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The Downton Abbey Dish Season 4 Finale

British television maven and blogger Deborah Gilbert keeps you in the know with entertaining recaps of each Downton Abbey Season 4 episode. Count down the most memorable scenes from each episode, including the Dowager Countess' best zingers. New episodes of Downton Abbey Season 4 air Sundays at 9pm through February 23.
THE DOWNTON ABBEY DISH – Downton Abbey Season 4 Recap: Episode 8 (aired 02/23/2014)

Sigh. I know, I know. Parting is such sweet sorrow, innit? But let’s not think of tonight as just the end of the season: Let’s think of it as the beginning of the countdown to Downton Abbey Season 5, already in production for its January 2015 premiere. Until then, Thirteen.org/DowntonAbbey page with be updated regularly, and the gang will all be here a couple of times a month with my Dispatch From the Downton Abbey Diaspora blog, keeping you up to date and spoiler-free, on all things Downton.

Tonight, as we begin, it is eight months on since all the ladies craned their necks to watch Mary dangle her participles. In the interim, the earth has resumed spinning, Dr. Clarkson has been replaced with a chiropractor, and those participles are still dangling…

The Bachelorette: Burn Baby Burn:
Lady Mary is still hoarding all the eligible men left breathing post-war, and Blake is still getting some toff love from her – though in secret, we suspect she spends endless afternoons in the garden, pulling petals off daisies, saying “your lot, my lot, your lot, my lot…” Clearly she has both he and Gillingham on some sort of odd/even rationing schedule, which seems to go awry on a regular basis. Awkward. But now that Gillingham has let the cat out of the bag on Blake’s stealth wealth, will that turn the tide in his favor? At least she now knows she doesn’t have to keep instructing him on the way things are done. For someone who keeps saying her status is ‘not ready’, she has no problem keeping them both at her beck and call, and they have no problem letting her. The lads are just happy to be on her waiting list. But Mary has bigger fish to fry right now: Namely, the fate of her beloved Anna’s beloved. I’m not really sure why Mrs. Hughes handed her this hot potato (other than the fact that Miss Elsie cannot keep a secret to save her life), but the way Mary reacted to Mrs. Hughes’ news makes one wonder if, at some point over these past eight months, she had got more details about Green’s death (from Gillingham) than she has shared with Anna. Or maybe she’s just always seen his darker side. But now that she has the golden ticket, what will she do with it? Let battle commence. It seems Bates’ strings aren’t so easily pulled as Blake’s and Gillingham’s. And what exactly was that look exchanged between them? It seems Mary smugly thought that, on the strength of her superior eyebrows alone, she could win a dueling stare down with Bates. But she was swiftly, yet subtly, reduced to a blithering heap of aristocratic falderal as she stared into the abyss of his empty eyes, which blinked out, ‘really? You want a piece of me?’ in Morse Code while Mrs. Hughes stood in the hallway and screamed at the foolish girl, “DON’T PULL THE PIN!” A shaken Mary quickly retreated and said to Anna, ”Please tell Bates how grateful we are to him. And you. So very grateful. In fact, I was just thinking about changing baby George’s name to Bates in tribute; I’m not sure where George is this week, but when I do come across him, I will do that because Bates Crawley does have a lovely ring to it. Not the sort of ring to summon a servant; just a lovely ring full stop. So please do tell him how grateful we are, and please ask him not to kill me in my sleep.” “Is that all, M’lady?” “Yes, that is all. And please lock the bedroom door on your way out, and slip the key back under. Thank you. So grateful. Make sure he knows. So very grateful.” Of course, after Bates saves the royal bacon, tossing the incriminating ticket into the fire is a no-brainer. So very grateful.

Thin Ice: Noises Off:
Bat Mitzvah girl Cousin Oliver Rose is ready for her debut at the Palace, but the road to Buckhouse takes a detour through The Embassy Club where she meets The Prince of Wales (an old pal of good ol’ Shrimpy) and mistress, Mrs. Dudley Ward. It’s all fun and games until things get rocky after Lady Rosamund unknowingly brings cardsharp Samson to (work) the pre-party party and he rummages through Rose’s new BFF Mrs. Dudley Ward’s handbag (while she’s dancing) and swipes a comically intimate love letter from the future King. Let us review once again: Rose + Dancing = Trouble. When the theft is discovered, Cousin Oliver Rose must ask Robert for help. Lord Grantham fears the Prince of Wales will revive the ways of his Grand Papa, King Edward VII, a prolific womanizer whose many mistresses included Sarah Bernhardt, Lillie Langtry, Lady Warwick (the infamous stable bell ringer), Lady Churchill (Winston’s mum), and Alice Keppel (great grandmother of Camilla Parker Bowles, who is best known for her affair with another faithful little chap). Little does Robert know that something worse is coming down the royal pike (in about fourteen years). Right now this monarchist’s concerns are more immediate: If there is going to be a royal scandal, he just wants to make sure it is not caused by The House of Grantham. What to do? Need some assistance of the criminal variety? Who ya gonna call? Jean ValBates, of course. How handy it is to have a semi-sort-of criminal on staff. If this ever gets out, everybody will want one. What next transpires is a farce involving forgery, attempted burglary, bread and butter, confusion from Violet, a plea from Edith, a segue to Isis, poker, a dingy flat, socks, a wild goose chase and pickpocketing – and the joke’s on Samson. Again. If you are keeping score, it’s: Granthams 2, Samson 0. In the end all that matters is that the letter is back in safe hands and Bates has a new wristwatch. Phew! Crisis averted, now let’s party! Cousin Oliver meets the King (is there anyone who doesn’t know Shrimpy?). And just in time for the first dance His Highness and His Mistress crash the proceedings and Cousin Oliver is invited to kiss a frog: How very appropriate that two characters, whose recklessness so often lands them on thin ice, should open the ball dancing to The Skaters Waltz. Impossible things are happening everyday. Mrs. Freda Dudley Ward was, in real life, The Prince of Wales’ first mistress. A married socialite, their affair lasted five years and was well known among the aristocrats and politicians of their set; and they remained close until he met Wallis Simpson in 1934, at which time Mrs. Dudley Ward was summarily dismissed by a Palace operator. She died in 1983, having never spoken publicly of their affair. But while the (allegedly) fictional Mr. Bates was handy in retrieving this particular wayward letter, in reality, one of the thousands of love letters ‘adoring little David’ wrote to his ‘darling Fredie Wedie’ did fall into the wrong hands, and the contents made public, when it was put up for auction a few years ago in London which, we can assume, is what inspired the giggles of Cousin Oliver Rose. Do you think Bates read it before he handed it over?

Damn Yankees: What the Heck Do We Care?:
The American contingent returns! Dame Levinson jumps the pond dragging reluctant son Uncle Milburn Pennybags along by the ear. She’s trying to keep him out of Dodge until that Teapot Dome business settles down, and they are greeted by a double act who would like to settle them down – small world! We know Lord Billy Aysgarth is a con as soon as we find out he’s friends with Mr. Samson. His game isn’t cards, however.  It’s trying to find a buyer for his title, and pimping out his reluctant debutante daughter, Madeline. Call it a family business. Unfortunately for them, both objects of their ‘affections’ can smell a love rat from across the street. Is it my imagination or is the character of Martha more defined this year? She is one part Queen of Sheba and one part Judge Judy, and she can dangle men on a string just as well as her granddaughter Mary can. It’s a little hobby she’s picked up. Of course, confused Lord Billy Aysgarth cannot understand why she wouldn’t jump at the chance to buy some rank – and so does Violet. From the moment Martha sets foot in the drawing room, Violet snipes and it is on: Handbags at ten paces. But it is that last strike at the Dowager, about the rise and fall of their conflicting worlds that clearly drew blood. Poor Violet. Milburn Penneybags may have a problem of a different sort. Despite reading her and her father correctly (and crudely), and to her face, he seems to have fallen for Madeline in spite of himself. Will next season find yet another American washed up upon the British shores? Perish the thought!

Jungle Love: Primrose Lane:
Lord Merton just happens to be in the neighborhood quite a lot, doesn’t he? And he makes Isobel a bit nervous. Are those the butterflies of early love? Did she really go to the ball to see Lord Merton? Isobel was the only woman at Cousin Oliver’s ball who couldn’t keep time to the music by rattling her jewelry, but might she end up a bedecked Lady after all? And would the prospect of leaving her natural habitat for a Countess Coronet cause her the same conflicted emotions it causes Branson? Branson has got his own tangle; Miss Bunting, a spunky little snob who knows just how to push his buttons. Her “and I’ll bet you say you haven’t changed”, hits him right where he lives – his fear of being a sellout, an outsider, of setting a foot wrong and being tossed out on his ear. Life for Branson (I mean Tom) remains a walk on the high wire. It is why he fears Thomas. Given the close proximity with which he used to work with Thomas, he understands his methods more than the family does. Asserting himself to the staff is tricky and the deviously bitter Thomas plays on that. Branson is the only member of the family to be bullied by staff, and when he finally finds a way to uncomfortably stand up, he is repaid with a report to Lord Grantham. Even though Violet assures him that this is his place and these are his people, Branson is still trying to find a way to remain in the family while going forward with his life. It is an aspect of moving on from grief that Mary will never have to deal with. It is probably just one reason why he finds a kindred spirit in Edith. And by the way, who wants to bet that Thomas’ gallery ‘patrol’ consists of him snooping in the family’s bedrooms while everyone is out of town? Amiright?

To Sir With Animosity: Free At Last:
Thomas is flexing fists of rage. Not only does he have to call former co-worker Branson, ‘Sir’, but he also seems to have lost control of his ACME Ladies Maid Spy Robot. She refuses to tell him a story. Baxter has sussed by now that something has gone on with Anna and Bates, but she refuses to sing, even under threat. She has become immune to Thomas’ oily whispers, and it was Molseley who broke the spell. Will Molesley and Baxter become more than friends? And we still don’t know what Great Secret it is that Thomas knows and has been holding over her, but we know the boy can hold a grudge. So should we assume we will find out more next season?

You’re Gonna Make it Afterall: A Few Good Men:
She got there in the end. Sort of. At least, it may be as close to ‘there’ as luckless Edith is allowed to get. Back from eight months in Switzerland, where she left her secret baby It with Baroness Schrader, Edith returns to hold herself together on the outside while wanting to scream on the inside. On the plus side, those Crawley girls have no trouble losing the baby weight, do they? Now, more pieces of the puzzle fall into place. We find out what was on that paper she signed: It made her Editor Charming’s Power of Attorney, allowing her to make decisions at the newspaper and run his affairs in his absence. And we find out more of what may have happened to him: An altercation with a gang of Brownshirts in Munich is the last anyone knows of him. But when she and Aunt Rosamund are discussing a possible inheritance, if he is dead, one is left thinking there is another piece of this puzzle that has not been mentioned: The loony wife. What happens to her? Will she inherit Gregson’s estate? Or will Edith inherit her (via the Power of Attorney)? But those questions will have to wait for another day. For now, it is all about Edith wanting to find a way to keep her baby girl close by, and thanks to words of encouragement from Branson, she finally stops doubting herself. Branson is her natural ally; in a way, he is the voice of Sybil in her life, and his pep talk gives Edith the strength to fight her corner, on her own terms. She is tired of being shoved aside and rolled out flat. She wants to make more scenes. No one, including Aunt Rosamund, will make life decisions for her. Mmm, mmm, oh no Miss Thing: Lady Edith Crawley is not having anymore. She whips that neck around, turns on her heel and heads for the Continent on a mission, causing a confused Cora to turn to Rosamund and say, “Who farted?” It is now back to Plan A: Farmer Pigman. He says his doting wife will be up for it, so he’s gonna sit right down and write himself a letter and make believe it came from ‘a friend’. Edith does not have a great history with farmer’s wives, but one hopes for the best and thinks that, for now, Mr. Pigman understands who Edith’s ‘friend’ is, and the fix she’s in. Is he as trustworthy and compassionate as he seems? Will this remain their secret? Already Rosamund knows; and now what did she have to say to explain Edith to Cora when she left them standing at the ball? And Violet won’t be far behind, and one suspects that Branson already has a strong suspicion as well. And what about Editor Charming? Is he gone forever? If he is, will knowing that he didn’t abandon her, but rather was taken from her, be any comfort to Edith?

Under the Boardwalk: Rolling in the Deep
Just thought of another Downton Abbey spin-off idea While the Crawleys are in London for the season, the downstairs staff share a house down the shore. Anyone? Anyway, PollyAnna is back to her old self, though we don’t know how she got there. After a roiling season, she was really just an accessory as everything was tied up in a bow. I’m thinking someone should have followed Edith’s advice about making more scenes, and made a few more about how Anna moved on from her attack to get where she is now. But I suppose that’s neither here nor there: It’s all about Bates. Why did he keep what looks like it could be incriminating evidence in his coat pocket when he could have easily tossed it in any trashcan between London and Downton? Was it a trophy? Why else would he have lied about being in London that day? Is there a completely different secret there? But in the end, love means never having to say, ‘I’m innocent’, so all it took to square things up over the donated coat was a penny lick. Say what? Old-fashioned Bates was using an outdated term for an ice cream cone (in the same way my grandmother, all her life, still referred to the refrigerator as the icebox). Due to concerns that they spread disease, actual penny licks were banned in London in 1899, thanks to a bill introduced by Lord Bloomberg. A penny lick was a small scoop of ice cream served in a thick glass holder that made it look like there was more there than there was. After one would lick out all the ice cream, one would hand it back to the vendor who might or might not wipe it off before filling it again for the next customer. Eeeuw! Elsewhere… One is worried about our Miss Daisy, who has such low expectations in life that the attention of a man she wasn’t even interested in, Uncle Pennybags’ valet, has her feeling giddy. Or maybe she’s just happy she got rid of Snooki by sending her off to America in her place. Forget about the American Dream: Call it the Yorkshire bait and switch. So then there were two: All that is left of the quadrangle now is Daisy and Jimmy. And by the way, if Jimmy were smart he wouldn’t smirk at Carson comparing him to Wat Tyler, who ended up with his head on a pike. Just sayin’…But let’s not bury the lede: That thunderous rumble you just heard was the sound of about seven million Downtonians across the country jumping up and down in front of their tellys at the sight that ended tonight’s season: Carson and Mrs. Hughes holding hands as they walk into the deep end!!!!! Will they take the proverbial plunge?? Damn you, Fellowes!! Why couldn’t this have been a cliffhanger for episode 4?? Now, you are going to make us wait ten long months to find out the answer?!? Suppose a bomb goes off? Suppose we are invaded by space aliens who disable our cable? Suppose we just can’t wait? All I’ve got to say is, this cliffhanger better not end with an accidental drowning!!!! You can afford to let us humble Downtonians live a little, can’t you? Here’s a thought: Mr. Selfridge premiers March 30 on Masterpiece – couldn’t Mr. Carson and Mrs. Hughes (maybe) wander into the store and shop for a ring? It could happen. Don’t say no right away. Sigh.

Dowager Countessdown (Madam Dowager’s best zingers from each episode):

7. “I’m too tired for an evening of second hand emotion.”

6. “Is that American for hello?”

5. “How curious these phrases are.”

4. “I know I can trust you to steer.”

3. “I feel as if I spent then whole night trapped in the cast of a who dunnit.”

2. “Can’t you even offer help without sounding like a trumpeter on the peak of the moral high ground?”

1. “I advise you to do the same. It saves many an awkward moment.”

Goodnight Sweetheart, Well It’s Time To Go:
Stop back next week for the Season End Review. And ‘til then, I hope you’ll all respond to the pledge appeal that followed the show tonight. The bold-faced names listed as sponsors at the top of the show are truly terrific, but it is all of us downstairs who provide most of the funding for these fabulous programs. If you have enjoyed this season of Downton Abbey (and I know you have), why not drop a few shekels in THIRTEEN’s tip jar? You’ll be glad you did!

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  • Andrew

    And in the end….(at least for this season). This has been a challenging season for
    the audience

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

      It was challenging for the characters too. Maybe what you feel is a reflection of that?

      –Deborah

      • Stormy

        One little nit to pick. You mention that they could have Carson and Mrs. Hughes pop into the store on Mr. Selfridge. I know you were being facetious, but doesn’t that show take place a generation before DA?

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

        It was a joke. Though, they could get there in the Tardis.

        –Deborah

      • Morgan Goode

        Tardis FTW!

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

        Boom! 200! :)

        –Deborah

  • rinconx6

    I won’t blame you for the disjointed and uninteresting recap (since you usually shine) I will blame the creators of this snorefest.

  • crystal clear

    Bloody awful! Wading through the review laden with grammar and punctuation errors was almost as painful as viewing the actual program, filled with enough fluff to drag it on for the allotted time. And amazingly, still the same unanswered questions: did Bates do it; is Lady Mary who we thought she was initially (“I don’t mind lying”); what does Branson hold over Baxter; where is Gregson and will he return; and on and on. Even the exchanges between the Dowager and Shirley have become predictable, not really that humorous, and even mean-spirited. A series in denouement?

    • pattimorefan

      Have aways thought the exchanges between the 2 grande dames were cheap and predictable. Shirley is portraying the least likeable character — a waste of her talent. I enjoy guessing which Amer characters are played by Brit actors and vice versa.

    • BBBumble

      You should proof your comments for errors then.

      • crystal clear

        You are absolutely correct. It should have read “Barrow,” not “Branson.” Too many B names…Bates, Branson, Barrow, Bird, Baxter…

  • panna

    Thanks for enriching my Downton experience every week. Although it was not the best season, it still beat the competition. Let the countdown to January 2015 begin.

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

      Thanks! Glad you enjoyed it! And we will be counting down in the Diaspora posts all off-season long. I’m sure it will be like last season: it seemed very far away, but then suddenly it was here.

      –Deborah

      • crystal clear

        There is a wonderful interview with Julian Fellowes in the February 23, 2014 Arts Section of the New York Times, entitled “Julian Fellowes on Viewer Criticism and Downton Abbey’s’ Future,” available on line.

      • Kaycee

        It was good. Too bad he doesn’t read the Dish and all our contributions!

  • Stormy

    You ask if another American might appear in S5. I’m hoping for a Canadian instead. Namely Patrick the iffy heir, who will show up with stronger proof and gum up the works for a while.
    I had a bit of a sneer on my face when they recycled the American valet, “My name isn’t Levinson”, blond [Ryan Phillipe lookalike] right out of Gosford Park.
    At least they did a better job with Martha this time, less brassy but still too much makeup and too gaudily dressed and styled. JMO

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

      I’ve sometimes wondered if we’ve seen the last of the Mummy. I also thought Martha was a better fit this time.

      –Deborah

  • DAfan

    I love the Dish after each episode. Just the right amount of info, insight, sarcasm and humor. The reference to Lord Bloomberg across the pond was right on! Note to the creators: since there are so few episodes in a “season” we are really in season 2! Please continue writing at least for another 4-5 seasons!

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

      Thank you! I believe Lord Fellowes has said he doesn’t want to take the show into the 1930′s, so that means he’ll have to stop before he gets there (unless he changes his mind). Though it will also depend on the availability of the actors as well.

      –Deborah

  • Stormy

    Am I the only one who thinks that Edith is actually Rosamund’s love child, and that she gave Edith to her brother to raise to escape scandal? It would seem a perfect fit.

    • jtausch

      Wow — brilliant! Her “believe me, I know” speech at the end of the ep supports at least half of that theory.

      • Stormy

        It would also explain why Edith never felt as loved as her “sisters” and always felt she didn’t quite belong. Just theorizing.

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

        It would have been really hard to keep that secret though. But there were probably many situations like that i the past.

      • Kaycee

        And I think Violet’s reaction to the situation, especially with Rosamund so involved, would have been a bit more complicated than it was. I don’t think she would have made those comments about Rosamund exacting tribute for her generosity to Edith if she were reliving the circumstance of her granddaughter being her granddaughter but via her daughter rather than her son. Yes, complicated indeed.

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

      Very interesting theory – very EastEnders!

      –Deborah

    • crystal clear

      Stormy, I agree in part. Certainly that remark by Rosamund when talking with Edith about the baby situation (“and believe me, I know”) or words to that effect, inclines one to believe that she, Rosamund, had had some sort of obstetric experience. Great theory. And does anyone give a continental anymore as to which male sycophant Mary chooses? As an added plot speculation, perhaps it will be neither, and candidate number three will be introduced; her amused detachment is off putting to say the least; maybe the gents are beginning to think so also, else why did Anthony level the playing field. (Maybe it is his graceful way out–let the other fellow have her).

      • rinconx6

        I don’t see why Mary being Mary is off putting? She’s not in love (at the moment) and she doesn’t want anyone to forget it. I find Cora’s flip flops from complete idiocy to mere puddingheadishness much more wearying.

      • crystal clear

        I suppose it was her repetition of the comment “Let the competition begin.” Why let them compete? Just as an entertainment for her, since your point is well taken that she does not love either one of them? You are spot on; Mary was indeed being Mary.

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

        It was Mr. Blake who first used the phrase, ‘let battle commence’. Mary then repeated it.

        –Deborah

      • crystal clear

        Yes, that is why I said she repeated it.

      • crystal clear

        Have been thinking about the Edith as Rosamund’s illegitimate daughter raised by Robert and Cora theory you posed earlier. One big fly in that otherwise entertaining ointment, especially as it might have represented future Fellowes fodder, is that Carson (who has been there long enough to possibly have witnessed and/or aided in the construction of Downton), would have had to have known about it. So then would have Mrs. Hughes, and any other servants who had seen Cora on a regular basis–slim one day, and ooops a baby the next. Unless in advance of the baby’s arrival, she had taken to wearing the period equivalent of muumuus to play along. Probably asking a bit too much of the old girl, having to forego fashionable attire for several months. Although, come to think of it, there are so many many scenes of Cora having breakfast in bed that maybe it wouldn’t have been such a challenge after all.

      • Stormy

        Not to mention that she, like Edith, may have gone abroad for a bit. It certainly would help explain how blue eyed Robert & Cora ended up with a chocolate eyed daughter. But that may just be due to lax casting.

      • Stormy

        Or Cora may have supposedly had Edith at the London house. We don’t know how long the staff there has been employed.

      • crystal clear

        As to the eye color, dark is dominant in the laws of genetics, therefore anyone in either Cora or Robert’s parents’ families could have contributed. We don’t have complete information on that. It seems Carson has been there since Mary was little, and isn’t she the eldest? I do still like the basic theory and the London scenario would certainly work. Certainly there was some import to Rosamund’s remark, however obscure it was.

      • Mollie

        Geez. Mendel wept.

      • CatKinNY

        See my answer to Deborah about the laws of Mendelian genetics and eye color to understand why Cora and Robert could not have had a brown eyed child, not that I think that should be important to casting directors, since most of us don’t understand how it works.

      • crystal clear

        The latest thinking for several years now is that a blue-eyed couple can indeed produce a brown-eyed child. USA Today, October 15, 2004, and other sources, just as a matter of interest.

      • CatKinNY

        Thanks!

      • Kaycee

        Is there a staff at the London house? I thought the Downton staff had been shuffled off to London to bring the place to life rather than to supplement a staff already there. And if the London house had a regular staff how come whenever the girls went to London they stayed with Aunt Rosamund? And do the Crawleys own the house they used in London. I missed that if it was addressed in the finale. Anyone?

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

        Yes, I assumed that the London house was left shut up outside ‘the season’. That would be why they stay with Aunt Rosamund, or Robert stays at the club.

        -Deborah

      • Kaycee

        Thanks Deborah. I was confused by a comment made after one of the earlier episodes that the Crawleys were not stretched so thin financially because they didn’t have a house in London to keep up. That may have been one of our many readings between the lines that keep the discussions so lively!

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

        You’re welcome!

        -Deborah

      • CatKinNY

        Yep, that comment was from me. I’m still a bit perplexed as to how it’s possible to maintain four residences (Downton, the Dower House, the London house, and the place they were thinking of moving to if they had to sell Downton) and still be financially stretched!

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

        And remember, they own ‘half the village’ as well. They were financially stretched by the cost of upkeep and taxes. And it was interesting that Cora also was still receiving a clothing allowance from her Mother.

        –Deborah

      • CatKinNY

        I’d forgotten about the village, but village properties should, even if badly managed, generate a profit. Farms are more complicated, because rents have to be structured, to a certain extent, on annual profitability – which in turn is effected by weather and market conditions. If you’re not prepared to take less (or even nothing) in some bad years, you’ll lose good farmers.

        The clothing allowance, believe it or not, was not all that uncommon in the types of marriage settlements arranged between impoverished titled heirs and the daughters of wealthy American industrialists. Clothing a countess was going to be a major, and ongoing, expense, after all, and the industrialist often didn’t want to risk his daughter being in the humiliating position of having to beg for funds, not to mention the fact that if she were badly dressed, it would humiliate him. These American girls often had to be bribed by Papa to enter one of these trophy marriages, too, and a vast clothing and decorating allowance was a standard way to do it – Consuelo Vanderbilt got a bundle to marry the Duke of Marlborough, if I remember correctly from visiting the Vanderbilt estate on LI.

      • Stormy

        The Dower house is on the grounds of DA. It’s part of the estate.

      • CatKinNY

        It’s on the periphery of the village and it’s another large house to maintain and staff that generates no revenue.

      • Stormy

        Nope Mrs. Hughes said that because the head housekeeper at the London house was ill, she’d been recruited to fill in for these parties.

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

        I think it is pretty safe to assume that Cora’s father had brown eyes.

        -Deborah

      • Mollie

        Recessive genes. Genetics 101. Sigh

      • CatKinNY

        Blue eyes are a recessive gene, Deborah, so in order for a person to have them, you have to have both genes. Eye color is actually the easiest way to understand Mendelian genetics. If B = brown and b = blue, two brown eyed parents who each have a blue eyed parent have a one in four chance of producing a blue eyed child, because their genetic make up looks like this: B+b, so they are each contributing one B and one b, making it possible for them to have a child whose genetic makeup is b+b. Anyone with blue (or gray) eyes has two bs, because brown is dominant, so a mixed B+b must always yield brown as a phenotypical expression. Green, and the far more common hazel, are variations of brown.

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

        Yes, who cares? I want them to cast the best actors for the roles. In actually, all three Crawley girls looked completely different. But did that ever matter?

        -Deborah

      • CatKinNY

        Exactly (though Sybil did look like Cora’s daughter, IMO).

      • crystal clear

        Aren’t Mary’s eyes brown also??

      • CatKinNY

        “Lax casting”? Do you really want casting directors to have to hold, strictly, to the laws of Mendelian genetics? Most of us, even the educated, don’t know that two blue eyed people can’t have a brown eyed child – see Gotham Tomato’s reply below.

      • Stormy

        No not really, but it can be jarring sometimes, as when very blue-eyed Eion Bailey [August/Pinocchio on OUAT] became hazel eyed boy Pinocchio. Or when they cast a brown-eyed child in a feature and then cast a blue-eyed actor as that child grown up. It’s trifling, I know, but annoying to some of us.

      • CatKinNY

        That’s what’s called a ‘continuity issue’ in the business, and I agree, especially when it’s so easy to fix with a click of a mouse for something like eye color today. I’ve often enjoyed judging how cheaply, and badly, a movie was made by how many continuity problems I could spot. You know, where there’s a scene between two people, and the camera pans in on one face, and when it pans out, one of the actors is wearing a different outfit – you know you’re watching a cheapie!

      • Stormy

        Sometimes even high budget films get it wrong. In Moonstruck when Olympia Dukakis goes to answer the door she has her hair one way. When she comes back down the hallway her hairstyle is completely different. It’s become a game for my family to spot such things.

      • CatKinNY

        True! There was a high budget film, 20 to 25 years ago I think (it might have been Moonstruck) where the continuity problem was such a howler that a new position has become standard just to watch for stuff like that hair!

      • Kaycee

        The way Cora has been acting this season she probably could have been fooled into thinking that Edith was her child, if in fact Rosamund had produced her.

      • crystal clear

        Poor Cora. She’s been bashed about awfully by the lot of us! Perhaps she will surprise us in the next season, particularly if she finds out about the baby.

      • Kaycee

        I know, and sometimes I feel guilty. Briefly. As I’ve said before she was beautifully maternal when Edith got stiffed at the altar and her evocative reactions and behavior after Sybil’s death were magnificent. Unfortunately this season she seems to miss the clues and appears unduly burdened by her responsibilities. Next season I will hope for more evidence of her competence. I don’t care if women of her station in life had to act that way, every other female character in the cast seems to have more oomph. Next January better hurry up and get here.

    • Blackfork

      Interesting idea, but try getting such a secret past Carson and we know he’s been butler there since Mary was a tot. Plus there’s the whole “Cora’s confinement” that would have to have been explained.

  • pattimorefan

    Isis was a 4-5 yr old dog in the opening credits of the first episode. That was 1912. No sure of the present Downton year, but guessing it’s about 1923-4. That would make Isis an ancient dog at that time. Just sayin’.

    • Stormy

      Isis is the second dog of the Granthams. The first was Pharaoh and he had a more yellow coat.

      • BBBumble

        I missed that!

      • Stormy

        The Egyptian names for the dogs are a nod to Lord Carnarvon who owns Highclere Castle where Downton Abbey is filmed. His ancestor the Fifth Earl financed and participated in the excavation of Tutankhamen’s[sp] tomb.

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

      I’m more worried about the age of the Dowager!

      –Deborah

  • Krausy

    Does anyone else think Gregson has gone undercover with SIS? Those brown shirts were a ruse to get him inside???

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

      Another interesting theory. And it could explain why he made Edith his Power of Attorney (which is not something you’d usually do when just going on a trip).

      –Deborah

      • CatKinNY

        I knew the Nazi’s were behind his disappearance!, and I don’t think there’s a snowballs chance in Hell that Edith’s secret will remain one for long. The farmer won’t give her away – she’ll do it herself by dropping in to visit the baby. The Madwoman of Maida Vale will feature prominently next season. Re ‘the inheritance’ – you’re right, as Michael’s legal stand in, Edith is responsible for the wife should anything requiring a decision arise. As far as Rosamund speculating about what might be in his will, I wonder if one could, legally, disinherit a crazy spouse in 1920s England? I have absolutely no idea. Any barristers out there?

        Why shouldn’t Daisy enjoy the attention of a young man, even if she isn’t interested? I seem to remember finding similar situations flattering in my youth. And what makes you think we’ve seen the last of Alfred, who had just had an epiphany about her superiority over Poison Ivy before he caught his train? Daisy used the best line there is, just before he left – “I like you as a friend”; that was a letter from Alfred she was reading when Levinson’s valet started chatting her up in the kitchen. Speaking of the blunt Harold, Paul Giamatti is a big star and a very busy actor. Would he commit to a second season? He did ask Madeleine to write…

        The entire train ticket sub plot was ludicrous, from start to finish. Of course Bates wouldn’t have left it in his pocket, and Anna wouldn’t have donated the coat without going through the pockets. While Mrs. Hughes might, conceivably, have dumped it in Mary’s lap having made the awful discovery, Mary is nothing if not decisive and possessed of impeccable manners. She’d already made up her mind that Bates was in the right in the matter of Green and that she was ‘going to live with it’; the appearance of a bit of paper confirming what she already knew wouldn’t have changed her mind one iota – Mary’s not one to go all wobbly, nor is she someone who’d taunt a social inferior the way she seemed to be doing to Bates in that ridiculous scene in the kitchens. I’m afraid I have to agree with whoever said they thought it was padding to lengthen the show.

        I have to admit I liked Martha a lot better this time around, and she certainly slew our Dowager Dragon in that final exchange!

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

        The lure of a British production might be enough get any American actor to commit. I interviewed an American actor last year (who had been on Upstairs Downstairs) and he spoke at length about how much more fun and creative British productions are. The actors have more freedom, plus it is fun to work in those real locations.

        –Deborah

      • CatKinNY

        Television, American or British, is not the the last refuge of stars on their way to the nursing home any more. I hope Giamatti can fit it in. I rather like Harold, or rather, I like Giamatti.

        Of course they drink tea with milk. Molesley was reacting to the outre notion that someone might ask for a single cup of tea, already prepared for drinking. Tea comes in pots, which sit on trays, accompanied by sugar and milk, cups and saucers, napkins, spoons and some biscuits, at the very least!

        Molesley is turning out to have far more sense than we’ve ever seen before and depths of decency and strength never previously plumbed. Dare we hope that when whatever poor Miss Baxter is concealing is revealed that it will be this new Molesley who receives it, or will he revert to the silly and superficial man we’ve known?

      • Kaycee

        I’m putting my money on Molesley. Let’s hope he’s better at being this new man than he was at cricket.

      • Stormy

        Actually, it’s generally offered with milk or lemon. Your choice.

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

        I am missing the tea gene.

        –Deborah

      • Kaycee

        Clever!

      • crystal clear

        Actually we really don’t know for certain that Gregson in fact does have a crazy wife, just that he has said that he does. And do we know for sure that he is in Germany? Do you, or does anyone, recall how Edith came by the information regarding his having gotten into a fight, etc.? I must have dozed off. Mary did seem to equivocate regarding what should be done with the ticket information once Mrs. Hughes handed it off to her. Agreeing that the baiting of Bates (ouch, sorry) was a silliness, even more laughable was the whole card game setup with Mary and team Grantham sneaking into the hotel room to retrieve the damaging letter. I didn’t see her part of the room toss, but it probably was done in an impeccably mannered way. And the breaking and entering had a certain politeness to it also. As to the Dowager, she is one of only a few characters who are portrayed with consistency, a woman of substance and heart, as well as keen wit. There was no joy in watching her get trampled by mean-spirited dialogue. Back and forthing is one thing; bad lines are another.

      • Kaycee

        I believe Edith is in contact with people at the paper/magazine who keep her informed of their investigation into Gregsons’s disappearance.

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

        Yes, Edith has been in regular contact with the magazine staff. It has been mentioned numerous times this season. And since she already worked at the magazine, and we have seen her there, we can assume they were already familiar with her.

        –Deborah.

      • CatKinNY

        We don’t *know* anything, since Julian Fellowes is making it all up as he goes along. We do, however, know that crazy Mrs. Gregson has gone unchallenged as a plot device over the course of two seasons, which usually (the Bobby in the shower scene in Dallas not withstanding) means it’s *true* in episodic television. Presumably, Edith got the information from people at his office, which she’d just visited.

        Yes, Mary equivocated, quite dramatically, and then went right back to her original position. Mary is actually written with consistency, too, which is why I don’t believe this entire story arc. Wasn’t it you who suggested that there was much in this episode designed purely to lengthen it? This fits your complaint. The whole plot line concerning the Prince of Wales had more real world relevancy; it would have been odd not to try to weave him into the plot at some point, and Rose’s presentation was the logical place to do so. He was, by far, the biggest celebrity on the planet in the 1920s, and the Crawleys would have known him. The whole business with the letter struck me as another of Sir Julian’s homages to screwball comedy, with the added benefit that it provided an opportunity to highlight the beneficial aspects of Bates criminal past, thereby providing justification for Mary’s tossing the evidence on the fire – for those who bought that she’d have had a sudden crisis of conscience.

        You’re new, or you’d know, as Deborah does, that I love Violet, but it does us all some good not to win every exchange. We wouldn’t want her to become insufferable, now would we?

      • Kaycee

        You might have something there about the Prince of Wales and real world relevance because the plot does involve actual events of the times. Because it interfered with getting to the heart of so many issues I saw it as an unnecessary distraction from what I wanted. ANSWERS! And so few were forthcoming.

      • CatKinNY

        I hear ya! As I’ve said all along, Bates killed Green and he’s going to get away with it; when that ticket stub went on the fire, that closed out that plot line (this episode is what? 8 -10 months after the fact, with no one having come forward to say that they saw someone push Green) So there’s ONE answer.

        The more I think about it, the more I like Krausy’s idea that Michael is working undercover for the government, on a secret mission to infiltrate the communists (most likely – I doubt anyone had the sense to be afraid of the fascists until the 30s). It would explain why he gave Edith legal power over his affairs before leaving (as you said to someone, that’s an odd thing to do before an extended trip – unless you anticipate that you may have to disappear for a prolonged period of time). It has the added benefit of providing a path forward for Edith to have a happy ending, eventually. By the 20s, there was already an important, influential segment of society – artists and intellectuals – where Edith and Michael and their daughter would have been perfectly acceptable without the benefit of marriage. I wish I knew when the law changed so that one could divorce a permanently institutionalized spouse. Unfortunately, such information doesn’t yield easily to a quick google search.

        How do you solve a problem like Miss Baxter? You make us wait until next season! I’m dying to know what she did, but at least I now know that I’m in her corner, which will make how it all plays out much more interesting. She needed to have been a member of the household for some time, to have established relationships with people (including us) before the truth comes out to make more than one conclusion possible, after all. Had she just been there for a few months and had no allies below stairs, when the ‘scandal’ broke, Carson would have insisted that she go, and she would have been fired, without a reference.

        It’s hard for us to appreciate how big a celebrity HRH the Prince of Wales was in the 1920s because our world is so very different. Celebrities were a rare commodity and fame was usually based on accomplishment – Charles Lindbergh was probably the only person in the world who could give the Prince a run for his money in the fame department. When he appeared on the scene on Sunday, I heard my mother (a child of the 20s) say in my ear “It’s about time!”. As I’ve said to you before, Fellowes knows this world intimately (via the same method as myself, judging from his background) and it would have been an odd omission to leave the Prince out of a story involving high society and royal presentations.

      • Kaycee

        I’m no longer convinced that Bates did it. Ticket stub, ominous music, his strangely mysterious answers to Anna’s inquiries are herrings of the ruby red variety. So for me that is one question not satisfactorily answered. We may see this entire series end without knowing for sure but I for one have decided to find him innocent.

      • CatKinNY

        Whatever floats your boat. I have decided to take Mr. Bates at his word – that he acts when he has a very good reason to – and take the bait. It would be criminally bad writing to set us up to think the same character committed murder twice and have it be a ruse both times. That may be the main reason I think he did it, come to think of it.

        The first time, with Mrs. Bates, I wondered, but kept an open mind, partly because there was a legit, well known reason for Bates to be in London when she poisoned herself. There was no subterfuge on his part about anything – he didn’t tell the police that he’d bought the rat poison six months earlier, but who would? The Crown’s case against him was entirely based on words he never denied speaking and that we all (even Miss O’Brien) thought to be understandable hyperbole and “evidence” planted by the “victim” herself. If this all turns out to be deliberate misdirection, I’ll be very disappointed in the writers. I expect to hear no more about Mr.Green or the day in question. Unless an explanation emerges for why he was in London instead of York when Green met his fate, I’ll assume he was there to throw him under the bus! More than a year on (which it will be by the time the series resumes) you’re going to be mighty blue in the face from holding your breath, waiting for him to reveal that tea shop he purchased ;-)

      • Kaycee

        I hear you, but I don’t thing we are being asked to believe that he offed two people. The case against him for Vera’s murder was very circumstantial and the explanation for her committing suicide to frame him made a kind of dark sense. And Vera was nothing if not dark. I think with Green’s death we are being led down a different road and the destination may not be at all what the brochure advertised.

      • Stormy

        It’s been my theory that Bates went to London to confront Greene, He was following him, Greene panicked and stepped in front of the bus.

      • Kaycee

        I like that theory!

      • CatKinNY

        That would work too. What was Bates going to do with him once he’d gotten his hands on him, though?

      • CatKinNY

        I didn’t say he’d murdered Vera; I never thought he did. The Irish actress who played her (and whose name escapes me at the moment) is fabulously good and managed to convey just the right mix of evil, relentlessness, and controlled hysteria to make it believable that she’d go that far. What you’re saying is that we are being asked to believe that circumstances have conspired to make it look like he committed two murders and is innocent of both. Sorry, I just don’t buy it. What I do buy is that two stints in prison will harden a person and teach them skills that can be used for good or ill. We’ve seen Bates use his skill as a forger to help Mr. Molesley out of a tough spot that his pride wouldn’t permit help to be had in any other way, and we’ve seen it used to attempt to keep the Crawley family free guilt in a situation that would have damaged the Prince of Wales, but it was his pickpocketing skills that actually saved the day. The same sort of sleight of hand could easily have been used on Green.

        I just can’t see Bates letting Green get away with what he did to Anna. I don’t think he could have lived with himself. He and Anna seem to be back to the happily married couple they always were, and I think there’s nothing on this earth that he wouldn’t have done to bring that about, including murder. .

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

        Yes, Mary has always been contrary. And yes, it really makes more sense to have the Crawleys interact with royalty than not. Since Robert is a Lord, they would be members of Court, and until now the only mention of royalty was when Sir Rupert mentioned not wanting to see Mary anywhere but the Court Circular to the late Mrs. Bates.

        –Deborah

      • CatKinNY

        My God! How do you remember things like that?

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

        ‘Tis a gift — and a curse:)

        –Deborah

      • CatKinNY

        But what a gift at test time in school! If I had fabulous recall like that, I’d speak fluent Italian and French, at least.

      • crystal clear

        Violet is my favorite character, and I think we all wait with gleeful anticipation for her sotto voce acidic asides, so when I read “Dragon Dowager” it raised my protective instincts; it did not seem an affectionate description. Yes, some of us are new to the commentary, so in all fairness, how could we possibly know which characters anyone favors. As Kaycee pointed out, possibly in the commentary about the last episode, “we have agreed to disagree,” and it is abundantly clear that we view Mary from a different angle. The fascinating thing about these exchanges is the varied perceptions of, and responses to, the many overlapping plot lines, and the speculations that accompany them. I am constantly amazed at the witty and imaginative ideas put forth! And since you have such an evident personal knowledge bank regarding British history and customs, thanks for sharing it with us. Lastly,
        there is no crazy wife (just to be difficult).

      • CatKinNY

        I believe Violet is everyone’s favorite character; who could rival her? I was merely explaining that my remark had been addressed to someone who knows I love her and therefore would have taken the description as it was intended. If you don’t like Mary, so be it, though I’m glad I’m not addicted to a show whose central character I find unpleasant!

        I LOVE Krausy’s idea about Michael being undercover on His Majesty’s Secret Service! It’s brilliant and would explain everything. I enjoy sharing insights I have about the world the Crawley’s inhabit; I grew up in a family with a lot very old members, some of whom had been wealthy contemporaries of the girls, all of whom liked to tell stories, so much of life at Downton was part of my childhood – and I’m well read and well traveled.

        When the crazy wife, a tried and true staple of Victorian literature, was trotted out, I didn’t believe it either, but it’s gone on so long now, that it’s hard to know what to think. Now that we know (?) that the document Edith signed was an extensive power of attorney over his affairs, it seems as though Gregson’s gone to an awful lot of bother for one roll in the hay, doesn’t it?

        Welcome to the Dish. It’s too bad you joined us so late, but next season will arrive eventually.

      • crystal clear

        Thank you. You are correct, unstable wives pop up continually in literature; think Jane Eyre, as just one example, although she was a real character. It is just that we have had the plot rug pulled out from under us before, and this show is sometimes mirrors and shadows. Many curves have been thrown. Much of it is a reflection of a very clever and humorous mind, with distractors tossed in to confound that we eventually find have no real significance. Since on the surface Gregson seems a decent fellow, it is a wonder that he would have consigned his wife to any type of psychiatric facility; there was no regulation of these private or public places until 1928, and they were pretty awful. So that is part of my theory that the wife was invented. He may have used the wife story to let Edith know he couldn’t marry her. I don’t recall how far into the relationship she (the “wife”) was revealed; and then he developed feelings for Edith and things changed.
        It is not unusual to watch a show and not prefer the main character, by the way. I loved “House of Cards,” both the British and American versions, and found Ian Richardson and Kevin Spacey respectively despicable, but it didn’t keep me from binge-watching both series.
        I am not addicted to Downton Abbey, but to this dish.
        Lovely to meet and exchange ideas with a fellow well-educated, well-traveled individual.

      • crystal clear

        Thank you for the welcome–always a little frightening to put one’s toes into the water.
        You are spot on with the crazy wife comment. Think Jane Eyre, among other works. The thing is, if we go along with Gregson being a decent sort of chap, then it’s pretty inconceivable that he would have put his wife into any sort of what then passed for a psychiatric facility. It wasn’t until 1928 that England enacted legislation which governed the functioning of such places, either private or public, and they were nasty hell holes by and large. I don’t remember exactly when Gregson confided to Edith about his wife, but wasn’t it fairly early on? If he knew he had to go off on some pre planned mission, and if he deliberately lured Edith in, isn’t then the dash off to Germany for a divorce, where he had to stay for a bit before he could get it, a perfect cover, with Edith as the unsuspecting accomplice? I admit it is a stretch, but then I am a conspiracy theorist. At any rate, it is great fun to exchange these ideas with you and the others, and to discourse with another person who is well educated and welt traveled. We probably all are or we wouldn’t be doing this.
        And as to watching a series with a main character who is not one’s cup of tea, I thoroughly enjoyed and binge-watched both the British and the American series of House of Cards, while finding both Ian Richardson and Kevin Spacey equally despicable. It is not Downton Abbey to which I am addicted–it is to this dish.

      • Kaycee

        Gregson told Edith about his wife at their third meeting, I believe. As I’ve said in another comment, if his trip to Germany were planned as far back in time as then, it was not as part of a mission of any great urgency because more than six months passed between that revelation and his departure. But, anything is possible and I so enjoy the ideas that are put forth here.

      • CatKinNY

        Might I suggest that the next time you put your toes in the water someplace new you try a different tactic than savaging your host as a way to announce your presence? I feel sure that Violet would concur with my advice.

        I’m not much of a conspiracy theorist myself; perhaps that;s why I was unable to follow your argument, or, more likely, you got carried away with asides and left out your main thesis. An unsuspecting Edith was lured into being an accomplice to what, specifically?

        FYI, beginning in the Victorian era, Britain had some very nice madhouses for those who could pay and weren’t violent.

        There’s a long, successful tradition, especially in television, of a protagonist who is a villain, as in House of Cards, and whom we love to hate while admiring his audacity and ability to manipulate people and systems, despite ourselves. If the series goes on long enough, we may learn to love him, as we did Tony Soprano. But that’s got nothing to do with Downton Abbey, where Mary is just a straightforward lead character, trying her best to cope with what comes her way. Why watch the Mary Tyler Moore Show if you dislike Mary Richards? It just seems like a chore, no matter how much you enjoy Mr. Grant and Suzanne Nevins.

      • Kaycee

        This is a friendly discussion forum and I think we all agree to disagree. Different opinions are what make it interesting and fun. We should refrain from scolding, although this is a little bit of that directed at you, CatKinNy. I so enjoy your comments and the wide span of knowledge and experience that you bring to your assessments of plot and characters…but your reply here had a bit of an edge to it.

        And I think Violet always says what she thinks.

      • CatKinNY

        Kaycee: Please take a look at Crystal Clear’s first post here. He or she ‘introduced’ herself to us by trashing Deborah. I answered the first post right before I went to bed and didn’t bother to scroll back and reexamine the new person’s posts. When I got the second, I took a look and was pissed off at another stranger showing up and saying that the recap was written by an illiterate bore. Unless I’m hallucinating, you don’t like those sorts of introductions any better than I do.

        Your entire post was directed at me, because that’s who you replied to; CC won’t see it unless (s)he reads remarks directed to others, and since this page is now somewhat crowded, that not all that likely.

      • Kaycee

        I think it was after episode 7 that a couple of people made one time contributions to the discussion that were critical of the recap. You and I and I think one or two other regulars told them to go away or stop reading it or something to that effect. None of these one time wonders had anything else to say. When Crystal Clear made his or her first comment, which was critical of what she (I’m sticking with the feminine) perceived as grammar and spelling errors (illiterate bore was your term not hers) it prompted a reply suggesting that she proof read her own comments. She appeared to take that advice and corrected the mistake in her post. Then she took an active and enthusiastic role in participating in this forum. Just as we all do, adding much to the information and opinion sharing in a friendly and agreeable manner.

        Deborah knows she does a brilliant job. You and I and the overwhelming majority of participants here remind her of that on a regular basis. She knows, at least I hope she does, that we are grateful for what she has created here and appreciate her wise and witty writing. There may be times when someone doesn’t see it exactly as we do. To each her own, as you’ve said. But if someone decides to stick around and get into the spirit of things and is a positive addition to the whole discussion then I don’t think they need a dressing down.

        In addition to your advice to her about how to enter a new forum you bashed her presentation of her theory and blamed her for your inability to follow her argument. This isn’t essay writing 101.

        I directed my entire post at you because that was my intention.

        And Crystal Clear did read my post.

        Let’s get back to chewing on the fabulous feast of the plot and characters of Downton and not one another. You really are awfully good at the former.

      • CatKinNY

        So the entire lecture was directed at me Kaycee? No wonder Crystal Clear liked it. Tell you what, friend, should a stranger appear in our midst and reply to one of your lengthy recaps “Bloody awful! Wading through a post laden with grammar and punctuation errors was almost as painful as viewing the actual program”, I’ll be kindness itself to the newcomer should they decide to continue to grace us with their presence. Happy?

      • Kaycee

        Happy? No. I am never happy when I have offended someone as it would seem I have you. Those of us who have been involved with the Dish are big fans of the show and have become very protective of this forum and especially of Deborah. On reflection I realize that was at least part of your motivation. Sincerely sorry. Your well reasoned and articulated analyses of the characters and plot are a big part of what makes this so entertaining for me.

      • CatKinNY

        “On reflection I realize that was at least part of your motivation.” At least part? It was the entirety of my motivation, as I made crystal clear to you after your first scolding. Clear as Mud understood exactly where I was coming from, which is why they have not replied but have hung around to high five your lecturing me. Oh, and for the record, what (s)he corrected in it’s introductory insult to both Deborah and the show was someone’s name; I utterly fail to see how that constitutes a laudable improvement, and I stand by ‘illiterate bore’ as an accurate synopsis of the characterization of Deborah contained therein.

        Apology accepted, but since you used an exchange with another as an opportunity to chide me for my bad manners, I’m going to return the favor by pointing out to you that people neither like nor respect those who attack old friends in favor of new acquaintances. I flatly don’t believe that you did as I asked and reread the offending post to see if you might have got the wrong end of the stick, or you’d have realized why my response to “always a little frightening to put one’s toes in the water” was appropriate. When CC’s words were redirected towards you personally, you had an epiphany. When someone shows up in a new forum and introduces themselves by hurling insults at the community, they are engaged in what is called ‘trolling’ on the internet. Why people engage in this childish and mean behavior, especially in a forum like this one, is a mystery to me (perhaps there are televisions and computers in Purgatory?), but conventional wisdom holds that they do it to rile people up and start fights, which is why “Don’t feed the troll” is one of the most common expressions seen on message boards. Should the person then wish to join the community they have insulted, they need to explain themselves and apologize for their churlishness as far as I’m concerned.

        I have very much enjoyed corresponding with you here over the last few years, which is why this post is so lengthy. It was necessary for me to clear the air to make such exchanges possible in the future.

      • crystal clear

        Thank you for your valiant attempts to put this matter into a factual and fair-minded light, and to also put it in the past where it belongs.
        I can assure you all that I am not a troll of any variety. I have never heard the term “internet troll” before it was posted, probably because I can barely turn my computer on. I am familiar with the word “troll” as a mythical mischievous figure, a term of art in fishing, and an activity engaged in by teen-age boys in my youth, in which they drove slowly up and down the main thoroughfare in town, whistling at the girls and calling out to them, in an attempt to gain their attention, i.e., “trolling.” If you had asked me to define internet trolling, I would have said going to Amazon.com and shopping for a garden decoration.
        It is not my underhanded goal to separate friend from friend (I thought I was the conspiracy theorist!), but simply to share thoughts and speculations about one of my favorite shows, as we had been doing. I trust that we can peacefully return to that most enjoyable and enlightening activity.

      • CatKinNY

        So now the show is a great favorite? It’s not a non addictive bore? Glad to hear it. There’s a simple solution to your problem. Instead of protesting that you’ve never been on the internet before and don’t know what a troll is, you could simply explain your behavior and apologize to Deborah.

      • crystal clear

        I would be happy to discuss any aspects of the plotlines or characters with you, as we have done in the past. You might wish to read through the posts again.

      • CatKinNY

        That’s all I wanted. Deborah created this community and works hard to keeping us laughing and interested. She would never defend herself against unprovoked attacks from strangers (it’s probably in her contract), but I defend my friends. Thank you for owning up to your behavior and apologizing for it. I’ll tell Kaycee.

        Now, where were we? You think Michael may have used Edith as a beard for a prolonged disappearance? Hmmm. Could be, but then why did he give her a sweeping power of attorney? She has legal control over all of his affairs; if I were simply using someone, I wouldn’t put them in a position to take revenge. Would you?

        I don’t know how much back reading you’ve done here, but Julian Fellowes has said that he believes that some people are just unlucky and that he thinks Edith may be one of those people. I’m afraid I agree with him about some people just being unlucky, but it’s also a license to do awful things to poor Edith, so who knows what torments he’ll devise for her. I do think that Michael loves (loved?) her, though – that may have been his death warrant according to the Fellowes rules of Edith and luck, come to think of it. Your thoughts?

        I’m glad we’ve cleared things up. You’re a welcome addition here.

      • crystal clear

        Thank you for the kind words. It’s my belief that a person of any worth makes good decisions without pressure. Apologies accepted all around. Enough said.
        Speaking of all around, where has everyone else gone? It would appear that you, Kaycee and I have become the Three Musketeers of the blog, so we will sally forth together.
        Before we get into discussion of the questions you posed, I must say that I strongly related to your feelings regarding “Gone with the Wind.” I went through a very similar experience with “The King and I,” and can still sing (and do, much to the chagrin of those in the vicinity) songs verbatim from that show/movie. I was probably your same age when I developed a full-blown, prepubescent crush on Yul Brynner. His approach on the dance floor to Deborah Kerr, after they had stopped dancing, and before they resumed, with his arm extended to her waist and his intense concentration on her, still remains for me the most electrically erotic moment ever portrayed on the screen (and they had their clothes on). I have seen the movie any number of times, and any local theater production that performed it. I had the good fortune to see Yul Brynner reprise his role on Broadway some months before he died; of course he was older than when he had initially performed it, and it was after he had had treatment for lung cancer. In the scene after the ball, when the runaway slave Lun Tha is found and brought back into the palace, the King (Yul) removes his jacket and takes a whip to beat him. The radiation burns were visible on Yul’s chest, and there went up a gasp from those of us in the audience. At the end of the show, he received more than a standing ovation. It was a thoroughly heart-wrenching moment.
        I also read “Anna and the King of Siam,” the true story of the teacher Anna Leonowens, upon which the play and movie were based, but the book, as you might imagine, was a very dry read, with none of the romance of the show. Additionally, on a trip to Thailand, (one of the most humid, hottest places in the world where your clothing and body become fused by moisture the minute you leave air-conditioning), I was able to visit the summer palace in which Mrs. Anna taught. It was architecturally designed in a devilishly clever way so that the breezes constantly flowed through. But it was much smaller than I had envisioned, with none of the grandeur of the Hollywood version. I am trying to break your record here for asides, but as I fear I am coming up short, I will stop boring everyone and move on.
        With Michael, we are being asked to make some decisions. Firstly, is he a good guy or a bad one. I don’t know about you, but in me he has always inspired some sort of discomfort, and I am not entirely sure why. It is subtle. Perhaps it was the swiftness of his attachment to Edith, which , if he were a lonely heart, would explain that one away. Then we got to see his better than average card skills. Why? Just a device to endear him to the money losers? Maybe. Then, after professing his love for Edith and asking her to marry him, he disappeared into Germany without word one to his sweetheart. Why? Is he either imprisoned and without access to pen, paper and the pony express, or is his silence deliberate? Understandable if it is the former. If he is not reaching out to her on purpose, then we have two theories; he is undercover (In which case she is his unknowing accomplice by spreading about the “cover story” of his need to be away to get his divorce), or he is a cad. Edith is likeable, albeit somewhat chronically unhappy. In truth, she has created much of her own difficulty with bad decision making: with her relationship with Mary, with her current and age old predicament of baby before marriage ceremony, and with the pigman as phony father idea. I see more future trouble on her horizon. Maybe the Swiss Family Babytender will not be so quick to give up the child. Hopefully Edith is not doomed by the writer
        to live her life in misery, because the girl could use a
        break. I know you had other questions but I feel that my brain is turning to Turkish Taffy right now, so I will address the others later.

      • CatKinNY

        Hi CC! Glad to hear from you. As to where everybody went, the show ended 10 days ago, so most people have left until next year. We are indeed the Three Musketeers, sallying forth together and alone.

        ‘The King and I’ is a terrific movie as I recall, though I haven’t seen it in eons and have only hazy memories. I’ll have to watch for it and look for that scene. There is a scene in ‘Old Gringo’ that’s very similar to your description, where Jimmy Smitts gestures to Jane Fonda to dance with him in the half bombed out ruins of a hacienda during the Mexican Revolution; it is incredibly erotic, so I know exactly what you mean. I’m glad you understand how I so easily tumbled down that Scarlett/Mary rabbit hole. I felt a bit crazy as I wrote, but just couldn’t stop myself as details came bubbling up from my subconscious and they seemed too good to ignore. You seem to have kept your obsession alive; I admire your stamina. I had many at that age, and while I still love them when I stumble across them, I was more the type who would get everything out of one and then move on to the next. I guess I was a serial obsessive. GWTW was the first movie, but was joined by ‘Bonnie and Clyde’ and Zeffirelli’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’ in fairly short order, but the Beatles and the Brontes came even before the movies.

        I know what you mean about Michael. I was suspicious of his interest in Edith, too, but then started noticing that London Edith is not the needy, whiny girl we know at home. She’s a confidant, witty, attractive girl, and swift attachment to her is not so hard to understand. The card sharpery might mean something sinister, or it might just be the result of a misspent youth and sufficient smarts to count cards – that’s illegal in every casino on earth for a very good reason. My dad learned how to cheat at cards in his Brooklyn youth, and later to count them, but he was never the less a good guy – though you didn’t want to play cards with him unless he was tipsy. The disappearance is a mystery at this point. Did he simply get killed by the Brownshirts? Is he undercover for the government and therefore forced to remain silent, ignorant of the terrible predicament in which he left Edith? Or is there a third, sinister explanation? – but then why did he leave Edith in control of all his worldly goods?

        Yes, Edith is the author of many of her problems, but it’s bloody bad luck to have gotten pregnant the first and only time you had sex. The odds are pretty damned low. I’m afraid the Swiss family, who ‘don’t have a formal agreement’ as we were told, will give up the baby and Edith will give herself away in fairly short order by dropping by the farm too often. The only question in my mind is whether Fellowes will grant her a belated wedding (about which lies can be told to cover the fact that the baby is illegitimate) or whether she’ll live a lonely life in Maida Vale – the very life she couldn’t see herself pulling off when discussing things with Rosamund.

        You’re worse than I am about examining niggling details, which I find thoroughly delightful!

      • crystal clear

        This is a rhetorical question: do you ever engage in nocturnal unconsciousness as we do?
        Last things first. You and Kaycee are the Mother Superiors of niggling detail, I a mere novice. I have watched this show these past few years with relaxed attentiveness, absorbing enough of the plot lines and character presentations to make some judgments, albeit probably erroneous. Never did I think there might be an ensuing pop quiz, so I haven’t really studied it the way you both have until now. It is a great mental exercise which hopefully will assist in keeping the big bad A at abeyance. As it is, anything more than 3 items from the grocer requires a list, and it is not always easy to recall where I put it.
        From the beginning, as mentioned elsewhere, I have thought that we had been given Thomas as the somewhat inept villain, because it is formulaic; he is not so successful as to create major havoc, but he is the irritating fly on the screen door of life there, and we applaud when he fails. What drives him could be any number of things. It may be his desire to have some sort of power, since he isn’t going to have it any other way. Also, now that we know his sexual orientation, maybe we could blame it on frustration, since there doesn’t seem to be anyone at Downton willing to get involved with him, not even the female staff (in case he’s really bi), and certainly not the family. There were probably not any gay pubs to cruise in the vicinity, and sexual repression can make a person very angry. Add to that what he perceives as the coup of the Branson/Sybil union, and besides kicking himself for not thinking that such a situation was even a possibility, he absolutely resents his subservient position to Tom. If I recall correctly, he has been a staff member since the show’s inception, is that correct? So it has been eleven years that he has been there. I am also a little hazy on how Baxter got her job. I know he recommended her, but was there mention that they had worked together before? (more relaxed inattentiveness). It is evident that he brought her in to spy for him via the pressure of the mysterious blackmalian (neologism) hold. My thinking is that she is a relative, and I even briefly toyed with the idea that she might be his mother, if their ages were in sync for that. I think it was Kaycee who suggested that he would back out of any knowledge of her misdeeds if they came to light, and he could get away with it–just a poor relative he was attempting to help. If they had worked together before, and let’s say theft of some old brooch for her grandmother’s operation caused her dismissal, then she would not get a reference, so would have to be dependent on inside help to get a job. Thomas well knows the weaknesses of everyone there, and although he isn’t particularly well regarded by anyone, just by virtue of his longevity a certain amount of credibility has gotten bestowed upon him by Robert, even though we know better.
        To Edith for a moment. How do we know she and Michael only did the deed once? Is it based on what she told the doctor or Rosamund, because that would have to be discounted under the theory that the general tendency one would have would be to present oneself in the best possible light, given the acceptable behaviors of the time. Mind you, is she really going to confess to anyone that after their first encounter she became a rabbit? To further muddy it, how do we know it is Michael’s baby?
        Lastly, I thought the POA was signed to give her authority to do required things related to the running of the magazine. How do we know it is broad? And how many weeks’ vacation does Michael get that he could just take off that way and leave his job to a relatively inexperienced person? So many questions…
        One last thing of no particular interest. Like you, I finally let go of The King and I and turned my attention to Rex Harrison and My Fair Lady, and that score is also committed to memory, unfortunately.

      • Kaycee

        So much to think about! For the life of me I can’t remember the verbiage associated with Baxter coming into the house. Will have to review the beginning of the season. I was just so happy to see Edna walk off into the sunset that I missed how Thomas introduced Baxter. The idea of her being a relative is interesting but something about Thomas makes me think he is all alone in the world, in so many ways. I once thought he might be O’Brien’s illegitimate son, they shared so much genetic evil but that theory floated away with their cigarette smoke. The Thomas/Baxter story line is one of many that I eagerly await.

        Of course we don’t have medical evidence that Edith is fertile beyond belief and that the one encounter we know of was indeed the one and only encounter. However, the set up for her staying at Gregson’s apartment made look like it was for the first time. Not that an afternoon delight couldn’t have been a possibility but it really appeared that this was a momentous and completely novel situation. And the next morning Edith had that “I’ve done something I’ve never done before” look all over her face. And I didn’t think it was that she’d come in just as the maids were moving about with their morning drudgeries. It’s just her kind of luck.

        You can discuss the provisions in the POA but I will utter not another word about it since I belabored that point ad nauseum already. And I have the impression that Michael can come and go as he will at his publication, just as he did when he took off to follow Edith to Scotland.

        As to your final comment about The King and I, see my reply to CatKinNY just above.

      • crystal clear

        Before I read your other commentary, I have a question that I should know the answer to, but do we know the sex of Edith’s child?
        What if our focus here is all wrong? We have been caught up in the where is Michael plot. Maybe it is irrelevant. It seemed that Edith’s response to the questioning about his whereabouts was kind of offhand and brief.
        What if even the circumstances of the conception are also irrelevant? She was meant to have the baby for the plot line. As dreadful as this idea is, what if something happens to poor little George. Would Edith’s child then become heir to Downton? Just a thought.
        And also, where DID O’Brien go? It seemed an abrupt departure. I too had the same thought about her relationship to Thoimas, but maybe it was just the old misery, etc., thing.

      • Kaycee

        Edith had a little girl. She asked Granny to refer to the baby as she and not it and again in talking with the pig farmer she made reference to a girl. This may be problematic if the baby turns out to be the spitting image of Edith.

        No, Edith cannot produce an heir to Downton. Because of the entail Downton had to go to a rightful male heir after Robert. He didn’t produce any. His three daughter could have given birth to an entire militia of males and none would be in line to inherit, as I understand it. George is heir by virtue of his being descended from Matthew who was the rightful male heir after Robert, not because Mary is his mother.

        I think Edith’s kind of distracted demeanor when she talked about what she was told happened when Gregson was last seen in Munich was more a demonstration of her mind mashing about what she wanted to do with the baby…and her continued grief and worry about Michael. She only knows what the people who are investigating his disappearance have told her, and that’s not much.

        O’Brien is in India with R

      • crystal clear

        Thanks for the clarification. I remember it now as you recounted it. What I was also asking, though not with clarity, was what happened to the actress who portrayed O’Brien.
        Many times when characters are “written out,” it is because they either died, or have a personal issue, such as illness, or as in Matthew’s case, another opportunity they wish to pursue. The groundwork was obviously laid for her departure to make room for the Baxter sub-plot. Adding more spices to the stewpot, as it were.

      • Kaycee

        I think the actress wanted out to pursue other things but I’m not sure. Deborah would know. She knows everything but sometimes leaves us to wander in the wilderness until one of us hits on the correct answer. My thought is that if it is true that the actress wanted out she was nuts. Unless her career has taken off great guns and I haven’t heard about it she would have been wise to remain with this great show.

      • crystal clear

        True. However, I do miss her coconspirator character, and how wonderfully she played that role, with that consistently distressed expression, looking both chronically aggravated and in need of gastrointestinal relief.
        I am going to research her acting name and find out what happened to her, and hopefully discover only positive things.
        I will report any findings.

      • crystal clear

        Some research has revealed that Siobahn Finneran , who played O’Brien, had a three-year contract, and did not want to continue. This was also true of the actors playing Sybil and Matthew, hence their unfortunate deaths. Hopefully their decisions will not lead to the demise of their careers as well. Incidentally, there is a photo of Ms. Finneran in one of the articles, and the character of O’Brien is so far removed from the glamorous shot of her in a red dress as to make her almost unrecognizable. Perhaps the dowdy clothing and one dimensional script lines exhausted her enthusiasm for the role.

      • CatKinNY

        Do I ever sleep at night? No. I’m a vampire, with a back problem this week that makes my cats think I’m a werewolf because I howl whenever I lie down. I bought some MgSo4 tablets this evening and am starting to feel a bit better. Seriously, if you have a muscular problem, don’t get a prescription – try magnesium for a few days. If it doesn’t help, it’ll still be good for your bones and muscles, and it’s water soluble, so nothing to worry about.

        Here’s a rhetorical question – are you James Joyce or William Faulkner? If not, then don’t write something that long without paragraphs. It’s hard to read. I’m teasing you, and it absolutely makes me believe that you are new to the internet, because I did the same thing and got told by someone with whom I was corresponding that he wouldn’t even read it, but please, don’t do it again!

        Yeah, yeah, yeah, Kaycee and I are the only anal retentives around here. You’re a casual observer. Sure.

        Thomas is inept or unlucky, or a combination thereof? When he locked up Pharoah (at O’Brien’s urging) in a building on the demesne, and a lad from the village happened by and took him home, Thomas was simply unlucky. Trust me on that one – if you’ve spent any time on the grounds of a castle, you’ll understand why I say it was merely luck.

        Thomas is not bisexual, but he genuinely loved his dear hospital colleague, Sybil. They worked very closely together and fought their superiors together when that was what was needed for their patients. He loves Sybil’s daughter, which is how he started fighting with her awful nanny. Yes, his motive was primarily one of establishing his own supremacy over nanny, but he got incensed over why shouldn’t Sybbie have an egg with her tea?

        There’s nothing about how he and Baxter know one another, and I stand by my analysis to Kaycee of how exposing Baxter will redound on Thomas.

        As to Edith and sex, Michael left right after that one night. Biologically, how often they had sex that night is immaterial. It all comes down to once – where was she in her cycle. Michael owns the paper, and he’s left our Edith in charge. Were he merely an editor, there would be no need to consult his ‘representative’ in his absense.

        ‘My Fair Lady’ is a well remembered joy. I met Rex Harrison once, at Sardi’s – my step dad was a lawyer who had a very broad clientele – and he was utterly delightful.

        My back is feeling so much better, I think I’ll try to go to sleep.

      • Kaycee

        Hope your back continues to improve. Sleep well so you will be refreshed and can disagree with my analysis of Violet vs. Bunting…again! ;-)

      • CatKinNY

        The back is just a little achy now and all it took was a few doses of a water soluble mineral. No expensive, mind altering drugs, just chemistry. Organic Chemistry and Anatomy and Physiology were good investments!

      • crystal clear

        So sorry about the back issue. I too have impressive imperfections on my MRI, but so far no sleep disturbance. Have a caution with that Magnesium Sulfate though–many drug interactions and kidney implications in the “mature” population (you have already revealed your approximate age).
        New paragraph: I used to have this problem with run-on sentences until an amused acquaintance suggested that I employ a few periods here and there. The problem has now obviously morphed into protracted paragraphs.
        I hope you see the irony here, though. Please also advise me if my postings become too staggeringly lengthy. I do not want to be responsible for any traumatic cranial injury, should someone doze off and fall headfirst onto his PC. (Also teasing, and it was already addressed in one of your previous posts).
        I am neither Joyce or Faulkner, although you may be correct as to gender. However, since we are to maintain some anonymity, I will neither confirm or deny, and take the stance of Ian Richardson in House of Cards.
        I am temporarily out of ideas on the plot lines, although it won’t last; I am always happy to hit the ball back across the net, though.

      • CatKinNY

        There’s nothing amiss with my back that would present as a problem on an MRI, merely a clenched group of muscles, which have now relaxed and are suffering only the dull ache that is the hangover from such frenzied activity. There’s nothing dangerous about taking a water soluble mineral for a day or two to end a muscle spasm; the alternative, something like Flexaril or Valium, is far likelier to cause problems and will be no more effective. Preeclampsia is treated with massive (2gm/hr) amounts of MGSO4 and I’ve never seen it cause a problem (unless someone set the pump wrong) and I was a labor and delivery nurse for 25 years. I’m not on any medications and I’ve got another decade or two before I hit the stage where I have to start worrying about the possibility of metabolizing drugs differently. My mother never got there and she died at 91.

        We needn’t maintain anonymity and are free to share whatever we’d like. You’re a man? I’ve never understood why programming like DA is generally regarded as being female centric. Were I a man, I’d be insulted by the assumption that I was too stupid to follow character and relationship driven plot lines. It’s like saying that I’m too stupid to understand what’s going on in my own life, because those other beings with whom I share it are destined to remain a mystery I’ll never solve; I’ve always found the clueless dad, a staple of comedy and drama, something of a cop out. My father intuitively understood me much better than did my wonderful mother, and he could see through my two little brothers much more easily than could my step mom. He’d have watched DA religiously, right along with football. Granted, most men are not as good at picking up subtle behavioral cues as women are, but you can certainly learn, just like we did. It’s nice to have a man who’s taken the trouble to do so in our midst.

        I too had a run on sentence problem when much younger, as my mind kept on churning up relevant details. That’s a harder problem to fix, since it actually involves rewriting. Run on paragraphs can be solved by hitting ‘Enter’ periodically!

      • crystal clear

        Interesting to know that preeclampsia is still being treated with MgSo4. I had wondered about that. A shame it wasn’t available to poor Sybil, although neither was prenatal care as we consider it today.
        You may be interested to learn, as will others who peruse this site, that Winterthur Museum in Delaware is hosting an exhibition of the costumes of Downton Abbey; forty historical costumes will be on display, as well as photographs and vignettes inspired by the program. I do not have the exact dates for the general public, as my invitation is private, and at the end of May; but certainly the museum schedule will be found online. If no one else is able to attend, I will be delighted to furnish a report.
        For the nonce, I prefer anonymity. We have learned a great deal about the contributors by simply paying attention to what has been written, and certainly the writing styles are unique to the individuals.
        I don’t believe a commitment to my gender has been made, but I do agree after reviewing the postings that more women seem captivated by the show than men.
        I am researching something about Julian Fellowes’ reaction to viewer criticism and will get back on that. Also, I glimpsed, but did not read (my computer was not cooperating with me) a Season Five spoiler with a headline something along the lines of “Lady Mary Becomes Mean.” Will check on that as well if I am able to clear up some internet issues.

      • crystal clear

        To Cat: I just want you to know that I DiD double space all of my above paragraphs, and cannot imagine what happened, lest you think I so hastily discarded your appropriate suggestion and reverted to my former ways.

      • CatKinNY

        It was Sybil’s very well done disease process and death that brought me to this site, actually. I was so frustrated with the Harley Street boob’s mismanagement that I went looking for a place to vent. I’ve been here ever since!

        Of course MgSo4 is still in use, and not only for preeclamsia, either. It’s an excellent way to stop preterm labor, too, and can be used for six or eight weeks without harm to mother or fetus. You turn it off at 34 weeks and the woman often goes into labor and delivers within a few hours; the baby usually goes to the regular nursery. Even if they do go to the NICU, it’s never for more than a few days.

        Winterthur is a beautiful place. I enjoyed visiting it very much 15 years ago. I’ll enjoy your report, and your report on Sir Julian, but no spoilers, please!

      • crystal clear

        As follows on Sir Julian: he apparently will be beginning a new project entitled “The Gilded Age” and has said that he does not wish to do the two shows at the same time. The cast is already filming Season 5. Apparently there is not a specific contract for a Season 6; the show gets renewed as it nears the conclusion of production, which must make it difficult to write, to say the least. He seems to have hinted, though, that if there is a Season 6, that will be it.
        Most likely you already know all of the above, since you seem to have your finger squarely on the pulse of it.
        And since you requested no more spoilers, I will not discuss the new male character about which you also already know.
        As to MgSo4, I am very familiar with both it’s anticonvulsant and tocolytic use, just not any first hand knowledge of current practice. Regarding side effects, as with anything put into our bodies, there is no free lunch, as a colleague once said. While these negative effects usually occur with mistaken overadministration, as you
        pointed out, there can also be interaction with other medications. As well, there are ongoing studies as to the long term effects on children whose mothers had been administered the drug, and these are not limited to bone demineralization. There have been reports in the literature of psychological and social disorders, but inconclusive to date.
        By the way, your most recent synopsis of characters to Kaycee was the best I have read.

      • CatKinNY

        I live in a self imposed media blackout zone re all things Downton, so I know nothing, unless Deborah, who is very careful not to spill any beans, shares it here. From what I understand, there are all kinds of leaks springing from the river that once ran under Fleet Street, and I’m afraid of falling into one, so I take no chances. I don’t want to know what is going to happen in advance. It would make watching the show less exciting and ruin the fun we have here speculating about what has just happened and how it will play out in the future.

        I stopped working in L&D 10 years ago and have been less than diligent about keeping current, but until someone invents a drug that that isn’t in the barbiturate or narcotic family to suppress convulsions (with all of the negative effects on mothers and fetuses), MgSo4 will remain with us. Long term tocolysis is also difficult to imagine without it. You can interrupt the preterm labor process with a few shots of terbutaline, then keep the patient on bedrest and IV hydration for 24 hours while monitoring uterine and cervical activity; this often works just fine, but when it doesn’t (and there is no underlying infection), what do you do? The psychological and social disorders, not to mention the physical effects, associated with delivery before 30 weeks are often horrendous and very well documented and understood. Then there is the cost differential. Keeping mom in L&D for six weeks is expensive, but it’s a hell of a lot cheaper than keeping baby in the NICU for a comparable period. In all of the brouhaha about health care reform, we haven’t talked much about that aspect of our problems because the Republicans started screaming about Death Panels, but it’s not a discussion we can avoid forever, even if we are a nation where intellectually challenged, emotionally immature “Christians” have a megaphone.

        OK, I know you don’t want to tell me anything personal, but you’re going to HAVE to explain this interest in the use of MgSo4.

        Thanks for the praise of my character analysis. Did you like my Violet and Isobel as Oscar and Felix analogy? They’d been reminding me of something for a while before I realized what it was!

      • crystal clear

        Please see my comment earlier today to Kaycee regarding Violet and Isobel. Actually they seem so comparable in many areas, so Oscar and Felix might be a bit too vanilla and chocolate, I think. Also, coincidentally, I have just seen “The Odd Couple” performed this past weekend at a local theater, and there are such broad differences between the two characters, whence the comedy derives. So, although we agree on many things, including health care cost initiatives, we probably differ on this one.
        As to our discussion of the pros and cons of the agent MgSO4, I have varied interests.
        Right now you need to know, since it is crystal clear, that I am in desperate want of advice as to how to create decent paragraphs, as is obvious. This is now triple spaced, and if it also fails, I will indent in the future.
        .

      • crystal clear

        To Cat: I just read my post, and no proper paragraphs. Please advise on technique. Thank you.

      • CatKinNY

        I meant the nature of the relationship between the two women was similar to the nature of the relationship between Oscar and Felix, but if Violet and Isobel have anything in common other than the family and the village, I have failed to notice it. Violet has learned to respect Isobel’s desire to do good, but that doesn’t mean she shares her enthusiasm, though it’s an improvement over the days when she was trying to get the doctor, using threats, to ignore Isobel’s excellent recommendation about removing the fluid from that man’s pericardium. Why compliment me on an analysis with which you disagree? Were you referring to another post?

        When you wish to start a new paragraph, hit ‘enter’ twice. This will put a double space between them.

        You have varied interests, including the clinical usage of MgSo4? You have GOT to be kidding.

      • crystal clear

        Yes, I was referring to your previous post a few back to Kaycee in which you were pretty descriptive about several characters and plot lines. Violet’s love, concern and intervention for her inner circle is Isobel’s broader concern for the humanity around her. They are similarly motivated, just in different spheres. And of course you will have noted that they are almost indistinguishable when expostulating.
        Hitting “enter” twice is of course what I have been doing since I have typed before. I even tried triple spacing last even ing, as mentioned.
        So something is amiss and I will keep trying to perfect my technique. Speaking of typing, though, I would like to let you and Kaycee know that, due to a date with a scalpel tomorrow to correct a finger issue (Duypuytren’s, to be exact), I will be absent for a few weeks from these conversations. So, old girl, you two Muskateers must hold it up without me for a while.
        I will miss these delightful chats, but will be back as soon as I am cleared to do so.

      • CatKinNY

        Oh, dear. So sorry to hear about your impending surgery. When I worked in orthopedics, I always arranged a sling tied to an IV pole so that the effected hand would not fall into a dependent position during sleep. Swelling is your enemy, so keep it elevated! Good luck.

        I don’t have a clue what could be wrong with your computer, and good luck with that, too. In future, if you wish to talk about something I said, just reply to that post – it will avoid confusion, such as occurred when you referenced my ‘last post to Kaycee’ but meant another one entirely, the identity of which still escapes me.

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

        Yes, this is a spoiler free zone.

        –Deborah

      • CatKinNY

        I know I can always count on your discretion. I wasn’t kidding. I don’t read ANYTHING about DA unless you read it first and declare it safe. You’re like my royal taster ;-) I greatly appreciate what you do for us all, my dear Deborah. ~ Cat

      • Kaycee

        I will be looking for further information on the Winterthur Museum. Thank you for the heads up.

        When I read the various comments I try to imagine what the contributor is like, beyond what one can imagine from writing style and content. We assume that we will never meet but, alas, some of us did!

        Last March I participated in the day long marathon and fund raiser for Channel 13 which included a “tea” at the WNET studios in NY. We all circulated and had real tea and cakes and had individual interview which were taped and shown during the breaks in the marathon. It was very exciting and we were all amazed to discover that for more than four hours we never ran out of small talk. Or big talk for the that matter.

        To my dismay, I was the only “commenter” who was willing to reveal my Disqus name. Everyone else was happy to share email addresses, cities of residence and just about everything including shoe size but not their screen names. Funny, I thought, especially considering that we fully enjoyed each others company. If it had been a block party you would have loved the neighborhood.

        Wishing you a speedy recovery.

      • Kaycee

        Pre term labor too, right? That’s if my memory of my rotation through OB remains intact.

        My husband is a great fan of Downton and joined me at the “tea” last March which was part of the day long marathon and fund raiser. While true that he misses some of the finer points of character personality and motivation he thoroughly enjoys each episode.

        Dads on sitcoms and in commercials who are portrayed as idiots send a terrible message to boys and young men who don’t have better male role models available to them and we all suffer for it in this society. I find it offensive. The men in my life from my father to my son were all sensitive, intelligent and interested in life and art and culture. And the men of Downton are portrayed in a generally positive manner. Of course the evil ones are shown as evil and complex and we are made to wonder what makes them tick. And in some instances Robert can look a bit clueless but usually he comes through. I think Fellowes presents his male characters with respect and certainly doesn’t dumb them down. It makes them interesting to me. Dull or foolish men are boring and I can’t stand it when they are somehow celebrated in the media.

      • CatKinNY

        Yes, MgSo4 is a wonderful tocolytic. It can stave off labor for weeks and weeks while lungs mature and weight is gained.

        I don’t understand the whole dumbing down of men meme so prevalent in popular culture. I agree that sending boys a message that insensitivity to the thoughts and feelings of others is normal and won’t cause themselves a whole world of trouble is a huge disservice to all. Fellowes does a good job of drawing his main male characters. I quite like Robert; he has his blind spots (but don’t we all?), but he’s generally sensitive to the feelings and moods of others and tries to do the right thing.

      • Kaycee

        CatK and Crystal, it is official. I can not keep up with either of you since my favorite movies as a little girl were the Donald O’Connor, Francis the Talking Mule movies. I am unable to draw any parallels to Downton Abbey. Unless Isis starts talking to Robert and only Robert which would land Robert wherever Mrs. Editor Gregson is committed. They would be weaving baskets together. Nothing even remotely erotic and no dancing.

      • crystal clear

        My dear, you are right there with us. Your obvious obsession with Downton (albeit occurring later in life than those fixations expressed by us), has put you into the exact same position as were in the past. And everyone loves talking animals and books written by dogs. Additionally, my canine absolutely speaks to me, but she reserves it for private moments, sparing me possible embarrassment were my responses to be observed.

      • Kaycee

        Thank you. Some of my dearest friends are obsessives and we get on beautifully! I’ve even drawn some into the Dish. So far they are “lurkers’ (I think that’s the term). They love the show and now love reading all the comments but are not yet ready to dip a toe in as you so bravely did. I think we will now have to wait for one of Deborah’s delightful Dispatches for more discussion to be generated. But if anything pops into any of our heads about Downton, we’ll see it here. I check back regularly for new additions.

      • CatKinNY

        Crystal Clear has apologized to Deborah and she and I are now fine. Just thought you’d like to know ;-)

      • Kaycee

        I too liked Martha more this season. Her intelligence came through more clearly, I just can’t stand the way she is made to look. She could be all that she is and still look more attractive.

      • CatKinNY

        Agreed. They’ve put her makeup on with a trowel.

      • Kaycee

        Everyone, it seems, has accepted that the paper Edith signed gave her power of attorney. As I point out in my comment, that’s not how it’s done in this country and I would be very surprised if in England the person being named signs the document accepting the designation. You put out a call to any barrister regarding inheritance, I’ll add a plea for info on POA granting.

      • CatKinNY

        I’ve granted someone POA in this country (when I was given orders to report for duty in the first Gulf War), and we both had to sign the form, in front of a notary. Of course the person being designated has to agree to accept the responsibility, and they have to sign their agreement. Otherwise, you could designate Julian Fellowes as your legal representative and refer all bill collectors to him!

        I liked your long comment up top, but I have to go to bed now, so I’ll respond to it tomorrow.

      • Kaycee

        Actually no. I’ve granted power of attorney and prepared many and the designee was not required to sign. But, I suppose in certain situations their signature may be required so are we all going to accept that that is what Edith signed? I’m still not sure.

      • CatKinNY

        As you said, there are different kinds of POA. The one sent me by the US Army gave broad power to the designee, including making medical decisions and responsibility for paying my bills in my absence. My housemate and best friend was a doctor, so I’d have wanted her making the decisions, in conjunction with my family, if something had happened to me, and obviously, she’d have needed access to my bank account to pay the rent and my car note. She definitely had to sign the document. I remember the whole thing quite clearly because it was kind of surreal. When the document first arrived, my boyfriend (also a doctor) thought he should be the designee, but after some discussion, the three of us decided it would be simpler to have her do it, since she’d be the one receiving the mail and paying our rent. Then, of course, the whole thing was over before they cut me any orders.

        Yeah, what’s bothering you is not the details of POA in 1920s England, but whether that’s what Edith signed. It does seem kind of a letdown, after leaving us wondering all this while, which could be just a dramatic misstep by the writers. Had they resolved it in the next episode, by having Edith mention casually that she had POA instead of specifically telling us that she had some control over the paper (which, in itself, would require her to have a limited POA), you’d likely feel differently. As it is, we’ve been imagining some nefarious possibilities for so long now that we are a bit let down. It all comes down to whether one trusts that Gregson loves Edith or not. I’m inclined to believe he does and have been from the beginning, so I’m not bothered by the revelation that the mysterious document has turned out to be nothing more exotic than a broadly inclusive POA.

      • Kaycee

        Yes, I want to know in precise detail all that was in whatever the hell she signed! That’s my problem, I want to KNOW and I think that’s why I was somewhat disappointed in the finale. There is so much left to really know. Fortunately I also love the speculating.

    • CatKinNY

      I love your idea. It would explain so much. Who, in the age of telephones and telegraphs, gives someone power of attorney unless they are planning to disappear for a while? I doubt he’d have been dispatched to infiltrate the Nazis in 1923, though. No one was afraid of fascism then, but they were terrified of communists, and that’s probably where he’s insinuated himself.

  • Marialivia

    I am confused by all this cleverness by the bloggist. When did Edith go to Switzerland and stash her baby away? Yes, yes, I recognize the name of Baroness Schrader (and wasn’t she Austrian?), but how did I miss Edith’s maternity leave?

    • CatKinNY

      In between the last episode, where Edith and Rosamund told Cora that they were going to Switzerland to work on their French and the start of this episode. She had the baby and even breast fed her for a while, apparently.

  • Adrianne

    Does anyone realize that Cora and her daughters and their children are Jewish?

    • Adrianne

      Will they all freak out if they find out?

      • Stormy

        No, but i wouldn’t advise any of them to go the Europe for a long time to come.

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

      Technically she’s not though. When it was first announced that Cora’s mother was coming and her name was ‘Levinson’, I got excited thinking about the possible story lines- and also about the possibility of a Seder at Downton, but then I read that only her father was Jewish, not her mother and she was not raised Jewish. Cora’s father being Jewish was a nod to Almina Rothchild, the real life heiress who Cora is loosely based on.

      -Deborah

  • Dottiel

    After a good season, the finale was a letdown. Mary and her gallery of admirers are getting tiresome. I might hope that Edith’s simmering emotions might boil over–but my desire will probably be disappointed, given the way her pregnancy went into fast forward. I was disappointed that the Bates’ story didn’t come to a head…instead there’s all this hand-wringing, as in most of the story lines. I was disappointed in Cora’s brother, who was billed as a playboy in some of the advance copy. Instead he seemed wimpy and uninteresting, as though his Mama was punishing him over his part in Teapot Dome.

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

      I look forward to seeing what will happen with Edith. I do think her character has become the most interesting and relatable. As for Cora’s brother, given enough money any man can be considered a playboy (a perfect example is a certain poofy-haired NY billionaire:)

      –Deborah

      • Kaycee

        I have always “felt” for Edith and I think she has certainly portrayed the unlucky character that Fellowes sees her as. I had hoped that she would somehow muster the strength to buck the entire system and bring her child home as hers. Probably asking too much.

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

        Who knows, that might happen yet!

        -Deborah

    • Kaycee

      I don’t know if it is because I like the actor so very much but I absolutely fell for Harold! Just wanted to pinch his cheek and I hope he comes back next season. I warmed to Harold much more than I did to John Adams.

  • Kaycee

    Many things in life don’t make sense. Judging from the finale last night the same holds true in fiction.

    If Martha was dragging Harold across the pond to escape fallout from the Teapot Dome Scandal why in the world did she wait eight months from the time Robert rushed over to the US to help out, apparently by hanging out with Harold drinking his boot legged liquor? Did things get hotter over time?

    Why does Martha have to be so hideously made up, dressed and coiffed? She is apparently an intelligent, modern woman of means yet she looks like a broken down chorus old girl. I understand that the plan is to point up the differences between her and the Dowager but she could still be her feisty self and look hip and modern without being made to look so…well, ugly.

    And is Cora really Martha’s natural child? How could such a savvy person have produced someone so out there. Cora’s reactions to life around her seem to be limited to the head tilt, chin tuck, eyelid droop, Mona Lisa smile, upward glance giving only a feeble hint of sentience. Strange.

    While Mary is very attractive it is difficult to believe that two, and possibly three if you include Napier, eligible men would be willing to be dangled indefinitely. Even with her superior eyebrows. And with there being more available young women than men in that age group in the decade after the war it just stretches credibility and it’s working on my last nerve.

    One can only hope that when Bates used that ticket to get up to London he had time to buy a new overcoat since Anna snatched his old one right out from under him. I know the big and yet unanswered question remains, did he or did he not. But I have another question. Why did Bates have what looked like a winter overcoat in London with him for the warm weather of the “season”.? Did he bring all of his possessions with him for this relatively brief stay. I hope it was a nice winter overcoat, the poor Russians needed warm clothing.

    All this talk of inheritance. Edith. The baby. Ha! We are decades too early to prove who the baby daddy is. And why assume that Edith would have any standing to inherit anyway? There may or may not be a wife. And she may be insane. We have no more information on that front from this episode. Makes me wonder, though, if she is real where is she? In a nice private sanitarium? Who is paying the bills? Or is she in a public asylum, aka a snake pit?

    I don’t know how it works in England but in this country the person granting the power of attorney signs the paper, not the other way around. It seems to have been assumed that Edith acquired the POA by virtue of her signing that mysterious document. As far as I can see we still don’t know what she signed and we are no closer to knowing what’s up with Gregson, in any substantive way.

    When Rosamond uttered the oh so intensely meaningful “I know” I thought maybe she had gone off to the Continent in her youth to add to another family’s joy. The comments raising the possibility of Edith having been that bundle of joy are more interesting than last nights proceedings along that story line.

    The pig farmer idea is just bad a hundred ways from Sunday. Will Edith at some point rip the child from the loving arms of her new mother to be as she plans to do to the poor Swiss family? That’s just one of the many unpleasant possibilities.

    I do have to hand it to Lord Fellowes in that he hit on the perfect name for the school teacher. She certainly is Blunt. A little bit too much so. I realize that Branson is in the grip of a terrible identity crisis and fears being perceived as a sell out. But he has been accepted into the family with a certain amount of grace and kindness which I think in turn demands a return of respect and sense of loyalty. He needs an infusion of brass, if you get my meaning. He is a pushover for anyone who has class issues and little miss snotty Blunt has them by the car load. I was disappointed to see him throw the house open for a tour. And now Thomas has yet another reason to be on him like white on rice. So we add another wrinkle to the Downton saga without really ironing out any previously created ones.

    Baxter’s spine is growing stronger by the episode but is that wise? If Thomas were just a regular bully then her standing up to him would probably cause him to back off but he isn’t. He is one truly vindictive bastard and she may be playing with fire if he does indeed have something of significance on her. Just another story line about which we learned nothing last night.

    If all the Royals and it seems everyone who is anyone knows old Shrimpy then why is he still in near exile in beastly hot India?

    And why did we have to learn that the Prince of Wales is a really lousy dancer?

    So much of this final episode for the season was filled with empty nonsense that added nothing to the core stories. The presentation of the young ladies was eye candy but insubstantial. There are so many pressing issue that we care about and almost nothing contributed to our understanding of the answers to the questions we have.

    I understand the need for cliff hangers but what we are left with is not what I would call a cliff hanger. It is more life the loose threads of a continually and rapidly fraying fabric that while still lovely looks to be in need of repair.

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

      Wow! Too much to respond to everything:) But I will add that the Teapot Dome scandal reverberated for years, so it could have taken time for everything to hit the fan. With a POA; when I became one I had to sign, as well as the person assigning me did. But it could also be that there is more to this. It could be more than one paper she signed. And as for the loony wife, it would be an interesting turn if she turned up (maybe at the reading of the will) and was not insane after all.

      -Deborah

      • Stormy

        ITA about the POA. One has to relinquish it and the other needs to accept the responsibility.

      • Kaycee

        That whole wifey thing will be interesting to see played out. Eleven months to go!

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

        Yes, it would be interesting if he is declared dead, and Edith goes to the reading of the will, and the loony wife walks in perfectly sane.

        -Deborah

      • Kaycee

        I love it!

      • Kaycee

        I just rethought my earlier reply, IF the wife is sane, not institutionalized, then she would be in the Will and not Edith. Hmmm.

      • CatKinNY

        Good point about Tea Pot Dome, the biggest political scandal in American history prior to Watergate.

    • CatKinNY

      Lots to unpack here. It’s getting on your last nerve that a very attractive woman could command the affections of more than one man in a world where available women outnumber available men? LOL. I guess you’re not a fan of Gone With the Wind! Nor, apparently, do you remember much about high school or college, where a couple of individuals of both sexes had far more admirers than they could ever accommodate ;-)

      Cora has been written as something of a cypher, to accommodate whatever the story line required of her, hasn’t she? During the war, when the writers had turned Isobel into something of a strident scold, disliked by everyone, Cora emerged as a competent manager, able to intelligently balance the needs of the hospital and the family. Unfortunately, the plot usually requires her to be clueless, or O’Brien would have been sacked long before we ever met her. On a historical note though, women of that era were raised to behave as though they were rather brainless until they got to be old, when free of the need to garner male approval, they could let it rip. Violet has made many comments that indicate that she too ignored a lot of things in order to maintain peaceful relations with her husband and society when she was a younger woman.

      About Michael’s wife, I’m sure she’s in a private asylum, not Bedlam. Private hospitals were plentiful and reasonably priced in those pre thorazine days. If I were Michael, planning to go on an undercover spy mission for the government, I’d have written a check to cover the bills for a year or two before I left.

      I’m looking forward to seeing Tom move forward with life. He has many competing interests to reconcile, and it won’t be easy, but it should be very interesting. Mary and Edith just think of him as their BIL and ally, Cora loves him as Sybbie’s daddy, Robert is turning towards him more and more as the only other man in the family and even Violet is fond of him, repeatedly seeking to reassure him that he’s a member of the family. Watching him try to find a balance between these new family loyalties and long held philosophical positions could make for some compelling viewing. It could be used to tell the story of post WWI Britain, if the writers are really ambitious.

      As for Thomas, he’s another cypher. At this point, he seems to exist merely to make trouble. I don’t have the vaguest idea what motivates him. Thanks to Bates, he’s now in line to replace Carson when he retires, so professionally, he’s in great shape, unless he alienates Robert, so why risk doing so by trying to cause trouble for Tom? I understand why he’d resent having to call him ‘Sir’, but he’s been doing it for years now, and it’s not as though anything is going to dislodge him as a member of the family. If there is anyone in the world about whom Thomas gives a crap, it’s Sybbie. His collegial friendship with her mother was very real when they worked together during the war, as were his tears when she died. I just don’t understand why he’d go after her husband now.

      • Kaycee

        Yes, Scarlet had men elbowing one another out of the way to get to her but they went away! And the people here are well past high school and college. Gillingham and Blake just keep coming back for more. I suppose it keeps Mary’s story alive on more than one front but I still have a hard time believing it would be likely. Gillingham’s “I must marry” ploy didn’t work, and that involved him playing with the affections of some poor unfortunate three name woman. She’s just stringing them along…and like very hungry fish they keep jumping at the lure. I find that irritating but not beguiling in equal measure.

      • CatKinNY

        Scarlett’s fan club went away because most of it’s members died. Rhett hung on for at least 15 years and finally took a hike for something she didn’t do. After a brief respite at Tara, she and Mammy moved to Charleston and brought him down, trust me!

        Blake’s just met her and Gillingham is a new suitor, too. He wasn’t hanging about before she fell in love with Matthew. Your problem is with Napier. He doesn’t seem to be in the throes of an addiction, like the protagonist in ‘Of Human Bondage’ (or Rhett!), so I don’t know what he’s up to – perhaps he’s gay and Mary is his beard!

        Gillingham MUST marry, or his title will die or revert to a different branch of the family. I’m assuming that Miss Lane-Fox seemed like a good life partner and brood mare (and had a bundle) until he got to know Mary better and realized he’d prefer to wait for her to be ready. After all, there will be another Miss Lane-Fox along in five minutes if he has to settle for the daughter of a rich man. If you think American industrialists were eager to buy titles for their daughters, they paled in comparison to their British counterparts. As Americans, we’re just more familiar with our own Jenny Jeromes and Consuelo Vanderbilts, to name two American debutantes who pitched in to help the Churchill family save Blenheim – a worthy endeavor. Visit it if you get the chance. It’s magnificent in it’s elegant, understated British Baroque opulence (the continental version of this school of art and architecture is vulgar, but Britain wisely kept it’s ‘less is more’ standard and created some of the most beautiful buildings and paintings the world will ever see).

        Mary isn’t ‘stringing them along’. She’s been quite straight forward about not being ready to fall in love again. She too seems to find the whole situation tiring at times; I found it quite telling when she sighed and said ‘never mind’ to Gillingham’s inquiry about her pig adventure. She called him to make that lunch date for Anna, not herself. My money is on Charles Blake, especially now that she knows he’s not the enemy. I always thought he was going to win this race, but understood Mary’s reluctance to give in to a strong attraction for someone who she believed thought her class parasites. When the flames die down, as they inevitably do, you’re all too likely to be left with a smoldering pile of resentment in the sort of relationship she thought they had.

        My God. How ever will be wait nearly a year?

      • Kaycee

        Actually I don’t have a problem with Napier. Yes, he’s been around for about a decade and he unfortunately seems to serve no other purpose than to bring other men to worship at Shrine Mary but he doesn’t constantly profess his love. Neither did Rhett. And as it played out Scarlett went to him, without his begging. I just wish the two primary suitors would show a little more male pride.

        And Miss Mable L-F got used. I think all along Gillingham was using his engagement as a ruse to get Mary to cave and when it didn’t work he cut Mable loose.

        She may not be actively stringing them along but she is passively keeping them at the door…and they are buying it.

        Don’t get me wrong, I like and admire Mary. She is one smart cookie and very deliberative in her actions and in what she says. I just can’t stand men groveling, even if it’s done with clever banter, as is the case with Blake. I think they would make a good pair. If he would just back off, maintain his dignity and allow her time to finish her mourning and come to her senses and come AFTER him. Naturally she would do this in her own elegant and restrained way and that would be entertaining to watch.

        Just getting weary of the way it’s been dragging on.

      • CatKinNY

        Scarlett went to Rhett because she desperately needed his money to save Tara – the taxes were more than she could manage. When she had Mammy turn those curtains into a dress so she could visit him in jail, he took one look at her hands and called her bluff; she stormed out and went right off to Mr. Kennedy’s dry goods store, where she lied about Sue Ellen having a new beau. She married him, paid the taxes and bought the sawmill, shrewdly figuring it would be a gold mine in rebuilding what Sherman had burned. When Rhett proposed, he explicitly pointed out that she’d be rich enough, as his wife, to to tell Mrs. Meade and Mrs. Merriweather stick their disapproval where the sun don’t shine. He thought he’d be able to make her happy enough to ‘get the wooden headed Mr. Wilkes’ out of her mind because they were so well suited and he really understood her, and he was right, eventually. He thought if he spoiled her enough that he might be able to turn her back into the girl she’d been when he first met her, ‘before the war and all the ugliness’ had made her so hard. I must have seen GWTW a half dozen times, at least, in a movie theater alone. I have no idea how often I’ve seen it on TV (I own a copy). I’ve read it twice, too. It’s funny. I don’t think I’ve seen it in 20 years, but something you become obsessed with in 5th grade will stay with you, in great detail, always. That’s how old I was when they rereleased it in theaters in the mid 60s. It was never shown on television until the late 80s. If you wanted to see it, you had to go to the movies. Well, I’m pretty sure that’s more than you were expecting, but if you’re curious about Southern plantations, I’m your woman. I’ve been to dozens and dozens of them.

        Short of telling them to leave her the hell alone, I don’t know what you want Mary to do. They amuse her, and Charles is a source of good advice and a potentially life saving heads up about some new government policy being mulled over, so she’s not going to be breaking that bond. Mary has an identical relationship to Downton as Scarlett had with Tara, which I guess makes Charles, Rhett! I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if Julian Fellowes modeled Mary, at least in part, on Scarlett. They are similar in many ways. Who was Scarlett’s closest confidante, and the only person who could stop her from doing something once her parents were dead? Mammy. While I can’t picture Anna ever calling Mary ‘a big ole spider’ or ‘a mule in a horses harness’, the relationships are similar. Mary and Anna are a nicer, more refined Scarlett and Mammy!

        Personally, I find this set up more entertaining than I found things when Mary and Matthew had settled down happily. To each her own!

      • Kaycee

        Exactly. Scarlet went to Rhett. He wasn’t constantly appearing to re-profess undying love. Mary doesn’t have to do anything. I would just like to see the men back off a little. Then if at some point she chooses Blake I just hope she doesn’t kill him in bed.

      • CatKinNY

        Actually, no. Scarlett went to Rhett ONCE and failed to obtain the money she needed, so turned to Mr. Kennedy. Rhett, a Charlestonian, moved to Atlanta in order to be ready to ‘catch Scarlett in between husbands’, which he did after Mr. Kennedy was shot in the head during a midnight ride with the ‘patrol’ – aka KKK.

      • Kaycee

        Well, Mary IS between husbands, or at least after one. So we shall see. And what I found appealing about Rhett was that he didn’t fall victim to Scarlett, even when she needed him but came under false pretenses. If Blake and even Gillingham back off a little and wait for Mary to reach out I will find them more attractive. Especially Blake. I really like Blake. Landed or not. Gillingham not so much. Especially after what he did to poor Mabel.

      • CatKinNY

        Hi, Kaycee. Rhett COULDN’T give her the money, or he would have; had he refused to give her a loan and she’d lost Tara, she’d have never spoken to him again, period, and he knew that. He was in jail, and friendly as he was with the Yankee captain (a friendship that saved Ashley’s life on the night Kennedy was shot, because Rhett ‘swore’ that Ashley had been drinking with him at Belle Watling’s; Tom, the Cpt, didn’t believe it but let Ashley go as a favor to Rhett) – friendly as they were, he wasn’t about to let him out of jail for a month so he could dash off to London to grab her the loan she needed from his bankers. Rhett was filthy rich from (and in jail for) blockade running, not for the couple of weeks he spent fighting for the CSA at the end of the war.

        It took a while after Lee’s surrender, in both the book and real life, to sort out the status of guys like Rhett, who’d kept the cotton and the money flowing between the planters and the mills of Manchester and Massachusetts. Ultimately, the ones who were strictly facilitating business were OK, while the ones who were doing it to fund the Confederacy were in trouble, a distinction usually determined by the extent of their gun running. Some of them paid with their lives, hung or shot for treason. Rhett had always disapproved of secession and hadn’t helped ‘the Cause’ – one of major factors that contributed to his somewhat disreputable status, but saved his neck, and his fortune, after the war.

        I’m with you on Blake, who I’ve liked enormously since his second episode – largely because he IS more like Rhett, willing to tell Mary when she’s wrong and make fun of her – a major difference between her and Scarlett is that Mary can laugh at herself fairly easily. Scarlett had a huge inferiority complex, always imagining what her sainted mother would think and finding herself wanting; she viewed Rhett through Ellen’s eyes and found him insufficiently ‘respectable’, leading Rhett to often call her “you little hypocrite” – often with a grin. No, Rhett didn’t run around telling her that he loved her and she was too stupid to see it, smarting under his wise cracks and punishments. Melanie told her, on her death bed, “Be kind to Captain Butler. He loves you so.” It’s what woke her up and sent her running through the fog to find him, not the realization that Ashley loved Melanie – she didn’t care about that at all when it came, much to her surprise – which begs the question, had Rhett swallowed his pride and told her he loved her, might things have been different? The tragedy of Rhett and Scarlett is the fact that they’d loved one another for years without ever speaking honestly, so I’m not a big fan of putting pride before an honest acknowledgement of one’s true feelings. Pride cometh before a fall.

        Think of the morning after a drunk Rhett dragged her off to bed. She was singing to herself and smiled sweetly at him when he appeared at her bedside. Instead of noticing, he announced that he and Bonnie were off to Europe; Scarlett was hurt and angry. Then, after they had the fight that ended with her falling down the stairs and miscarrying, in her delirium, she was searching for Rhett in the fog, crying out for him, though no one heard her. What might have happened if, instead of offering a rather dry and borderline insulting apology once she’d regained her senses, he’d bared his soul? If you think about it, Rhett was his own worst enemy when it came to Scarlett, so we’ll have to agree to disagree about whether Charles should be more like him when it comes to Mary, though I’ll agree that it would make for more entertaining story telling.

        I’ve never cared for Gillingham myself, even before he broke his engagement to the ill used Miss Lane-Fox, though I’ll be damned if I can tell you why. I don’t hold Green against him, either, as it was made clear from the beginning that he didn’t care for him. Actually, maybe I do; I’d have fired a valet I didn’t personally like – it’s such an intimate relationship, after all. When they rerun the series next fall, I’ll watch with the intention of trying to figure out why I’ve never liked him. If you can think of anything between now and then, let me know. I value your insight and memory. It’s starting to snow AGAIN and I just want to scream. .

      • Kaycee

        Wow! I can’t remember the details of my own life that well…and from yesterday! I watched the encore of the finale tonight and was surprised by all that I had somehow missed. (Edith specifically called it a POA, the Crawley’s own Grantham House in London and its sale wouldn’t have saved Downton so they didn’t, Baxter is somehow making a man out of Molesely right before our very eyes AND Mary has won me over. Almost completely.) The only poor judgment she ever demonstrated was the Bates in the kitchen thing. And she really is being honest with Mary’s Men. She isn’t ready and she isn’t dead, so she is honest with them, even kind. So I will stop complaining about her. I continue to prefer Blake and like him a whole lot, but I softened in my feelings about Gillingham. Except for possibly breaking Miss Mabel’s heart he seems otherwise to be a decent chap. Now to await Deborah’s Season End Review. And the damn snow.

      • CatKinNY

        Oh, I don’t remember what I had for lunch yesterday either, but if you became obsessed with something as a child and REALLY studied it, you’ll find that your ability to recall details is shocking, even if you haven’t given it a thought in years. Should this discussion ever veer into ‘Bonnie and Clyde’ or the Beatles, I’ll probably demonstrate an equal level wonkyness, though I’m not sure, as long forgotten details and bits of dialogue just kept resurfacing from who knows where and surprised me as much as they did you. For the record, none of this was my intention when I made that joke about Scarlett and her fan club. I had not seen the parallels between Mary and Scarlett until we started discussing it – I swear!

        I must have missed why selling Grantham House wouldn’t have helped, so I’d appreciate it if you’d tell me why eliminating the costs of maintenance, taxes and staff at an unused property would not have been financially beneficial. Does the fact that Edith specifically referred to the document as a POA alter your feelings about the appropriateness of using such an instrument to advance the plot, and if so, why?

        I’m loving the Baxter/Molesley plot line. Yes, she is turning him into a man before our very eyes, but he’s also turning her into a woman of sufficient strength to choose freedom from fear over safety. It will be very interesting to see what Thomas does; he’s nothing if not a politically astute thinker. Will he decide that he can’t afford to attempt to cause problems within the family for Tom while simultaneously revealing that he recommended a woman with a checkered past to serve the Countess in an intimate role while keeping that past his secret? It’s not a risk I’d take, personally. Even without stirring up trouble between Robert and Tom, I wouldn’t want to go to Robert and say “Sir, the woman I recommended to dress, do the hair of and bathe your wife couldn’t get a comparable job elsewhere because …”. Would you?

        Glad you and I are now on the same page about Mary. In light of your new understanding of her, do you now see why I never believed the ‘Mary goes wobbly when she sees physical evidence of what she’s believed all along and taunts Bates in the process’ plot line? One of the things that Mary shares with Scarlett is a cold eyed ability to deal with unpleasant realities of this sort – to make a decision and stick with it; neither one of them is big on second guessing themselves about actions they’ve taken, and not letting the police know about her suspicions regarding Bates was taking action. Mary never regretted, or apologized for, taking Pamuke into her bed, though she regretted the aftermath very much. When Scarlett married Mr. Kennedy under false pretenses, she got crap from all sides. The only criticism she cared about was a gentle admonishment from Melanie, who chided her for stealing her sister’s beau (this was only in the book, I think), to whom she pointed out that she not taken control of his bank accounts, she’d have been unlikely to have been able to persuade him to underwrite Tara, Sue Ellen wouldn’t have lifted a finger and they’d all have been homeless and starving. Melanie agreed and told Sue Ellen to shut up, though in a kindly manner, of course.

        Gillingham is a nice chap; perhaps I just like men with a bit more of an edge and he bores me? Matthew was a nice chap, but he had a dry, sarcastic side, too. We don’t know that Miss Lane-Fox got her heart broken; it’s entirely possible that she (or her father) was more enamored of the title than the man. Frankly my dear, since I never met her, I don’t give a damn.

        I only got an inch of snow, so I’m not complaining; hope you fared as well!

      • Kaycee

        The Grantham House non-sale was taken care of in about five words…just that selling it wouldn’t have saved Downton. No further explanation was given, unless I missed that too.

        I will continue to root for Mary, and Edith too, and Anna and Isobel and Violet. And well, all of them,except Thomas. And I have reservations about Miss Bunting. And I’m just wild about Blake.

      • CatKinNY

        ‘Selling it wouldn’t have saved Downton’ – that must have been Robert. the man who was eager to invest Matthew’s money with Mr. Ponzi after losing Cora’s! Strictly speaking, I suppose it’s true that the large chunk of cash generated by such a sale and the decrease in monthly expenses for the maintenance of the house would not, by themselves, have been sufficient to *save Downton*, but it would have made it a hell of a lot easier to do so.

        Actually, I doubt it’s true. In the Roaring Twenties, that London mansion (and that’s what it is – it’s got a ballroom) would have sold for at least half as much Downton itself to one of the new money types. Today, it would sell for more than a large country estate in Yorkshire.

        What about the POA? Did Edith’s explicit use of the term alter your thinking? I share your reservations about Miss Bunting, though on paper, she’s *perfect* for Tom. There wasn’t anything sinister about her desire to see the house, IMO. There was a long standing tradition of tourists asking to see the stately homes of England while the family was away; they were usually granted access to the major rooms by the housekeeper, without charge. The now widespread practice of formally opening for tours as a way to defray costs and alter your tax status was a development of the second half of the 20th century. Sorry to natter on for so long, but the extreme cold has made me a cranky shut in. Despite myself, I’m beginning to understand the appeal of wintering in Florida.

      • Kaycee

        No, nothing sinister about Bunting’s desire, just pushy and slightly improper. Also, insensitive to Tom. She was deliberately playing on the class thing with him. It was a little bit unkind. It’s one thing if a housekeeper has tacit approval to throw open a great house to the eyes of interested tourists but Tom is in a unique position in the family. I could identify with his reluctance. If he had brought Miss Bunting home for tea with the family that would have been one thing and to me a proper visit to the house. Even then Bunting would have been showing outrageously poor manners to have requested a tour. I once had a guest ask me for a tour of my house when they were invited for dinner. I said only if they planned to make me an offer. And I was only half joking. No, make that a quarter. If I as the hostess, or Cora or even Tom suggest a little “show you around” that’s okay. But I don’t think the guest should be the one to push something like that. And it’s not a class issue…just good manners. A simple, “You have a lovely home” is quite enough. And if that doesn’t elicit an invitation to see it all then sit down and sip your drink.

      • CatKinNY

        Those are my reservations, precisely – very well put. She’s rude and pushy, but she does represent the new Britain – working and middle class people who will take control of the country away from people like the Crawleys and are open in their disdain for them. She’s perfectly aware of his unique position in the family and seeks to remind him that he doesn’t really belong there. She’s still curious about how they live, however, so she pressured him into showing her the house when she had the opportunity because she doubts he’ll ever invite her to tea. I hope he does; it’ll be fun to watch her unsure of how she should behave. I just hope the Dowager isn’t there, because Miss Bunting will know exactly how to respond to open condescension. In contrast, Cora’s friendliness will confuse the hell out of her.

        I love your ‘only if you plan to make me an offer’ line. I’ve never asked anyone for a tour, either; I agree it’s bad manners and have been annoyed to find guests at parties opening closed doors. I once said to one of these nosy parkers, with my best Southern drawl (this was when I lived in Texas) and sweetest smile “Y’all are gonna open the wrong door one of these days and find a Doberman behind it.” They got my point.

      • Kaycee

        Beautiful! Miss B to tea! That is something I would love to see. Yes, Cora will confuse her, as may Edith if she isn’t off on a baby snatching foray at the time. Mary and Robert and Violet will confirm her opinion, I think. If that dream scene should ever materialize it will be fascinating to see her reactions. When she and Tom ran into the Dowager in the village you would have needed an ice pic to chip through the chill. My take on it is that Bulldog Bunting feigned her “dismissal” so that Tom had to repeat his invitation to the pub. Just another of her tests. Something of a pop quiz for him. Ever the school mistress!

      • CatKinNY

        That’s funny. I thought the Dowager was actually glad to have a new person to brag to about the fact that she was heading for the palace for luncheon!

      • Kaycee

        Yes, bragging but also viewing down the massive divide that separates them. And I think she had that chance meeting in mind when, at the Ball, she reminds Tom that this is his family, these are his people. And I think Bunting got the message and that is why she pushed Tom for the tour as a demonstration of his affiliation with the class into which he was born rather than married.

      • CatKinNY

        I thought she seemed girlish, personally, just pleased as punch to be going to Buckhouse for luncheon. Violet doesn’t despise her social inferiors; she actually loves a few of them (Carson) and has plenty of respect for others (old Mr. Molesley, the gardener). Daisy dissolved into a puddle in front of her and found a sympathetic, tutting, patting grandmother, offering sage advice. Her bark is all there is; doesn’t bite. She’s very sweet, really, which is why we all love her so.

        Tom is the father of her great granddaughter, and she’s quite fond of him – he’s smart, hard working and honest, qualities she admires. She does consider him a member of her family; I don’t think her telling him that these are ‘his people’ has ANYTHING to do with Miss Bunting. It’s just Violet telling him that he’s now a member of the Crawley family, trying to make him comfortable. Just FYI, Irish radicals were en vogue at this point in time. They weren’t the enemy any more, they were the victors Violet started spinning him as an Irish political thinker shortly after the Easter Rebellion, which failed, miserably but heroically. Winston Churchill was one of Mick Collins’s pallbearers, and one of the better speakers at his funeral mass. My point is that the Irish Catholic Tom was not quite the social liability he was when Sybil fell for him.

      • Kaycee

        I agree that Violet has stores of kindness to offer, but always on her terms. It will not be wrested from her. She is indeed benevolent to her inferiors if they are HER people, the family, naturally, and the people of both the house and some in the village which she views as her village people. Bunting is new to her and not one of her people and I think she wanted to establish, in case a blind man would miss it, the chasm between the social strata on which they each perch. That is not to say she might one day get to know and like Bunting but not now, not yet. She is reserving warmth right now. Although I don’t think she would deliberately be unpleasant to anyone simply on the basis of station in life, unless she detested them, as she did the newspaper magnate who was going to “save” Mary, but she wouldn’t be all cozy either. She has a very strong sense of what is proper and where everyone has their place.

        I still think when Violet made that comment to Tom-Branson-Tom she had Bunting in mind, at least to some degree. She was reminding him that while she understood he might want to remarry in the future he had a very big ocean in which to go fishing, it was no longer limited by the class, religion or land of his birth. Whomever he marries will be the step mother of her great grandchild so I think she has a real interest in how that plays out. I realize I may be projecting my feelings onto Violet. I don’t like Bunting.

        You will remember that Violet looked down her nose at Isobel, even before Isobel started to annoy her, simply on the basis of her being a commoner. That relationship has changed for a number of reasons but one of them is that Violet recognizes and respects Isobel’s intelligence and rather gentile carriage. When she is feeling warmly toward her she is ignoring her “fervor” and I think she now does consider Isobel to be one of her people, family. They have a shared descendant and even if Isobel does sometimes irk her she knows her decency and appreciates it.

        Yes, she sincerely likes Tom-Branson-Tom. She has generally good taste in people. She may be off on her judgement of Martha. She doesn’t like her, thinks she is common and uncouth, and treats her dismissively. And while Martha can come off like that, and was harsh in her last serve in the bedroom hallway (some might say Violet 1000, Martha only 1) she is not a bad person. Yet Violet has judged her and found her wanting. I doubt they would ever develop the kind of relationship that Violet has with Isobel. Class, national origin, behavior…all barriers too great to vault. Of course Fellowes has made Martha difficult to warm up to even if one is not an ancient Dowager Countess.

      • CatKinNY

        I’ll agree that you may be projecting your feelings about Miss Bunting; it was one little exchange! We subsequently found out that Violet was in a tizzy over not being allowed to bring her maid along, worried that she wouldn’t have a clue what to do when the train stopped in London.

        Yes, Violet is a creature of the society in which she was raised, where the rules of class were written in stone, where she would always be the inferior of the Royals and the superior of almost everyone else, but she’s far too intelligent to judge real people by that yardstick alone.

        Isobel and Violet, like Oscar and Felix, are a couple. An odd couple, but a couple. They are the oldest members of the family, they live in the village together and drop into one an others homes on a semi daily basis. They go up to the house together for dinner. She has found a worthy adversary with whom to argue in Isobel, and the competitive games they play with each other is a primary source of fun for both of them. The whole narrative of the assistant gardener was hilarious. Isobel was winning, until Violet did an end run around her and presented him, like a magician pulling a rabbit out of a hat, to Isobel, who had nothing to say because it wasn’t JUST about doing the right thing for the boy with her either; if it had been, she’d have showered her with praise. When push came to shove, Violet sided with Isobel and against Robert in the Ethel matter, even though she agreed with him that having her around was scandalous. She did so because Isobel needed her. When Matthew died, she was sweetness itself with Isobel until she and the good doctor had succeeded in nagging her back to life.

        I’m beginning to wonder if Violet’s growing antipathy towards the attention being paid Isobel by Lord Merton is based on a fear that he will take her away from the village. I initially thought she might have been playing matchmaker, and still think that’s possible. Violet is very bright, but we all start things without thinking through the ramifications and change our minds after having done so. Who would she spar with were Isobel to leave? Cora tries hard to avoid conflict, Robert is her son and she shuts him up with ease, Edith is too pathetic, Tom too well mannered, Mary is a younger version of herself and Martha is on the wrong side of the Atlantic. Martha is uncouth by Violet’s standards, and proud of it. They make good adversaries, but unlike the relationship with Isobel, they genuinely dislike each other. Fellowes has engaged in rather typical British behavior by painting Cora’s American family with too broad a brush. Those wealthy Americans who bailed out failing aristocratic houses with a heavy injection of cash tended to emulate those same aristocrats, not denigrate them.

      • Kaycee

        I have always enjoyed, and look forward to next season, the Violet/Isobel interplay. Some of the best lines of the show are uttered therein.

      • CatKinNY

        Agreed.

      • crystal clear

        You have no idea how long it took me to locate your above comment to Cat, which, if I did not already know Violet, would have given me such a clear picture of her that I probably could have imagined her face as well.
        I sincerely hope this looks like a new paragraph when printed. I am clearly doing something incorrectly with my computer, and I am trying to make my posts more readable, on the advice of a friend.
        Here is the thing about Violet and Isobel: they were separated at birth (and also by station in life). Honestly, have you not noticed how similar their facial expressions tend to be; turned down mouths, as though experiencing some acrid-tasting article; noses pointed celestially; barbed comebacks, etc., etc.
        Admittedly, Violet is older and has more of a flair for fashion, but I am always amused by the similarity.

      • Kaycee

        You, know I think they see it too, even though sometimes they each try to push it out of their minds.

      • Kaycee

        Yes, Edith specifically calls the document she signed a Power of Attorney so I’ll put the whip down and leave that poor dead horse alone. It may have been Robert’s idea that selling Grantham House would have been an insignificant drop in the Downton Bucket but it was Mary who delivered those very brief lines. And you have a great point there about Thomas being in a bind if he wants to reveal something awful about the person he recommended to tend to Cora. Of course, knowing Thomas he would contrive to make it appear that he only recently came into possession of whatever the damning evidence is. He has the skill to pull something like that off. And he is evil enough. Of is he just miserably unhappy and alone? Nope. I think it’s evil.

        While Mary and Scarlett have lots of parallels, I see Mary as a mature woman coping with what life deals her in a capable and reasonable way. I’ve always viewed Scarlett more as a child/woman, impulse driven, head strong and petulant. They both love their homes and traditions and want to do all that they can to preserve/restore them but their approaches to life are different.

        We had only nuisance snow and I’m tired of it.

      • CatKinNY

        Thanks for clearing that up about who said it wouldn’t have helped to sell the London house; you and I will continue to know better! I totally agree with you about Mary and Scarlett; I believe it was the point I was originally making. The parallels have become a bad habit that I will now quit.

        Thomas, Thomas, Thomas. Is he evil or lonely or just written as a driver of story arcs these days? I’m going to go with option number three, and with regret. At first, I saw him as a nasty, manipulative jerk with a fairly high IQ but a prickly personality who’d never been popular anywhere and who compensated for the anticipated rejection by rejecting others first, and then had fun playing with them. We’ve all known that guy or gal. Then later, he was still that guy, but we were allowed in a little more and found some decency and dignity, and warmed to him a bit. Now? Who knows. As I said before, this sudden antipathy for Sybil’s husband and Sybbie’s father just doesn’t add up for me.

        Yes, of course he’ll say that he only just gained the information about Miss Baxter, but she’ll say he’s lying and got her the job specifically to spy on Cora. The very best he can hope for is that they’ll believe him *more* than they believe her. There will be doubt, and that can only hurt him in the long run. How much will Robert put up with in order to retain his skill on the cricket pitch? Thomas has to know that Robert is not his biggest fan, and while Cora loves him at the moment for exposing that horrid nanny, Miss Baxter will have a whole arsenal of private exchanges that puzzled Cora to point to as proof that she was acting as his spy – probing questions she asked, ways in which she tried to turn a conversation. Yes, he can probably get Miss Baxter fired, but not without putting one of his own feet out the door and the other on a banana peel. But hey, I’m not a gambler (you’ll never see me trying to set myself up as a dealer in the black market, for instance) and Thomas sometimes is, so we’ll just have to wait and see. Other than the Edith/Michael/baby story line, this is the one that interests me most at the moment.

      • Kaycee

        Yes, I think lots of us are eager to know the Baxter story and as you point out we are warming to her. We will be on her side when Thomas drops whatever bomb he has. But, we have a long wait.

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

        I do think Thomas’ malevolence comes from his situation; being lonely and alone because he is gay in a time that was grounds for incarceration or worse.

        -Deborah

      • CatKinNY

        The person I described, GT, is often gay, but when you stick up for them, as Bates did, they’ll have your back forever. You live in Gotham; you know what I mean. He’s a plot device at this point, which is a huge disappointment, because by the second season, I loved the bitchy Thomas. In real life, he’d have made friends with Anna and Bates, which would have been really fun to watch. I can so easily see Bates and Thomas having a good laugh at a lot of the goings on and Anna telling them they were mean, while trying not to laugh herself. Mr. Bates has been in prison twice. Homosexuality isn’t something that frightens him. Thomas could have become a regular in that cottage of which he was so jealous and gained a degree of emotional intimacy which he was lacking.

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

        Possibly, but that would be a completely different show, and I think a different time as well.

        –GothamTomato

      • CatKinNY

        Well, it certainly would have eliminated the ability to use him as a plot device, but I’ll stand by my assessment that exposing Miss Baxter is a risk he’d be unwise to take for his own long term survival. Really, I’m just disappointed. Thomas is one of the more interesting characters and I’d like to get to really know and understand him.

    • crystal clear

      Regarding Bates and the heavy overcoat, maybe he wore it so he could leave the train ticket stubs in it. One of those “discontinuities.”
      And here is another theory regarding Gregson, whom we don’t really know, except as relates to the magazine, his passion for Edith, and his occasional card sharking capabilities; maybe he had been planning the Germany trip for whatever reason for some time (assume the undercover theory is correct for the minute). Along comes Edith and his unanticipated involvement with her; he pushes the relationship along and then introduces the “mentally ill wife” which he then uses as his excuse to go to Germany to get a divorce, which seems strange in itself (Germany was not exactly Las Vegas, and it seems an odd law that would have enabled someone to do that). Voila- he has his perfect cover story, with Edith as the unknowing accomplice. Or he could have had to flee England for other unknown reasons. I do agree that he genuinely seems to love her, though, and would like to see her fulfilled.

      • Kaycee

        If Gregson had been planning a trip to Germany and then Edith interuptus came along he would have to have postponed his trip for an awfully long time. He fell for Edith before the family went to Scotland, before Mary had the baby and Matthew died. Then this season started six months after those events. Anything is possible in the fertile brain of Lord Fellowes but his trip certainly couldn’t have been of an urgent nature.

        I think the train ticket was meant to point more fingers at Bates but I am not at all convinced that he did it. If you would care to, see my reply to Crystal, above.

        I just love these scripts that we all write!

  • Silent Writer

    I enjoy these synopses better than the actual show. Indeed what a season, not the best, but not what it could’ve been like. Some plot sub/plot suggestions (JMO’s):
    Perhaps the biggest enigma: Mary, Mother of George, where art thou holy child? (Hmmm….George…Jesus…same diphthong if you get my ring?) Wonder if that Nanny is teaching the ‘Hail Mary’ prayer…whoops, that’s Baby Sybbie’s expertise. At least Tom did something right this time. :p
    Lady Rose….Hmm….Roses are red, Violets are blue, Jack is the new black, but you lost him too. I wish Fellowes would’ve or would create a consistent love story with Lady Rose. I think she is such an enjoyable character in this series. Maybe that humble and chivalrous farmer can come and sweep her off her feet, idk. Just a thought. Lol
    Edith, Edith, Edith, (sorry Marcia) though she’s the most overlooked character (blame on parents..sorry!) at least she doesn’t have any airs about her…which is why I think telling Isobel about the baby is a much smarter choice….I can go on but I’ll stop now! Lol

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

      Thank you!

      -Deborah

  • Silent Writer

    Rather heirloom” child :P

  • Silent Writer

    Sorry, but here’s a phrase (slightly altered) for Lady Mary which I think fits perfectly for her…”Rings on her fingers, bells on her toes, she shall have suitors wherever she goes!” Haha

  • Devonlad

    Hi Deborah,

    One of your more pithy commentaries–but still THOROUGHLY enjoyable, very funny and insightful. As always, enjoyed it. I also enjoy reading all the comments from our fellow fans. A great many interesting comments and opinions! It WAS a challenging season with some unanswered, interesting questions left dangling. BUT–sometimes, as with all things in life and art–we have to suspend belief and ultimately rely on the creator–Julian Fellowes– to bring everything on balance at some point before the series does end. One item cleared up for me was the question regarding Jewishness; very clear now, thanks. The comment about the Brownshirts was chilling but provides some interesting insight into Michael’s character standing up to them based on Edith’s comment.. Also, most Brits I know, including all my family there–and as I’m one by birth–check my commentary name–do drink milk in their tea but not all with sweetener, however. Most Americans of my acquaintance do not use milk. The look from Molesley was, indeed, probably in reaction to Harold’s requesting a single cup of prepared tea. Finally, your comment to me, Deborah, and to all the other readers regarding all Downtonians everywhere doing a little dance at the final scene was spot on! Watching Carson and Mrs. Hughes walking hand-in-hand in the surf was an electric delight–I’ve always thought something was simmering there–still do. We’ll have to wait and see as we progress. Hopefully, next season will answer MANY questions we ALL have! Looking forward to the Diaspora columns. Cheers to you and all the commenting fans!

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

      Thank you!

  • Sandy Sal

    Isn’t discussion of Gregson’s will premature? Doesn’t he have to be missing and not heard from for many more years (in the US, it’s 7)? Edith revealed that word was received that he was beat up by brownshirts. So far the storyline has not revealed any thing about him being killed? Please recall, the supposed purpose of his trip to Munich was to become a German citizen so he could divorce his insane wife and then marry Edith. He cannot divorce her as a British citizen. He asked Edith to sign the POA because he knew from the beginning he would be gone for an extended period of time. It seems reasonable that he would grant Edith POA if his intentions were true.

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

      Yes. It is premature. It was Rosamund who brought it up, and she’s always trouble, isn’t she?

      –Deborah

      • Kaycee

        She does add a twist to things. I can’t remember, but I know you will. Was she married and if so who was he and what happened to him?

      • Stormy

        He died and left her very well off. That’s why that impoverished guy was chasing her so hard that he got his real mistress to become her maid to push his suit to Rosamund. Anna threw the monkey wrench into that plan.

      • Kaycee

        Thanks, Stormy. So, we don’t know more about him than he’s dead and was rich. I just wonder how long she’s been on her own. I simply can’t remember any discussions in previous episodes about her circumstances. And it seems that Violet doesn’t have too much faith in her and her judgement.

      • Stormy

        If she turns out to be Edith’s real mother and considering the episode with the gold digging guy, those doubts may be justified.

      • Kaycee

        Yes, that would certainly explain Violet’s apparent reserved approval of all things Rosamund.

      • crystal clear

        Do you recall what season that was? I have the complete set of Downton and would love to see that part again. I on ly vaguely can recall it.

      • Kaycee

        I think it was season three but I can’t swear to it. Try IMDB. They may have a summary for each episode of each season. Or just lock the door, unplug the phone, surround yourself with non perishable provisions and start at S1, E1…and keep going. If this winter doesn’t show signs of turning into Spring very soon I may do just that!

      • crystal clear

        Thank you for that, and a capital idea.

      • crystal clear

        Since you obviously have a highly developed sense of humor, as evidenced by your many hilarious comments and phrasings, I thought specifically of you as this was running through my head last night.
        When you are waiting for the cable company, you watch Downton Abbey on TV.
        When you watch Downton Abbey, you get hooked on Downton Abbey.
        When you get hooked on Downton Abbey, you have Downton dress-up parties.
        When you have Downton dress-up parties, you also do reenactments.
        When you do reenactments, you end up in a pig sty.
        When you end up in a pig sty, you get pig mud on your clothing.
        When you get pig mud on your clothing, you want scrambled eggs for breakfast.
        Don’t make scrambled eggs for breakfast in your pig mud clothing.
        Get rid of your cable, or quickly change the station.

      • Kaycee

        But I couldn’t! Not if Downton was airing!

  • Sandy Sal

    Wouldn’t it the have been much more dramatic if Mrs. Hughes found the ticket in Bates’ coat at the very end of the episode? We would be agitated and wondering “did he or didn’t he” for the next 11 months.

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

      I’m guessing that after all the craziness surrounding last season’s cliffhanger (the death of Matthew), they just wanted to leave everyone on a happy note this season. But that’s just my guess.

      –Deborah

      • crystal clear

        Dear Ms.Tomato: I have come to understand that you are the same Deborah who writes the recap at the end of each episode. I have reread my critique of your review and the show, and although it was written in a mind-set of upset and frustration over the final episode, that is no excuse for my acting like a cranky English teacher red-inking comments on the margins of your paper. In a different frame of mind, I have looked at your other reviews, as well as episode 8, and they are all cohesive, inventive, and extremely humorous. I would like to apologize for any discomfort or embarrassment I may have caused you. I hope you will accept, and that this matter may be laid to rest, along with the unpleasant commentary it has caused. I love the show and the dish, and you don’t need me kvetching about minor matters,(and I don’t understand why my computer is placing a square around my comments–I do have the tea gene, but completely lack the techno one). Crystal Clear

      • crystal clear

        Well you are probably saying, what square? At least on the comment above, it has magically disappeared.

    • crystal clear

      Perhaps we were meant to be lulled into thinking that the whole thing has been put to rest. Bates made some scolding comment to Anna near the end of the show that she should have let him go through the pockets. If his trip had been benign, why should it have mattered. More importantly, why did he say it at all? We leave things of no import in coat pockets all the time. It seems we are meant to tuck his remark into our mind pocket for future reference. Or, on the flipside, it was just said to tantalize.

      • Kaycee

        I don’t think the Bates vs. Green issue is closed at all. All the red herrings are standing in a chorus line pointing at Bates, and now even waving a train ticket…but I am not convinced. He may have been concerned about the ticket because that would cause more suspicion, and it did. But suspicion isn’t proof. And in the intervening months the police have not come knocking on the Downton door looking for a big, sometimes limping man who causes ominous music to play.

  • Sandy Sal

    Additionally, what was the rationale for Mrs. Hughes not burning that ticket m immediately. It made no sense to me that she ran to Lady Mary with it.

  • Andrew

    I love the Dish. I love all the fascinating and truly intelligent conjecturing coming in and
    being tossed around by everyone—true proof of the pudding(and just how good it is).
    But, I always stop to remind myself that, at it’s core, it’s a blend of soap opera and historical miniseries; I’m having a smashing time and it seems so are a lot of others.

    • Kaycee

      Amen!

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

      Yes, I always find it funny when some critic of the show complains that it has become a soap opera: It always was. But it is a soap in the British (and best) sense of the word.

      -Deborah

  • Kaycee

    I just realized that although Rose’s debut to society was a big feature of the season finale there have been very few comments made about her. Wonder why?

    • crystal clear

      More interest in the plot lines and the unanswered questions, perhaps.

      • crystal clear

        Although someone did mention her flirtatious manner with the Prince, and I did have a fleeting thought that the introduction of the royals, with Rose’s nervous little chat with the King, may have been to move forward with a new plot line with her as the newest among the enamorata of the Prince. Imagine the impact on the family.

      • Kaycee

        Well Rose does attract men and she isn’t scandalized by scandal so that could be part of the story for next season. And if the Prince were to beckon could Lady Shrimpette really demur?

      • crystal clear

        She hasn’t demurred to much so far. And she could have a few lovely years with him, maybe even imagining herself a future queen, at least until Wallace Simpson comes along (if I have the correct Prince/King) and swoops him away.

      • Kaycee

        Horse faced Wallace wouldn’t have stood a chance against lovely Rose. I think if HRH had made a move on Rose she would have held on to him. And she could have become Queen! Just as long as they didn’t go dancing. That never ended well with Rose.

      • crystal clear

        LOL

      • crystal clear

        Kaycee, although Wallis (now having looked her up, I see that I misspelled her name earlier) may not have been going to win any title in Atlantic City, she is said to have had some admirable social skills which drew people in; and she had managed to achieve two marriages before HRH, plus a few affairs scattered betwixt and between. Although it did not play out as she had anticipated, with the addition of the crown to her impressive collection of bling, she was desirable enough to get poor Edward to pop off his crown and toss it to poor Colin Firth.
        We do not really have access to the knowledge of whatever other skill sets she may have possessed.
        It is true, Rose would have been a far better choice for HRH, both for looks and the lack of baggage. A dalliance of some sort between them remains an enticing thought.

      • Kaycee

        Skill Sets! Beautiful!

  • Kaycee

    A bit of tangential Downton reference. I just finished the British House of Cards, written by Andrew Davies and featuring a bit part by Julian Fellows. That’s good enough, except there was more. Two PMs discussing the sending district of a third who is from Grantham. Neither of them knows precisely where Grantham is located.

  • crystal clear

    Kaycee: I have enjoyed our discussions about the show, and did not want to temporarily disappear without explanation. I must have finger surgery tomorrow (nothing serious, but on my dominant hand, and incapacity for a few weeks afterwards). I have every confidence that you and Cat will keep the ball bouncing, and hope to rejoin the discussion as soon as possible after my downtime. Be well.

    • Kaycee

      Since my phalanges are about the only parts that consistently work well I will keep them crossed for a speedy recovery for you. And uncross if the need arises to make a comment, although I would guess that things are winding down now. Heal!

  • Blackfork

    Right. So why did they use Skater’s Waltz for Rose’s dance with the Prince? It was written in 1882 and there were so many beautiful waltzes they could have chosen to use other than that tattered ditty. And why did the Prince ‘skip’ through the waltz like a twelve year old? I hope they run the show with him in it up to that trashy Simpson woman.

  • Jill

    Looking for more Downton Abbey? Visit the Downton Abbey Costumes exhibit at Winterthur Museum in Delaware captured in this video:

    http://vimeo.com/89361980

    And written up in the Main Line Times article:

    http://www.mainlinemedianews.com/articles/2014/04/02/main_line_times/news/doc5339868ea6651989099259.txt

  • crystal clear

    I have witnessed the Winterthur exhibition firsthand, and although the posted video is lovely, one cannot fully appreciate, except in person, the exquisite detail of some of the costumes. The beadwork and other detailing is breathtaking! Women really turned themselves out beautifully back then, at least those for whom it was financially possible.

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