Golly, what a night! Once again a plot twists on the turn of an unlocked door knob. And if Anna pausing in Picadilly was gasp-worthy last week, this week…Oh my God! Et tu Carson? Say it ain’t so!
Abie’s Scottish Rose: The Name Game:
Cousin Oliver Rose has got shiksappeal and she’s taking it out for a spin. She inadvertently signs up with J-Date and catches herself a six-foot Hebrew right out of the gate. I’ve been waiting for Members of the Tribe to show up at Downton ever since the run up to Season 3, when they announced that Cora’s mother would be visiting and her name was ‘Levinson’, but it took until last week for anyone to actually utter the word ‘Jewish’. It will be interesting to see where this goes. We’ve already seen the reaction from Prince Badenov and Count NoGoodnik to Jews in their midst. Will this be a vehicle for exploring anti-Semitism in jolly old England as well? That remains to be seen. In the meantime, Atticus Anatevka Aldrich (son of Lord Sinderby) is not a character out of a novel by Mrs. Humphrey Ward (or Harper Lee), but an ‘unusual’ chap (at least to Lady Rose), and not the sort of man she should be dancing with. Just wait until she, um…oh, never mind. Lucky for her, just last week she made Shrimpy promise to give her a blank check in the romance department. How convenient! Apparently this Lord Sinderby’s predecessor handled his financial straits differently than the Crawleys handled theirs. Instead of selling their souls they sold their titles, then packed up lock stock and estate, and moved on. There goes the neighborhood! But here’s good news: While Downton still may not have any locks, soon they may be getting some… lox! (Ba-dum-boom!)
The Tender Trap: Love Will Keep Us Together:
Despite Tony’s protests about how it’s not over even if Lady Mary says it is, Mary takes a trip to London without seeing him. But thanks to her old pal Blake, she does have a play date with potential serial killer Miss Mabel Lane Fox who has no interest whatsoever in Lady Mary’s leftovers. That went well. What is Blake’s game? Was he really trying to get Ms. Fox back with Lord Tiger, or was he trying to get back at Tony (and maybe even Mary) by creating a scene that would be the talk of Boodles? But forget that. The worst thing ever has happened again. Mr. and Mrs. Bates indulge in some wishful thinking about their future, where they’ll be sitting around the fire with all their children, and nothing bad is ever going to happen to Anna again because Bates will make certain she’s safe. Oh God. They are happy and making plans (kinehora, pooh, pooh)! What is the first rule of continuing drama? Never ever say how happy you are! Never! Happiness is one of the four horsemen of the Downton apocalypse (the other three being Sex, Postal Delivery, and Thomas). It’s only a matter of time now. Cue the Old Bill. Now the Police Inspector is up at the big house and he’s skeptical. What would make him skeptical? How could he possibly doubt PollyAnna, this pixie whose goodness and sincerity are enough to herald the arrival of The Great Pumpkin? Could it be he is hearing a different version of the Green story from somewhere else?
When Mary is questioned, we hear her mention the fateful church fête . The Inspector already knows that’s when Tony told her about Green’s clumsiness, and she says she then told Anna which, now that you say it out loud, sounds kind of fishy, doesn’t it? Won’t they wonder why she felt the need to tell Anna? And who told the cops that Tony the Tiger came to the fête to tell Mary about Green in the first place? Was it Mary, thinking it meant nothing or Tony, thinking it did? Because, why would a Lord come all that way to tell a Lady about the death of a lowly servant? I cannot help but think that Tony has something to do with all this. Right from the shove he was suspicious about why Mary asked him to fire Green (even though he didn’t like him anyway). I cannot believe that in all this time he hasn’t asked more questions and that, when they were closer, Mary didn’t confide about Bates’ history and her relationship with Anna and maybe even what had happened to her. And now that Mary has said wham, bam, thank you (but no thank you) Gillingham, what better way for him to get back at her than by taking Anna, her closest confidant, away by snaring her in this trap? The call is coming from inside the house! Then again, perhaps its just that thePolice Inspector is like Miss Buntinsky and simply likes the idea of taking down a grand house. And speaking of inside the house, of course Thomas is trying to stir the pot, saying this house has no secrets. Seriously? What house is he living in? Here’s a bit of unsolicited advice for Thomas. You do not want Bates to look at you across the table like that. Just sayin’. But is this investigation leading anywhere? Is there a there, there? I don’t know, but I will say this: This is what comes from being happy. Don’t go away!
Love Child: I Got No Strings On Me:
When Aunt Rosamund learns about Edith’s interest in a farmer’s child she immediately senses that her interference is required and makes a beeline for Downton, whereupon Edith takes her to see little Marigold. Rosamund proceeds to touch the blessed child, instantly turning her into gingerbread. Problem solved. OK, maybe not. Mrs. Drewe, who doesn’t like her back garden being a petting zoo, is on the warpath and now Farmer Drewe seems to have joined her. Has he had a change of heart about helping Edith stay close to her baby, or is he just tired of being henpecked from here to eternity? When he tells Edith that if she doesn’t stay away the family will vamoose, and Edith says she won’t allow it, it sounds as if Edith has not relinquished her parental rights. Could that be? Or was that just her aristocratic entitlement talking? Adding insult to injury, now Violet is suspicious of all the huddled whispering, and she will not relax her grip until Rosamund spills all secrets. Not for nothing, but I’m thinking that Police Inspector should put the Dowager on the Green case. She’d have it cracked in no time flat. I’m also thinking that Thomas should be her new Ladies Maid, but I digress. Granny Dowager doesn’t ask to see her great grandchild, she just wants to corner Edith in the library and try to force her into sending Marigold to live with the wild men of Borneo at a ‘school’ in France. When Violet said, “What else are we to do?” to horrified Edith, just as Lady Oblivious walked in on their confab, I could hear Downtonians across the land screaming at Edith right along with me, “TELL CORA!!! HELLO!!!” But Cora blithely wanders out again, seemingly not hearing those blaring alarm bells. Another opportunity missed. Cora protected Mary after the Pamuk incident and I have no doubt that she would do the same for Edith, don’t you agree? Edith clearly does not like either option being foisted upon her and she will not be a puppet. She uses Carson’s phone to make a clandestine call to London, setting the stage for a confrontation of some sort. But what are the options? I can’t see Mrs. Drewe just handing Marigold over, can you? Clearly Violet and Rosamund hadn’t thought about that either. And if she tries, might the Drewes just disappear with Marigold? Even if they don’t, could Edith fight for her without divulging who she is?
Father Knows Best: When E. F. Carson Talks, People Listen:
What’s with Mr. Toasterphobe suddenly being worried about not being thought of as modern? I thought he hated modern, didn’t you? Now,technology aside, he wants to be thought of in the same realm as Rudyard Kipling, John Singer Sargent and The King? Unfortunately, Mrs. Patmore makes the mistake of asking Carson’s advice on how to invest a little windfall because he’s a man and, you know, men know stuff (FYI: That £300 from 1924 would be the equivalent of about £16,000, or $24K today). Of course, as soon as she says it out loud she realizes how silly it sounds. But what to do now that she’s asked? One musn’t trample on the fragile male ego (even if Carson might have been the guy who advised Lord Knucklehead to go all in on the Canadian Railroad). Baxter is kind of in the same boat with earnest Mr. Molesley. Now that he knows her whole story about the man what done her wrong, he is even more insistent about being on her side and she knows what that means (and she knows too much to go back and pretend). Molesley is barking up the wrong tree. Anyway, Mrs. Patmore decides she would rather flip houses than invest in a risky (and possibly non-existent) stock venture, but how to break it to Carson that she is deciding on her own what to do with her money? Never fear, riding to the rescue is Mrs. Hughes, a pre-feminist feminist who skillfully navigates a world where she has no basic rights. In the Crawley tradition, she manages change gently. She doesn’t storm the barricades when a bit of tea and a gift for manipulation is all that is required to sooth the savage beast and get what she wants. From the distance of time it would be easy to mock this approach. But I’ll just say, you’re a better man than I am, Gunga Hughes!
She’s a Brick House: Cherish is the Word:
Again with the walking in without knocking! If Downton Abbey had locks on the bedroom doors, half these stories would have been dead before they went anywhere – except for Pamuk; he’d still be alive. For all their proper etiquette, a little thing as basic as knocking seems to be beyond the purview of these people. Anyway, before it all turned into an annus horribilis, like the proverbial bad penny, smarmy Mr. Bricker returns (this della Francesca is his Marigold!) And just as he arrives, Lord Captain Crunch, donned with his cape, dashes out to the Legion Hall for some top secret reveling in glories past with the other Lord Geezers. Bricker cannot believe his luck! He’s got his target all to himself. But later, well, if Robert hadn’t walked in just then, I’m thinking that it was not cherishing that was about to happen: It was about to turn into an assault. Seriously. She said, get out. Get out! But Robert’s outburst wasn’t about saving Cora; it was about saving face. Robert has been taking Cora for granted, but still, getting a lecture from the man who was caught in your bedroom? I believe this is what Lord Sinderby would call ‘chutzpah’. And so Bricker becomes yet another in a long line of house guests who must make a hasty exit before breakfast. But what’s this? Bricker hands Carson a finski on his way out the door and…wait, back up, WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT??!! Since when does Carson take tips? Is he a maitred’ now all of a sudden? Does this have something to do with the case put in the car? What is in the case in the car? Was that a lovely parting gift of some sort? First Anna at Picadilly and now THIS?!
And now there’s an atmosphere, as there would be when one finds (what looks like) a Hugh Hefner lookalike contest going on in one’s bedroom when one’s wife thinks one will be out of town for the evening. As usual Lord Grantham has got the wrong end of the stick. What will this mean for Cora? And what about Bricker? Did he have nefarious intentions all along? And remember, his entre into Downton was Mr. Blake; did Blake have any idea what he might have been up to? Was this a game with Cora as the pawn? But really, in a way she has always been a pawn: First to her parent’s ambitions, then to the Grantham family’s balance sheet. Even her mother-in-law and sister-in-law are making major life decisions about her grandchild right under her nose while going out of their way to keep her out of the loop. What will she think if and when she finds out? Cora always seems so passive, and unfailingly outwardly agreeable. Will something finally make her go tilt and say, ‘enough!‘?
To Miss With Love: I Am Daisy, Hear Me Roar:
Branson has looked at life from both sides now. On one side is Lord Grantham, who is very proud of himself for pouring his own drink and thinks Tom should be proud of him, and himself, too. On the other side is Miss Buntinsky who simply cannot understand why Tom doesn’t despise the people he loves. And while he’s not sure if he knows life at all, he does come to the realization that it’s time to say bye-bye Bunting. Annoying Miss Buntinsky just doesn’t get it. She says she loves him, and she would love him even more if he’d let her – and, if he’d only disavow everyone he knows, and acknowledge that every single decision he has made in his adult life is wrong. Somehow he manages to turn down this tantalizing offer and now Miss Buntinsky is leaving on a jet plane and it doesn’t look like she’ll be back again. Methinks it’s good he sent her on her way. Feeling as she does, it seems like she’d be quite the evil step mother to little Sybbie, doesn’t it? But who suffers the most in all this? Daisy. Poor Daisy has lost the teacher who has taken her from crayons to perfume. She’s not a novice any longer and all this education has deepened the conviction in her soul. Talk of change has been a constant theme of life at Downton for as long as we have been flies on the walls of this castle. But you know that change is real when the talk of revolution has reached Daisy.
More and more, the Crawleys’ way of life is being encroached on all sides, and money is the least of it. The rainforest around this tribe is being felled at an ever increasing pace. Their life is an odd combination of privilege, mixed with dependency and vulnerability. While those on the less fortunate end of the societal scale are vulnerable in more direct ways (survival-wise), these Lords and Ladies, who have all these strangers with their own agendas moving through their homes, are vulnerable in ways that are all their own. What is any society but an agreed upon set of rules? This aristocratic world has always depended upon everyone playing their parts and knowing their places, and being held in those places by the invisible strings of unwritten rules. An infinite number of things are now pulling on those strings and they are unraveling.
The Dowager Countessdown (Violet’s Best Zingers):
6. Ellen Terry has nothing on you when it comes to stringing out a moment.
5. I’ve lived through great wars and my share of grief. I think I can manage an impertinent question from a doctor.
4. I do not quite grasp your question. It bewilders me.
3. The idea of Princess Irina scrubbing the sick and emptying bedpans is a cheering one.
2. Be careful, Lord Merton will have you on the operating table before you can say knife.
1. In Essex? Isn’t it terribly damp?
Random Factoid: Ellen Terry was an actress who had a seven decade-long career on the stage and screen, and would have been a contemporary of the Dowager. Among her many credits was starring in the original London production of Our American Cousin, best known as the play Abraham Lincoln was watching the night he was shot.
Hey Downtonians, are you on Twitter? If you are, please follow me at @E20Launderette.