Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Downton Abbey Season 3 Finale highlights: “Diamond stars and one tiara”

Location, location, location
The Season 3 closer was one of the most visually splendid episodes, as the family travelled to the fictional Duneagle Castle to visit cousins in the Scottish Highlands. (In real life, Inveraray Castle is home to the Duke and Duchess of Argyll, and it's a stunner inside and out. Dibs on a turret room!)
Although it looks like "Cousin Shrimpy" (and his wife Susan, aka Shrewy) are filthy rich, he confides to Lord Grantham that he will have to give up the grandeur of the castle because of his failure to modernize, which Lord G finally concedes is a good thing for Matthew to have pushed him into. There are intimations that the series might touch on colonial rule next season, as Shrimpy talks of taking up a consular post in Bombay.  He also confides that he and his wife "don't like each other" but that "amongst our people divorce just isn't an option"—so when they eventually sell up and move to London, he plans to spend a lot of time at his club and to avoid her like the plague. Filling out this dysfunctional family triangle is Rose, who won't be going to India ("Unless you want her married to a third rate colonial official, with no money and bad teeth" says the Dowager Countess) and whom Cora agrees to take under her wing in a very nice scene with the aforementioned Shrewy. I'm sorry, but I'm not looking forward to the future shenanigans of Rose, whom I find fairly unsympathetic. I hope she grows on me.
Amongst the servants, Anna gets both "racy" and jiggy, whilst Molesley collapses in a heap at the dance party after downing a tumbler of spiked punch meant for O'Brien—whose hairdressing skills have provoked the eternal enmity of Shrewy's glowering maid.
Back at Downton
The young folk are looking for a bit of fun, but partly because I'd read What the Butler Winked At, I just KNEW Carson would make the kitchen staff polish the silver! But at least he let his underlings go to the village fete (a prospect he found so personally distasteful that he said he'd rather chew glass .... ewww!). Mrs Patmore gets all dolled up for the importunate grocer Joss Tufton, who turned me off from the moment he arrived on the scene and jabbed his fat fingers into a tart. Thankfully, she didn't even need Mrs Hughes to tell her that this Dickensian personage was all about what Mrs P could do for him and not vice versa, although it was good to see the ladies having a laugh over him. Mrs Hughes also briskly handles the impertinent and annoying new maid Edna who throws herself at Branson, as well as being ultra motherly to Branson when he breaks down because he misses Sybil so much: "You let Edna make you ashamed of your new life. But you’ve done well. And Lady Sybil would be so proud." Hurrah for Mrs H!~ (Anachronism Alert? Branson's "I've been on a bit of a learning curve, as it happens.")
Loved the dress!
Nothing like a little familial support....
Lord Grantham to Michael Gregson, Edith's employer and secret suitor: "It puzzles me why you choose to employ amateurs like my daughter."
Edith: "Mary has decided to be nasty about Mr Gregson."
Matthew to Mary: "You are horrid when you want to be." You can say that again!
Divorce, or lack thereof, rears its ugly head again
Michael Gregson: "I’m prevented from divorcing a woman who doesn’t even know who I am [i.e., his mad wife]. Does the law expect me to have no life at all until I die? Would Lord Grantham?" Here's a question for you, Mr Gregson: Just what sort of arrangement do you envision for yourself and Edith? And why should the lady's father give a toss about your having a life?
"Ask not for whom the bell tolls"
It tolled for Matthew. Which it was hard not to be apprised of beforehand if you participate in any kind of media whatsoever. Who knows what would have happened if Dan Stevens hadn't felt the need to leave the show? In any event, we savored the few lovely, precious moments with Mary, Matthew, and the new Downton heir ("dearest little chap") all the more before the lorry bore down on him and he was no more.


  1. "Learning curve" is dated by Wiki as far back as 1888, but it takes time for a phrase to trickle down to the vernacular.
    There is also some dispute over whether a steep learning curve means something is easy to learn or difficult. "A bit of a learning curve" seems to be a misapprehension.
    A posting to India would give the drama a historical edge. The struggle for independence has already begun, and the British mishandling of the situation caused Gandhi to change his conciliatory stance to non-cooperation. A very interesting time.

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