, Georgia. It’s SE of Atlanta. Not only are many of the buildings there, but the Whistle Stop Cafe is open and you can get fried green tomatoes, pie of many varieties (“Would you like some pie?”), as well as BBQ with a secret sauce (that isn’t THAT kind of secret). I sat at the bar and chatted with the staff about the movie and the fact that I knew the woman who did all the “food design” (she used to be Food Editor for the J-C) and who had some dishy things to say about the actors. Also, if you look around, you’ll see the pond and the dam that they walk over.

            I have had two similar experiences in a movie. I saw “Steel Magnolias” in Monterey, CA (I spent parts of my childhood over in NE Texas, not far from Natchitoches). And I also saw a subtitled “Young Frankenstein” in Santiago, Chile. In a packed theater, only me and one other guy were laughing. The jokes did not translate, needless to say.

    • Kate

      I actually wondered if Tom was going to end up being a farmer/tenant on the Abbey land. Maybe when the farmer who they’re allowing to stay, fails, Tom will take over the farm. It keeps him at Downton, with the baby, and he can keep an eye on the land – it will make Mary very happy to have someone in the fields taking care of her assets.

    • Sweetvegan

      Wow – yes, Bates seems ominously violent underneath it all. But you guys seem really angry about this season! And angry at Julian Fellowes! I admit that I didn’t see it as a glamorized soap opera until this season. There’s a lot of ridiculous drama and not enough good drama this season. But wow – you guys seem really angry.

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

        There isn’t one word of this review that was written in anger. I honestly have no idea where you’re getting that from.

        • http://communionoflight.com/ Frank Butterfield

          But there is a lot of sarcasm and irony, which, as sarcastic and ironic as I myself can be, I have in the past mistaken for anger or rising bitterness or disdain. I mentioned this once in a comment about 6 months ago and you (not sure if this is Tom or Lorenzo) replied in the same vein to me. After that, I went back and looked at what I was reading that sparked my comment and I could see my mistaken (but quite valid to me) interpretation. And… if you hadn’t spoken up and pointed that out to me (as you’re doing here), I would probably have stopped reading and interacting. I’ve been wanting to share this for a while, as I think your approach here is a great example of well-executed blogmanship. Thanks, as always, for all you both do!

        • Sweetvegan

          That’s good to hear!

    • disqus_CpJJvzDxuG

      Oi oi oi, when did Evelyn think she was tainted? It was Aunt Rosamund who incorrectly assumed that he dropped his pursuit of Mary because of the rumors. Cora knew the truth — Evelyn backed off because he could see Mary was no longer interested. He accepted that and went on his way, long before any stories began circulating. :)
      He later went to see her after breaking up with his fiancee at the end of S1, suggesting that he still had feelings for her. And clearly almost a decade later he still does. (Although WHY I couldn’t say. Because thank you for bringing up the fact that her shallow, mean, self-centered behavior often goes unchecked.) There was never any implication that Evelyn thought badly of Mary for sleeping with Pamuk.

      Great commentary on Bates. It would make superb drama to explore Anna’s fear/regret that she may be married to a murderer. But it doesn’t seem like Julian Fellowes is going that way.

      Keep doing what you do, guys! Love reading all the thoughts here every week. <3