Sunday, February 3, 2013

Downton Dish (Season 3, Episode 5): From burnt kidney souffle to a plum of a pudding

Your vote for best line in the episode? Mine would have to be Violet's “It would be a pity to miss such a good pudding.” That's said when Lord G barges into the “girls' lunch” at Mrs Crawley's and unsuccessfully demands that they vacate at once because they're being fed by a [gasp] “fallen woman.” (“I wish there was a little more nuance in the creation story of the supervillain formerly known as Lord Grantham” writes Slate. Do you agree?)
Both the Upstairs and Downstairs male authority figures are apoplectic over Mrs Crawley's exposing their underlings to Edith, a former Downton servant who was seduced, abandoned, and forced to sell herself to support her illegitimate child. Spying Mrs. Patmore emerging from the Crawley house after he had commanded the staff to stay away, Carson asks why she wants to spend her time “frolicking with prostitutes.” “Do I look like a frolicker?” she responds (thus settling his hash)!
“Mrs. Hughes is smarter and more principled," writes Michael Hogan of the Huffington Post, “and she makes her views known via two righteous one-liners. When Carson muses that he doesn't advocate persecuting Catholics, per se, but does question their loyalty to the crown, Mrs. Hughes shoots back, 'Well, it'll be a relief for them to know that you no longer want them burned at the stake.' And when Mr. Moseley quibbles with the notion that Jesus broke bread with Mary Magdalene, suggesting that he only let her wash his feet, she replies, 'Well, I'll tell Ethel she has a treat in store.'”
Cora continues to feel a devastating combination of grief over Sybil's sudden death and rage at her husband: “You believed Tapsell because he’s knighted, and fashionable, and has a practice in Harley Street. You let all that nonsense weigh against saving our daughter’s life, which is what I find so very hard to forgive.” Fortunately, Violet steps up as mediator before Cora bans Lord G from the boudoir permanently, and the couple can actually begin to comfort each other.
I'm  still brooding over Mary's churlish rejection of Edith's sisterly overtures in the last episode. Was it really necessary to state that they would never get along, even as they mourned the sweet sister they would never see again? (Edith: “Will we be better?”; Mary: “I doubt it.”) And did the scene between Matthew and Tom out by the cottages make anyone else hope he'll stay around doing sheep herding or whatnot so baby Sybil can grow up (albeit as a Catholic) at Downton? ("Not everybody chooses his religion to satisfy DeBretts" says Cora during the dinner table discussion—one more sign that both the Ladies and the female staff of the house are poised for massive resistance to expectations that they not think or act for themselves.)
Meanwhile, a round robin of attraction is going on with the foxtrotting young folk downstairs; Thomas is riding for a fall (while Daisy might be in for a windfall); and Bates takes matters into his own hands by his “no more Mr Nice Guy” routine at the jail. As always, let me know your thoughts ... and don't forget to swing by our Downton Forum for some brilliant background reading (and viewing) on the series and its time period! Some authentic justification for Carson acting like a martinet re the foxtrotting youth can be found in the memoir What the Butler Winked At, in which the author describes a group of footmen being threatened with dismissal for having a pillow fight. And in Below Stairs, Margaret Powell says that any romantic dalliance between servants meant the sack.
All of the Downton commentators I have read loathe the prison subplot, calling it tedious and unrealistic. What do you think?


  1. I can't tell you how happy I am to finally be caught up with DA. I can read my fave blog without fear of spoilers!!

  2. Mary does not suffer fools--particularly Edith--gladly. I love how she steps up and speaks her mind, even if her timing is less than brilliant!

  3. Perhaps I'm alone, but I favor Edith. I'm a middle child, though, so I'm likely biased. She's the more refined version of Jan Brady:)

  4. I always prefer Mary to Edith because she tells it like it is. Of course they aren't going to get along just because Sybil died. Where would the fun be if Mary and Edith started to get along?!

    Speaking of sisters, my sister recently had brunch in NYC and was seated near Matthew Crawley!!! Of course Mary wasn't with him since she is a married lady and can be served breakfast in bed. ;)