Downton Abbey, S05E02: “Episode 2”

…an episode reminding us all the importance of “a lively exchange of views.”

I don’t know about you, but I’m not sure how much more my heart can take of the high-stakes storytelling going on right now in this show.  Seriously, Downton, how is a man supposed to keep his ticker pumping with all this talk of getting a “wireless” at the estate?  Allow me to translate for those of you who aren’t fluent in ridiculously archaic British colloquialisms–and you definitely should consider taking night classes to brush up tbh: a wireless is apparently a term for a radio.  A radio, people!  A radio at Downton.   Banish the thought!  What is this, a brothel?

While the saga of the radio admittedly jumped the tracks and headed on a collision course with silliness**, it presented yet another example of the inexorable forward march of progress.  Problem is, I’m not sure we needed this reiterated, but since this plot strand climaxed with the likes of Mrs. Padmore boogeying down, I’ll allow it because reasons.

**It certainly didn’t help that Rose, a character with whom I’m not dying to spend any additional time, stood at the epicenter of this narrative thread.  Turns out, when homegirl’s not handing out arbitrary awards at local schools, she’s straight up repeating herself until Robert gives in rather than murdering her and feeding her to Isis.  Families, am I right?

Robert dubs the radio a waste of time and then, out of nowhere, reveals a deep-seated anger when he snaps at Cora that she wouldn’t understand his feelings because she’s American. Whoa there, pally! Holster those hate pistols and count to ten, would you? Anyhow, Robert concedes to keep the radio around even after he gets one just to hear the king speak, so he is coming around, don’t you see?  It’s a metaphor.  And now I’ve wasted more time than I meant to talking about this plot.  Damn you, Downton, you win again.

Hey, is it hot in here, or is it just Mary’s love triangle kicking the temperature up to 180 degrees?  Ha!  #mathhumor Seriously, you didn’t actually think Downton would make it that easy for our plucky, sexually adventurous heroine, did you?  I mean, sure, last week ended with #Gillinghammer inviting Mary to join him in the no-pants cha-cha, but it was only a matter of time before #BlaketheSnake would burst back onto the scene.  And did he ever!  Faster than you can say plot contrivance, Blake’s slithering his way back to Downton in the company of one Mr. Bricker**, some dude writing a book about a painter whose work happens to be featured in the hallowed halls of our favorite estate.  Um, sure?

**What is it with our characters this year, friends?  I mean, Mr. Bricker’s got a serious case of the hornies, what with his rather obvious eye-humping of Cora from across the room.  I’m not sure what it tells us about Robert when he assumes Bricker’s flirting with Isis and not his wife.  Um…Robbie?  Do I need to be worried about you?  #animalscience

Turns out #BlaketheSnake’s arrival is rather fortuitous, as it occurs days before Mary is meant to depart on her “sketching” trip with “Annabelle Portsmith.”  And when she says sketching, she means “sexing” and when she says Annabelle Portsmith, she means “#Gillinghammer.”  That’s right kids, Mary’s getting straight up duplicitous, and it’s wonderful, though she needs to work on the fine art of the cover story, as this one has Mr. Bates’s suspicions raised as being an uncharacteristically bohemian excursion for her.

Regardless, homegirl has preparations to make, leading her to send Anna on the most awkward errand ever in a great scene that allowed Joanna Froggatt to show off her comedic acting chops**.  You have to give it to #BlaketheSnake (Mary’s not…hey yo!) because he accepts the terms of his defeat with dignity, but not before engaging in a randy fireside chat with Mary on the eve of her departure for Liverpool.  #BlaketheSnake, you rascal!

**Anna should have a subplot this year where she continues to have to purchase prophylactics because that would be life-affirming. Seriously, her quest to buy a diaphragm for Lady Mary, from her awkward body language in the shoppe (#bringingitback) to her hurried exit, played perfectly.  But it was her realization afterward, upon decrying the proprietor’s shaming of her, that the real feminist heft of this thread came into sharp focus.

Speaking of rascals, it’s time for #MoseleyWatch!  Although there wasn’t so much as a drop of hair dye in sight in this second episode, he still remains my favorite sad sack on television.  Carson completely shutting down his inquiry about becoming first footman, all the while Moseley dared to balance pudding and sauce on the same tray, had me chuckling.  However, it was Mrs. Hughes interjecting that footmen weren’t likely long for this new world that sent me into full-on paroxysms of laughter.  Upon hearing her prediction, Moseley’s face contorts in a way not dissimilar to the distortion of features that would result from attempting to pass a whole, uncooked ham through one’s small intestine.  Discomfort is my point.

On top of that truthbomb, Moseley knows that Baxter is keeping secrets from him, and he struggles to keep his frustration tamped down until she reveals her thieving ways to him as he aggressively scrubs shoes for strictly symbolic purposes because those puppies were clean enough to eat off of.  I’m not sure about you, but I’m boarding the USS MosBax because I’m ‘shipping these two hard!

Meanwhile, the dynamo of local politics that is Mr. Carson commences the process of finding a place to build the Great War memorial.  Much to Robert’s incredulity, Carson suggests building it on a cricket pitch, and Robert gets all, “You do realize that if we do this, the terrorists win” which strikes me as ironic given the dog nipping at his heels.  You see, Robert thinks it better to build the memorial not in a place for silent reflection (as Carson says) but in the centre (#Britishspelling) of town where more people can appreciate it.

Enter Mrs. Hughes to break the tie, and she sides with…Robert!  Mr. Carson does not feel warm and fuzzy at the thought of what he initially perceives as betrayal from his favorite hand-holding beach buddy.  A coincidental run-in with a local widow, however, convinces him otherwise, and (ugh) Robert emerges victor of this no-stakes contest.  Finally we can put one in the win column for a white male one percenter.  Phew!

Speaking of percentages, Mrs. Padmore continues to be an utter delight when she arranges to have Ms. Sarah Bunting tutor Daisy with her maths problems.  To top it all off, she even insists on paying Bunting’s modest stipend out of her own pocket.  And how great was Mrs. Padmore’s response to Mrs. Hughes’s compliment about her generosity, wherein she essentially complains about making more work for herself?  Ha!  Classic Padmore.

Elsewhere, Jimmy’s sexcapade with Lady Anstruther leads to his termination from Downton (fare thee well, I guess?), Mr. Drewe asks #SadEdith to be be Marigold’s “sort of godmother” (whatever the hell that means) despite Mrs. Drewe’s palpable displeasure, Isobel discusses diabetes with Dr. Clarkson over tea because Wilford Brimley and then turns around to demand, rather forwardly, a stroll through Dicky Merton’s garden, and emo Thomas wonders why nobody loves him.

With one Mr. Willis arriving at Downton with news of a witness stepping forward to provide fresh insight into Mr. Green’s murder, this episode might as well have ended with a “dum dum dum…” before its fade to black.  Still, episode three will no doubt carry on with the high quality entertainment provided by these first two installments.

Until next time, Downtonites!


Snippets of Intrigue

– Jimmy [to Thomas]: “I’m sad to see the back of you.”

– Carson: “Since you are the only footman, you are first, second, third, and last.  Make what you will of it.”

– Bates: “I know you mean to lead me into further inquiry, but I couldn’t care less what you think, Thomas.  On that subject or any other.”

– Mrs. Hughes: “That’s a nice thing you’re doing.”

Mrs. Padmore: “Is it?  I think I’ve been a damn fool and doubled my workload.”  #padmorewisdom #padmore4president

– Carson: “I don’t like it when we’re not on the same side.”

Mrs. Hughes: “We’re different people, Mr. Carson.  We can’t always agree.”

Carson: “I know, but I don’t like it.”

– Mrs. Padmore [listening to the King on the radio]: “I suppose he can’t hear us.”  She’s a treasure, folks!  A treasure!

Downton Abbey, S05E01: “Episode 1”

an episode reminding us all the importance of “not having the brain of a kipper.”

How have you been, fellow Downtonites? Have you used the hiatus between seasons to rinse the taste of disappointment in your mouth left behind by last year’s middling effort?  Feeling minty fresh?  Well, I hope so because there’s something wonderfully comforting about starting  a new year off with a fresh installment of television’s best soapy satire of British exceptionalism, regardless of last season’s spotty track record.  Besides, it seems like showrunner Julian Fellowes used his time off to commune with the devil or sacrifice virgins or something because holy cow, you guys, I think he might have righted the ship?  I mean, this episode flew by, and I loved every minute of it.

A sense of liberation pervaded this opening hour and imbued the characters we’ve grown to love with a renewed sense of purpose.  Downton has been beating the drums of change for years now, but after seasons of thematic musings on tradition versus modernity, it seems like payoffs are afoot.  If Robert Crawley is to be believed, the bandleader is none other than Labor Party Prime Minister MacDonald, whose shakeup of Britain’s government has trickled down to the humble Downton estate on the eve of Cora and Robert’s thirty-fourth wedding anniversary.  And, while my hopes of an extended montage featuring Mrs. Padmore, dusted in flour, baking an epic cake to the tune of  “Everybody’s Working For the Weekend” were dashed, I still loved this episode’s insistence on change.  Go figure!

I mean, take Lady Mary, for instance.  Girl, you makin’ me clutch my pearls and blush like a hot-house tomato with your dirty mind!***  Turns out, in light of her recent love triangle she’s been sharing with #BlaketheSnake and #Gillinghammer, the little lady’s been turning to Lady Cunnard for tips.  Like no pants dance tips that induced near fainting.  After a pleasant stroll through the Downton estate during which Mary admits to loving #Gillinghammer in her own cold, unfeeling way (her words, not mine, but preach!), he flouts with convention, busts up into her room after hours and straight up proposes fireside sexin’ like the horn dog he is, and Mary’s all, “Gillinghammer my nails, Bob Villa!”  Girl, you bad!

***To be fair, Mary alone cannot shoulder the burden of randiness.  Mr. Bates, ever the saucy rascal, just comes out and tells Anna he wouldn’t mind making kids the old-fashioned way.  Meanwhile, Jimmy takes an express train to Cougar Town, next stop Lady Anstruther, caving into his carnal needs in a move that seems like it will spell his exit from the show, but more on that later.  My goodness, is it getting hot in here, or is it just me?  Oh, no, never mind–Moseley just set a tablecloth on fire.  Classic Moseley!

Meanwhile, everyone’s favorite curmudgeonly traditionalist, Mr. Carson, finds himself unwittingly caught up in the tidal wave of change when a committee planning to construct a memorial to local soldiers killed in the Great War elects him as chairman.  Flummoxed, the head butler cannot fathom a world in which he would be selected over Robert Crawley (Or should I call him Donk?), but even the Earl concedes that change is coming whether they like it or not, and the answer for both is not.  Definitely not.  For Robert, it’s enough tumult to make a man wax poetic about the simpler times when people relied on and needed Grandpappy Crawley***; still it’s tough toenails for the two, and Carson uses his new authority to manipulate the committee into giving Robert a position as patron.  You learn quickly, Mr. Carson.  Next stop Parliament?  (Oh God, please let that be Carson’s arc next season…)

***For a brief, awkward moment, I swore Mary’s sex-addled brain had caused irreversible damage when she leaned in to comfort Robert and said, “I want you.” *Insert record scratch.* Um, girl?  You and I need to have a quick li’l chat on the importance of phrasing, okay? 

If there’s one character free to do whatever the hell she wants, then it’s Violet Crawley, and she was a hoot this episode, and not just because she throws what is, without hyperbole, the GREATEST. LUNCHEON. EVER.  Dicky Merton still has the hots for Isobel Crawley, though she refuses to pay him any mind.  Enter the Dowager, who invites the eternally-on-the-prowl Lady Shackleton and Dr. Clarkson, the erstwhile unrequited love puppet of Isobel, to shake things up because she’s jealous of Isobel’s possible happiness?  Threatened?  Bored?   Regardless, there ain’t no party like a Crawley tea party, and things get off to a spicy start when Lady Shackleton walks up to Merton to ask him how his lovely garden is doing, which I frankly found a bit forward.  But maybe Violet’s machinations are backfiring because, though pleased with the social smoke bomb at first, didn’t I detect a whiff of jealousy baking off Isobel later on?

Okay, okay.  Enough is enough.  I’ve managed to contain my excitement, but I no longer can.  Grab your hair dye because it’s time for #MoseleyWatch.  You guys, I loved this plot so much my heart feels like it’s going to explode.  Seriously, has anything greater happened in your life than watching Moseley dye his hair black and strut around to see how many people would notice?  (Though, if we’re being honest with each other, I think the only person he hopes will notice is Ms. Baxter.)  From Robert insisting Moseley is looking “very Latin all of a sudden” to Carson’s put-upon look of disdain as he stares at Moseley’s dome, this was Downton at its comedic best, featuring an all-time classic punchline: Robert demanding Moseley be stripped of his serving duties and kept downstairs until his hair stops turning blue.  I laughed, I cried, I thanked all the deities in the heavens for bestowing the gloriousness of this plotline upon us.  More of this always forever.

Speaking of the inability to outrun the person you truly are, Branson is still around apparently and doing his Branson thing of talking to Robert about how much life at Downton has changed him and making us yawn and check our watches (do people still wear watches?) in the meantime.  Seriously, this plot hasn’t advanced since Sybil’s death, and I’m growing tired of it.  Fortunately, hope seems to have appeared on the narrative horizon!  After Rose conspires to invite his #hotforteacher crush, Sarah Bunting, to Cora and Robert’s anniversary celebration, the teacher’s presence at dinner makes for an epic clashing of belief systems.***

***Fortunately, before dinner, #Gillinghammer, atwitter with incomprehensible excitement, inquires Mary and Branson about the status of the pigs.  Seriously, Downton? Is this bizarre fetishizing of pig farming just never going to disappear from this show?  Because I’m starting to feel like we’re in it for the long haul with this one…

Following Robert’s unexpectedly genuine toast of Cora, Sarah, uncomfortable with the opulence of Downton and not shy about expressing it, climbs atop her soapbox and begins spouting off about the pointlessness of war.  You know, perfect getting-to-know you conversation starters.  Well, this really chaps Robert’s rump, but Isobel intervenes and gets all crunchy-granola about the conviction of youth, which just further pickles Robert’s onions, and let’s just say things got…weird.  Salud!  Family dinners, am I right?

All this talk of freedom makes me think of the one character still confined by the societal norms of the time.  That’s right, ladies and gentlemen, cue the sad trombone because it’s time to catch up with #SadEdith.  We first meet up with the saddest sack of Crawley pedaling over to the Drewe’s house to go creeping on her daughter, Marigold.  Apparently, she’s been coming around a hell of a lot lately to spread her sad-sack misery all over, leading Mrs. Drewe to suspect Edith has designs on her husband.  Mr. Drewe wants to assuage his wife’s suspicions while also allowing Edith to see Marigold regularly, so he devises a plan, the particulars of which, it seems (if the Next On segment proves an indication), we’ll learn next week.

But the trials and tribulations of #SadEdith do not end there.  Early on in the episode, Edith receives a copy of a book from the possibly-beaten-to-death-by-a-group-of-Nazis Mr. Gregson.  In a fit of despondency that even has Mary telling Edith to cheer up (thanks, girl!), she does what any rational person would do: toss the book into a fireplace and send the place up in flames.  Ha!  Typical Edith…

Thomas, skulking around to serve as Jimmy’s lookout while he’s doing naked cha-cha with Lady Anstruther, rushes in to save Edith from the conflagration.***  Robert rushes from room to room, barging in on Jimmy, who should be, ya know, helping his employers in this time of crisis, mid-thrust at other business.  The confluence of the episode’s many overlapping plotlines during this well staged sequence was a great button on the end of the episode, replete with #sillyfiremen in ridiculous hats, and I don’t just mean any old ridiculous hats but THE most ridiculous hats.  You’ll be in awe of them is my point. #hatpuns

***A fortunate turning of events for our beloved lecherous footman, as his threatening of Baxter backfires (he’s still trying to get to the bottom of the Bates/Anna situation, just ugh) when she confesses to her crime of stealing to Lady Cora, who directs her rage more at Thomas than Baxter for his recommendation to hire her.  However, nothing helps clear up a kerfuffle in the workplace like saving one’s daughter from burning to death in a fire, so live and let live, sayeth Lady Cora!

But wait, the surprises don’t end there!  Turns out Mr. Drewe ain’t just your average farmer but a jack-of-all-trades; yup, that’s him lurking under one of those majestic hats, and he has news for Edith: an idea to secure her place in Marigold’s life while not upsetting his marriage.  But before he can reveal the deets, Mrs. Hughes, keeper of all Downton’s secrets, stumbles into the conversation.  Oh snap! Looks like when homegirl’s not sipping sherry with Mr. Carson and the person on the planet I most want to get drunk with, Mrs. Padmore, she’s blowing up truthbombs all over the Downton estate.

Elsewhere, Daisy explores her options post-Downton by sneaking maths problems at the kitchen table, Bates prods #Gillinghammer, who still needs a new not-dead valet, about the late Mr. Green, Rose hands out awards at a school assembly because reasons, and Isis continues to have the most unfortunate name of any pet on television.

Until next time, Downtonites!


Snippets of Intrigue

– Violet: “There’s nothing simpler than avoiding people you don’t like.  It’s avoiding one’s friends that’s the true test.”

– Carson: “If you can both tear yourselves away from your smutty deliberations, you’re needed upstairs.”

– Carson: “I feel a shaking of the ground I stand on.”

– Carson: “The nature of life is not permanence but flux.”

– Robert: “Moseley, you’re looking very Latin all of a sudden.”

– Violet: “Principles are like prayers: noble, of course, but awkward at a party.”

– Carson: “Is everything all right, my lord?”

Robert: “No, it certainly isn’t.  And can you please keep Moseley in the kitchen until his hair stops turning blue?”

Downton Abbey S04E09: “2013 Christmas Special”

…an episode reminding us all the importance of “spending the evening trapped in the cast of a whodunit.”

I’ll admit it: going into tonight’s season (or series for those who prefer the British parlance) finale, expectations ran high.  Paul Giamatti, perhaps my all-time favorite actor, would play Harold Levinson! We would finally put to bed this ludicrous idea of Bates as a killer!  We would never hear another mention of pig farming again!  Yet, the finale took some strange detours, resulting in a Christmas special narrative that felt sloppy, bloated, and stagnant.  What I’m trying to say is that I’m glad I didn’t actually watch this episode at Christmas, or I might have tracked down Julian Fellowes and chucked a piece of coal at his head.  Jingle this all the way!

Downton is certainly no stranger to the time jump, and that is exactly what we found ourselves treated to last night.  The majority of the action takes place in or around Grantham House (the Crawley’s London-based homestead) in 1923 as both the upstairs and downstairs prepare for Lady Rose’s presentation to high society.  This functioned as a fine narrative framing device, though I found myself far less enthused with the subplots crowded beneath its umbrella.

The best part about Rose’s presentation plotline was that Mrs. Hughes had the opportunity to say the word buffet several times.  Seriously, when she demanded Daisy help set up a delicious boo-fay, I think I fell in love.  We’re not talking Patmore levels of infatuation, but if Mrs. Hughes keeps up that dirty talk, I might need to take a walk around her boo-fay if you catch my drift.  I guess this plot also meant the reappearance of Cora’s mother Martha (Shirley MacLaine, who you may have heard of) and the introduction of her brother Harold (Paul Giamatti, fitting right in because he is amazing) fresh off the Teapot Dome Scandal, which made me lol each time it received a mention because silly name much?  Harold’s a surly curmudgeon when the episode beings, scoffing at all things British and treating family and acquaintance alike with the utmost disdain.  In other words, he’s a gem.  I dug it.  It’s just a shame that Fellowes wrangled such a powerhouse actor and tossed him into a completely underwhelming story involving an awkward multi-generational courtship ritual.  I’d detail the nuances of that arc for you, but I didn’t like it then, and I don’t want to relive it.  Sorry, but it’s true.  What a waste of Giamatti’s talent and a real snoozer storywise.  Pass.**

**Fortunately, Giamatti had one of the two best scenes of the night: befuddling the Prince of Wales after introducing himself.  Harold laughing off the Prince’s confounding rebuke just played perfectly.

Speaking of the Prince of Wales, dude’s a straight up horn dog!  Apparently, he’s been having something of a dalliance with Rose’s friend Dudley Ward.  Two things about Dudley: madam, your name is atrocious and conjures the image of a frumpy, middle aged man working in IT.  Also, WHO ARE YOU?  Downton really wants us to care about this little temptress, though for the life of me, I couldn’t.  But wait!  Evidently, the Prince of Wales has been sending some pretty risqué copies of his erotic Harry Potter fanfiction to Dudley or something because when Samson (the annoying card sharp from earlier in the season) filches a letter he sent to Dudley in confidence, the Crawleys find themselves in the centre (#BritishSpelling) of an impending national crisis because obvs.  Samson might sell that letter to the highest bidder and cast a pall over the crown!  *Collective gasp interrupted by Moseley dropping something.  Classic Moseley!*

Fear not, stalwart monarchists!  For faster than you can say “strangest discarded plot for Ocean’s Fourteen ever,” Robert concocts a plan.  He will host a poker game, using his brother-in-law’s notable coffers to bait Samson, who cannot–bless his scheming little heart–resist the opportunity to fleece someone.  But Robert’s going to need a little help from his friends.  Bates will put his prison skills to the test, putting a temporary stop to his burgeoning toilet wine business long enough to forge a copy of the Prince’s letter.  The e’re reliable #Gillinghammer will join the game, along with Branson and Harold, while Mary, Rose, and #BlaketheSnake will break into Samson’s room and snatch the hidden letter, even if that means rifling through his sock drawer.  OH THE HUMANITY!***

***A Danny Ocean Robert Crawley is not, so despite the best laid plans, they cannot find the letter.  Worst letter heist in history!

Fortunately for the Crawleys, Mr. Bates was up to his elbows in coats this episode.  For real, #CoatGate.  When he wasn’t unwittingly donating his overcoat to Russian orphans before emptying his pockets of potentially incriminating evidence of a murder, he pulled a fast one, removing the letter from Samson’s coat pocket and handing it off to Robert.  Thank goodness for those Crawleys; otherwise England would literally flounder in ruins.  And yes, please read that last sentence as Chris Traegger would say it.

While we’re on the topic of Bates, wtf?  I mean Downton really went out of its way to paint Bates as, what, a serial killer in the making?  Bizarre lighting and shadows seemed to frame him when he appeared on screen as he leered at the camera and lied about the train ticket.  And dear God that beach hat was chilling.  Seriously what’s going on here? Enough already.  Though Mary’s decision to burn the ticket seems to put the plot to rest for now, I hate the way Fellowes left it open as if it doesn’t matter whether he killed or not because Greene totes deserved it.  Of course he did, but what a cheap ploy and a complete disregard of this character.  Bates deserves so much better than this.

You know who else deserves better?  #SadEdith.  With the time jump, she’s returned from her sabbatical abroad, a few pounds lighter around the waist but significantly weighted around the heart.  Since leaving her baby daughter with the Schroeder family in Switzerland, Edith has been unable to come to terms with the decision.  Because it sounds like Gregson found himself in a kerfuffle with some hateful dudes in brown shirts*** before disappearing, it seems like he’s dead now, and Edith feels that, should she inherit from Gregson, she should pass on some of that to their daughter.  What’s a gal to do?

****Um, so those were Nazis that beat Gregson down, right?  Just to be clear, Gregson went straight up fisticuffs with Nazis, leading to his likely death.  BEST. CHARACTER. DEATH. EVER.  Certified bad ass. 

After shutting down Aunt Rosamund’s Negative Nelly ‘tude by calling into question her childless existence, Edith decided to track down Mr. Drew, world-renowned pig farmer, and ask him and his wife to raise her daughter as their own.  What a sad state of affairs when this resolution felt like a win for #SadEdith!  Girl, take the break in between seasons, hit up the spa, just make it all about you because, hell, no one in the Downton writers room is, that’s fo’ sho’.

I’m sorry; I’ve held back long enough into the recap now, but I can no longer contain my excitement because #MoseleyWatch.  His bond with Baxter has been a highlight of the back-half of this season, and I loved watching Moseley emerge as a pillar of inspiration for her, encouraging his lady friend to stand up to uber-bully Thomas.  Also, Moseley played soccer on the beach in this episode, and as I watched, the world seemed like a brighter, more vibrant version of itself.  Thanks, Moseley.  You single-handedly kept this season from completely flying off the rails.*****

*****Best scene of the night: Harold Levinson flops down on a chair in the sitting room and asks Moseley for a cup of tea with milk in it.  The dawning horror on Moseley’s face made it clear that milk in tea trumps the myriad agonies of wearing a footman’s gloves any day of the week.  Hilarious.

I’d like to close this review with a look at #TheBickersons: Isobel and Violet Crawley.  I could watch these two exchanging witty barbs to one another for this rest of my life; without fail, this is just one thing the show just does right time and time again.  In fact, Fellowes gained a great amount of mileage out of pairing Isobel off with characters, most notably Violet and Branson (though can we agree his whiney “I don’t belong here” shtick has grown INCREDIBLY tiresome and needs discarding?).  More of this next year, please!

Elswhere, #Gillinghammer and #BlaketheSnake gear up to vie for Mary’s affections, Daisy finds herself rejuvenated when an American valet openly fancies her, Ivy takes a job with Harold and leaves for America (who cares?), and Carson struggles to pick a day trip location for the downstairs staff before settling on a trip to the beach.******

******The scene of Hughes and Carson holding hands in the ocean, while its subtext felt about as subtle as a sledgehammer to the face, ended the season on such a wistful, sweet, and pleasant note.  Finally addressing the bond these two share feels so right.

In the end, I didn’t feel as if the Christmas Special accomplished all that much narratively speaking.  It did its best to show us that high drama lurked around every corridor (the swelling score when Samson realizes his letter gone had me laughing out loud at its overwrought usage), but this episode didn’t change a great deal.  In that way, it felt more like Robert than Mary, content with familiar beats and traditions rather than an exploration of new terrain.  Four years in, we expect more from a show than for it to settle into its well-worn narrative grooves.  I’m not saying I’m giving up on this show (bestill my heart, I would never), but too many of the goings-on this year felt recycled from earlier, more compelling installments of this high society soap.  Without reservation, I consider this Downton‘s weakest season, though–like Mr. Carson and Mrs. Hughes strolling toward the sunset–I’m hopeful for a brighter future.

Until next time, Downtonites!  Thanks so much for reading!


Snippets of Intrigue

– Mary: “Your niece is a flapper.  Accept it.”

– Carson: “You’re a footman, not a traveling salesman!  Please keep your opinions on the catering to yourself.”

– Edith: “Sometimes, I think we should make more scenes about the things that matter to us.”

– Isobel: “Fear not.  I’ve never traveled with a maid.  You can share my knowledge of the jungle.”

– Carson: “I’m afraid that boy’s interest in her may not be entirely proper.”

Patmore: “Mr. Carson, all women need someone to show them a bit of interest every now and then.  Preferably in a manner that’s not entirely proper.” #PatmoreWisdom #Patmore4Life

– Harold: “I would find it hard to respect any woman who wanted to marry me.”

– Dowager: “Oh no, I don’t think so.  I’m too tired for an evening of secondhand emotion.”

– Dowager: “How curious these phrases are!”

– Hughes: “You can always hold my hand if you need to feel steady.”

Carson: “I don’t know how, but you managed to make that sound a little risqué.”

Hughes: “And if I did?  We’re getting on, Mr. Carson, you and I.  We can afford to live a little.”

Downton Abbey S04E08: “Episode 8”

…an episode reminding us all the importance of “retreating to the Continent for several months.”

Well golly gee wilikers, this episode of Downton positively burst at the seams with narrative developments, didn’t it?  I mean, so much happened that pigs only received six or seven mentions during the entire running time!  I know, right?  With such scant reminders of the season’s must intense plot line, I forgot what show I sat watching for a minute or two there.  Well, let’s get to it, shall we?

Let me just assuage your concern up front: the pigs made a full recovery.  Go ahead.  It’s safe to wipe the sweat from your brow, and it’s no longer necessary to sit perched on the edge of your couch.  It seems the heroics of Mr. Blake and Mary paid off.  I repeat: the pigs are doing fine.  #PorkMiracles Even so, Mary learned her lesson and realizes she needs a real expert on hand, so Mr. Drew (he of the dead father from earlier in the season) becomes overlord of all things pig at Downton.  Braised be to God!  We are delivered.**

**Along for the trip to Drew’s because no one can resist the pulse-pounding excitement of a good pig wrangleLady Edith uses her peepers to take a walk all up and down Mr. Drew’s farmer’s frame, sizing him up real good like.  She has plans for him, but more on that later.

This week, Mary’s love triangle intensifies (can we all just agree that it’s nice try Mr. Napier, but it ain’t happening?).  Blake even does his best impression of an actual human by holding a crying baby George like a burlap sack filled with wasps, so I definitely get what Mary might see in him.  We’re talking personality overhaul here.  After #OperationPigRescue, homeboy is basically Ghandi is my point.  Then the recently single Gillingham announces his triumphant return to Downton, which leads me to believe he might actually be homeless because he spends a great deal of time traveling and not at his own house–if it exists.  Anyhow, news of Gillingham’s arrival ensures that Mary has more to do in this episode than exist as the subject of Blake’s and Gillingham’s affections.

ANNA FINALLY TELLS MARY ABOUT HER ATTACK.  In case you were wondering, I wrote that in capital letters as a subtle way to stress my feelings on the clumsy way Julian Fellowes handled this plot.  Why withhold information from Mary?  Actually, she stands in a position to help the situation without involving Bates at all by asking Gillingham to sack Green.  Anna’s reticence smacks of falsified melodrama, the one thing I voiced concerns about when this plot began in episode three.  Still, it’s out in the open now, thankfully.

Mary plants a seed of doubt in Gillingham by asking him his opinion of Green before he departs for London.  Yes, you heard me!  She straight up incepts Tony Gillingham, so when Mary follows up this inquiry with a trip to London, he concedes to fire his valet because Mary’s forcefulness totally turns him on.  I need to go back and watch Inception because I’ll admit I thought this whole time it was a work of fiction, but did Mary just prove it’s a documentary?

Meanwhile, Mr. Bates takes a mysterious trip to York on his day off, the very same day Mr. Green becomes a human crepe after tripping into the road and getting hilariously run over.*** When Anna questions him about the coincidence, he gets all coy.  Me murder?  Psshaw, boo.

***Is it weird that I picture this scene transpiring as a silent movie replete with overwrought histrionics and jouncy classical score?  Green saddles up to the curb as cars clatter by; Bates sneaks up next to him, sticks his foot out, and shoves Green; Green’s mouth opens in surprise as he falls out of frame; Bates rubs his hands together and smiles as the screen recedes to a pinprick around his face.  Although I hate the thought of Fellowes leading us down the “Bates did a bad murder” path again, if it went down like I think it should, then I would forego my reservations.

 Hey quick question: remember when Daisy was an actual character and not just a human pawn in a love rhombus no one on the planet cared about?  I’d almost forgotten, too!  Fortunately, she visits Mr. Mason as a way to avoid Alfred.  Daisy’s upset because the ginger ladykiller wrote a letter to Ivy telling her his dad died (aww) and he wants to marry her (huh).  I cherished Daisy’s relationship with Mason from earlier Downton seasons, and I found myself thrilled to revisit it again.  Plus, because Mr. Mason is adorable, he encourages Daisy to suck it up, part ways with Alfred amicably, and be done with it.  Also, he makes Alfred a road cheese basket because obviously.  While this plotline very much ran its course, the tender final (hopefully final) scene between Alfred and Daisy, wherein he apologizes for overlooking her constant kindness and affection and she accepts graciously, put this to rest in as sweet a way as possible.  Also, Mrs. Patmore tells Daisy she’s as proud of her as her own daughter and made us all choke up.  Damn you, Patmore!  (I don’t mean that.  I love you unconditionally…)

Speaking of tears, how about #SadEdith?  Remember her googly eyes at Drew?  Turns out she plans to have the baby and pass him or her off to the pig farmer!  Aunt Rosamund is all like, “Don’t be a dumb dumb, E.  Let’s, I dunno, pretend we want to take an immersive French class in Switzerland, have the kid there, then move back here?”  Textbook deception right there.  The Dowager Countess, pained though she is to do so, agrees with Rosamund.  Oh yeah, she knows #SadEdith is preggers because duh.****

****One small moment I loved in this episode is Edith waving off the wine during a luncheon while Carson, Downton’s resident photobomber, scowls curiously from the background.  Classic Carson!

Well I’m depressed.  Seriously, #SadEdith, can you win the lottery or something next season?  I don’t want to make you feel worse, but you are totes exhausting.  Let’s turn those frowns upside down and talk a little bit about Tom Branson and his new relationship with Mrs. Bunting.    Things get off to a steamy start when Bunting’s car breaks down at the side of the road.  Branson slaps down his trip-A card, rolls up his sleeves, and peeks under her hood.  Wowzers!  Never before has roadside assistance dripped with such palpable sexual tension.  Bless my stars!

But this isn’t the burgeoning romance that gripped me this episode.  To get to the one that is, it’s time–believe it or not–for #MoseleyWatch!  Turns out Baxter finds Moseley’s morose despondency quite attractive, which makes me worried about her but also delighted for Moseley.  I don’t know about you, but I’m shipping these two hard.  Watch out Detective Isobel and Dr. Clarkson, two ripe tomatoes just rolled into town!  Moseley’s insistence that Baxter  not allow Thomas to manipulate her into being someone she’s not works so well.  Excellent use of Moseley.  If we didn’t get to see him stroke out over wearing gloves, this at least works as a solid replacement.  Hurray Moseley!  I’m sure your joy will be as ephemeral as a fart in the wind, but hurray for now!

The episode reaches its feverish climax during Cora’s overseeing of the church bazaar on the Downton grounds.  Food, games of chance, and great company abound.*****  In Downton‘s equivalent of an action sequence, Cora appoints Jimmy in charge of the tea tent.  THE TEA TENT.  FOR THE LOVE OF GOD AND ALL THAT IS HOLY, HE’S JUST A BOY!  HE’S NOT READY!  Fortunately, Jimmy does not have to endure such brutal intensity because Robert rolls up, having returned from the States.  Oh my God, you guys.  Is Robert an attention whore?

*****Best scene of the night: Moseley shaming Jimmy at the strong man station.  It’s all in the arms.  Isn’t that right, Jimmy?

I’ve always appreciated how the show has treated Cora’s relationship with Robert.  True affection and love exists there, and that shines through radiantly during his sweet homecoming.  But other than lobbing a few references on Prohibition being a real drag and bringing news that Cora’s brother received a slap on the wrist for his participation in the scandal I didn’t care enough about to get the particulars of, Robert didn’t have too much to do.  I’m glad he’s back though.  Missed that self-righteous mug of his!

Elsewhere, Mary’s godfather gives Dr. Clarkson a run for his money and begins to court Isobel, Ross proposes to then breaks off his engagement to Rose, and Blake recommends Downton taking on dairy now that pigs have been so successful (pump the breaks there, Jeff Gordon!).

Sunday’s episode really set the table for what will hopefully prove an exciting season finale next week.  I’m not sold on all of the plots at the moment, but as long as Bates’s involvement in Green’s death proves a misdirection, I can forgive all manners of sins.  Otherwise, I’m going to go all #Taken4 on this show.

Until next weekend, Downtonites!


Snippets of Intrigue

– Moseley: “Life kicks the stuffing out of you, doesn’t it?”

– Patmore: “Blimey!  He puts a lot in a letter does Alfred.”

– Moseley: “It’s just coffee.  You won’t have to surrender any of your independence.”

– Dowager Countess: “No life appears rewarding if you think too much about it.”

– Isobel: “I’m a feeble substitute for the entire Crawley family.”

Dowager Countess: “Yes, but you’re better than nothing.”

Isobel: “How warming you make that sound.”

– Branson: “I don’t believe in types.  I believe in people.”

– Mary: “I find that irritating and beguiling in equal measure.”

– Dowager Countess [on Gillingham]: “He’s the most unconvincing fiancé I’ve ever come across.”

Downton Abbey S04E07: “Episode 7”

…an episode reminding us all the importance of “refusing to be shocked.”

In comparison to last week’s nearly frantic episode of Downton, Sunday night’s installment had a more measured sense of pace that allowed the narrative to service (ha! hospitality puns!) its several plots more evenly, moving them forward without sacrificing a sense of organic growth.  Well played, Downton!  But enough of this high-faluting expostulating!  Let’s get to the good stuff!

If I had to boil down everything that happened on Sunday to a single word, that would be simple: PIGS.  I mean, right?  Look, I know Downton’s decision to move into intensive farming is groundbreaking for those involved and gives Robert a real acute case of the heebie-jeebies, but can I just say it?  Enough already.  The only way I’ll be this interested in pigs is if I’m watching a two hour PSA on bacon.  And is it me, or might Tom need some kind of hobby?  Homeboy is alarmingly interested in the oinkers, so good on Isobel for getting tickets to the nearby political rally because I was starting to worry that Downton was taking us down an incredibly uncomfortable romantic path with Tom.  Mostly, I’m kidding.**

**Speaking of which, Isobel and Tom are totes #Besties.  Out for a drive in the open country, top down, sun gleaming, basically sticking it to Matthew for being a real tool behind the wheel.  Just a couple of BFFs talking smack about the PM and joshing around.  I heart this friendship SO. MUCH.

But before you think this plotline was nothing more than window-dressing, it got real pretty quick.  On a stroll to check out the pens, Blake and Mary stumble upon the unthinkable: dehydrated pigs and an overturned water trough.  DEAR, MERCIFUL GOD, WHY?  NOT THE PIGS!  NOT THE PIGS!  ANYTHING BUT THE PIGS!  Let me assuage your fears, though.  Blake jumps into action and into the literal muck with Mary, saving the day.  And then to put a capper on such a precious bonding moment, as Mary realizes Blake is more than an uptight theorist and has actual practical value,  the two smear mud (and possibly feces) on each other’s faces.  Adorbs.  Look out, Mr. Napier, you’ve got some competition!

Speaking of romantic contests, when did Alfred suddenly become Downton’s downstairs version of George Clooney?  Dude’s got to fend the ladies off with a rolling pin these days.  Ivy sees Jimmy for the perv he is and now is all about climbing that ginger mountain, while Daisy is still head over heels.  In my favorite plot of the episode, Mrs. Hughes and Mr. Carson fabricate a ruse to keep Alfred from visiting Downton so as not to complicate the love rhombus.***

***Though if Mrs. Patmore wanted to turn it into a spicy pentagon, this guy would have zero complaints.

Question: what’s the best way to keep an unwelcome guest from the old drop-in?  A virulent disease, of course!  #TheMoreYouKnow.  Mrs. Hughes and Mr. Carson decide to tell Alfred that influenza is sweeping through Downton, so they board him at a local pub and hope that’s the end of it.  Of course it’s not the end of it.  Alfred wanders in unannounced, setting the ladies’ hearts aflutter because the gangly ginger look is really revving their automated mixers, if you catch my drift.  But then, faster than you can say “heart-breaking Gordon Ramsay,” he’s gone.  So Alfred’s a stone-cold ladykiller now, and it’s sort of amazing.

You know what’s not amazing?  #SadEdith, of course!  Gregson is still missing, and Edith has declined multiple offers from Robert to hire a private investigator to get to the bottom of it.  I’d hate to beat a dead horse (or, heaven forbid, pig), but Detective Isobel is available now that Violet kicked that pesky bronchitis and is totes not dying and stuff.  I’m sure she’d take the case is my point.  Anyhow, Edith confesses to Cora that Gregson disappeared in Munich after checking into his hotel but for some reason withholds the little tidbit about him checking in on his mentally incapacitated wife.  Somehow, she doesn’t think it would warm the cockles of Cora’s heart.  Probably a good call.  But her excuse?  He became too enthused with Munich’s architecture and wandered off.  Um, what?  Edith, do you get lying, girl? I’m worried ’bout you, boo.

But, for me, what makes Edith’s plot work so well this week is that she finds an unexpected confidante in Aunt Rosamund in London.  This is a great pairing of two characters, and Rosamund’s steadfast support of Edith deciding to abort her unborn child plays powerfully.  Thank God someone’s on Edith’s side.  For real.  In the end, the dour atmosphere and hysterically weeping women change Edith’s mind, which is a much more interesting dramatic development for her as a character and the show overall.****

****Rose tagged along on Edith’s “Doomed Lovers” road trip so she could meet up with Mr. Ross on a gondola and PDA all over his face.  I hate to be that guybut I have a sneaking suspicion this interracial fling is going to be less fairytale ending and more #SadEdith.  Just saying.

Well, I’m depressed.  Thanks Edith.  I don’t want to put this all on you, but you can be a real Debbie Downer.  Fortunately, when I’m depressed, there’s just one character whose misery positively uplifts my spirits.  That’s right, it’s that time again: #MoseleyWatch.  He didn’t have a ton to do, but I think he’s been spending some time with Isobel because am I sensing a detective hiding under the footman’s uniform?  He’s totally onto Baxter and Thomas’s thing, though like the best investigators, he doesn’t have a clue that he’s done that yet.  But if Moseley becomes the Watson to Isobel’s Sherlock, I will simply swear off television because nothing could possibly be better than that in the timeline of the human experience.

Oh, right, I guess we should talk about the small fact that GILLINGHAM RETURNED TO DOWNTON WITH HIS VALET MR. GREEN.  I know, right?  Let’s be honest, Mary now playing an extremely awkward version of The Dating Game (though I would love to see how Napier, Blake, and Gillingham would respond to the question about their favorite place to “make whoopie”) is the least of our worries.  While Moseley (sweet, dumb Moseley) chats with Green about the card game from last time,  Mrs. Hughes eviscerates Green–unfortunately, just metaphorically–in the boot room as he scrubs shoes.  This is a very clever set-up, almost the complete inverse of the similarly-staged scene between Bates and Anna from a few weeks back.  I see what you did there, Julian Fellowes!  Anyhow Mrs. Hughes makes it clear that he’s been a real rascal and she is not his biggest fan in the world.  Truth hurts, doesn’t it, Green?  Dusting off his pride and taking a seat with the rest of the downstairs staff, Mr. Bates glowers across the table at him, straight up EYE MURDERING HIM GOOD.  Holy cow, you guys.  Chills ran up my arm.  #Taken3

Elsewhere, Robert leaves for America to help Cora’s brother Harold out of a financial jam with Thomas in tow as his valet, Isobel and Violet play cards well into the night to celebrate the Dowager’s recovery, and Branson makes a lady friend at a political rally.  Also, pigs.  Lots and lots of pigs.

As the season hits the final stretch of episodes, the many plot lines are hurtling to some sort of inevitable resolution, promising nothing more or less than wholesale family upheaval.  I impatiently await how this all plays out.


Snippets of Intrigue

– Mrs. Hughes: “I’m sorry to hear you’re suspicious of me, but I daresay we’ve both got the personality to overcome it.”

– Dowager Countess: “Try not to let those Yankees drive you mad!”

– Mrs. Patmore: “I don’t think we need praise from the French quite yet.” (lol #PatmoreLove)

– Mrs. Hughes: “Say there’s flu in the house and he mustn’t miss out on his course.”

Mr. Carson: “You’re quite the plotter when you have to be, aren’t you?”

Mrs. Hughes: “It’s a skill all women must learn.”

– Dowager Countess [in the grip of a fever]: “This one talks too much! She’s like a drunk vicar!”

– Clarkson [on her patience with Isobel]: “You’ll be rewarded in heaven.”

Dowager Countess: “The sooner the better.”

Downton Abbey S04E06: “Episode 6”

…an episode reminding us all the importance of “coming to bed and dreaming of ragtime.”

Are you one of three people in the world hoping for an alternate universe where Downton Abbey could cross-over with The Wire?  Wouldn’t you love to see the former delve into the social structures and infrastructures of 1920s London as the latter did with the city of Baltimore?  Admit it.  That would be pretty cool, and in its own Downton way, that kind of sort of maybe almost a tad bit happened as black jazz singers came to Crawley manor, bringing with them an infusion of metropolitan culture that clashed so starkly against the traditions of the rural upper crust.  Neat!

But in addition to jazz music livening up Robert’s birthday bash thanks to Rose, it very nearly sends Carson to an early grave.  How much did you love watching him lecture the musicians and servants on British anti-slavery policies out of one side of his mouth while clearly reviling the moral looseness those same musicians seemed to stow in their trumpet cases out of the other?  Carson, to borrow from JBJ, you give curmudgeons an excellent name.  Thank you.

So much happens in this episode that I’m tempted to label it overcrowded.  Take Isobel Crawley’s plot this week.  She flies off the handle after Violent Crawley fires the gardener after a second trinket goes missing, confronts Violent about the gardener, gets pulled into a deeply philosophical argument about the tension between materialism and justice, pulls a Miss Marple and does some investigating**, locates the missing knife from last week in the chair cushion (which I can relate to because that is, honestly, where I keep all of my gifts from the King of Sweden, in addition to the pretzels that don’t want to stay in mouth), confronts Violet again and gets shamed in the process, embraces her role as grandmama and has a play date with George, and bonds with Mary and Tom over their shared fortune of having loved someone as deeply as they all had.  Phew!  See what I mean?  I wish they hadn’t squeezed Violet’s reintegration into the Downton family in the same episode as the gardener plotline because it did major disservice to the latter, more meaningful plot.  Slow it down there, Downton!

**Um, brainstorm: can Penelope Wilton get on the next season of Sherlock?  Because yes please.

Speaking of slowing it down, how about Robert’s off-the-rails, crazy-train decision to allow Downton to dabble in intensive farming?  I mean Tom and Mary were totes #PigFanatics in this episode, scoping out barns and getting really worked up about all things pork related.  Don’t get me wrong, I love bacon as much as the next guy, but I’m starting to think that maybe Mary might need a companion to pour her energies into?  Because, if we’re being honest, her obsession with pigs does not seem like the behavior of a well-adjusted woman?  But fear not, Tom vows he wouldn’t even dream of leaving for America until all this pig business is put to bed.  Well thank goodness for that!

Here’s one for you: what does a pig have in common with Mr. Bates?  Both are eager to stick their snouts in a pile of filth!  See what I did there?  For Bates, his pile of filth is a tad more metaphorical, though.  In case you were confused.  I have to say, I could not believe my ears when Bates told Anna over dinner that he is most definitely not over what happened to her and would love an opportunity to open a fire hose of hate-orade into her attacker’s face.  You see, like an ever-decomposing Steven Tyler, Bates cannot let go of the past.  I really loved the excellent use of lighting predominating this strand of the narrative to give it a bit more of a symbolic heft.  The bright, sunny opening shot reflects Anna’s slowly returning former disposition.  As Bates and Anna meet in near-darkness to be alone, the use of shadows mirrors Anna’s refrain that they, too, are shadowed by the lingering effects of her trauma.  Clever.

***Best scene of the night: Lady Cora coming to the rescue after a snobby maitre de refuses to sit Bates and Anna amidst the local upper crust.  Cora is totally FTW tonight.  MVP!

Grab your trombones and get ready to make that sad sound again because #SadEdith has returned.  Remember that trip to the doctor from last week?  Well, we all saw it coming, but she is indeed preggers.  Having a child out of wedlock is one thing, but then there’s the slight Case of the Missing Gregson too.  Somebody call Isobel Crawley out of retirement because home girl’s got another case to solve!  But seriously, she is NOT investigating Gregson’s disappearance even though I want to write Julian Fellowes an e-mail to pitch the idea because it is absolutely the greatest idea in television history IMO.  Poor #SadEdith.  This might sound harsh, but for her sake, I hope Gregson died a terrible, sudden, and violent death because, at this point, she can’t take another jilting.

If we’re talking about downcast depressives, you know what time it is!  It’s #MoseleyWatch time as the tennis match that is his prospective employment at Downton continues.  Alfred receives good news that one of the top four candidates for the Ritz withdrew, so he–coming in at fifth–gets to step up!  In a great scene, he publicly thanks the Crawleys in general for his excellent treatment and Carson in particular for being a wonderful teacher.  Now I’m about to go out on a limb here, but Robert did not seem terribly comfortable with this expression of what I believe the pleebs call “feelings.”  Seriously, dude has an acute case of ants-in-the-pants for real.

After saying goodbye to the downstairs staff as well****, Alfred’s vacancy seems like another chance for Moseley.  Unfortunately, while Mrs. Hughes wants to give Moseley a break, Carson is being Carson.  Ever the traditionalist, he found Moseley’s previous balking an affront to his sense of social propriety.  Very arrogantly, he tells Moseley he does not want to hold him back from the great things he clearly wants.  Haha!  Good one, Carson!  Have you ever considered a career in theater?  Oh, right…Anyway, Mrs. Hughes eventually wins the Battle of the Moseley after she asks Moseley to come around to serve the servants tea.  Carson relents, offers him the job, and squirts some lemon in a wound, reminding Moseley about the…gloves!  For shame!

****Alfred’s farewell speech to Daisy, where he apologizes for being unable to love her as she loves him, is one of those vintage scenes this show pulls off, understated and honest.  Also, exceptionally aggressive dough kneading– and, no, that’s not a euphemism.

Elsewhere, Jimmy gets a little too handsy for Ivy’s taste, Napier and Blake reveal the true intentions of their estate report on behalf of PM Lloyd George, Thomas and Baxter learn the sketchy details of Anna’s attack, Rose and Mr. Ross get frisky, and news of Cora’s brother Harold falling to a bad investment arrive at Downton.

The crowded plotting hurt this week’s episode for sure, but there was still an overflowing abundance of trademark humor and character flourishes that almost made up for the accelerated pace.  As we gear up for the home stretch, I’m eager to see how these myriad plotlines begin to coalesce.


Snippets of Intrigue

– Bates: “Your husband is a brooder.  And brooders brood.”

– Isobel: “How you hate to be wrong!”

Dowager Countess: “I wouldn’t know.  I’m not familiar with the sensation.”

– Carson: “You’re nervous because you’re intelligent, Alfred.  Only stupid people are foolhardy.”

– Mrs. Patmore: “Oh, I like that Rudolph Valentino.  He makes me shiver all over.”

Carson: “What a very disturbing thought.”

– Mrs. Patmore: “It does make you want to jig about though, doesn’t it?”

Carson: “Certainly not!”

Downton Abbey S04E05: “Episode 5”

…an episode reminding us all the importance of “enriching the Béchamel.”

Last night’s episode, likely the strongest installment of the fourth season so far, overflowed with huge revelations and critical character moments, and we’ll get to them in due time.  But a man needs his priorities, and my priorities (and heart) lie with Mrs. Patmore.

Back when the premiere first aired, I hoped beyond hope that we had not seen the last of Downton’s delightful cook grappling with newfangled kitchen paraphernalia.   For a few weeks there, all hope seemed lost, as we never had a chance to return to that plot line (what with Anna’s attack taking center stage).  But this patient viewer found himself rewarded twofold last night.  The look of utter horror that overtakes Mrs. Patmore’s face while she watches Baxter, Cora’s newest maid, at work at an automatic sewing machine had me in (pardon the pun) stiches.  She marvels at its automation, unable to grasp the utter witchcraft of that pedal.  The way she hangs back as Baxter mends her torn apron reminded me of a hesitant child approaching a Doberman: curious but not curious enough to get too close.

While Mrs. Patmore could comprehend the benefits of a sewing machine at Downton, our favorite cook very nearly has a coronary when Cora comes downstairs to announce her desire to replace the icebox with a refrigerator.  Poor Mrs. Patmore splutters half-hearted rejoinders, unable to formulate coherent thoughts in this time of unexpected tragedy**.  This sequence is, in my mind, Downton’s equivalent of the Red Wedding.  I’m afraid the Mrs. Patmore we once knew and loved is gone forever. #ArtistFormerlyKnownAsPatmore

** No ice deliveries?  What form of blasphemy is this? 

Interestingly, Patmore’s technological reticence plays into the bigger theme of impending modernity playing out over the course of the episode.  She is not alone in her distrust of change; Robert himself falls victim to his sentimentality.  After a Downton tenant named Drew dies, the significant debt he left behind to his son forces Drew the Younger to relinquish the tenancy in order to pay back Lord Grantham***. Despite Drew the Elder’s debt, Robert considers the family loyal and so decides to defy modern convention and allow his traditionalist leanings to guide him: he allows Drew to stay on, even providing him with financial support to pay off the debt and remain a Downton tenant indefinitely.  Robert knows how hard out there it is for a pimp, so he’ll do anything to fly in the face of advancement!  Take that sociological betterment!  How’s it feel now?  Guys, I think I’m sort of starting to see why Downton totally went bankrupt a few seasons ago because, um, Robert is a real dumb-dumb financially speaking.  But this also shows he might have the burning ember of a heart in that ribcage?  So that’s progress!  Hurray Robert!

***Or something like that?  I didn’t really care about the particulars, and neither did you if we can both pause, cut the BS, and be honest with one another.  There, feel better?

 If we’re keeping it real (and, as you know, that is the only way to keep it when it comes to Downton Abbey), the whole Bates/Anna fiasco ties into the concept of modernity too, as a snapshot of the changing nature of male-female interactions.  While I’ve had my gripes with the rape plot overall, it has admittedly shed some light on this dark corner of women’s history, so that’s something.  Having said that,  boy oh boy was I glad when Bates overhears Mrs. Hughes and Anna talking in code about her attack.  To make a long story short, he threatens to leave Anna forever if Mrs. Hughes doesn’t spill this can of unfortunate beans, so he now knows about her attack, and he really wants to go all Liam Neeson on the culprit.  I mean like legit neck snapping, car door slamming, bridge heaving, electrocuting you while you’re strapped to a chair Neeson.  Not sure about you, but that would very much tickle my fancy.  #Taken3

Anna, of course, wants to protect Bates from the truth because she does not want him to go Neeson for some reason (oh right, jail and stuff).  But underlying all that, of course, she fears Bates will be unable to look beyond the stigma of her as a rape victim.  In a brilliantly subtle and symbolic moment, Bates rests his hand on Anna’s, stopping her from scrubbing those shoes she’s been cleaning since last week. For Bates, she has nothing to scrub from her soul, for she has  been neither spoiled nor sullied; in fact, the needless suffering she’s endured has sanctified her, and his love remains as passionate for her as ever.  Bates is a sensitive, modern man, breaking down and weeping over his wife’s torment****.

****This all works really well, but I can’t help but question the decision to turn Anna’s rape into Bates’s story, as it seems very much like a male writer taking this plotline in a direction he’s more comfortable with.  Still, Brendan Coyle and Joanne Froggatt crushed it.

Meanwhile, Alfred’s all about personal advancement, trying to realize his dreams of being Gordon Ramsay by attending a cooking test for possible employment at the Ritz.  Ultimately, he doesn’t make it (maybe he’s too much beanpole, not enough cream puff?), but Carson hopes this strengthens his resolve while Daisy bounces all around the kitchen, delighted by Alfred’s failure because she is crushing all over that ginger face of his and totally hearts him 4ever.  Seriously, though, I loved this plotline so much because it gave me that idea for Top Chef: Downton that I just came up with now.

When it comes to stagnation, it’s time for #MoseleyWatch!  Looks like Carson figures Alfred’s a shoe-in for that cooking position and offers Moseley a preemptive gig as replacement footman, but Moseley’s still reeling from those gloves he’d have to wear, so he needs to think it over.  In the meantime, Alfred flubs it and returns just as Moseley tells Carson he’ll accept the lowly position.  *Sad trombone*  Oh, Moseley, your misery delights us all so very, very much!  Don’t ever change!

Elsewhere, Thomas and Baxter forge an alliance in douchebaggery, Branson wants to live in America, Robert’s birthday approaches and Rose wants on the party planning committee, Edith might be pregnant, Mr. Napier returns to Downton with eyes on Mary, the Dowager Countess thinks her new gardener is a thief or possibly just a connoisseur of all things Swedish, and did I mention EDITH MIGHT BE PREGNANT?

In short, this episode’s balance of witty comedy and dynamite drama fell in perfect balance, launching it to the front of the season’s installments so far.  We’re halfway through now, and—like the best of Downton—it left me positively clamoring for more.

Until next weekend, Downtonites!


Snippets of Intrigue

– Thomas: “Mrs. Patmore is not what you’d call a futurist.”

– Dowager Countess: “The one thing we don’t want is a poet in the family!”

– Cora: “Is there any aspect of the present day that you can accept without resistance?”

Mrs. Patmore: “Well, my lady, I wouldn’t mind getting rid of my corset.”

– Dowager Countess [on Isobel’s passionate nature]: “Wars have been waged with less fervor.”

– Bates: “Nothing is over, and nothing is done with.”

Downton Abbey S04E04: “Episode 4”

…an episode reminding us all the importance of not “spending too much time on a one-sided love.”

Can we just put aside our differences for a second and come together on an important issue?  These days, there are all manors manners of drama filling the halls of the Downton estate, but emerging from the rubble is an MVP on whom we can all agree, can’t we?  I’m talking, of course, about Mrs. Hughes.

This episode picks up the morning after the events of last week’s installment; we find Anna feverishly polishing shoes at the table alone, a nice metaphor that speaks to her inability to scrub the lingering feelings of shame and dirtiness from herself.  Clearly, our girl Anna is not doing well.  Things don’t improve much during breakfast with the downstairs staff; Mrs. Hughes, the only person who knows of the attack, needs to smooth out the palpable tension in the room that arises after Anna inadequately tries to explain away her bruises.

The fact that the Gillinghams are still on the grounds is also a source of nerve-wracking fear for Anna.  Upstairs, the Crawleys wish the Gillinghams a fond farewell but not before Lord Gillingham confesses to Mary that his servant creeps him out (oh sweet irony).**

**But not all is lost: Gregson gets a handshake from his future pops-in-law and is all like, “I’m never going to wash this puppy again.” 

I like the contrast that develops between Anna and Bates, whose relationship a rift has separated (what with her not wanting to be touched and not wanting her husband to rot in jail once he inevitably kills her attacker), and Mary and Gillingham, whose relationship has grown closer.  Still, I’m not loving how Fellowes is handling Anna after her attack; it feels pat and predictable.  Anna moving upstairs to put distance between herself and Bates?  We spent several seasons wanting these two together, and I’m not a fan of using this traumatic event just as a way to test their relationship.  (Though I would love to live in a world where Robert, already attuned to Anna’s change in behavior, finds out first.)

Listen up now, I have some great news for you stalkers out there!  It seems like, as long as you have more money than you know what to do with, following someone home and inviting yourself into that person’s home unannounced is actually adorable?  I mean, that’s my takeaway from this episode because that’s exactly what Lord Gillingham did after Mary and co returned to Downton following their field trip to London to sort out the tax issue.  Also, it’s absolutely not creepy to propose marriage to someone you met a week ago and confess your unadulterated love***.  Thanks, Gillingham!  You’ve given all the creepers of the world a bright shining star of hope!  Boundaries are for the weak-willed!

***Mary, to her credit, was all like, “Um, no thanks tbh.  You’re a handsome pirate and all, but this is one booty you ain’t a-plunderin.”  That’s right, girl!  You tell him!

I guess its time for me to talk about Edna (ugh).  Here I go again, unable to prevent myself from stirring up a whirlwind of controversy, but I have to say it: I found her behavior less than desirable in this episode.  Is it just me or does it seem like she took advantage of a drunk Branson at the end of last episode in a creepy form a date rape?****

****Dear Julian Fellowes:      

            While I totally heart your television series 4evs, please refrain from using rape as a plot device.  It is not okay.  If you ever struggle in brainstorming ideas for a new plot, just put Moseley into a new situation.  For example, Moseley gets locked in a zoo after hours.  That would be hilarious!  Or perhaps Moseley finds a treasure map in Mrs. Patmore’s sugar bowl (not a euphemism) and goes on a zany adventure with a pet ferret!  Let your creativity run wild! But please stop revealing these dark corners of your soul to us because, frankly, I’m getting worried about you.

            All the best (with hugs and kisses),

            Overstuffed DVR

Later on, Edna just sort of casually drops a question into her conversation with Branson: would he marry her if she were pregnant?  Much to Edna’s surprise, Branson isn’t thrilled by this.  What’s more, Mary senses something is off with him on their trip to London and encourages him to find a confessor to spill the beans.  And when you’re a Downton-dweller, who you gonna call?

MRS. HUGHES! *Cue jingle similar to but not a replica of the Ghostbusters theme in order to avoid copyright issues.*

After having listened to this icky tale, Mrs. Hughes summons Edna to her office, calls her a lying hussy (my words, not hers), and disproves the pregnancy threat—all with Branson in attendance.  Mrs. Hughes then invites Edna to collect her belongings and leave Downton, praying that she not let the door hit ya where the Good Lord split ya. Hey, even Thomas got to take a parting pot shot at Edna before she leaves, calling her a witch (he let her off a bit light imo).

Elsewhere, love in its myriad forms: Rose crushes on a black jazz bandleader, Jimmy and Ivy get frisky in the boot room, Mrs. Hughes gives Carson a token to remember Alice by, Alfred wants to pursue his cooking dream while also putting Ivy in his rearview, Edith cashes in her V-card, Aunt Rosamund calls Edith a scandalous trollop, and we’re all shipping Isobel and Clarkson SO HARD. #Adorbs

Putting aside my feelings on Anna’s attack, this proved another solid installment of Downton, hinting at the possibility of a brighter future for Mary (Isobel greeting Gillingham and saying she hopes to see a great deal more of him is one of those character details this show gets right time and time again—great stuff).  Plus, Edna is now wandering the streets, hopefully never to return because she is the worst.

Until next weekend, Downtonites!


Snippets of Intrigue

– Violet Crawley [to Isobel]: “I don’t criticize her or you.  But I do hope you’ll find a way to make friends with the world again.”

– Jimmy: “I do have dreams.  They don’t involve peeling potatoes.”

– Mary: “Seriously, Papa, Edith’s as mysterious as a bucket.”

– Carson: “The business of life is the acquisition of memories.”

– Mrs. Hughes [to Carson]: “It’ll reassure the staff to know you once belonged to the human race.”

Downton Abbey S04E03: “Episode 3”

…an episode reminding us all the importance of “living in the twentieth century.”

Well, that happened!

I suppose it was only a matter of time before misery reintroduced itself to the lovely Mrs. Anna Bates.  For such a lovable, kind, and genuine character, she seems to find herself in one horrible situation after another.   But having her wallow in fear and doubt while awaiting news on her husband’s bogus murder charge was one thing; subjecting her to a brutal rape at the hands of Lord Gillingham’s servant is quite another**.

**Call me old-fashioned, but I hate it when a show uses an assault against a woman as the basis for plot.  Still, I have to admit the sequence’s staging, with the blissful family and staff of Downton gathered for a private concert upstairs, was chilling. 

For all its attention to period details and nuance of character, Downton Abbey is no stranger to melodrama, but this felt over-the-top even by those standards, a sure-fire method to shock and accomplish little else.  Having said that, I’m interested in where Fellowes and company will take this plot and hope it steers away from the overwrought predictability that such an event can elicit in a television series.  I am also going on the record in support of a Bates/Taken crossover when he inevitably gets the truth out of Mrs. Hughes or Anna or both.  Because, let’s be honest: Bates will find him, and he will kill him.  Let’s initiate the Kickstarter campaign!

Now that we have that soul-crushing development out of the way, let’s move on, shall we?  Because, with the exception of Anna’s attack, the remainder of this third episode brimmed with interesting character flourishes and biting humor, two staples of a quality Downton installment.

When the episode begins, the Downton estate is abuzz with activity as the Crawleys prepare to host a house party for a number of guests, including the Gillinghams, a card shark named Samson, and some dude named Bullock that keeps having his name bandied about but might not actually exist.  The influx of visitors brings an optimistic sort of chaos to the abbey, with the downstairs staff receiving newcomers as well (including the creepy Gillingham who immediately set his sights on Anna).

While even Lady Mary joins in the fun, poor Branson flounders in this world.  The former chauffeur has never felt completely at ease with the upper-crust customs that went along with his marriage to Sibyl and now, without her, he’s even more adrift.  His idea of small talk with a Duchess includes riveting conversations on barley production.  Whoa there, buddy!  Save some excitement for your second meeting, would you?   What’s more, his critical misunderstanding of the social expectations during such a gathering leads Branson to make a critical faux pas, referring to the Duchess as Your Grace.***

***While the Dowager’s correction of Branson is priceless and features hilarious jabs at the British upper class, the best part of this sequence has to be Carson, in the 1920s version of a photobomb, scowling at Branson from the background.  His look of utter disgust epitomizes everything that is so wonderful about the head butler.

Despite a surprisingly touching admission from Robert that he belongs to this world, Branson still struggles. Naturally, Edna (ugh) bumps into Branson at his lowest point, bringing him Scotch, come-hither glances, and perhaps a misinterpreted midnight booty call?  I don’t want to get confrontational, but I hope the next time Jimmy throws a jar in the air to show off for Ivy or Daisy, it lands on Edna’s head.

Meanwhile, Mary finds herself clicking with Lord Gillingham (not to be confused with Gillingham the Rapist), a familiar figure from her childhood who’s grown up positively bursting with smolder.  I found it interesting that Mary seems to grow more attached to him after he mentions being “close to marriage,” as if that somehow makes it safer to befriend this man and less of a betrayal of Matthew.  The Lady Mary even invites Gillingham to accompany her on a horseback ride, claiming she is (BLATANT METAPHOR WARNING) ready to get back in the saddle.  You see what she did there?

Naturally, Rose has to ruin everything by breaking out the gramophone, pumping the volume up to eleven and getting some booties out on the dance floor to the well-mannered equivalent of “Get Lucky.”  Mary accepts Gillingham’s invitation to dance, but quickly flees when she realizes the gramophone in question belonged to Matthew.  Feeling perhaps deceitful or guilty for her happiness (or perhaps both), she leaves Gillingham to do the worm by himself.

Elsewhere, Edith and Mr. Gregson face successive brush-offs from Robert.  He declines an invitation to walk with them, cuts short a captivating discussion on his extensive library, and even—most egregiously—refuses to laugh at Gregson’s “poker face” pun!  In the middle of a poker game!  What else does a brother have to do to get some respect?****

****As it turns out, the answer is simple: swindle Samson, the card shark who’s been swindling the male guests at Downton.  Easy peasy lemon squeezy!  You go Gregson!  Your love is still likely doomed, but celebrate the victories as they come!

 It’s time for #MoseleyWatch!  For the second consecutive week, he stole the show for me.  After Jimmy sprains his wrist with all the grace of a tranquilized elephant, a desperate Carson seeks out Moseley to replace him as footman.  Beggars unable to choose, Moseley accepts the lowly position but about has a stroke when Carson holds up a pair of white gloves.  OH THE HUMANITY!!!!

Moseley’s reversing career serves as a great metaphor for the many references to the perpetual forward march of modernity in this episode; after all, the rigidity of the class divisions and traditions that define Downton must inevitably backslide to accommodate the changing times.  Change, both personal and historical, is afoot!

Amidst all this, Mrs. Patmore has an anxiety attack over vegetables and sauces (but, unfortunately, not over a new kitchen appliance) while Dr. Clarkson and Isobel Crawley continue to be #Adorbs.  Oh, and Alfred wants to be Downton’s version of Gordon Ramsay, minus the screaming but very much plus the beanpole gawkiness.

In the end, apart from an abruptly dark and violent shift in the narrative during the episode’s closing minutes, there is a great deal to adore here, and adore it I did!  I’m not sold on the direction of Anna’s plot yet, but if I learned one thing from watching Downton Abbey, it’s this: the show’s at its most compelling when its goings-on are fraught with discontent.

Until next weekend, Downtonites!

Snippets of Intrigue

– Moseley: “I have no pride left.” [Holds up gloves.]

– Moseley: “I’ve done my career backwards.”

– Robert [to Carson]: “Why?  Do you fear the corrupting influence of opera?”

– Mrs. Patmore calling Jimmy “Mr. Clever Clogs” LOL!

– The Dowager Countess: “If I were to search for logic, I should not look for it among the British upper class.”

– The Dowager Countess: “Tom’s small talk is very small indeed.”

Robert: “Not everyone can be Oscar Wilde.”

The Dowager Countess: “Well, that’s a relief.”

Downton Abbey S04E01 & S04E2: “Episode 1” & “Episode 2”

an episode reminding us all the importance of “joining the living”

And we’re back folks!  Sunday night’s two-hour return to the Grantham stomping grounds had a veritable sampling of everything we love and expect from this ridiculously entertaining series.  After all, what other show on television can turn the introduction of a kitchen mixer into an existential crisis (poor Mrs. Patmore) or an accusation of foiling the morning egg order into legit fighting words (Thomas, you sly dog)?

Let’s just get on with all the glorious melodrama, shall we?

First off, let’s start with the bad news.  I hate to have to be the one to tell you, but it looks like your letter-writing campaign to Dan Stevens, threatening him to rejoin the Downton family, did not pay off.  The fourth season did not begin with The Dowager Countess dabbling in the dark arts and dripping snake blood across Matthew Crawley’s dead body, reciting necromancy incantations.  A miraculous resurrection was not in the cards, but Matthew is still very much ingrained in and a part of the goings-on at Downton Abbey.

Season four opens on a symbolically dismal day in February 1922.   It’s been six months since her husband’s burial, and Mary’s grief lingers unabated.  She cannot see past it and is unable to be the mother she should, passing off her son George, heir apparent to the Downton estate, to the seemingly delightful Nanny West**.

**Apparently, she REALLY hates poor people.  Lady Cora overheard her calling baby Sibyl a “half-breed” and didn’t take kindly to that kind of thing, suggesting she pack up her toothbrush and hit the bricks.  I don’t want to get up on my soapbox or anything, but being a hateful bigot does not seem to be the best way to maintain gainful employment.  There, I said it.  Let the controversy begin.

In many ways, I found Julian Fellowes’s treatment of Mary’s grief fairly superficial; she laments that Matthew saw the good in her and wonders now (in his absence) if she can ever be again, she snaps at Carson for over-stepping his bounds when offering advice, and she mislabels George an orphan.  I mean, yes, we get it; she’s sad, angry, lonely, and vulnerable, but I didn’t learn anything new about Mary as a character.  Thankfully, we didn’t have to wait long for this plot strand’s resolution, as Carson (it had to be Carson) helps Mary confront and take baby steps toward overcoming her grief.  At Branson’s behest, she’s picking up Matthew’s torch and insinuating herself in the management of the estate.  Michelle Dockery did what she could with the material, but I wish there had been more for her to sink her teeth into.

Despite the shortcomings of how we saw Mary’s grief handled, these initial two hours found Isobel Crawley’s very sense of identity in crisis as a result of her son’s death.  In a touching scene between herself and Lady Edith, she says: “When your child dies, you’re not a mother anymore.  You’re not anything, really.  And that’s what I’m trying to get used to.”  A plot that originally had me rolling my eyes (a mysterious actor friend of Carson’s reappearing) ends up dovetailing beautifully with Isobel’s struggle.  In offering to help this Mr. Grigg, she rediscovers a humanity she thought had died in the passenger seat right alongside Matthew.  Her kindness and charity—two traits that made her who she was—are alive and well.  They’d survived the accident, and if they did, then, perhaps, by remaining true to herself, she can honor Matthew’s legacy and endure as well.  Powerful stuff, and beautifully played by Penelope Wilton.

That brings us to the subject of my favorite plotline: Moseley.  Who expected Downton to afford so much screen time to the late Matthew Crawley’s valet?  I certainly didn’t, but I’m so glad we had the opportunity to delve into how this has affected him.  You see, from Moseley’s perspective, he was set for life; the sudden departure of his cash cow has replaced the prospect of a steady income with a general sense of listlessness when it comes to his future.

The Dowager Countess gets involved (as is her wont), staying true to her tendency to help those she cares about.  It seems the Lady Shackleton might be in need of help when her current butler retires, so Violet pulls some strings and gets a sort of performance interview during a luncheon between the two ladies.  In a bleakly funny sequence, the Dowager’s current help, misreading the scenario and feeling his livelihood is in jeopardy, hinders Moseley’s every move (including heating up the handle of a serving tray beneath a flame) and the job opportunity disintegrates.

Soon after, Anna finds Moseley working as a day laborer doing street repairs, and she feels horribly and wants to help because Anna is THE BEST.  Bates agrees to help Anna because Bates is THE BEST and, with Violet, they hatch a scheme to give Moseley a gift of 30 pounds by convincing him Bates owed him money from ages ago.  It turns out, a stint it prison teaches you more than how to make the best toilet wine; you can also learn the fine art of forgery and use it to trick your friends into taking your money!  So, in the end, Bates and Anna help Moseley when they’re not mailing each other anonymous love notes on Valentine’s Day.  #PowerCouple

Speaking of love stories for the ages, our Lady Edith seems swept up in the plot of every school girl’s dream: it’s the old find-a-man-you-love-and-who-loves-you-but-who-can’t-be-with-you-due-to-his-current-wife’s-extreme-mental-incapacitation-so-he-must-become-a-German-citizen-before-he-marries-you-because-lunacy-is-grounds-for-divorce-there.  Yes, things are progressing just as you’d expect for Edith and (future Nazi?) Mr. Gregson.  Call me a pessimist, but I have a sneaking suspicion this Cinderella story isn’t going to end as well as it seems destined to right now.

In other not-so-newsworthy developments, Robert continues to be THE. WORST.  In an effort to cement his bid for Father of the Year, he uses Mary’s grief to his advantage (her withdrawal having left a power vacuum as far as estate affairs go, leaving Lord Grantham salivating) and considers withholding Matthew’s will from Mary to secure his grip on power.  Thank God for Violet, who takes every opportunity to belittle her son, calling him both childish and foolish in her very upper-crust Dowager Countess-y ways.  As the second hour ends, and Mary finds the hastily scrawled will to be legitimate, I loved Hugh Bonneville’s look of feigned happiness; Robert, ever the traditionalist, clearly takes issue with this latest brand of female empowerment.  The clash between modernity and tradition has always been at the heart of this series, and I am excited to see how it unfolds here between father and daughter.

Amongst all this are subplots of various quality: O’Brien flies the coop in the dead of night (for India because why not?), Carson makes up with a long-lost theatre buddy after a squabble over (what else?) a lady, Rose likes to dress up as the help and go dancing (not in that order), the Alfred/Ivy/Jimmy/Daisy quadrangle complicates during Valentine’s Day, Mrs. Patmore is adorably inept with her newfangled kitchen appliance, *** and Edna Braithwaite returns to Downton (who?).

***For the record, I fully endorse the idea of having each subsequent episode feature Mrs. Patmore wrestling with a new piece of quasi-technological cookware because that sounds amazing.

In the end, though certainly uneven in spots, this premiere did a great job of getting us right back into the swing of things at Downton.  It wasn’t perfect, but that’s sort of why I love this show so much; it’s big and messy and over-the-top and melodramatic, and I love every minute of it.

Well, my fellow Downtonites, until next weekend!  Whatever that is…


Snippets of Intrigue

– Carson: “What does it matter anyway?  We shout and wail and scream and cry but in the end we all must die.”

Mrs. Hughes: “That’s cheered me up.”

– Dowager Countess: “You must choose either death or life.”

– Carson: “You’re letting yourself be defeated, my lady.  I’m sorry if it’s a lapse to say, but someone has to.”

– Lady Mary: “He’s not bad-looking, and he’s still alive, which puts him ahead of most men of our generation.”