Downton Abbey 2.5

(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!

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7 thoughts on “Downton Abbey 2.5

  1. Why, oh why, does poor Edith always end up falling for the most unlikely men on the planet? You can’t convince me that the only options for a perfectly swell girl like her are an old married farmer and Mr. Run-for-the-hills-at-the-moment-of-reckoning Peter Gordon. Neither of which was particularly attractive.

    And Sir Richard really is an odd character. Over-all he seems like a boring, but respectable person who would really try to do right by Mary. And then, as if the producers suddenly remembered that he was supposed to be a BAD character, Mr. Hyde suddenly comes out at the most random moments.

    There was so much going on in this episode; I really salute you for tackling it. Don’t let me start talking about the Bates/Anna, Sybil/Branson, Mary/Sir Richard/Lavinia/Matthew, Ethel the maid (boooring) sagas or we’ll be here all day. I will say though: I DO LOVE Violet. She couldn’t get anymore awesome. Or could she?

    • I agree with you about Sir Richard, now I think about it. My one complaint about him throughout (when they’re not trying to make him a black-hatted villain, twirling his moustache as he ties an innocent girl to the railroad tracks MUAHAHAHAHA!!!) is that he really is common-verging-on-vulgar at times. All that talk of money and power, yuck. That, I think, would be the biggest barrier to his having a happy marriage with Mary. She understands money and is comfortable with it; he still thinks he has to show it off and talk about it all the time. He’s insecure, I guess, but tries to make up for it with bravado and blackmail?

      Yes, and enough already with the Woman Ruined By Evil Officer subplot. Gag. And of course I love Violet. I think we should make t-shirts with “Team Violet” on them… except no one would buy the corresponding “Team Isobel” ones.

  2. The only excuse for the whole long-lost-heir bit is that it showed us more of Edith’s character development. The only problem with that, of course, is that it’s a retread of season one’s almost-marriage-proposal. Is the poor young woman doomed to a recurring series of rises to love’s heights only to be dashed on disappointment’s rocky shores? Probably.

    I spent most of the last two episodes being mroe and more impressed with Sir Richard’s character. It looked like some of that nobility stuff was rubbing off on him. Then he showed himself to be the gutter snipe he truly is. With our Mary! My hope is that after Carson moves in with them, he takes a silver salver and pummels Sir R soundly about the head and shoulders.

    About that doorway shot: Jim Carter/Carson and Hugh Bonneville/Grantham have the best on screen chemistry in the whole cast (followed closely by Maggie Smith and whoever is lucky enough to be in a scene with her at the moment). That doorway scene was worth any dreck that may have been part of leading up to it.

    Thanks for the great re-cap, Laura. Looking forward to next week’s installment (both the show and your take on it).

    Tim

    P.S. Have you seen the two part spoof on DA that the BBC produced for it’s annual fundraiser? They really capture the sense of the characters and the plots, and are funny as all get out. Here’s part one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r5dMlXentLw. And part two: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p3YYo_5rxFE.

    P.P.S. Would it be shamelessly self-promoting for me to mention that Keri Wyatt Kent asked me to do a guest piece for her blog? (I don’t have a blog of my own, just a few postings here and there when invited to write for others.) This article concerns the brouhaha over John Piper’s call for a more “masculine” Christianity. I hope you get a chance to go over and read it. I’d love to hear people’s thoughts on the subject. http://keriwyattkent.com/soul/?p=1073

  3. I think it must be Opposites Day for us regarding DA romantic plotlines. I love anything Bates and Anna related, even if it’s convoluted and wearying. And I kind of get a bit bored of the Love Triangle (quadrangle if you include Lavinia). And I don’t even find Matthew that good looking (give me the valet any day). And Mary annoys me. Winge winge.

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