Who woulda thunk it, back when we first entered the story of the House of Grantham, on that fateful day, the morning after the Titanic sank, that when all was said and done, luckless Lady Edith would be married to a Marquess, and imperious Lady Mary to a used car salesman? Whether it’s a dose of karma, or redemption, or just Lord Fellowes’ wish to not to spend the rest of his life being accosted by Lady Edith fans at the Barnes & Noble, it was rather delicious, wasn’t it?
Vanity Unfair: A Total Eclipse of the Heart:
Andy moons over Daisy but she gives him only the cold shoulder in return, which is her wont. She’s a lot like Lady Mary in that way. Everyone keeps telling her she could do worse, but now that she can do math, she’s run the numbers (i.e.: the male population of Great Britain) and thinks she could do better – not figuring into that equation the actual number of those males who are nice like Andy, or who actually pass through the cellar where she spends all her time in a stained apron she’s been wearing since 1920. It may rain a lot there in Old Blighty, but it ain’t raining men. Still that doesn’t matter; Miss Bunting has raised her standards and there’s no going back. Bereft and exhausted, Andy finally gives up on her – and so it remains until one day when Daisy goes to visit Mr. Mason’s farm and comes upon the sight of Andy and his scantily clad torso repairing the roof. She has to be restrained from stuffing pound notes in his g-string. Mr. Mason tells her it’s helpful to have the use of a young man’s muscles. (Bertie’s cousin Peter could have told her that!) Yeah, she gets that now but it’s too late. She’s been dismissive of puppy dog Andy for too long and now he doesn’t want to know. In a drastic bid to get noticed, Daisy decides to wash the bacon grease out of her hair and all hell breaks loose. Burglary, trespassing, and an epic bad hair day ensue, causing much hilarity for everyone but Daisy, until finally Health Inspector Willis closes down the kitchen for running an illegal hair salon, bringing Anna thisclose to yet another arrest. All of this causes Mrs. Patmore to tell giggling Andy a few home truths. He takes it in, then takes a lock of Daisy’s hair to either put under his pillow or slip into the kedgeree (we’re not sure which), and tells Daisy they’ve been out of step and need to fall in step, maybe take cha-cha lessons. (Much preferable to the Grizzly Bear, don’t you think?) Then Daisy lets him know she’s made some decisions for the two of them and will read him her list later, then give him a copy (which he can file under ‘be careful what you wish for’). He’s thrilled. Hallelujah!
Many Happy Returns: Hebrew International:
Just in time for the wedding, Cousin Oliver Rose and her Hot Hebrew Hunk, Atticus, return from New York for the wedding of the Century. They quickly settle back in to the swing of things, though Atticus spends most of his time looking confused; possibly because Rose is looking a bit like Tony Curtis in Some Like it Hot. (Amiright?) Or maybe it’s that he only came all this way because he was promised wedding cake and is disappointed it wasn’t waiting in the library when he arrived. Sadly, they couldn’t bring their new baby with them because apparently their nanny has primary custody and would not allow it, or maybe she’s holding the baby hostage, or maybe she’s Mrs. Pelham’s even more evil twin (perish the thought). We’re not sure. But not to worry, at least Shrimpy is on hand for cocktails and a speech. Susan, however, was not invited and was quite bitter about it so she turned up anyway and danced around outside the house, painted in woad and howling. Cousin Oliver Rose does come bearing some interesting news from America though: Edith’s impending nuptials have made the papers over there. Does this mean her last wedding made the papers too? Is this how the New York Marathon got started? I say we start that rumor. Who’s with me?
Arsenic and Young Lace: Ain’t That Peculiar:
Uh-oh, it’s worse than we thought. We knew that Louchey Larry and Pernicious Amelia wanted dear, sweet Lord Merton off their hands, but would they do anything as grubby as trying to speed things along by convincing him that he’s dying while slowly poisoning him? Was that plan B when Isobel wouldn’t play along? This (poison) is never actually mentioned, but it sure is the impression I got, did you think that too? Why else would they want to, not only keep him isolated from everyone, but also prevent him from seeing a local doctor (who would know him) for a second opinion? Dickie does get downstairs long enough to see Isobel the first time she calls, and breaks the sad news to her. (Amelia must have been hanging upside down in the attic and he was able to slip past her.) He is resigned to his fate, having had a long life, but wishes he had had the chance to be married to Isobel, who is bereft and can’t remember why she never did marry him in the first place (though she is about to get a little reminder). They were able to get out to make a preliminary visit to the village hospital, but after that the hammer came down. He is being held hostage upstairs in his bedroom. Isobel tries and fails to get access. She even turns up at Cavenham pretending to sell Girl Scout cookies but she cannot get past gatekeeper Pernicious Amelia. However there is someone who can: Violet Crawley. Her icy glare could chase a pit bull up a tree, and together she and Isobel spring Dickie from captivity.
When the ruse is exposed, Dickie finally declares to Louchey, “I have tried and failed to like you.” I would have liked to see him say something stronger but that would be out of character for Dickie, and hey, we’ll take what we can get. As he marched out the door with his future Lady Merton on his arm, on his way to his new life, he tossed the greedy little bastards his house keys and said, “May you have joy of it”, which sounds a lot like the Southern, passive/aggressive expression, ‘bless your heart’, an expression that sounds sweet but in reality means the same as the more honest and direct New York, ‘f-you’. I’m sure there are many (like me) who would have paid good money to see Dickie say f-you to those reprehensible creatures Larry and Amelia. And we would have loved to see Lord Merton kick his kids to the curb rather than leave his beautiful house and let them have it, but let’s look at it this way: Even though they’ve got the house, they won’t have the money to support it without Lord Merton’s cash. The economizing they’ll have to do will take all the fun out of it and it’s likely they’ll lose it altogether. Let’s hold onto that thought.
Onward and upward to better things: Like Violet, The Dow G, we hate Greek drama, where everything happens off-stage, as it did for Dickie and Isobel’s wedding. But no matter; we will forgive this oversight because we are so happy these two crazy kids finally got together. And in classic Dr. Clarkson fashion, he’s wrong before he’s right. At first Clarkson agreed with the Harley Street doctor, until he found out it was his Moriarty, Sir Philip Tapsell. Then he questioned why they took Lord Merton to see a gynecologist and ordered more tests which found that Dickie’s hourglass is not almost empty. Whether it was being away from his captors or Isobel’s loving care, they have both got a new lease on life and they are living it. They’ve even taken up a new hobby together: Every afternoon at 3, Dickie and Isobel have their driver take them up to Cavenham where they drive laps around the circular driveway, honking the horn and flipping the bird at Larry and Amelia every time they go past the drawing room windows. It never gets old.
Baby I Can’t Drive My Car: Second Hand Rosebud:
The honeymoon continues for Lady Mary and her dahling husband. Even though Snappy Talbot is from a titled family, he’s a different sort of creature than we’ve seen upstairs before; he thanks the servants when they hand him a drink (He never got the memo that you’re supposed to ignore them.), and he even offers to pour for ailing Carson. He’s a kind of hybrid; a hybrid who frets that witnessing the fiery death of his best friend Charlie has taken all the fun out of race car driving. (It wasn’t so much fun for Charlie either) So he quits, but now what? It’s a relief for Mary, but an existential crisis for Snappy who feels he now must find something else to do to be worthy of Lady Mary. His stud services are not enough.
For her part, now that she’s happy, Mary feels a bit guilty about causing Edith’s engagement to die in a fiery crash of a different sort, so she enlists the help of fellow schemer Aunt Rosamund to set Edith up on a blind date with Bertie in the hopes they can work it out. They do. And Edith and Mary do too. To answer Edith’s confusion over why, after torturing her all these years, does Mary suddenly have this change of heart (or, just a heart, period)? Mary shrugs and says because they’re sisters and stuck with each other, and she pledges to try to do a little better in the future. Edith is thrilled but cautious, so for now she’ll continue to sleep with one eye open. As the big nuptials approach, things are going so well between them that, even though Mary found out she’s pregnant, she is keeping it a secret so as not to rain on Edith’s wedding parade. Now that Edith and Mary have moved past the ‘I know you are but what am I? Infinity!’ life they’ve led thus far, Snappy speaks for the audience when he asks, “Are you going to be best friends now?” No, they’re not going to be best friends, but of course they’re going to be friends of some kind: Edith is living in a castle and owns a successful magazine…and Mary never knows when she might need a loan (not that I’m cynical).
My Priggishe Momme: Impossible Things Are Happening Everyday:
As the Crawleys stroll along en famille, everyone is in muted colors; creams, pale camels and olives – except Edith. She is in bright orange. One of these things is not like the others. Then again, she never was. Since her break from Bertie she is resigned to her spinsterhood, and wants to live in London alone (with Marigold), seemingly with no nanny, (heaven forfend!), and only a char lady standing between her and Armageddon (I’m picturing Carol Burnett with a mop). She’ll work at The Lady and live her spinstery life in her own little corner, in her own little chair. (And by the way, can we all agree that we’re glad the word ‘spinster’ has been retired from regular rotation?) When Isobel asks if Marigold has any relations that need to be informed, were you as surprised as I was? Why would they keep the secret from Isobel who, of everyone in the family, would be the least judgmental? And besides, Mrs. Hughes knows, which is about the same as releasing the story over the AP wire anyway.
Little did Edith know that Mary decided to use her powers for good, not evil, (for once), and arranged a meeting with Bertie at the Ritz. For a moment Edith looks like she might pull an Anthony Strallan, but her breeding kept her from making a scene, so she sits. Bertie, his voice cracking, asks Edith to come back. Edith reminds him that he broke her heart, but at the end of the day, who can resist that quivering lip? She had to say yes. Bertie is a sweetheart. He should have been Lord Merton’s son. She accepts, but there’s a catch. (Ain’t there always?) They’ll have to keep Marigold’s true identity secret from his mummy dearest. Don’t they know the first rule of drama?: Secrets always come out. But oh well, let’s hope for the best. It’s off to Brancaster to meet the parents. When Lord and Lady Grantham arrived the butler led them to the yellow drawing room to meet Dragon Lady, but wait, did that mustachioed butler look familiar? It was none other than Historical Oracle Alastair Bruce! He gets a cameo every season.
OK, so now that we’ve met Mrs. Pelham, we understand why Atticus said they all feel sorry for Bertie. Golly (hold the gumdrops)! She’s rather nasty about Bertie’s dearly departed gay cousin Peter, and she barely lets Bertie speak for himself. She’s already decided that the new Lord Hexham’s priority will be to make Brancaster a moral center run by a moral man doing moral things morally, and married to a moral woman (not a man) with moral probity, and extra morals on the side, who’s never heard of Tangiers. Awkward. Edith has got to live with this cow? She’s tough (though I think the Dowager could take her in a knife fight). She insists that Bertie can’t afford to put a foot wrong or the East German judge will dock him on his technical score. And now that Edith has told her about Marigold she wants rid of her; she’s damaged goods. She’s been marked down. This insult to his beloved goes a step too far for Bertie and, in a moment that bodes well for Edith’s future, he stands up to mummy dearest and sides with Edith. Dragon Lady eventually comes around (for now), realizing that the little Edith stands for truth, justice and the Aristocrat way.
Brancaster may be a nice place to visit for the grouse, but it looks like a rather foreboding place to call home – and I’d bet Mrs. Pelham keeps piranhas in the moat. Will Edith find happiness there, in that big cold place with mummy dearest in residence? While the newlyweds are off on their honeymoon getting used to each other, Cora is going to take Marigold to Brancaster. Hopefully she stays there with her until Edith and Bertie get back from their honeymoon or I fear that by the time they return, Dragon Lady Pelham will have turned poor little Marigold to gingerbread and served her for tea. Then again, is Cora safe? That butler looks kind of shifty.
As she descends the stairs in her gown Edith asks Robert, “Did you ever think we’d get to this day?” Wait, we’ve gotten to this day before. You’re not past the hard part yet. No matter; the ankle restraints go quite well with Bertie’s morning coat. Now one last hurdle: Travis just has to get past the line about just cause and forever holding your peace…and, PHEW! At the reception, Shrimpy brings down blessings on Edith’s head, which is better the anvil that has been hanging over her head since the day we met her. Yes, she has risen from the cinders in the hearth and does look utterly, radiantly happy. And in case your picture went out, it was in the script so you couldn’t miss it, “I’m so happy! Completely, completely, completely happy, happy, happy!” Oh god. Don’t they know by now how I worry? I hope they didn’t just drive out of frame and hit a tree! Maybe they will live happy enough ever after (though I’d bet money that one of the three is going into that moat. I can just feel it).
He Controls Me, He Controls Me Not: Cottage Industry:
Molesley has exciting news; Mr. Dawes has offered him a full time teaching position and a cottage, but when he goes to inform Mr. Carson, he accidentally walks in on a marital tiff between him and Mrs. Hughes, traumatizing him and further lengthening the Baxter timeline. At this point they may have their first date in 1938. But that’s OK. Baxter is still dithering over Coyle anyway. Understandable. It’s tough to give up on a guy who lied to you, used you, and left you rotting in prison. Who wouldn’t have a hard time walking away from a charmer like that? It isn’t until Thomas talks some sense into her that she wakes up. Yes, Thomas as the voice of reason. It’s a new world. As for Molesley, he goes bold and takes the job, but he’ll still remain a part-time footman at Downton, if only to keep in touch. We expect his teaching career to go well, as long as no one spikes the punch at the school dance. Until little Sybbie, who won’t behave, turns up and makes him question his very existence. But I’d say he’s got at least a good year till that happens. Have courage.
Town and Country: Beep-Beep, Beep-Beep, Yeah:
Cassandra Sprat is such a big hit with the ladies of The Lady that they are expanding his column to a full page. This does not sit well with his arch enemy, Miss Denker, but so far, despite her best efforts, all of her attempts to thwart Sprat have gone off a cliff. In desperation, Wily Denker registers for remedial undermining classes at the brand new Madame O’Brien’s Scheming Ladies Maid Academy, which only recently opened in York. Madame O’Brien assures Denker that with a little duplicitousness and tenacity, and the purchase of her fine ACME Ladies Maid products, she will be rid of Sprat in no time. Denker uses her savings to buy supplies and register for a semester of classes.
Madame O’Brien instructs Denker that her best bet is to discredit Sprat by making him look inept or disloyal in front of the Dowager. So after Sprat sets the table for a dinner party and leaves the room, she secretly attempts to replace the tapers with some from the ACME Trick Candle Kit she purchased, certain that this will cause the Dowager great annoyance with Sprat. Unfortunately, for some reason, the candles malfunction while she was putting them in the holders and the resulting (rather loud) explosive event singes off one of Denker’s eyebrows and sends her flying through the open window and across the garden where she crashes into the side of a mesa (which is rather curious considering that previously we had never seen any mesas anywhere near the Dower House). She now has to live life with one eyebrow oddly drawn on, which makes her look skeptical, and elicits stares whenever she leaves the house. Her pay is being docked to cover the repairs, but she is not deterred. Madame O’Brien’s affirmations have given her hope. At Madame O’Brien’s suggestion, she requests an advance on her pay to buy more classes. Her enthusiasm is not even tempered by the cautionary tale of another O’Brien Academy student, a Miss Edna Braithewaite of Cavenham House, who got ahead of herself and used both the ACME Fake Baby Kit and the ACME Her Ladyship’s Soap Kit at the same time, without reading the warning labels, and now she is pregnant by Mr. Bubble instead of Larry Grey. Madame O’Brien assures Edna that she has full confidence in her sociopathic tendencies and she should still be able to pull it off, but Edna may be skeptical. (We’re not sure though, because she also had an unfortunate incident with the ACME Trick Candle Kit so it just might be the way she drew her eyebrows on today).
As a last resort, Denker uses Madame O’Brien’s ACME Bean Spilling Kit to let Her Ladyship know all about Sprat moonlighting at The Lady. Unfortunately, the ACME Bean Spilling Kit is actually filled with beans which spill all over the floor, causing Denker to slip, and as her feet go out from under her, she flies way up in the air and comes down with such force that she goes through to the kitchen below, leaving a Denker-shaped hole in the floor and ruining Her Ladyship’s pudding. This collision with the floor and the pudding bruises her lungs, causing her to now wheeze so loudly that, to look inconspicuous, she has to carry a harmonica whenever she is out in public. And to make matters worse, she hits her head and now thinks she’s the exotically attractive Anastasia Romanov. Dr. Clarkson says she’ll recover, so Violet makes her funeral arrangements. Her pay is being docked to cover the repairs – and the funeral. Nyet!
All of this odd activity is causing much talk in the village, but when reached for comment by the Yorkshire Post, Mr. Sprat says only, “Beep-beep.” Rather puzzling to this reporter. Anyway, the final result of all this mishegas: No changes at the Dower House; Sprat keeps both of his jobs; with all the advances she took, Denker is so in debt to Her Ladyship that she will be an indentured servant through 1932; Violet just saunters away giggling; and after numerous reports of one-eyebrowed ladies maids roaming the village, Sgt. Willis is looking into consumer complaints about defective products from one ACME Company. Madame O’Brien is enthusiastically aiding the investigation, and police expect Mr. Bates to be brought in for questioning presently.
Hospital General: Love Will Keep Us Together:
Lord Donk’s days of traveling light are over. When he goes out for a stroll now it’s with an entourage: three grandkids, two nannies and a Labrador in a pear tree. For her part, Cora is loving her new role running the hospital even though Lord MeMeMe resents any time she doesn’t spend quietly sitting in front of him, giving her full measure of devotion only to him. He doesn’t get that she has a brain or give her any say in running the business of their lives, so it is altogether fitting and proper that she should relish this opportunity to do more than tilt her head and stare vacantly into space.
As is the tradition, every season, Lord MeMeMe develops his annual marital gratitude amnesia, forgetting to value Cora until he is jolted back to his senses by something catastrophic like a slip with a maid or an oily, orange art dealer or a deadly infection. Thankfully, this time it only took the voice of reason of Cousin Oliver Rose to show Lord Dim Bulb the light, causing him to shudder and thank his lucky stars at the mere mention of her parents’ marriage. So it’s a good outcome, and with no projectile vomiting! That’s always a plus. Not only that, but now their last little duckling has flown the coop to set up her very own little 32 bedroom nest (unless something else goes wrong) with her own Prince Charming (and his evil step-mother). Now that his daughters are gone, Lord Tevya feels a real sense of pride; pride that he had the foresight to hire just the right staff to raise them.
Cora wasn’t always so sure it would all come right though. Lord Hello Watson still hasn’t figured out that they could put a telephone extension upstairs (maybe they have a fear of the vapors seeping about), so when Edith makes a late night call to her parents to give them the morning glory story that she and Bertie are going steady for good, Robert has to run downstairs to the phone in the gallery. That’s about three blocks away. By the time he has gotten back, Cora has jumped to all kinds of conclusions: She’s pregnant again? Arrested for treason? She broke into Anthony Strallan’s house and tied all his shoe laces together? She was caught swinging naked from the chandeliers at the Criterion screaming, “Ice cream and champagne for everyone!”? Wait? What? Oh, she’s engaged? Of course she is. I always knew it would all work out. Always knew. Always been so proud of her. Never had a doubt. Mmm hmm. Sigh. Ah, ye of little faith. But let’s forget about that now. Little Edith is happy at last. Hurrah!…and…wait for it…
All You Need Is Luck: Up All Night To Get Lucky:
Tom has met his match and there’s no more denying it: It’s Snappy Talbot. They briefly toyed with the idea of running off to Gretna Green (or Tangiers) but quickly realized it would be too messy, so they decided to go into business together instead. It was the next best thing. The village would not allow them to set up a lemonade stand, so they settled on a car dealership. Branson’s time in America has given him a heavy dose of the cockeyed Horatio Alger optimist, so they plan to go from used car dealers to luxury auto manufacturers in three easy steps. You’ve got to admire their ambition, but little do they know that there’s an iceberg looming under those calm business waters: The Great Depression is a scant four years away (and we have no way of returning from the future to warn them). Will they make it through to a safer shore?
Tom is at loose ends in his personal life as well: Now that those battling Crawley sisters are getting along (for now), he’s lost his referee job. And since both Mary and Edith are married off, his matchmaking/relationship therapist expertise is no longer required either. He is well and truly off the clock. It is now time for him to stop living through them and catch his own catch. Lady Sybil would want that for him. Lucky for him (and we all need luck), into his sights walks Lady Editor. We saw them spark last week, and now it’s turning into a regular Bunsen burner. She’s a strong woman and Tom likes strong women (as long as they’re not too free with their musts). He gets his flirting skills out of mothballs and takes them out for a spin. She even catches the bouquet at Edith’s wedding, a feat that would make many men run a mile, but the look on Tom’s face says only, ‘hot damn!’ What bigger hint do we need? Mazel tov (we hope)!
Where the Good or Bad Things Are: Never Can Say Goodbye:
Thomas’ personality transplant is complete. He has turned over a new leaf…actually, a whole new tree might be more accurate. He’s even given up the lurking while evilly smoking. He thanks Anna, Andy and Baxter for coming to the rescue and saving him from himself. No need to thank them. Anna, the magical pixie, advises him to take this time to seek answers and understand questions and he is grateful. (Though he’s confused as to why she keeps calling him ‘Grasshopper’.) He’s got a reprieve but he knows he can’t live on pity forever. He must find a new job and he does – and begins his goodbye tour. Even Bates, who suffered the most from Thomas and O’Brien’s plotting, wants to part as friends rather than enemies. (Maybe just in case he reverts to type in the future.) Before Robert and Cora leave for Brancaster, Thomas says goodbye and gives a little ‘today I am a man’ Bar Mitzvah speech, thanking them and saying how grateful he is for all he learned at Downton. Cora says they’ll always be grateful he saved Edith from the fire (though not grateful enough to let him keep his job), and Robert is impressed. Come Thomas’ day of departure there are heartfelt goodbyes all around, and even though the chorus of, “Be someone else in the new place” isn’t exactly a For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow send-off, he’ll take it. Lady Mary even brings Master Baba Wawa downstairs to say goodbye to Mr. Bawwow, and he asks him to please don’t go, but he must. And with that he is off.
It’s just party, party, party 24/7 with Sir Mark and Lady Styles (who is either mute, or just as bored as Thomas is). At Downton, Thomas was often lonely in a crowd; here he is lonely in no crowd. He’s used to a big house where they are all each others’ entertainment. In this new manor, the merits of cheese is as scintillating as the dinner conversation gets. Then Carson’s condition reaches crisis level and Robert sees an opportunity to make a trade that will help ease Carson into a dignified semi-retirement AND benefit the house cricket team as well (you just know he thought about that). Anyway, this new arrangement is bittersweet, but it is the best option, and everyone is happy about it – except for Miss O’Brien. Somewhere she will be hearing this news and grinding her teeth down to little nubs.
It is not surprising that Mary would want to keep Thomas at Downton; she knows how Master George feels about him and she fully understands what that’s about because of the relationship she has always had with Carson. She would, no doubt, want George to have his own Carson. As for Thomas, ever since we’ve known him, he has been tilting at windmills as he tried to scheme his way to the top, but it’s a funny thing; as soon as he stopped the scheming, he got what he always wanted to begin with. There’s a moral to that story somewhere. Maybe it’s what my grandmother always used to say, “you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.” Then again, she also used to say, “a girl like you can’t afford to be so choosy,” (but that’s another story and probably why I lean more toward Team Edith).
Shake, Rattle and Roll: Before the Parade Passes By:
Anyone could be forgiven for thinking that this whole Magillah began with Carson; that he was always there standing in an open field and Downton was built around him. But the sad fact is, like all of us, he is a mere mortal and nothing lasts forever. Carson has always been the steady hand guiding this ship of state, and when that hand starts to shake it is like an earthquake under the very foundation of Downton and the family he serves. It first appears when he’s pouring drinks, and as much as the Crawleys need drinks poured, it’s serious. He calls it The Palsy and both his father and grandfather had it; it destroyed their careers, and he knows it signals the end of his. Naturally, Mary is concerned. Carson is her touchstone, her cheerleader, her second father (at times her first); she wants him to know how dear he is to her and that they mustn’t be afraid to face the changes than may come, but she looks terrified. After several spills, for the sake of the house, good soldier Carson throws himself on his sword and resigns. Despite pleas to stay on, even in a limited capacity, he feels that it would be best for all concerned if they simply place him on a barge and let him float out to sea (which must mean Mrs. Hughes will have to go too). As it turns out, the answer is staring them right in the face, offering to pour champagne: No, not Talbot, Thomas! Thanks to Edith’s wedding, he is in the right place at the right time. It’s kismet! Edith (indirectly) saves the day! And on this day it is decreed: The torch has been passed, Thomas shall be the new butler and Carson shall be Butler Emeritus.
What’s next for Carson? He’ll have a good cry; that’s what’s needed now. And when he’s ready he’ll get to work because he is strong enough for the task. I’m thinking Mrs. Hughes will have a long honey-do list for him, to keep him out of trouble – and he can start by getting out in that kitchen and rattling those pots and pans. This change will leave him lots of time to take those cooking lessons he so desperately needs.
FYI: When Carson first developed the tremor and called it ‘the Palsy’, I thought this must be the 1925 term for Parkinson’s disease, so I did a little research, and it turns out it’s not. It actually refers to something called ‘Essential Tremor’, a condition that Julian Fellowes now has as well. Essential Tremor, (often called ET), affects about four out of one hundred people over the age of 40. There is no cure and it can become so bad that the entire body shakes. It differs from Parkinson’s in that ET is an action tremor while Parkinson’s is a resting tremor. Lord Fellowes is committed to raising awareness and helping others, and has recently become the President of Britain’s National Tremor Foundation. Probably the best known person with ET was Katherine Hepburn. She lived a long, fulfilling life, despite her ET which doesn’t only bode well for Lord Fellowes, but for the possibility of Carson still being around and kicking if that rumored Downton Abbey film ever comes to be – and that’s a very good thing. On another note: The fact that Lord Fellowes gave his condition to Carson makes me wonder: Has Carson been Julian Fellowes’ alter ego all along? Hmmm…
Baby Love: Mama Mia:
Anna is blooming – and waddling – and still working and saving the day for all who cross her sunny path. Her advice to Thomas and new haircut for Daisy sends each of their lives on a new, upward trajectory. Our PollyAnna is, as always, a miracle worker! But Carson is uneasy about her working ‘in her condition’. Maybe he just doesn’t want to see her (or, heaven forfend, the family to see her) because she’s a walking visual reminder that there is sex going on, on the estate – and we cannot have that, we’re British! What would the King say? Anyway, she must finally be getting hormonal because when Mary makes one too many requests, Anna pees on the carpet just for spite. I used to have a poodle who did that all the time. But let’s not bury the lede: It turns out Lady Mary actually knows how buckles work and can take shoes on and off all by herself! She uses this vast knowledge to help Anna into bed. Carson is aghast that Anna is having the baby in Lady Mary’s bedroom. Debrett’s would not approve. He would prefer she have it in the yard but he cannot go against Lady Mary’s wishes. Anna pays Carson no mind and has the baby with Dr. Clarkson in attendance. Both survive and it’s a boy! A boy to carry on their…oh wait, they have no title or estate. No matter, they don’t care. They’re just as happy as clams. In fact, Anna is so happy she even calls Mr. Bates ‘John’. (Which sounds really weird, doesn’t it?) And just like that a new life is ushered in.
What will life be like for Baby Bates (Norman)? He will be in daycare with tyrannical nannies in the Downton nursery while mummy Anna continues to toil away helping Mary dress and undress and vent about the minutia of her perfectly entitled life. Then after he’s spent his long day living in splendor, they’ll take little Norman back home to the Bates’ dark love shack, where he’ll sleep in a dresser drawer, eat Cheerios off the floor and shovel coal to light their lamps. That won’t cause any problems or resentment at all. I expect that when the Bateses finally do open their long dreamed of bed & breakfast, little Norman will make a splendid hotelier. Though now that Mary is BFFs with Edith, and also has a lovey-dovey husband at her disposal, will Anna be made redundant? I don’t think so. For Mary, Anna has been salvation, and for Anna, Mary has been the same in return. This is an unbreakable bond. Even so, Anna never forgets her place and apologizes for going into labor in such an inconvenient manner and place, but Mary waves it off, saying there’s no need to apologize. None at all. Mary was happy to accommodate, but does remind Anna to just carry a new mattress up the back stairs when she’s through. Then she retires to the library for champers as the clock strikes midnight and ushers in a new year. How very modern!
The Dowager Countessdown: Violet’s Best Quips:
- Never let tenderness be a bar to snooping. Never.
- As my late father used to say, if reason fails, try force.
- If only we had the choice!
- Don’t be mysterious; it’s the last resort of people with no secrets.
- With any luck they’ll be happy enough, which is the English version of a happy ending.
BONUS ROUND: Rosamund: What do you think makes the English the way we are? Violet: Opinions differ. Some say our history, but I blame the weather.
***It ain’t over till it’s over: This isn’t the last recap. Please come back and join us next week for my season (and series) round up.