Downton Abbey: Back in the Knife Drawer, Miss Sharp

Posted on February 03, 2014

Brendan Patricks  and Michelle Dockery in Downton Abbey, on PBS.

 

The Abbey and its surrounding environs were a buzzing beehive of activity this episode, with show writer Julian Fellowes’  main goal apparently being, “Let’s give everyone a good line or scene this episode.” Upstairs, Mary got sharper by the second, her post-mourning period having left her tongue even more acid than it was before, even as an array of suitors once again presents itself to her. Edith’s life just got a whole hell of a lot bleaker. Rose’s life just got a whole hell of a lot more interesting to Mary. The Dowager and Isobel locked horns once again over the aristocracy vs. the working class (signaling the latter’s complete return to form, having found her way out of her grief). Robert and Cora were as useless as they usually are, although he had a birthday and she managed to get the Bateses a table at a restaurant through the power of her intimidating crazy eyes.

Downstairs, even more went on. The ventriloquism team of Baxter & Barrow continue to have mysterious, clenched-jaw conversations in dark corners of the servants’ hall. Carson is big ol’ dick to Molesley. As we all knew he would, Bates made Anna’s rape all about himself, and she wound up expending a grotesque amount of emotional energy worrying about his feelings and subsequently her worth to him. “Your husband’s a brooder.” To hell with that. Anna, your husband’s a self-absorbed maniac. In other news, Ivy goes out with Jimmy, who proves to be exactly the shitheel everyone but Ivy knew he was. Alfred gets called up to the Ritz and says his goodbyes, prompting Daisy to blast Ivy in the face with her tiny fury. Mrs. Patmore is horny and doesn’t care who knows it. Mrs. Hughes remains amused and above it all, except when she manipulates Mr. Carson into hiring Molesley on as a footman. It’s astonishing, looking back at it, just how much plot rocketed along in this hour. It was fun, but also a bit worrying. Fellowes is horrible when it comes to pacing and we wonder if he hasn’t pushed out a major portion of this season’s plot in one episode. He’s done this before and we wound up having to sit through some really boring and slow episodes until he managed to pick up the pace again.

But that’s complaining about something that hasn’t happened, so we’ll leave it at that. This was, as we said, a pretty fun episode. Edith’s pregnancy reveal was a perfectly gasp-worthy moment. And are we awful for thinking Cora’s kind of a bad mother for not seeing what’s going on right in front of her? She needs to stop being so obsessed with Mary. Rose’s dalliance with Mr. Ross is obviously not going to end well for either of them should they pursue it, but Mary’s not going to let that information go by without intervening. We like Rose. We didn’t think we’d ever say that, but she’s fun and seems pretty much without guile. Her worst attribute is that she’s immature, but she’s still a teenager, right? Or not much older. If Downton has to have a wild child, we’re glad it’s someone who doesn’t seem to have a nasty bone in her body. Besides, we think she drives Mary and Edith nuts for making them both feel old. That’s all kinds of fun.

As for Mary’s receiving line of suitors … whatEVER. While it’s always fun to see a guy come along and fluster her to the point of becoming just a bit too obviously sharp, we simply aren’t as fascinated by Mary’s love life as Julian Fellowes (and every single character on the show). The scene in the nursery with Mary, Isobel and Tom was easily the best scene any of them have had all season. It was surprisingly tender and a lovely way to bind the three of them together without being too maudlin about it. “Well. Aren’t we the lucky ones?” We admit, we got a bit teary at that. We want Tom to take Sybbie and move into Crawley House with Isobel. That way he’s still on the estate (but out of the Abbey, where he doesn’t belong), he gets help raising his child, she gets a new role and a surrogate family, and they can top off the deal by giving Molesly his old job back as butler for the expanded household. It would be the perfect solution but we doubt it’d ever happen. Soap operas become deadly dull when everyone’s happy. Thankfully, everyone had their claws out this episode, to keep things from getting too saccharine. Mary tried to fillet a man who didn’t pay her the proper respect as an aristocrat, but he wound up filleting her instead. Daisy unloaded on Ivy. Carson humiliated Molesley. Thomas keeps threatening the mysterious Baxter. Jimmy’s a dick.

Fellowes seemed to want to make some sort of point about race with the introduction of Mr. Ross to the house, but defaulted to a “everyone’s momentarily taken aback by a person of color but they all accept him without issue” route, which is both a little boring and a little ahistorical. For some reason, he had Edith be the only person in the house to mouth anything that came close to being racially narrow-minded. Fellowes never wants to see his main characters act too badly so he shies away from making them seem entirely real. A family of aristocrats in Yorkshire in the early 1920s and not one of them has a racist bone in their body?  A downstairs full of servants, most of whom have lived in servitude their whole lives, have very little formal education, and never left Yorkshire but they’re all racially tolerant? Please.

Still, it was a fun episode overall. The hour flew by and we can’t say there was one scene we didn’t enjoy or one subplot we’re not curious to see play out. We just wish Hughes & Patmore would team up, corner Bates and hit him repeatedly over the head with frying pans until he promises to get the hell over himself.

 

 

 

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

  • AudreysMom

    I have to give it to Hugh Bonneville last night. His reaction to hearing Rose’s surprise then seeing Rose’s surprise guest registered about 78 emotions, ending with some kind of cool yet reserved acceptance and pride in himself.

    • OrigamiRose

      I’ve taken to calling him “Homer J. Grantham” but Bonneville can still hit it out of the park, and I agree last night was one of those times.

      • Gracie82

        You’re right, he is Homer J. Grantham! Well put!

        • Shawn EH

          D’oh! [especially when the Dowager is shows up!]

      • Gatto Nero

        Yes, true! And the “Homer” moments are entirely due to Fellowes’ writing, not to Bonneville’s chops.

        • Saturnine

          Of course. But you got me thinking, is there anyone on the show whose acting strikes a false note? I can’t think of anyone offhand. There have been *characters* I wanted off my screen but no bad acting so far.

          • Gatto Nero

            They’re all great, even when the writing is awkward.

    • Eric Stott

      but by the end of the evening he and Cora took Rose’s gesture and made it all about themselves.

      • greenwich_matron

        To be perfectly fair, it was supposed to be about him: Rose gave it to him for his birthday. It was a bizarrely self-indulgent (and ultimately self-serving) gift to give to your stuffy older cousin who makes you uncomfortable.

        • TRSTL

          It was never really about giving Robert a gift, it was just a ruse to get Jack to the house.

          • greenwich_matron

            She’s not very self aware: “I don’t mean to interrupt, but I want to make a speech.”

          • siriuslover

            And how did the speech serve the workers in any way? At least they got to go upstairs during the opera concert. Here they just had to hide and feed the jazz band. Gee, thanks for your noblesse oblige, Rose.

        • Isabel

          Thinking about the source of your fortune is so nouveau riche.

      • Tally Ho

        You know, they’re living off Reggie Swire’s money. When Robert says “I’ll pay for it” I’m thinking, no, Reggie Swire is paying for it. And he’s a man you never met. I find it odd that the family has no qualms about the way they acquired their second fortune. It may have been strictly legal but even so…

        • BayTampaBay

          The ghost of Reggie Swire will show up at sometime and get a great laugh.

        • Chris

          Well Robert married Cora solely for her money to pump it into the estate. He said flat out in one of the earliest episodes that he didn’t love her when he married her. All Robert ever did is live off (or lose) money he inherited or acquired. His father seems to have done the same before him, as the lawyer mentioned it was Cora’s money that saved the estate before. I think Robert is just as, if not more entitled than his eldest daughter. It will never bother him, after all it’s all for Downton!

        • greenwich_matron

          I think it’s the genius of the British aristocracy: they’ve been managing to convince people who have earned their money to give it to them through their daughter’s dowries and become totally subsumed by their culture and values. They are the Borg of the ruling class.

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

      I agree, he was great in that scene. Makes me look forward even more to seeing him in “Monuments Men”, which should be all kinds of good, with such a cast.

      • Courtney

        I can’t recommend the book it’s based on enough. It’s incredibly readable, even if you’re not into history books. I am thoroughly impressed at what the Monuments Men and the European art community managed to accomplish with almost no resources or authority but lots of professional enthusiasm and willingness.

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

          Oh,Iread the book too, and agree it was an amazing story. I read another one about the same subject from a number of years ago, called “The Rape of Europa”….somewhat more scholarly and I think it was a lot longer than “MM” but still interesting.

        • Isabel

          The author will be speaking in my neck of the woods, Tyler, Texas in March. Come on over!

          • travelingcat

            Oooo, that’s a little bit of a drive, but do-able. I’m off to google this, thanks!

    • ankali

      Bonneville is actually a brilliant actor, but you don’t tend to realize it until you see him in other stuff. He played a scary, sadistic nobleman in Daniel Deronda, and was every bit as convincing in that role as he is as the snobby but good-natured buffoon Lord Grantham. There’s a lot of talent going on under that white tie!

  • Lilithcat

    Honestly, I do not understand the raft of suitors that Mary has. She is a selfish, rude, cold-hearted bitch, and why anyone would be attracted to her once she opens her mouth is utterly beyond me.

    Bates made Anna’s rape all about himself

    Thinking about this, it seems that Anna has also made the rape all about Bates. Her own response to it was all about him, what he’d do, how he’d react. Now she’s in the “I’m spoiled for you” mode.

    • OrigamiRose

      I’ve been screaming about the Bates storyline since watching the series last fall. It angers me to no end that her rape became all about her husband.

    • cocohall

      Which is sadly not all that surprising, given the time. And it also references the scenes where she appeared to be flirting with the rapist and Bates was so disapproving. The whole idea that she in some way brought this upon herself. So now she fears Bates’ rejection. Ugly, but accurate. Hell, that was the general notion when I was growing up in the 70s, some 50 years later. Women who were raped brought it upon themselves by dressing or acting provocatively or being in the wrong place.

      • Lilithcat

        She doesn’t fear his rejection so much as she fears his reaction, not vis-à-vis herself, but vis-à-vis the rapist. That’s why she doesn’t want him to know it was Gillingham’s valet. She’s afraid Bates will kill him and end up back in prison.

        • Shawn EH

          I don’t really feel he’s made about it all about himself. He’s reacting as a working class husband might in the time period. I think he feels horrible for her and wants to avenge her. Maybe that’s immature and sexist, but she’s suffered a horrible crime and the perpetrator has gotten off completely free. There’s no guarantee that the legal route, in 1920s England, would afford her any justice or even protection. So Bates is all about administering his own justice. He can’t help obsessing over it, and just asking her what she’d rather he do won’t occur to him. Green violated every code of honor as well as Anna herself.

          • rainwood1

            I completely agree with you. I also think that Bates’s revenge is the only development that Julian Fellowes is capable of writing in connection with Anna’s rape. Anna’s internal emotional struggles about the rape (apart from Bates) come entirely from Joanna Froggett’s great acting, not the script. Fellowes just doesn’t have it in him to write a more nuanced tale.

      • Topaz

        That’s actually another period detail that niggles at me about this storyline. The fact that no one who finds out has once questioned Anna’s behaviour or motives. There’s just no way they’d all be, not only understanding and sympathetic, but totally insistent to Anna that she’s not in any way to blame. And the idea that any of them would suggest she go to the police, given the sort of treatment she’d likely receive from them… Completely unrealistic. How long has Mrs Hughes worked in domestic service? I find it pretty unlikely none of her female staff or colleagues have ever been molested. She would know the score. But the problem is the way this show is presented. Everyone has to be ultimately warm and fluffy with one another. So if characters started questioning Anna the show would be accused of endorsing those attitudes to rape, rather than just providing an accurate portrayal of attitudes during that time.

    • leahpapa

      Reminds me of a passage from “The Robber Bride,” by my literary fairy godmother, Margaret Atwood: “Up on a pedestal or down on your knees, it’s all a male fantasy: that you’re strong enough to take what they dish out, or else too weak to do anything about it. Even pretending you aren’t catering to male fantasies is a male fantasy: pretending you’re unseen, pretending you have a life of your own…. You are a woman with a man inside watching a woman. You are your own voyeur.”

      • http://foodycat.blogspot.co.uk/ foodycatAlicia

        God I love that woman.

      • Qitkat

        On the basis of this passage, I hopped over to my library account and immediately ordered this book. I’ve always meant to get around to reading Margaret Atwood. Thanks!

        • vitaminC

          Be sure to get The Blind Assassin, while you’re at it. Probably the best book I’ve ever read.

          • Carrps

            Yes! I adore this book. Even though I figured out the secret before it was revealed, it didn’t spoil it for me. I liked “The Handmaid’s Tale.” I LOVED “The Blind Assasin.”

          • Qitkat

            Thanks, I’ll look for this too.

        • sweetlilvoice

          You should also read The Handmaid’s Tale. Amazing, terrifying.

          • 3boysful

            My choice as well. And how that world could easily come to pass.

          • Gatto Nero

            We’re nearly there now!

          • rainwood1

            Scariest novel ever written, and in an all too believable way given world events.

          • Qitkat

            Thanks, adding this.

      • siriuslover

        Wow, what a beautiful passage. Thanks for sharing.

    • Blair Sylvester

      I think Mary has many suitors because she comes from one of the best families and she is intelligent and beautiful and can be charming . I think marriage was based more on family and beauty than personality. But I also like her as a character

    • GSMSF

      I also am miffed by the suitors. In real life, all those eligible men would be after Rose, not Mary, despite the money.

      • siriuslover

        Well, Rose is the only child (I think) of a very important man, so she is incredibly eligible. Except technically, she’s not out (though you could fool all of us!).

        • Tally Ho

          Hmm. Depends on her family’s entail. She won’t inherit her father’s title and probably the estates will go to whoever inherits the marquessate of Flintshire. In the christmas special last year it was made clear the family also had money problems.

          • BayTampaBay

            Wrong place

          • BayTampaBay

            Rose has an older brother.

          • rainwood1

            Thank you for “marquessate.” I had no idea that’s what it would be called. You bring so much great detail.

          • Eric Stott

            If she doesn’t marry, Rose could end up in the quasi-servant position of a secretary or Companion to some middle aged noblewoman- or working at a dress shop that will pay her something for the value of her pretty face and connections. Both choices pretty dismal over the long run. Unless she has some up to now unknown business talent she MUST get married to avoid genteel poverty, or the social disgrace of having an ordinary job.

        • BayTampaBay

          Rose is the youngest child. She has an older brother and an older sister.

      • not_Bridget

        Mary’s money is not going to any future husband. Not any huge lump sums, that is. It is dedicated to preserving Downton for her son–and for their expenses in the meantime.

        Yes, a guy can marry her & live in luxury at Downton. But he won’t get the money needed to keep his own pile in repair…

    • Isabel

      The suitors – think she’s swimming in money. With all the lost or half-lost estates, the guys need more money.

  • Frank_821

    Yes plenty of claws were out. My favorite was when Ivy regrets goign out with Jimmy and praises Alfred which leads to daisy tearing her a new one. What made that sweet is how Mrs Hughes and Patmore back-ed up Daisy!

    favorite moment was Tom, Mary and Isobel talking about being so much in love that it was a sickness. Also I loved how Mary made such a point that isobel still is family to both George and little sybie

  • zenobar

    The nursery scene…*sniff* That was really lovely. I grow to love Tom more with each episode.

    The whole Bates thing is a little too taut for my tastes. I keep feeling like he’s going to lash out at her, somehow. Maybe it’s the way they have Anna just shy of cowering whenever she’s near Bates.

    • Bigfan

      “Aren’t we the lucky ones.” sent me into a spiral. It made me love all 3 of them so much. Yes, especially Tom.

  • Donna Luder

    Interesting how Anna’s reaction to her assault seems “of the time period” (I’m soiled etc) but everyone’s reaction to the race card be so ahistorical. Does this say anything about how far *we* have come as a society in regards to race and rape?

    • greenwich_matron

      I thought Anna’s “I’m not a victim” line smacked of the twenty-first century.

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

        “That’s not who I am.” Totally 2013.

        • Donna Luder

          Then maybe she’s time traveling. I’m soiled, I’m not a victim…. maybe Fellowes is having trouble concentrating?

        • OrigamiRose

          That’s what is *so* frustrating with the show, it will break with the convention of the time to provide a contemporary response that viewers can relate to…but in this instance, we’re supposed to care about this loser husband of hers? No, I don’t care about his feelings. You guys called it way back in season two, there is no way a woman like Anna would put up with his crap. I quote you guys every time I deal with a Bates defender :)

          • Chris

            I don’t think Bates’s reaction is that atypical or extraordinary even for today let alone the 1920’s. When something horrible happens to one partner in a relationship the other one is bound to be angry, guilty, sad and feel powerless. I think it would be far more unrealistic to have him behave differently. It’s Anna that seems out of character, she was so afraid and ashamed she covered the assault up and mentioned killing herself if there was a baby. Now she says she isn’t a victim.

    • 4JJ

      Very interesting point. Or it’s a reflection of Fellowes’ own values, perhaps.

      • Gatto Nero

        TLo observed (above): “Fellowes never wants to see his main characters act too badly so he shies away from making them seem entirely real.” Hence the initial shock at the arrival of the jazz singer but the lack of overt racism — or, where there’s a hint of it, the chiding about not being “provincial.”

        • Guest

          I guess the show would run the risk of all the characters (but Rose) looking like bigots if it showed the genuine reactions of the period. Rose, being a jazz baby, would be among the younger, hipper whites who enjoyed the interesting culture black people offered. The rest would appear unlikable to today’s viewers if the rest showed their true biases. I just wish Rose were the one to get pregnant instead of Edith. Downton Abbey would be abuzz with a bi-racial child in the family. Vapors to be had by all.

        • VivianAdvanced

          I guess the show would run the risk of all the characters (but Rose) looking like bigots if it showed the genuine reactions of the period. Rose, being a jazz baby, would be among the younger, hipper whites who enjoyed the interesting culture black people offered. The rest would appear unlikable to present-day viewers if the show reflected the true biases of 1920’s whites. I just wish Rose were the one to get pregnant instead of Edith. Downton Abbey would be abuzz with a bi-racial child in the family. Vapors to be had by all.

          • BayTampaBay

            Hipper whites = Cafe Society

        • Kate4queen

          you’ve also got to remember that ‘racism’ in England at that time period does not equate to ‘racism/segregation/slavery in America. A lot of English people were used to seeing free people of color around-(being an Empire nation and all that) and slavery was abolished in the British Empire in 1834, so I wouldn’t expect quite the same reaction from the Downton people as from an American household.

  • Judy Weightman

    Do we really know that Edith is pregnant? We know she got a letter from the doctor, but the glimpse I got didn’t seem specific.

    • Donna Luder

      I paused the screen and read the letter: your symptoms are consistent with first trimester pregnancy.

      • Judy Weightman

        Ah — thanks.

        Well, we saw that coming. I just want to know what scam the bounder is running with the document he had her sign, etc.

        • Eric Stott

          It might have been a straightforward power of attorney OR – Edith could find herself suddenly running the magazine.

          • Judy Weightman

            Since she didn’t bother to read it, I’ve been assuming it’s some ploy to get at her money.

          • Eric Stott

            We all seem to assume he’s a bounder – he may be wrongheaded and still have her interests at heart. I don’t think he lacks for money.

          • siriuslover

            I actually really like Gregson. I think she was an idiot for not fully reading the material he had her sign, but who knows, maybe it was a fairly obvious legal document like putting her in charge of his estate and paper should something go wrong.

          • BayTampaBay

            Not if he lives in that gorgeous Art Deco Notting Hill flat. I’d sleep with old Gregson to get to live in that flat.

          • Gatto Nero

            What money? I don’t know that Edith has the rights to anything.

          • BayTampaBay

            Only whatever dowry Robert choose to give and what Grandmama Martha might bestow on her.

          • Coco Cornejo

            What if Lord Grantham sends Edith to America to have her baby and start a-new? She could make up some story about being a young widow. How tragic! Living with her grandmother or uncle. How convenient! With a small allowance. How economical!

          • Eric Stott

            And she could marry the spineless son of some parvenu merchant prince

          • BayTampaBay

            “Edith could find herself suddenly running the magazine”

            This is what I predict will happen.

          • 4JJ

            That was my assumption. Edith will be a single mom running a major publication. I kind of love it.

          • YousmelllikeAnnaWintour

            I do, too. I just want Edith to grow a pair…well, that’s a vulgar term…let’s just say I’d like her to be a little more Barbara Stanwyck (sp?).

          • AnneElliot

            LOVE Barbara Stanwyck. “Ball of Fire” is one of my favorites. They’re showing it on TCM this month as part of the “31 Days of Oscar” celebration. They’re also showing “The Lady Eve” which is delightful.

          • Saturnine

            ADORE Barbara Stanwyck. Square-shouldered moxie right there.

        • Chris

          I don’t think Edith owns anything in her own right. I don’t think he could get anything from her. I suspect she may be running the magazine as Eric Stott said.

          • Judy Weightman

            Someone who actually loves Edith and has her best interests at heart? That seems so danged unlikely.

          • Eric Stott

            Likely in that she finds a nice man & loses him.

          • Judy Weightman

            Heh. Good point.

          • Chris

            Yes. Or he has amnesia and shows up a year or two later. Fellowes isn’t above writing something like that. Edith already fell for the fake amnesia heir before.

          • Eric Stott

            I’m not 100% convinced he was fake. I think that Robert at that point had decided to back Matthew, so he closed his mind to any other possibility- certainly to a son in law with a scarred face.

          • Gatto Nero

            The fake heir had the wrong accent and employed every typical trick in the book. In the end, when he knew Robert was investigating him, he flew the coop and left Edith a hasty note signed only with his initials.

          • SRQkitten

            Yes, an amnesia plat wouldn’t surprise me at all after the burned soldier who claimed to be the cousin who’d supposedly died on the titanic.

        • http://www.bethposts.blogspot.com/ Buffy

          I remember him saying something about the paperwork allowing her to run things while he was gone.

      • Fanny_Trollope

        Well, there may actually be a little wiggle room in “Your symptoms are consistent with first trimester pregnancy.” I’m not sure how they tested for pregnancy back then, but I doubt it was very accurate. But I it would really be a dirty trick for Fellowes to pull an oh-guess-what-the-doctor-thought-you-were-pregnant-but-coincidentally-it’s-something-else move. Shady.

        • AZU403

          Did they have the rabbit test in 1922? As in, the doctor would inject your urine into a rabbit and if it died you were pregnant. I might have the details wrong, but I’m not making that up!

          • http://foodycat.blogspot.co.uk/ foodycatAlicia

            The rabbit’s ovaries respond to the pregnancy hormones in the urine – it only dies because you kill it to look at its ovaries! Not sure when they started using it though.

          • Saturnine

            How perfectly awful! I knew of the test but had no idea of the particulars.

          • BayTampaBay

            PETA could have had a hey day with this.

          • http://foodycat.blogspot.co.uk/ foodycatAlicia

            Year 10 biology. Amazing the things that stick with you for 25 years.

          • Isabel

            AZU403 – the short answer is not yet.

            This article has good information: Jesse Olszynko-Gryn, The demand for pregnancy testing: The Aschheim–Zondek reaction, diagnostic versatility, and laboratory services in 1930s Britain, Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences. This is a summary. In the 1910s, possibly pregnant women were tested for sugar (urine), syphilis (blood), and have her blood pressure taken, but not a urine test to confirm pregnancy. The doctors relied more on the symptoms like nausea and weight gain. Other tests used in this decade included: “a cobra venom reaction as well as glycosuria, vaginal smear, and skin reaction tests.”

            X-rays were used in the 1920s to verify the fetus. In 1927, the Aschheim-Zondek reaction was developed in Berlin and was used in Britain by the 1930s. A-Z reaction involved injecting urine into immature mice. If the ovaries of the mice matured, then the human patient was preggers.

  • Scimommy

    I have strongly suspected that Edith would get pregnant, especially after Anna did not (because SOMEONE had to, amirite?), but, erm, missed the “gasp-worthy” pregnancy reveal. Must have been too busy tweeting about the show to pay proper attention. How was it revealed exactly?

    • RedRaven17

      She received a note in the mail, which was delayed until just before the party. I almost missed it as well, but I just had to go back and freeze frame the message as she read it.

      • Scimommy

        Oh, that blink-and-you-miss-it telegram? What did it say? I thought it pertained to Michael Gregson.

        • 3hares

          Pretty much said: Yes, Edith, you’re pregnant.

        • Gatto Nero

          It was from the doctor, saying that tests confirmed that her signs and symptoms were consistent with a first trimester pregnancy. If I can be of any further service, etc.

    • AZU403

      I must be a slow reader, because I couldn’t read the enitre letter either. All I saw was “consistent with” and “pregnancy” – but I knew the Uncles and Bitter Kittens would set me straight the next day!

  • Donna Luder

    Wish I had a tiara. But I’m afraid I would look less like Lady Mary in the featured photograph above and more like Amy Farrah Fowler out to tea.

    • http://foodycat.blogspot.co.uk/ foodycatAlicia

      The problem with tiaras is the hair. Most of the hairstyles that actually suit tiaras aren’t enormously attractive.

      • Tally Ho

        Yeah. You needed big hair. The Victorians and Edwardians carried off the tiaras brilliantly because they wore long hair piled high up.

      • Eric Stott

        Edith is displaying the Marcel Wave- hugely popular but it really does nothing for her.

        • http://foodycat.blogspot.co.uk/ foodycatAlicia

          And not actually the best way to show off a tiara – I know the headband style was popular in the 20s, but I like my tiaras to look properly princessy.

          • Eric Stott

            That style was nicknamed the “Headache Band” because they resembled the popular headache treatment of wrapping your head in a bandage compress.

          • Courtney

            I’m with you – I’ve never been a fan of the headband bandeau. I always want to yank them up onto the top of the head where they belong.

  • sagecreek

    The more I watch this show, the more I wish Grantham had gone thru with firing Bates way back in S1, ep 1.

  • greenwich_matron

    I got more of a “amused by the novelty” feeling than “accepting without issue” vibe for everyone’s treatment of Mr. Ross

    • Call me Bee

      Yes! Especially the servants, to whom Mr Ross is another type of servant. He’s an entertainer, and we all know they are a lower form of life as are the servants!

      • BayTampaBay

        Read The Chronicles of Downton Abbey as Fellowes absolutely states that Carson was raised solid middle class.

    • siriuslover

      Me too, especially when Carson had to give the Carson look to the maids giggling in the background.

      • RroseSelavy

        He really needs to patent that look. He can say so much with a withering glare. I adore him.

  • RedRaven17

    Bates really has become a brooding time bomb. I think it is just a matter of time before he self destructs.

  • ChaquitaPhilly

    Was “I’m Just Wild About Harry” a strange choice for Mr. Ross to sing at the party? What is he trying to tell us? Maybe it was just the biggest hit of the year.

    • http://foodycat.blogspot.co.uk/ foodycatAlicia

      Interesting – according to wiki (with the usual disclaimers) that seems to be more about race than anything “”I’m Just Wild About Harry” was the most popular number of the
      production, which was the first financially successful Broadway play to
      have African-American writers and an all African-American cast.”

      • ChaquitaPhilly

        “Shuffle Along”, 1921. Yeah, I forgot that.
        It would have been a hit via records, too.

    • Shawn EH

      I think it was more usual for performers to just sing the song and not worry about gender transpositions back then.

  • BayTampaBay

    Per TLo : “A family of aristocrats in Yorkshire in the early 1920s and not one of them has a racist bone in their body?”

    Your not looking at this the right way. Think about the deep South in 1920. Nobody was racists regarding a “black minstrel band” or a “black honky tonk band” performing for the rich aristos. The problem occurred when the black band or singer wanted to walk through the front door, sit at the front table and stay at the hotel. Rose alluded to this when she told “Jack Ross” he could have had dinner in the dining room but it would have ruined the surprise for Robert. Rose really believes this line of thinking to be true and did not realize or think that everyone in the house except herself would have fainted at Jack Ross sitting in the dining room. That is a scene I would like to see but would not be in any way historically accurate in the 1920’s.

    • scoobynacks

      The level of their discomfort with him being there was clear from their initial facial expressions. Robert’s when he saw Jack in the house, the faces of Mary, Tom, Rosamund, etc at the Lotus Club, Edith’s when she’s wrinkling her nose, the servants’ shock at seeing him. I think Robert’s trying not to make a fuss and cause a scandal with Rose (they did have house guests after all) so he tries to make it look like he approves and if any of the other people wants invited back, they don’t dare say anything, do they?

    • Alloy Jane

      I’m not sure what would be accurate or not in this time period, but considering how so many musicians defected to Europe from the US because they were more accepting, I can’t imagine it would be more than temporarily shocking to see a black musician in a country house. I think of that line from Vanity Fair that old Mr. Osborne said regarding marrying George to a plantation heiress, something about not being particular about a shade or two of tawny.

  • Tally Ho

    Eh. I really didn’t care for the episode largely for two reasons. I hated the scenes between Violet and Isobel over the missing pen knife and natsuke. At the beginning of the season we had these fabulous scenes of Isobel as the grieving mother feeling disconnected from the world and Violet’s rare moments of tenderness as she attempts to bring Isobel back to life. That was wonderful character development but then suddenly we’re back to their silly and now cliche banter. I can easily understand Violet’s concerns – valuable items are disappearing from her house at the same time a new unknown gardener has joined her staff. Isobel’s ranting about possessions is just silly. And then when the full story comes out and she looks bad we even have Dr. Clarkson saying “game, set match” to Violet. It was just silly cliche.

    But more interesting was the Rose and Jack Ross kiss.

    Hmm. It’ll be interesting to see how the interracial affair between Rose and Jack Ross is handled in the next episodes, now that Mary saw
    them. First of all, the portrayal of downstairs’ reaction to seeing a black person is quite plausible. People of African heritage were rare in Britain, especially in rural areas and as such they were largely viewed as an exotic novelty. This ain’t the deep South of the 1920s and Britain didn’t have the kind of institutionalized and knee-jerk racism akin to Jim Crow, so considerate treatment of blacks is perfectly real. Having said that, Britain was still, by modern definitions, a racist society. The widely accepted social rules governing treatment of non-whites was still very firm on one thing no matter how you personally treated a non-white person: absolutely no interracial relationships.

    The difficulty for a modern film or TV producer in accurately portraying racism in the past is that we’ve come to expect that racists must always be portrayed as bad people, that everything about them, their values, their behaviors, must be bad. They are the villains. The reality, of course, is quite different. People, whether in the UK or the US, could be kind, considerate, thoughtful, generous people and still be deeply racist. To add complexity to a complex situation, they didn’t see themselves as racist because the terminology is largely a modern one. For people in those days that was just
    the natural way of things and the acceptance of the “inferiority” of non-whites, especially at a time when white Europeans grew up on a steady diet
    of colonialism and imperialism, was deeply ingrained. You could have tea with a non-white, have a friendly conversation and wish him best luck, but you probably still accepted the general “inferiority” of that person. At the least you didn’t challenge those conventions.

    Rose’s affair with Ross, once known, would have caused a major scandal with deeply negative implications for everyone around her. We did talk about Edwina Mountbatten’s affair with Hutchinson in last week’s comment section, but Edwina Mountbatten was a unique exception. She was the richest woman in Britain, in full control of her fortune and married to very socially prominent man with connections in the royal family. Extra-marital affairs were accepted by fashionable society but the rules dictated that the affair must be discreet and never in public. Once the “public” found out about it (and the press in those days followed the aristocracy much as they follow Hollywood stars today) all bets were off and you could lose your position. Edwina Mountbatten ended her affair because senior government officials and the monarchy came to believe that her husband’s blossoming political career could be severely jeopardized if her affair somehow became public knowledge. She ended the affair and when the rest of society cued in on it, it was Hutchinson who was dropped like a hot potato and ended his days in impoverished obscurity. Edwina, protected by her wealth and social position, was unscathed.

    But Rose is different. She’s young and unmarried and about to be presented into society. The social rules dictated that her reputation as an unmarried woman had to be impeccable. If it became public knowledge that Rose carried on an affair with not just a man but a black man, all those doors in London would be slammed in her face and quite likely she’d be refused to be allowed to be presented at court. Not even her parents’ position as a marquess
    and marchioness could save her, and not only that, it could badly affect her father’s career and also Robert and Cora’s position as they are her current
    guardians.

    Mary would have certainly known all of the ramifications, especially after when rumors about the real truth behind Pamuk surfaced in London (courtesy of Rose’s mother, hah!) she stopped being invited to many parties and balls. I’ll be very interested to see how Fellowes handles this particular story line next week although I must admit I’m not exactly encouraged. If everyone goes around shouting, “I’m not racist,” I’ll be throwing too many things at the television.

    • 3boysful

      I was just tickled I knew what netsuke are. Highly recommend The Hare with Amber Eyes, a memoir of a Jewish banking family and their collection, which made it through WWII to present-day.

      ETA: Also, I just realized we have star-crossed lovers named Jack and Rose!

      • Lilithcat

        That’s an excellent book. If you’re interested, Persephone Books has recently published a book by de Waal’s grandmother, Elisabeth, The Exiles Returned, written in the ’50s and unpublished in her lifetime.

        There’s a book by Masatoshi, and Raymond Bushell (a well-known collector of netsuke), that I highly recommend: The art of netsuke carving.

        • 3boysful

          I wasn’t aware of Elisabeth’s book. I will order it. Thanks, Lilithcat! (Do you collect netsuke? I need to look more carefully at my grandmother’s cache. She adored dogs and “Oriental” art, so might have had some!)

          • Lilithcat

            I wish I could afford to! But genuine netsuke is way out of my league, price-wise.

    • BayTampaBay

      Tally Ho stated, “The difficulty for a modern film or TV producer in accurately portraying racism in the past is that we’ve come to expect that racists must always be portrayed as bad people, that everything about them, their values, their behaviors, must be bad.”

      So true! I know many racists, some are family members, who are not and/or were not bad people.

  • Eric Stott

    Carson treated a Black Musician more politely than he treated Dame Nellie Melba – that makes absolutely no sense to me at all.

    • Lilithcat

      The Black Musician was downstairs with the staff. There was no question even presented of him (or his band) being upstairs with the family, as was the case with Dame Nellie. That accounts for the difference.

      • Eric Stott

        True- and Carson’s acceptance was polite but not exactly cordial. It is like I said last week- Carson is a snob, but he will make exceptions upon occasion.

      • scoobynacks

        Apparently, though, Downton handled the real life chararacter of Dame Nellie wrong according to historians. The name rang a bell to me, but that’s it. Turns out the real Nellie would’ve been quite put out at the idea that she wouldn’t be given the proper amount of respect–eating dinner in her room like they tried to do would’ve been appalling. She was associating with aristocrats around Europe. She also probably wouldn’t have done something like be paid to put on a private concert for the Granthams. Her career and reputation was too big at this point.

      • BayTampaBay

        Not quite…Rose did mention it but it flew by faster than the letter from Edith’s London Harley doctor.

  • Scimommy

    I am not following Daisy’s logic. I understand that she is mad at Ivy but… If Ivy had realized Alfred’s value earlier, he’d still be a valet and *with Ivy*. Isn’t it better than he is out in the world, as they say, trying to make something better of himself, and at least this way Daisy doesn’t have to see him day in and day out with someone else?

    • OrigamiRose

      Daisy just needs a reason to keep her Bitch Resting Face on deck ;)

      I kid, I love Daisy. But they really need to age her.

      • Eric Stott

        They’re just keeping Daisy like that because the script needs someone a bit clueless and hopeless. “Upstairs Downstairs” kept Ruby the scullery maid like that almost until the end, when she had a shocking bit of cheek. (Hudson & Mrs Bridges marry & plan to open a seaside guest cottage, Ruby agrees to be their maid. When Rose asks why she is choosing to stay in service in a low position, Ruby says “They’ll soon die, and then I’ll have the guest house”)

        • OrigamiRose

          Wait, they need someone clueless and hopeless? I’m available! :)

          I tried to watch “Upstairs, Downstairs” recently and I couldn’t get into it :/ Is there a gateway episode I should hit?

          • Tally Ho

            Start with the first season. I don’t think there’s a gateway episode, you either get the show or you don’t. It’s much more about social mores of the time. In its way it’s more more historically accurate than Downton Abbey.

          • OrigamiRose

            Honestly, I tried with the first episode. But it just didn’t grab me, which I think is more a reflection on me and not the show. My mother *loved* it but she also is a crazy person who won’t watch anything with Tina Fey because TINA FEY. And all her news comes from Fox.

          • Tally Ho

            Upstairs Downstairs was about the rules that governed the relationships between upstairs and downstairs. About what each could say or do to each other and what happened if you violated these social rules. The upstairs people were portrayed more realistically than Downton Abbey for they had that mastery of command and full confidence in their social position. They had no qualms in saying things like “you silly girl” to a servant or a shopkeeper. As Eric said, only Violet consistently has that attitude in DA. Mary sometimes has it but not always. But as I said, you either enjoy watching that or you don’t.

          • Carrps

            I loved it, but I saw it first run with the intros and afterwords done by Alistair Cooke. I rewatched some episodes years (decades!) later and realized a lot of the richness I felt when I first watched was due to those additional personal stories. Still like it, though.

          • Eric Stott

            In contrast to the luxury of Downton, the tasteful but restrained settings of Eaton Place look a bit dull. It was the characters that really made the show- to me they’re alive in a way the cast of Downton will never be – with the exception of the Dowager – she’d fit well.

          • OrigamiRose

            Wait… are you saying it isn’t about rich people? :)

            Many years ago – I wish I could find it but damn the demise of Premiere magazine – “Libby Gelman-Waxner” wrote a column about how to identify a feminist movie. He said something like, “It looks like an episode of ‘The Dating Game.'”

            I’ve been writing something and…. ugh. There’s the Hugh Jackman character and the Mark Wahlberg character and the Pierce Brosnan character…

          • Anne

            It was also somewhat lower budget. ;)

          • Eric Stott

            and without the noble background- Richard Bellamy is a commoner who has risen to be an MP and been created a Viscount. Less wealth overall, though the Bellamys probably had more ready cash on hand than the Crawleys where most everything is tied up in the estate.

          • Anne

            Although Lady Marjorie was born into the peerage. Speaking of “unequal” marriages, it was always clear that Richard felt uncomfortable having married into the aristocracy, and the writers really allowed him to form his own opinions and do what he felt was right, particularly after the first two series (no spoilers!). Ditto Hazel in series 3 and 4–I always liked that she and Richard had a special connection because neither of them were born into nobility. They were both fish out of water.

          • Anne

            Oh, also, I meant that the show was lower budget, not the Bellamy family themselves. But you’re right. :)

          • Kit Jackson 1967

            Richard married the daughter of an Earl, so one member of the family had a noble background.

          • Eric Stott

            It’s dated a bit (a period piece that has become a period piece) but try the early story arc when Sarah first joins the household.

          • OrigamiRose

            Thanks Eric :) I will check it out.

            (And if I hate it? HIDE! *smile*)

          • Eric Stott

            The Bitter Kittens will sheath their claws

          • Fanny_Trollope

            I recently rewatched the first few episodes of the original series of Upstairs, Downstairs. The production values were very, very low-rent as compared with Downton Abbey. Budgets were obviously miniscule, and they did the best they could do with cardboard walls, etc. Just watch what happens when a door closes! It never bothered me at the time of the original series — nothing to compare it with — but anyone who’s going to it directly from Downton will find the differences striking.

          • Kit Jackson 1967

            “Upstairs, Downstairs” is a lower budget, but there’s also heart and human emotion. I think someone who likes “Downton Abbey” should give the original “Upstairs, Downstairs” a try, and give the show a pass on production values (or lack therof)

          • MaryMcClelland

            There’s a remake of it that was made in the last couple years that is actually really good (and much easier to get into). It’s available on Amazon Prime Instant, but they only did two season. Shame – it was very glamorous, soapy and dishy!

          • malarkey

            I might check that out. I confess I tried to watch the first few episodes of Upstairs Downstairs and it just didn’t hook me. I fully expected to love it.

        • AZU403

          Do the videos have Alistair Cooke hosting and explaining? I so miss that with “Downton Abbey”. If Alistair Cooke were still with us, he would be giving the background and history of such topics as the position of black people in Britain a hundred years ago, or the Irish revolution. Come to think of it, in the next year Ireland is going to erupt even further.

          • Eric Stott

            I doubt it – the versions with Cooke were cut to fit the PBS schedule. Whole chunks of early plot were removed and the US Showing started with material midway through the UK Season.

          • Carrps

            No! See my comment below.

          • BayTampaBay

            I loved Alistair Cookie on Monsterpiece Theater!

          • Kit Jackson 1967

            I loved Alistair Cookie on Monsterpiece Theater too.

        • BayTampaBay

          Eric, you are so correct. If Daisy was 16 in 1912 she would be 26 now. Fellowes writing for Daisy has not matured with her chronological age.

        • Kit Jackson 1967

          It was implied that Ruby was (to use a phrase from an earlier era) “a bit slow.”

    • greenwich_matron

      I don’t know which two are more mismatched: logic and Daisy or logic and Fellowes.

      What really gets me is that Daisy, who is still teaching Alfred, isn’t at all jealous about Alfred getting this opportunity while she is basically stuck in the same position until Mrs. Patmore dies.

      • Eric Stott

        Daisy is just too young. If Mrs Patmore died or left, I doubt they’d let Daisy step up very far. Daisy’s only chance to really advance would be to get into a house with a smaller staff and after gaining experience she could advance to some place like Downton.

        • greenwich_matron

          So it’s even bleaker…

          • Eric Stott

            Advancing in Service was usually about collecting references, only leaving to marry.

      • Frank_821

        Actually Daisy isn’t stuck. She has alternatives if she wants them. Her father-in-law is planning to leave her his farm. And the farm is successful

        As far as the Ivy logic, it’s a fact that part of the reason Alfred applied for the culinary school is because he felt Ivy didn’t appreciate him. I can see in daisy’s thinking that if he were at least still around, she might still have a chance to win him over.

        Regardless, Ivy did take Alfred for granted and did not take him seriously as boyfriend material. She went for the shallow badboy who happened to be charming and exciting. She really blew it since daisy could see Alfred’s good qualities. Here’s a guy who may not make the girls swoon, but he has shown amazing character. He openly expressed his appreciation for Mr Carson in front of their employers and he was sensitive enough to Daisy’s plight that he apologized for not having any romantic feelings towards her.

        That’s a real man for you. Even in last year’s christmas episode he defended Thomas to that silly Jimmy

        • greenwich_matron

          Waiting for a farm that isn’t really her father-in-laws to give sounds pretty stuck to me.

          • Eric Stott

            It probably wouldn’t be much of a step up financially – I doubt she gets much pay at Downton but she’s decently fed and housed. Out on the farm she’d be her own mistress (of a pig farm) but she’d be worrying where every cent was coming from. Her only advantage would be that having some interest in the farm would make her marriageable. At Downton she’s near the bottom of the ladder, but still in a good place.

          • Saturnine

            But apparently last night’s episode told us that pig farming is the *next big thing,* so it may not be that bad.

          • Eric Stott

            As Maggie Smith said in A PRIVATE AFFAIR: “This isn’t Pork…it’s POWER!”

          • BayTampaBay

            Mr. Mason may not own the “free hold” on the farm but he does own the “leasehold”. This is all very British Common Law. I researched it and to make a long story short, Mr. Mason and therefore Daisy are in a very good place with regards to the farm.

          • greenwich_matron

            As long as he dies having perfectly met the terms of his lease. Otherwise it is up to Mary to do as she deems fit (as with the farmer’s son from the previous episode). Part of modernizing is farming the land themselves (not themselves, but you know). Given that he is old and Daisy has a day job, and the fact that her FIL didn’t seem to be the type to embrace change or have saved up enough to capitalize it, Daisy is far from guaranteed to get that lease.

          • greenwich_matron

            Also, he is free to change his mind. Daisy hasn’t has a dutiful DIL scene all season.

          • BayTampaBay

            I do not think that the Earl of Grantham Estate owns the “Mr. Mason Farm”.

          • Tina Kramer

            Last season Mr. Mason told her he owned all the stock and supplies and he had “quite a bit put by.”

          • greenwich_matron

            Good! Despite my gloom, I always like Daisy and wish she would have more self-confidence.

          • Lilithcat

            As I recall, Mason’s farm was not part of the Downton estate. Daisy had to travel quite some distance to visit him. (In any case, even if it were part of Downton, the decision wouldn’t be “up to Mary”. It would be up to Mary, Tom and Lord Grantham.)

    • Chris

      It wasn’t logical at all- Daisy never seems to make logical decisions. Ever. But it was annoying to hear Ivy bring up Alfred at that point too, and in front of Daisy. I find her so irksome and foolish I just enjoy it when anyone tells Ivy off. I was team Mrs. Hudson on that one.

      • BayTampaBay

        Yea Ivy got the bitch slap from Mrs. Hughes.

    • siriuslover

      No, that’s about it, but all Daisy’s thinking about right now is that Alfred is gone and nowhere near her. It IS totally illogical, but I’m sure she’s not thinking about it except that he’s gone.

  • SewingSiren

    Poor Edith. She’ll be in labor before anyone notices that she’s preggers. Either that or she’ll go get herself an abortion , become sterile , then the boyfriend will show up and blame her for destroying the baby , then leave her . And you know that it would be snobby Mary pulling a face over the band leander, not Edith who I would guess was pulling a face because she has morning sickness.

    • Saturnine

      Mary shouldn’t be pulling snobby face over anyone (cough* Pamuk * cough)

  • Tally Ho

    Has anyone noticed that Cora seems to be permanently on the 1922 version of valium? Blank face, bland smile, and completely clueless as to what’s going on around her?

    I’m really saying this in light of the family’s strange lack of concern for Gregson. Their daughter’s obviously besotted with him and it’s not just that no one else seems to genuinely care, but surely Robert and Cora and Violet, knowing that Edith’s in love with him, should be sniffing around Gregson’s background to make sure he’s eligible enough? They’d find out about the wife and do everything they can to stop the blossoming relationship. That they don’t even do it makes everyone seem so….uncaring about Edith.

    • greenwich_matron

      I think women took valium because they aspired to be like Cora.

    • sagecreek

      AGreed, Tally…esp since they were so buttinski about her relationship with left-her-at-the-altar guy, who frankly was a perfectly fine suitor in the wake of WWI’s carnage. There weren’t many marriageable men left for women of Edith’s age, so their objections always struck me as very odd writing.

      • Tally Ho

        To add insult to the injury Gregson only looks marginally younger than Anthony Strallan (the family’s excuse for breaking up Edith’s engagement to Strallan was that he was too old).

        • Saturnine

          Oh, and Gregson’s “married already” thing, but I guess Matthew took that juicy piece of information to the grave. Nobody else at Downton knows about that, right?

          • Kit Jackson 1967

            You are correct.

        • BayTampaBay

          and disabled!

    • Spicytomato1

      Yes, lol. Cora seems more in tune with the Bates’ woes than her own daughter’s. Her numerous smiles and crazy-eyed expressions were bordering on demented to me this episode.

      • 3boysful

        I didn’t get why the maitre d’ was being snobby to the Bateses? A few episodes ago, Edith was saying Cora never let them eat out except occasionally at the Ritz, and now so many people are that a restaurant can afford to turn non-aristocratic but decent-looking people away?

    • BayTampaBay

      Cora has not had a good story line since Sybil’s death. Maybe next season.

      Here’s hoping as I see so many good possibilities with Cora character.

      • Munchkn

        I’ll be interested in seeing how her brother’s involvement in Teapot Dome plays out. I know that Harold (?) and her mother are to be on the Christmas special.

  • Saturnine

    Lady Mary works best as Miss Sharp, I think. She’s much more interesting when she’s uncomfortable, so her scenes with Mr. Blake fairly crackled. Mary’s never going to work best with someone who reinforces her aristo nature (the soporific Lord Gillingham), so I do see potential here.

    • Tally Ho

      It was Evelyn Napier who introduced Mary to Pamuk in season 1 and now he’s introduced her to Blake. Either Fellowes is running out of ideas recycling character roles, but I think Napier is also clearly meant to be a suitor to Mary too. It’ll be interesting to see if the next episodes show the contrast between Mary + Napier and Mary + Blake and Mary + Gillingham. Still, three suitors in one season is too many.

      • greenwich_matron

        Wouldn’t the recycling be fairly realistic? There wasn’t a limitless cast of aristocrats to choose from…

        • Tally Ho

          Between the peerage and baronetage and the untitled landed gentry there’s about ten thousand or so families (and as such were called the upper ten thousand in those days), along with the urban based rich who made their money in industry/banking/trade, plus by family extension the American rich. And the European aristocracy. Plus the newly poor Russian aristocrats who fled to Britain after the Soviet takeover. So Mary’s pool of socially eligible or richly eligible suitors isn’t exactly that small.

          But I was generally talking about character roles. Napier’s role in Season 1 was to be a socially eligible suitor who was interested in Mary and made the mistake of introducing her to Pamuk. He’s now been reintroduced in Season 4 as a socially eligible suitor…who seems to now be making the mistake of introducing her to Blake. Is that Napier’s sole function? I’m thinking that he must have been brought back for a specific reason after an absence of two seasons, otherwise Fellowes could have easily come up with another character or excuse to get Mary together with Blake.

          I’ve always liked Napier. Since I’m confident Gillingham will be back as a suitor, and if Mary has to pick from one of the the three I’m hoping for Napier. He seems like such a nice guy.

          • Spicytomato1

            I like Napier, too. I think it helps that to me he gives off a young Hugh Grant vibe. I was thinking maybe Fellowes is setting up the other guys as foils to string Mary along for a bit until she realizes the perfect guy has been there all along…

          • rainwood1

            I’m glad I’m not the only one who likes Napier. He’s smart, he’s funny, he’s self-deprecating. I wish he’d look in Edith’s direction instead.

      • Saturnine

        Yep; Napier’s there to pitch some woo too, but he’s only slightly more interesting than Gillingham, which isn’t saying much. I think he’s definitely recycled to signal how desirable Mary is all and to shuttle in new characters.

        • Tally Ho

          I’ve been thinking about where Fellowes wants to go with Mary’s character. She’s clearly his main character and his favorite character. Given Fellowes is so interested in and apologetic about the aristocracy, Napier is obviously the best match for Mary. I don’t think he’ll have Mary marrying beneath her like Sybil did or Edith promises to (if Gregson ever comes back). My guess is that Fellowes wants to show different kinds of suitors for Mary and try to create drama on the different personalities to sustain interest in the show, but at the final end it’ll be Napier who wins her.

          • Saturnine

            You’re probably right *sigh.* If Fellowes is going for realism (heh), she’ll end up with Napier. But it would be disappointing if Fellowes lost a dramatic opportunity because he’s married to the aristocracy. As a plot (and casting) device, why would he try to spark something with someone who wasn’t interesting enough the first time around? Napier has to do something dashing, and fast, to compete with the widening social pool you mentioned upthread. I would hope that Fellowes uses Napier as a contrast to the kind of person she’s attracted to: someone who challenges her more traditional ideas.

          • Chris

            I thihk Fellowes is trying to create another Matthew-Mary situation with Mr. Blake. They can argue about the aristocracy, Mary will fall in love and Blake will check in one of his books lying about and find a will leaving him a fortune. That way Mary can have it ALL again.

          • Saturnine

            It was very reminiscent of M-M, wasn’t it. :-)

            If that’s not Fellowes intention, he shouldn’t make all the male aristocratic characters dull,and all the working class fellas charming (joning Tom Branson on this list would be Dr. Clarkson, Mr. Ross, and mysterious Mr. Gregson).

            The travelling found fortune will appear again, surely.

          • BayTampaBay

            Saturnine, Glad you said that! I was worried I was the only one who had the hots for Tom Branson, Dr. Clarkson, Sir Richard Carlisle, and mysterious Michael Gregson.

          • Saturnine

            Forgot Jorah Mormont! How could I?

          • BayTampaBay

            Well, that is five male hotties…we need six so we can split them up 3 a piece! LOL! LOL!

          • siriuslover

            Is Gregson really “beneath” Edith given that the family has always seemed to think she had few advantages? He’s an educated and wealthy businessman. This isn’t an argument with you Tally Ho, just a conversation thinking about how these relationships operated post-WWI.

          • Chris

            There is no logic from one episode to another with Fellowes so who knows. Strallen was good enough for Mary when first introduced but when he was marrying Edith all of a sudden the family was aghast. The Dowager was trying to get them together one season and the next she was wailing because he was an “old man.” For a second daughter of an Earl, Gregson doesn’t seem to be a bad catch. He’s clearly cultured, educated and well off. Sir Richard was in the news business as well and he was accepted for Mary. he was knighted and had more money but he was pushy and vulgar. Surely good breeding has to count for something. If he wasn’t actually married to someone else I would think he was a good fit for Edith.

          • Tally Ho

            Yes. Certainly so from a rank perspective. Edith is the daughter of an earl. Gregson is not from the aristocracy. All we know of him is that he’s an apparently successful publisher, so that puts him in the realms of the successful middle classes (like Matthew and Isobel Crawley). In terms of precedence Edith is above him and Gregson is beneath her. The concept is silly to us these days but it was seriously taken back then, even in the 1920s and 1930s, although the forces were weakening.

            In real life practice the while distinction would have been noticed and observed but if Gregson has some money, can conduct himself like a gentleman and is from a respectable background and Robert was publicly in support of the marriage, there wouldn’t have been social opposition to their relationship. Maybe a few snide comments from the snobbier people but doors wouldn’t shut in Edith’s face and more doors may open for Gregson (if he was interested in going through them).

            Nonetheless, any due diligence on Robert’s part would have found the wife in the asylum at which point the family would have done everything to stop Edith from going after him. Polite society would not have accepted an out of wedlock relationship between Gregson and Edith.

          • Eric Stott

            Gregson could very possibly gain a knighthood at some point.

          • siriuslover

            I disagree. There is plenty of historical evidence that shows the aristocracy marrying out of the aristocracy–and certainly to well-to-do upper middling sorts. At least from the eighteenth century on. But that is a debate for another time.

        • rainwood1

          I find Napier more interesting that any of the others, maybe it’s the actor playing him. I’d like to see him with Edith who’d be a much better partner for him than Mary.

          • BayTampaBay

            I am starting to get the hots for Napier too.

      • Chris

        You’d have thought he’d have learned by now not to bring competitors for Mary’s attentions with him. Let’s hope Blake doesn’t end up dead in Mary’s bed like Mr. Pamuk.

      • greenwich_matron

        I can’t say the same about his character, but Napier is living the “confirmed, old bachelor” life. He has been available for at least eight years now.

        • BayTampaBay

          Napier broke off an engagement in Season/Series 1.

        • AnneElliot

          Maybe he had a fiancee who died of Spanish flu. . .

      • BayTampaBay

        “but I think Napier is also clearly meant to be a suitor to Mary too.”

        Definitely! The funny thing to me is that Mary seems to have a real soft spot in that hardass heart of hers for Evelyn Napier. Other than the fact that he is a very nice gentlemean, this may be because the family of Evelyn Napier is very-very wealthy (like the Northumberlands and Westminsters) old aristocratic money.

      • Heather

        So Evelyn here doesn’t fault Mary for having (I assume) back door sex with his buddy Mr. Pamuk, who then DIED IN HER BED?

      • 3boysful

        I think Fellowes is setting up a Mary-Blake thing because opposites attract, and still-mourning Mary won’t realize she’s smitten until she’s in too deep, and it will make for a sticky wicket for Blake to make unfavorable recommendations about Downton when he will be living there.

    • Chris

      Mary is always so witchy she really does work best with someone equally as rude to play off of. At least then it works as humorous not mean. Particularly with someone like Mr. Blake. Talk about entitled- why accept an extended invitation to freeload at the Earl’s house if you feel that way about them? Take a room at that pub in Ripon if you are so egalitarian. No need to be drinking Robert’s port while secretly hoping for their downfall. And he is surprised the Earl’s daughter is entitled? She walks around every day with a new tiara on, what did you expect?

      • Isabel

        Blake is pocketing the per-diem!

        • BayTampaBay

          “Pocketing the per-diem”, GOOD ONE!

          Is the Grantham Arms in Ripon or the Downton Village?

  • Call me Bee

    A fun episode indeed. But I must respectfully disagree with your last statements about the uneducated country folk being racially intolerant. My mother, the daughter of a pig farmer who finished the equivalent of 8th grade, came from northeastern Europe and had never seen black people until she walked off the boat in New Orleans in 1951. She, of course, knew they existed, but had never actually met one.
    She, and most of her friends recent immigrant friends, were very racially tolerant. When the civil rights movement began in the 1960s, she was all for it.
    Just wanted to put it out there….

    After watching the whole episode, I had to rewind to where Edith got the note from the doctor and pause the TV to see what it read. I am disappointed. Not that Edith did the dirty deed, but that the story would take this particular turn. It’s SO CLICHE!

  • Paula Pertile

    I’m happy for Alfred. Kind of sorry to see him go though.
    The rest of it last night left me feeling a little blah, not sure why. Maybe I was just anticipating Sherlock (which was brilliant).
    I think if you tapped Mary with a little hammer she’d shatter into sharp edged bits.
    Oh Edith. My guess is that Michael had her sign a “I’m financially responsible” document, so she will be left holding the bag (the Sketch) when it goes bankrupt, which is why he’s disappeared.
    And golly gee, I wish they’d give us more a clue about Thomas and Baxter and what their game is.

    • BayTampaBay

      No! I must disagree! I believe Michael Gregson gave Edith everything and total control of all his worldly goods. I believe Edith will end up a running a publishing company…ie newspapers, magazines…etc…like Conde Nast.

      • Paula Pertile

        Well I hope you’re right. Maybe she can save Downton again, the next time they run out of money!

      • Eric Stott

        She might run it, but if there IS Still a Mrs Gregson in the madhouse who’d own it?

        • BayTampaBay

          I dunno know….Better call Saul!

      • rainwood1

        Wouldn’t that be delicious? And maybe establish a publishing empire she could hand over to their son.

    • Alloy Jane

      I wish there was a place here to discuss Sherlock as I just started watching it.

      Barrows/Baxter bores me. I’m tired of Thomas being so moustache-twistingly evil. And why must Fellowes treat Edith so? Pregnant and possibly jilted again? Or widowed without ever having been married? It’s just so tedious to watch her squirm. I did enjoy this episode, but this season is slightly upsetting to me.

      And yes, I loved that nursery scene. It was lovely.

  • TRSTL

    If nothing else, Edith will get some gorgeous, modern maternity wear….. her wardrobe has really taken the bold step this season. But, I suspect there will be a tragic miscarriage before it gets that far along. With Momma Clueless Crazy Eyes going “WHAT?! Darling, I had no idea…. that I had another daughter besides Mary.”

    • Saturnine

      … and the other dead one, um, Sylvia.”

      • MaggieMae

        Snort. LOL

    • Gatto Nero

      Yes — a miscarriage would be a cowardly writer’s way out.

    • Anne

      Maybe her lady’s maid will carelessly leave a bar of soap next to the bed…

  • Chris

    That scene with Edith and her father was really heartbreaking. She isn’t anyone’s “dearest” and she knows it. Cora only seems to care that Mary has enough admirers and dinner partners and Edith can go pound sand. The previews showed Edith with her aunt again and I really hope she takes the poor girl under her wing.

    • Saturnine

      When I heard Robert’s “dearest darling girl,” I snorted. I was glad ( and surprised) that Edith didn’t give him a pass.

      • Chris

        Edith for all her naivete is smarter than they all give her credit for being. That line back to Robert and the bit about “why do parents say they don’t have favorites when everyone knows they do” was spot on. She is just so….alone. Mary could turn to Cora with a dead body in her bed and get help. If Edith ever got a crumb of love or attention from anyone in the family she wouldn’t be so pathetically surprised or grateful when a man showed her any attention.

        • Saturnine

          Agreed on all counts. As much as the show hands Edith all these humiliating life lessons, she seems to be the only one (in the immediate family) with any kind of realistic introspection. Interestingly, Fellowes has Edith note how “odd” the band’s playing at Robert’s birthday is, with Violet gently warning her about being provincial. Edith’s experiences are making her far less “provincial” than the rest of her family.

          • AnneElliot

            That did seem really out of character to me — it seemed like they’ve been setting her up as a more modern woman, but then she had the snippiest line of the night — just like her character back in season 1.

        • scoobynacks

          Have we forgotten so soon Edith’s obnoxious behavior in S1? Pamuk dies in Mary’s bed and that’s a scandal with buzz they can deny, until dear old Edith decides to confirm it, sticking it in and breaking it off for her entire family’s reputation. If Mary can’t marry well, Edith and Sybil can’t expect good suitors either. She caused a big mess for spite. Mary’s tongue is sharp and she might trip up Edith’s romance plans, but geez, she gets the value of discretion. She’d never publicly humiliate the Crawleys and try to make it so nobody in their right mind would ever want Edith. The only reason she even messed with Strallan was because Edith basically dared her. Otherwise she’d have gone in that room and resumed that dinner moment she had with Matthew.

          • greenwich_matron

            I never really blamed Edith for that. She was young and naive. Her spite was driven by Mary’s spite and her family’s frank belittlement of her, and I think it did Mary a world of good to be forced to realize she wasn’t invulnerable. It was petty and had greater repercussions than she could have realized, by why should she be forced to genuflect to her bitchy sister’s potential gain?

          • Saturnine

            Edith is written as having grown up a bit as well. Mary, not so much:

            “Oh, Mary. Do you think we might get along a little better in the future?” “I doubt it. But since this is the last time we three will all be together in this life, let’s love each other now as sisters should.”

          • scoobynacks

            Please, Mary was being realistic. She knew you don’t just get over that kind of sibling baggage. Lying over the body of her dead sister would’ve been wrong. Mary was the one in the right here, albeit the ‘that’s way harsh, Tai’ right.

          • Saturnine

            Hee. Maybe true, but Edith’s request wasn’t unrealistic, either. Siblings start over all the time, often after traumatic events.

            Don’t get me wrong; I really do like the character of Mary, prickly thorns and all. But as written, Edith seems to be in a position to become more progressive, tolerant, and worldly than Mary. Unlike Mary, who has had help moving a body, two financial windfalls, a paralyzed husband walk again, and a male heir that secures her position, we know Edith’s not getting a bit of help. My “dearest darling daughter” rings sadly false to her, as it should.

          • BayTampaBay

            I like what Fellowes has done with Edith. He has given her some great scenes, potential for a great story arc going forward and the most fabulous costumes of all the actress this season/series. Laura Carmichael, YOU GO Girl!

          • scoobynacks

            Taking the air out of someone’s sails publicly in a way that damages the family in 1914 or so is not ‘a world of good.’ Edith called Mary a slut so it’s kinda karma that she’s the one that ends up pregnant out of wedlock. Confirming the rumor of Pamuk damaged everybody the way Lydia damaged Jane And Elizabeth in P&P (Sybil’s situation with Branson did too, but it wasn’t a sex/death scandal as they did at least get married). Violet said as much, trying to do damage control for Mary’s reputation, later criticizing Rosamund’s meddling from ruining the only real shot Mary had. Well as much as I loved Matthew, he wouldn’t have been her only shot if not for Edith. She was gonna be stuck in that waiting room she mentioned unless she went out and got herself a man. We can put her down for that person preferably having a title, but it’s such BS to criticize a character of an Earl’s daughter for trying to do what every single woman of that time and station was doing–trying to marry well. She was gonna do what? Start a business, run for Parliament, run the estate (at that time, nope)? Her option was marry well or sit there. Her other sisters were opening up the family to public discussion of scandal.

          • greenwich_matron

            Not arguing about the importance of getting married, but Mary purposely sabotaged what everyone thought was Edith’s only shot at marriage. She also did it by lying to a the man directly to his face. Mary’s problem was her own creation. There is no question that Edith made it worse, but she didn’t put the corpse in Mary’s room. I’m not justifying Edith’s behavior, but Mary did the same thing to her and there is a good reason that teenagers are not allowed to run the world.

          • 3hares

            It was spiteful, but from Edith’s pov it wasn’t going to change her life much. She wasn’t getting any suitors either way. She just wanted to bring down Mary’s reputation. Of course Mary found a way to be spiteful to her right back, but Mary’s not particularly discreet, she just gets far more leeway than anyone else.

          • Chris

            Well Mary gets the value of Mary. A lot of people, including her mother who helped move a dead body, Mr. Bates and a rich and powerful man she agreed to marry- but didn’t love had to pitch in to keep her very indiscreet behavior from becoming public knowledge. No matter what suitors Mary had she was always willing to toss them aside from one minute to the next for the next “get” or just to hurt Edith. She did it with Napier and Pamuk, Matthew and Strallan, Sir Richard and Matthew. She was even selfish and foolish enough to put Matthew off (after the Turkish embassy scare) when there was a chance he wouldn’t be Earl someday. She was even engaged to the cousin Edith loved but she didn’t just to secure her place at Downton. Edith has grown a lot over the series, tending to wounded soldiers, and finally carving out a career of sorts for herself. Mary is the same self absorbed person she was when the show began.

          • scoobynacks

            That’s not why she put Matthew off at all. First off, people assume all she wanted was a title, but she even tried to tell Rosamund she kinda wanted to marry him even without the title, at which point Rosamund looked at her like she sprouted a second head and made fun of the idea. Secondly, I got the impression that a major reason she had issues saying yes to Matthew (besides fighting the ‘do what her family wanted’ thing) was that at some point she felt she had to tell him about Pamuk. She didn’t want him to despise her, remember? At this point none of them had been through the war, and the things that made them appreciate what they had might’ve (at least in Mary’s mind) made Matthew never want to see her again. I still think Matthew wasn’t given enough credit by Mary for his potential Pamuk reaction, but she didn’t know that. Her social life took a hit just from the unconfirmed rumor of Pamuk.

          • disqus_CpJJvzDxuG

            But Edith is a different person now than she was in S1. Don’t forget a decade has passed between then and now. Mary will probably never be done punishing her for the Pamuk letter, and I would understand why, but Edith started shedding her malicious behavior long ago. Why not give her a little credit for that? :)

          • Lilithcat

            Have not forgotten. But Mary was asking for it. Her behavior towards Edith prior to that was disgusting.

          • Alloy Jane

            No kidding, Mary was always a shitty sister and there is no reason her favorite door mat would take her chances where she could. Like someone above mentioned, Mary’s stained reputation wouldn’t have made an impact on Edith’s already (seemingly) bleak prospects, plus youth doesn’t see the big picture, no matter what the era or station in life. It was obvious that spite aside, she felt she owed it to Pamuk’s family to tell them what happened to their son. Edith was telling the truth and she didn’t see that as wrong, nor did she realize the capacity for damage the truth could do. It makes me think of that episode in Homeland where the son of the VP and Brody’s daughter hit and kill that woman. The truth may be ugly and if it comes out it would be damaging to those involved, but in the end, it is still the truth.

  • Judy_J

    Did anyone else catch Cora’s “Ragtime” reference? That was the 1981 film that made Elizabeth McGovern a star.

    • BKagainwiththesweatpants

      She’d already made quite a splash in 1980’s Ordinary People, as Tim Hutton’s girlfriend.

    • Shawn EH

      Oh, that’s hilarious! Slipped right by me. Loved that movie. She was Evelyn Nesbit, wasn’t she?

      • AZU403

        Off-topic tidbit, since you mentioned Evelyn Nesbit: L.M. Montgomery based Anne of Green Gables’s looks on a photograph of Evelyn Nesbit taken when she was a 16-year-old model.

        • Carrps

          Really? I never knew that .I’m a huge Evelyn Nesbit fan. Sad, sad story. But she certainly was gorgeous.

      • Judy_J

        Yes she was. Film was OK….book was much better. Jimmy Cagney’s last film.

    • BayTampaBay

      Ragtime (1981 film), I loved that movie!

  • greenwich_matron

    I would like to see all of Mary’s and Violet’s barbs lined up and play “who said what.” It’s amazing how enjoyable a bitchy comment can be when you like the character.

  • MilaXX

    I knew the minute Edith slept with that guy she’d end up pregnant. I really wish we had gotten reactions to Rose & Mr. Ross that felt genuine. The family had more trouble accepting Sybil & Tom .

    • Chris

      And it was beyond ridiculous to have Edith question Mr. Ross being there while the Dowager and Mary thought it was just fine. Hasn’t Edith been the one running up to London and working all season? Wasn’t she being shown as the most modern lately?

      • Tally Ho

        They accepted his presence as a performer. African Americans were already well-known in England as musicians. Had Ross attempted to dine with the family and chat with them in the drawing room, very different scenario.

        • Chris

          Agreed. It was just silly to have Edith be the one who questioned the propriety of it. When has she worried about that?

      • greenwich_matron

        I thought that Edith, with her view of the broader world and her own illicit affair, may be the only one who sees the potential trouble.

        • Chris

          Do you mean with Rose and Ross? Maybe. Wasn’t Edith there when Matthew had to pull Rose out of the other club and out of the arms of the married guy? She may be remembering that.

          • BayTampaBay

            Would it not be hilarious, very soapy and extremely campy if someone, (Aunt Rosamund???) had to pull Rose out from bed with Edward, Prince of wales, future Edward VIII?

          • Eric Stott

            Improbable, but delicious.

      • BayTampaBay

        I did not get the feeling that Edith was concerned about “black jazz singer” being a Downton Abbey. I got the feeling that is was more “WTF is a JAZZ band doing in the drawing room…someone has hell to pay as this is not kosher”.

    • BayTampaBay

      The family does not know yet…Only Mary knows what is really going on.

      • MilaXX

        oops, sorry. Getting ahead of myself. I was watching the Superbowl because I’ve already seen the series. I’m trying to only comment on the current eps, but I messed up this time.

    • Alloy Jane

      Branson is Irish and even in America, the “regular” white people were racist against the Irish. Can’t remember where I saw/read this but I recall something about being Irish was considered lower than being black. And in Bend it Like Beckham, the football coach is all “duh I understand racism, I’m Irish.” And I’m pretty sure that’s confirmed in a few Mel Brooks movies too, lol.

      • MilaXX

        That’s pretty much my point.

  • thrillckr

    Am I the only one thinking that a Mary/Tom pairing might be in the works? Circumstances seems to be putting those two together a lot. Perhaps it won’t be a love connection, but a business transaction . . .

    • Eric Stott

      Business, certainly.

    • greenwich_matron

      Business doesn’t really work for Mary. She can always hire another Tom. I think that his comment that there aren’t any available earl’s daughters and the Crawleys wouldn’t like him marrying a nice, Irish working girl is pretty apt. Does the doctor have a daughter?

      • BayTampaBay

        I think a vicar or colonels daughter would be more in line with Fellowes writing or possibly a school teacher.

        • Kit Jackson 1967

          What about the governess they will need to hire in a few years for George and Sybie?

    • Saturnine

      I wondered whether the pairing was being slyly telegraphed with the exchange between Tom and Isobel: “where will I find another Earl’s daughter to marry” (or something like that). Ahem, um, two seats over.

    • Gatto Nero

      I’m guessing that neither of them, having been “head over heels” once before with their respective spouses and already enjoying the benefit of a business relationship, would marry on those grounds.

  • Eric Stott

    Foreshadowing: Cora’s Brother seems to be part of the Teapot Dome Scandal – possibly paying bribery to U.S. Interior Secretary Albert Fall. Could a threat of investigation bring him running for shelter – and Mother as well?

    • siriuslover

      This reads just like a TV Guide teaser! Awesome!

    • Gatto Nero

      I believe in the lead-up to this season it was revealed that Cora’s mother and brother would make an appearance.

      • BayTampaBay

        They are both in the two hour “Christmas Special” episode per Huffington Post and the Daily Mail.

      • Eric Stott

        A visit would be one thing – but I suspect a flight from the law, or at the very least an appeal for funds.

        • BayTampaBay

          I don’t think he needs the money.

    • DeniseSchipani

      He’s coming — in the form of Paul Giamatti!

    • http://communionoflight.com/ Frank Butterfield

      Ah! The Teapot Dome Scandal. Something everyone but Harding participated in and knew about. Kind of like Iran-Contra and Reagan (then Bush 41).

  • DeTrop

    I love the way Mary reverted to type and let Blake have it. He’s accepting hospitality at the Abbey and insulting the daughter of his host. He isn’t even subtle about it and neither is she. Good for Mary. When she found out he was there for reasons other than to help the Abbey, she should have had his bags packed and sent him packing. Napier is in love with Mary but he doesn’t have the fortitude to deal with her Ladyship.

    Again, I thought the singer, Mr. Ross, sounded like a woman. He is certainly attractive but I think Rose is game for anyone who throws her a look. Poor cow. I’m hoping Mary takes charge and either sends Rose back to mama or passes on one of her suitors to Miss Rose.

    I wonder if Cora is so low keyed because her mother is so, for wont of another word, outspoken. She’s Lady Decorum to the max. It seems she has a better relationship with her maids than with her daughters. Glad to see in the promo that Edith is seeing Aunt Rosamond. Auntie will help her out. She really has no one to turn to other than her aunt.

    Finally, I hope Mr. Barrow gets his comeuppance. What a snake in the garden he is and always will be. He reminds me of someone who will become a blackmailer if the opportunity arises and that is the most despicable thing of all.

    • Gatto Nero

      I have a feeling that Thomas will find out through Baxter eventually what happened to Anna and will end up exacting revenge somehow. I see him as opportunistic but not unredeemable.

      • Saturnine

        Yes, Baxter will find out about what happened to Anna, and Thomas will do something to the valet. Question is: would he exact revenge for Anna as an end in itself, or will he use the information to hold over Bates in some way. If anything should happen to the valet and it becomes known he raped Anna, all eyes turn to Bates.

      • rainwood1

        I’m hoping that whatever happens to the valet is somehow redeems Thomas, either he kills the guy himself (even better if it happens as part of a downstairs conspiracy) or provides an alibi to Bates. Bates did him a big favor, Thomas likes Anna, and I hope that combination may be enough for even Thomas to do something good. I’m a sucker for a redemption story.

    • BayTampaBay

      “Again, I thought the singer, Mr. Ross, sounded like a woman.”

      His performance of “Wild about Harry” sounded to me like an old scratchy 78 rpm record. I think this is intentional.

      • Gatto Nero

        Listen to Leslie “Hutch” Hutchinson, the inspiration for the Ross character, on YouTube.

        • sweetlilvoice

          The inspiration for the character could actually sing and had a beautiful voice. Not so much with the Ross actor. It’s very cool to see the clips of Hutch singing.

    • disqus_CpJJvzDxuG

      “Good for Mary.”
      I disagree. Blake didn’t deserve to be told off simply because he wasn’t there to help.

      Mary already knows that Evelyn will bend over backwards to advise on estate business, as an old friend who can take her interests to heart. Shouldn’t that be enough? I think it’s unsavory of her to place the same expectations of service on Blake (or anyone really). Especially before even meeting him.
      That being said…Once the argument started, he took every opportunity to return her insults.

      Interesting point about Cora vs her mother.

  • Eric Stott

    I see how this will all end – The whole family will be gathered at Downton to observe the Dowager’s birthday / death / anniversary (or whatever) and the place will be hit by a Nazi bomb.

    • Gatto Nero

      In the previews for next week, Violet seems to be sick in bed. If Fellowes kills off the Dowager Countess, we will chase him through the streets with torches and pitchforks.

      • rainwood1

        If he kills off the Dowager, it will only be because Maggie Smith wants off the show like Dan Stevens and Jessica Findlay-Brown did. He knows she’s the highlight of the show.

        • Gatto Nero

          I’ve thought of that. I wouldn’t be surprised if Dame Maggie wants to bail out. She’s had an amazing career and doesn’t need Downton. But I hope she stays till the end.

          • Kit Jackson 1967

            The Dowager’s death has to be the series finale, or one episode before the series finale.

          • Gatto Nero

            Yes, probably, so Fellowes can really drive home his “end of an era” message.
            And won’t that be a sad day.

    • GinAndPopcorn

      And thus Gregson reappears ~ flying the plane that drops the bomb.

      In a cruel twist of fate, It will be revealed that been summoned by Gregson’s lawyer for an appointment at that very day and time that the bomb dropped, but at the last minute she dispatched Molesly with the message that she would not be able to make the meeting due to the Dowager’s birthday/death/whatever. Had Edith kept the appointment, she would have found that the papers Gregson had her sign were the title to his amazing Art Deco flat and ownership of Sketch. Knowing that he would never be able to return to England, Gregson, who really did love Edith and wanted to provide for her and did so without revealing his plan to embrace his German loyalties.

      Finally, upon returning to the charred remains of Downton, Molesly discover that he is once again out of a job.

      • Eric Stott

        While poking about, searching for an intact sterling bouillon spoon to pocket, a charred pound note wafts from the ruins and lodges against his ankle- he picks it off, folds it neatly, then heads for the nearest pub.

  • siriuslover

    I never found the appeal of Mary beyond the obvious–that’s she’s extremely eligible as the eldest daughter of an earl. She is back to true form in this season and of course Fellowes has all the rich men fawning over her. Much more interesting is Edith’s story with the missing boyfriend, the pregnancy, and before that, the blossoming socialite intellectual. Also, I’ve always been on the Bates cheer team, but that’s from the first two seasons where he was the “victim” of Barrow’s conniving. The darker, ominous qualities of him doesn’t suit the man who supposedly was the Earl’s buddy in some late nineteenth-century war (Boer War maybe?).

  • Cee Layton

    Thank you, Tom and Lorenzo. This recap was as enjoyable as this episode. Even your throw back to O’Brien’s “Miss Sharp” tag line made me giddy.

    • http://communionoflight.com/ Frank Butterfield

      I burst out laughing when I saw the headline because I could hear her voice quite clearly saying it.

  • MRC210

    Well, hello there, Andrew Foyle. Nice to see you again,

    • Cordelia_Gray

      My husband was wondering last night where he’d seen Mr. Blake before. I was like, “Pfft. It’s stupid Andrew Foyle.” Apparently, I’m still not over his dumping Sam.

      • Gatto Nero

        Oh — *that* Andrew Foyle!

        • BayTampaBay

          Who the hell is Andrew Foyle?

          • http://foodycat.blogspot.co.uk/ foodycatAlicia

            Inspector Foyle’s son in Foyle’s War

      • MRC210

        Well, he was probably right in suspecting that his real attraction to Sam was that she`d get Inspector Foyle for her FIL. Besides, he had PTSD!

        • Cordelia_Gray

          Who wouldn’t want DCI Foyle for a FIL? He’s awesome! :-)

  • Sweetvegan

    “Mrs. Patmore is horny and doesn’t care who knows it.” Wait a minute – I missed that!
    ” The scene in the nursery with Mary, Isobel and Tom was easily the best scene any of them have had all season.” I totally agree! That was fantastic!

    • DeniseSchipani

      Mrs. Patmore allows how Rudolph Valentino makes her “shivery all over.”

      • Sweetvegan

        Oh yes! Thank you!

  • Everard Santamarina

    What does Thomas have on Baxter? I don’t remember anything other than a couple of hints on how to ingratiate herself with the folks downstairs and all. The way he plays it, it appears she has him to thank for her getting the job. Is that right? It struck me he did more for the gold digger housemaid before her?

    • Fanny_Trollope

      I’d love to know what their relationship is. I must say, Baxter does not strike me as malicious.

      • siriuslover

        I loved her comment to Thomas at the end of the episode, when he tells her she needs to DECIDE where her loyalties are, with him or with Cora. And she says, through clenched teeth, “Have it _your_ way, Mr. Barrow.” This could get very interesting indeed!

        • Chris

          Once she works there long enough she could really turn the tables, especially if her story is a sad one. Cora is soft hearted and if she really grows even more fond of Baxter then Baxter could “confess” her past and say Thomas is blackmailing her but she chose Cora over being found out.

          • Gatto Nero

            I’m counting on Baxter’s story coming out and Cora being sympathetic.

        • Lilithcat

          I think that when she finally does choose sides, Thomas may be in for a shock.

      • Anne

        Yes! I like that she seems reluctant to spread gossip. Thomas just looks pathetic right now.

      • BayTampaBay

        She is probably an old acquaintance or distant relative of Thomas who got sacked from her previous Lady’s Maid job because she was doing the dirty deed with milady’s husband.

    • Gatto Nero

      All we know so far is that Thomas got Baxter her job and appears to know something about Baxter’s past that she would prefer to keep hidden. They made a deal of some kind whereby Baxter keeps her ears and eyes open and reports any developments upstairs back to Thomas. She doesn’t appear to be particularly malicious but is now caught in this arrangement. We don’t know yet what Thomas has on her.

    • BayTampaBay

      Thomas did get her the job by recommending her to Cora. I don’t think Baxter is evil at all.

      Do the orange juice on Cora’s breakfast tray, I bet she has worked for an American in the past.

      • Chris

        I agree, Baxter just seems sad to me, not evil or or a schemer just trying to get by. I got the sense the juice may have been Thomas’s idea. Or maybe he just said play up the American bit and she knew about orange juice in the morning?

    • DeniseSchipani

      We don’t know what Thomas’ hold over Baxter is yet, but if she was a willing participant at first, she’s now chafing and while she’ll continue to gather intel for him (for now), she looks to me like someone who’s casting around for a way to turn the tables on him. She’s going to end up finding out about Anna’s rape. What she/thomas do with that information remains to be seen…

  • Shawn EH

    Mary bonding with “the lucky ones” in the nursery: sure, Mary, your love was as unadorned and spontaneous as the other two, when you spent months torturing Matthew for existing and then finally got him to the point where he’d make the awkward proposal you wanted all along … of course that’s the same as being insanely wrapped up in the other! Why, you might have gotten a little damp from the snow!

    But I give her credit for trying to fit in and saying nice things to Grandmama (not Grannie, thank you) and Tom (whom she really has come to depend on and treats as a full family member, regardless of how he got there).

    • Chris

      Yes Mary also conveniently forgot the “first” proposal from Matthew where she basically wanted a “secret” engagement with him until she found out if Mummy was having a boy or not. Lady Mary wasn’t going to engage herself to some provincial lawyer! Now the next Earl of Grantham, that is something different.

    • Saturnine

      Great scene, but that was a bit snortworthy. Isobel and Tom are talking about how this transforming power made them literally sick and invaded every waking though for weeks, and Mary chimes in with “when I was out in the snow . . . ” God, the writing sometimes.

      • greenwich_matron

        I thought (hoped?) the snort was intentional…

        • Saturnine

          Total intentional snort.

      • scoobynacks

        The writing might’ve been cheesy there, but the ‘he’s going to propose’ is totally the excited thought I was having at one point when it was happening. Mary just echoed what the viewers were thinking during the scene. When we think it, it’s okay, when she says it, it’s not? I think it’s JF’s fault for writing in a way that Michelle had little she could do with it with a straight face.

        • Saturnine

          it’s the snow part that gets me, not the actual proposal

        • Shawn EH

          Oh, no, I’d never put down that proposal, that was as romantic as all get out, and the perfect end to the season. I even buy that Mary’s love for Matthew was ultimately quite real, and that he did bring out her softer side. It’s just that, as far as being swept off her feet with a passion that made her sick, sorry, Isobel and Tom take that prize from her. She was just much more the “I don’t feel anything, I’m just fine, omigod will he call me already or what?” version of meeting cute.

    • rainwood1

      Thank you for saying this! I too thought Mary was out of place as one of the lucky ones scene. I

  • Gatto Nero

    So glad you mentioned the nursery scene in particular. So well played, and so touching that despite losing all their loved ones, they agree when Isobel says, “Well. Aren’t we the lucky ones?”

  • Angela_the_Librarian

    I actually thought last night’s episode was a bit ho-hum, even with the occasional plot intrigue. Thanks for confirming that Edith is probably pregnant. I couldn’t read the letter fast enough! The anti-aristocratic land surveyor is basically Matthew but with dark hair. I’m guessing that he’ll be set up as her improbable suitor (opposites attract, etc.). The scene with Mary, Tom, and Isobel in the nursery was easily the best of the season so far. It was nice to see Mary show genuine emotion and was a sweet way for three widow/ers to reminisce about their deceased love ones. Finally, my favorite line of the night: “She runs on indignation” (the Dowager talking about Isobel during Lord Grantham’s birthday dinner)

    • scoobynacks

      I did smile at the idea that Blake was basically in the situation Matthew was in S1, being snarked at by Mary at every opportunity including dinner. She wasn’t insulting of him in a ‘can barely hold his fork/knife/whatever like a gentleman.’ She’s just reacting to him as a person who seems to have a problem with people like her. Any one of us might get defensive. Here, the guy she’s snarking at isn’t being pushed at her like Matthew kind of was.

    • Shawn EH

      You know Violet just wanted her old sparring partner back; she missed their rows while Isobel was depressed!

      • Courtney

        I think it’s as much performance art for them as anything else. A way to pass the time.

        • Shawn EH

          Of course the right thing to do when Violet had re-hired Peg was simply to say thank you, but Isobel was so revved up for battle, poor thing!

  • p_capet

    Fat Chance Dept: I’d like to see Mr. Carson get back into vaudeville (or whatever it was he was doing) or maybe a newfangled picture show. It would be a lot of fun seeing him belt out some old tune, and maybe his mood would improve.

  • crash1212

    Those Crawley girls are pretty racy – one sexes a man to death while unmarried, one marries the chauffeur, one gets knocked-up by a maybe-soon-to-be-Nazi AND unmarried. If I was that fighting couple who left Rose with them, I’d be seriously rethinking. That scene and that line…”Well. Aren’t we the lucky ones.” was the best. Favorite Dowager line of the show…and there were MANY – “She’s fueled by indignation.” Love her.

  • Tina Kramer

    FWIW, I thought the attitude of Robert and Violet to Jack Ross was really more about not being provincial than it was about being enlightened on race issues. He was there as an entertainer. I think if Rose had invited him as a guest to Robert’s party or any other social situation, the reactions might have been quite a bit different.

    Jimmy Kent, there’s someone who would welcome your advances and you wouldn’t even need to spend any money. Just sayin’

  • Lilithcat

    Wonderful article about Lady Edith’s changing fashions in a recent NYT article here.

    • http://www.thirteen.org/program-content/the-downton-abbey-dish-season-4-episode-5/ Gotham Tomato

      I’d read this. I think it is Edith who has the most enviable wardrobe this season.

      –GothamTomato

  • LittleKarnak

    “Back in the knife drawer, Miss Sharp.” One of the best lines in Downton history…..

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

    The character Jack Ross is loosely based on the real-life cabaret singer Leslie ‘Hutch’ Hutchinson who, for a while was the darling of society (and royalty) in the 20’s and early 30’s, though he still experienced great prejudice. He had affairs with a number of society ladies including the wife of Louis Mountbatten as well as (reportedly) Cole Porter, but when a tabloid ran a blind item about his relationship with Mountbatten, the big guns (Buckingham Palace) were called in, a show was made of her marriage, and Hutch basically had the rug pulled out from under him. At least outwardly, he was the only one who paid for the scandal. He had a long downward sling and went from being one of the highest paid entertainers in the UK to dying years later virtually penniless.

    So if it follows that outline, he will pay while Rose moves right along.

    –GothamTomato

    • greenwich_matron

      Did he have an affair with Cole Porter of the wife of Cole Porter?

      • http://www.thirteen.org/program-content/the-downton-abbey-dish-season-4-episode-5/ Gotham Tomato

        With Cole Porter himself. He swung both ways.

        –GothamTomato

    • Farthingale

      I read up on this after you mentioned it last week. Who knew? The Mountbatten’s were “monogamish”.

  • DebbieLovesShoes

    You know, it actually surprised me when Cora said to Edith, “Because I’m your mother…..” Weird, but I actually forgot she gave birth to poor Edith!

  • Anne

    Something that frustrated me about this episode (I’ve given up on being too actively frustrated by this show, it’s just not worth the energy) was the business with Alfred. It reminded me a lot of the war series episode in which Matthew was missing, then wounded, then paralyzed and impotent, then suddenly walking and totally functional in the space of an hour. Of course that was higher stakes than this, but why bother faking us out? At the end of the last episode, he had been rejected from the Ritz and was going to stay; Daisy was ecstatic, Molesley was out of a job again. At the beginning of this episode, he suddenly gets another letter from the Ritz, saying that one of the other guys dropped out, so he got the position. Daisy is devastated, Molesley comes back. There’s no space for anyone to actually feel anything.

    I have to say I do quite like Alfred, though. I appreciated him finally being straight with Daisy and saying that she’ll make some man happy one day, but it was never going to be him, and I liked his speech in the drawing room. I wonder if they’ll hear from him in the future or if he’s just going to drop off the face of the planet.

    • Gatto Nero

      Agree with you on all counts. Fellowes doesn’t know how to use dramatic tension. He introduces (often ridiculously soapy) plot points (the paralysis was especially cheap; and there was Mrs. Hughes’ cancer scare), stirs up the characters for about five minutes, and then blithely resolves everything, and it’s as though none of it ever happened. We don’t get to accompany these people through any kind of psychological development.
      I like Alfred, too, and thought his little speeches (to Daisy, and in the drawing room) were direct and heartfelt, and brave. You’d hardly know he’s related to O’Brien.

  • HobbitGirl

    “We just wish Hughes & Patmore would team up, corner Bates and hit him repeatedly over the head with frying pans until he promises to get the hell over himself.” THIS. THANK YOU.

  • rosie1843

    Why is Michael Gregson labeled as a possible Nazi, when it was reported that he got into a fight with a bunch of brown-shirt toughs in Munich?

    • Gatto Nero

      Is that a spoiler?!?

  • Kathy Gleasman Pisaro

    Rose’s black boyfriend is actually quite close to historical accuracy – Leslie Hutchinson was an African-American singer living in England in the 20s. He was hugely popular and a “darling of society” (to quote Wikipedia!). Although he still encountered tons of racial prejudice, like having to take the servant’s entrance, etc., that would not have been too far out for a society girl to be attracted to him or him to be hired to perform at a grand house. His is a really interesting story and makes the whole racial story line quite plausible.