(Blah blah blah GO AWAY IF YOU’RE NOT CAUGHT UP.)
Number of predictions from last week that were anything close to correct: a few.
Number of predictions from last week that were TOTALLY, TOTALLY WRONG: most of them.
For the sake of having some kind of organization, we’ll take this apart Western-style:
THE GOOD: Lord G’s patronage of the new housemaid’s son. So cute. And speaking of cute, how sweet did Edith look when she was gadding about the place with Probably-Fake Patrick? Her costumes have just gotten better and better — that beautiful red high-waisted skirt and the ivory top with the tassels? And her hair is fantastic. Guh. I also loved the little crack about how Bates doesn’t think a tuxedo (as opposed to a cutaway/tailcoat) will be much use after the war and Lord Grantham says he’ll keep it around for informal family dinners.
Y’all know I predicted that Matthew’s dire injury wasn’t going to be as bad as initially thought, which I’m obviously pumped about, but seriously (shallow moment) — he looks SO, SO, SO good when he’s doing that steely-eyed stare into the middle distance as he tries to Cope With His Pain, so that’s a little bit of a drawback if he’s all happy and content with Mary OR Lavinia. (Still think Lavinia’s going to die of Spanish Flu.)
I had a moment of softening a bit toward Sir Richard when he talked about “rescuing” the Granthams’ neighboring estate — so romantic! — which was quickly dashed, but we’ll get to that later. His bride-to-be, however, has become just about my favorite character in the series. She really has become both more resolute and more tender, and it’s all because of her love for and loyalty to Matthew. It’s all so old-fashioned and sweet, the idea of someone becoming the best possible version of themselves because of love, and I just — well, love it. (Also, side note about how much I hate Michelle Dockery. That milky, velvety skin! That glossy raven hair! Those dark expressive eyes! Ugh. Hate.)
AND, of course, Violet’s completely unsubtle, and mercifully successful, attempt to find something to get Isobel’s prying eyes and meddlesome fingers out of Downton was brilliant. But this wasn’t Violet’s normal control-freak impulse, it was genuinely wise and ultimately kind. Isobel is a woman used to activity, who must have something to run, and it’s not right for her to be in charge of someone else’s home when her not-insignificant skills could be better used elsewhere. And was that a little detente between Cora and Violet after Isobel revealed she was going to work with War Refugees? Cora used the word “Mama” to address Violet, and thanked her unironically! Heavens!
THE BAD: Cora, being rushed and dismissive toward Robert, AGAIN. Not ok, Lady G. Vera being dead, although I was thisclose to putting this in “The Good” because it means she’s out of their hair, but it surely means more scandal and draaaaaagging ooouuuut of the plooooot with Baaaaates and Aaaaanna booooooooorrrrrrrrrrriiiiing… But maybe it was Sir Richard who had her bumped off and HE’LL have to go to jail? That would very firmly move this to “Good.” For sure.
Also, the soapiest Downton plot yet: Oh-How-CONVENIENT-To-The-Storyline! Amnesia? Come ON, Julian Fellowes. If this P. Gordon feller is just a red herring, you could have done a more convincing job with him. I gave you a pass on the whole “Oh NO The Heir is paralyzed from the waist down OR IS HE DUN DUN DUNNNNNN” thing, but really, you only get one of those lame-sauce Days of Our Lives plot devices per season if you’re going to shoot for Masterpiece-level highbrowery. He knows things only the real Patrick would know? AS IF. Because it would be so hard for a friend of Patrick’s to learn or figure out that three spoiled aristocratic daughters would have had a governess? Or that they wouldn’t have liked her? Psh. I think you mean he knows things only a moderately-skilled mentalist would know. He is so annoying and has the worst speaking voice ever and I hate him and he needs to stay away and someone delicious — American businessman, or world explorer or somesuch — needs to come along for Edith to marry, post-haste.
THE UGLY: Lavinia’s costumes we just have to talk about for a second. Right shape for the period, but it looked like the tailor skipped her costume rack. Like two sizes too big.
BUT. Most importantly: SIR RICHARD, that jerk. Inexcusable. He plays puppet master with Lavinia and Lady Grantham, and that’s bad enough, but hauling Mary behind a pillar to threaten her with blackmail and ruin if she doesn’t toe the line and act like a good little wifey? And then planting that horrid little possessive kiss on her? “Don’t ever cross me”?? What is he THINKING? Maybe she’ll go ahead and marry him and he’ll try to smack her around and she’ll take their shiny nouveau fire-poker to his nasty little nouveau skull, because she’s much stronger than she knows, and that will be the end of that.
PREDICTIONS: Someone is (or maybe several someones are) going to die of Spanish Flu, maybe Cora. Matthew may walk again? I dunno. We’ll see. Either that or Downton’s going to have to become the first wheelchair accessible estate house in England. And Sibyl is definitely going to run off with Branson. But apart from that? I got nothin’. This week’s Fake Patrick/Convenient Amnesia plot wore out my predictor.
FINAL THOUGHTS: The shot of Carson and Lord Grantham standing in the doorway, just the two of them, really sums up this show for me. It is, essentially, a show about men — good men, trying to get along in a world that seems increasingly built for Thomases and Sir Richards, being strong and noble and facing facts and looking out on the world with as much courage as they can. And that’s reason number 1156 why I love it.
See y’all next week!