Monday, February 11, 2013

The Downton Dish (Downton Abbey Season 3, Episode 6 recap): "Stay in bed! Read books!"

Fair is foul and foul is fair!
A double episode: yoiks! Let's get down to all of the sticky wickets.
Bates is sprung! (Somewhat anticlimactically.) But he has a spring in his step as he and Anna walk amongst the cottages to scout out potential new digs. Thomas the Usurper is still attending to Lord G, who tells Bates to “Stay in bed! Read books!” Jolly good all-purpose advice, if you ask us!
Lady Edith and the newspaper editor are getting along famously. He likes both her and her column on the plight of veterans. Hmmmmm ... perchance Lady Mary is not the only Crawley girl who can bewitch a denizen of Fleet Street in quest of a potential mate. But wait: she's sleuthing on the phone and finding out disquieting info. (What is this convenient dirt-digging service she's using?)
As is her wont, National Treasure Maggie Smith as the Dowager Countess wins the acting smackdown hands down. (Those droll faces! That dry martini delivery!) As The Guardian's tv critic puts it, “You can give her the worst lines imaginable and they still come out like Shakespeare.”

Housemaid turned prostitute turned cook Ethel: “These days a working woman must have a skill." 

Cousin Violet: “But you seem to have so many...

Ethel gets to stop being the elephant in the room thanks to the well-meaning machinations of Lady Violet, securing a place near her son where she can see him sometimes by pretending to be a former nanny. But not before Vi accuses Mrs Crawley of “surrounding us with a miasma of scandal.” Not fair! How about Lady Mary and the Turkish gent?
No more tea and strumpets at the Crawley house.
Lord G continues to act like a dodo and a spoilsport about the management of the estate, but once again his mother puts things to rights by nominating Tom/Branson as the estate manager, thus securing Baby Sybie's continued presence. Touchdown and field goal! (I won't use the appropriate cricket language because we in America have no clue about that bizarre-looking game, which dominates the end of the episode.) Grandmother Cora (a character who continues to be underused) also gets her wish that Tom and the baby live with the family at the big house until she’s older instead of in the estate agent's cottage.
How would the plot chug along without Lady Violet?
Thomas's fate keeps bobbing up and down like O'Brien's proverbial “bar of soap” in the bathtub. With all the hullabaloo, Lord G gets a pile of redemption points for asserting that “Thomas does not choose to be the way he is” and making mention of all the fellows who wanted to kiss him at Eton. (I'll bet ... those lips!) And Thomas, who is being railroaded out of town without a reference, stands up to Carson's Biblical wrath with an “I Am What I Am” moment: “I’m not foul, Mr. Carson. I’m not the same as you, but I’m not foul.”
“Human nature is a funny business, isn't it?" muses Carson. Mrs Hughes: “Oh, why didn't the poets come to you? They'd have saved themselves an awful lot of time and trouble.” Snap!
“It feels like the outer circle of Dante’s Inferno,” Matthew calls the jazz club. No, dude, that would be the eternal wrangling over running the estate!
I don't want this recap to go on longer than the episode, so I'll just say that Edith's potential new beau has been cast in Mr Rochester mode and both Mary and Matthew are seeing doctors clandestinely in pursuit of an heir (activities that would have been moot if not for O'Brien's fateful bar of soap!) Oh yes, new character Rose (the daughter of “Cousin Shrimpy”) cuts up with some scandalous behavior in a jazzy London nightclub that is nipped in the bud by Matthew et al., but she does provides the transition to the next episode, which will apparently involve a house party in a castle in Scotland. See you next week!

12 comments:

  1. What was Lady Edith using to find out info on the editor? Seems like the telephone version of googling someone. She's such a stalker.

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    1. One blogger said she called the Daily Telegraph. I guess they kept dirt on people? The fact that she's "Lady Edith" got fast results, no doubt.

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    2. I'm sure a newspaper editor at that time was considered high enough on the social ladder to have public information available. I was confused about it myself, but I guess marital status would be public knowledge (it sure seems like everyone in Europe knows the marital status of the Crawley girls).

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  2. I was thinking the same exact thing!! They were still working out the wrinkles of that whole phone thing:) Strangely, as I never thought it'd happen, I've come to really like Thomas. He's undergone a Snape-like transition (Harry Potter nerd reference)...

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    1. I never thought I would like Thomas either after mid-first season! It was so hard because I felt so bad for him when they made it clear he was gay, but then he had to go be so evil! But now he's definitely winning me back bit by bit.

      I agree with your Snape comparison, Sir Fink!

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  3. so will the war between O'Brien and Thomas now go nuclear?

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    1. looks like it ... everyone is wonderin' why she has such an extreme animus against him!!

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  4. I am not far enough into Downton Abbey to really comment but I love the last photo you posted of the three clubbin'

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  5. I don't know from Downton Abbey, but I know Dante's Inferno, and there are no paper lanterns in the first circle, where the virtuous non-Christians were placed.
    Matthew should heed the advice to read books.

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    1. Fellowes was a Cambridge man who studies English lit ... which one might think would include a modicum of Dante. I agree, he shouldn't be bandying Inferno references about willy nilly! Please do tell us in what circle Dante placed the sodomites? Carson will want to beat Thomas about the head with that prospect!

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  6. The Sodomites, one of whom had been Dante's teacher while living, were condemned to walk ceaselessly the burning sand of the seventh circle.
    It is possible the author meant to cast Matthew as a lout who lacked the discretion to keep his ignorance of Dante under wraps.

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    1. I'm wondering--if you were Matthew's date, and he pompously emitted a whopper, would you point it out to him politely, make a scathing sarcastic remark that would leave burn marks on his ears, or ignore it?
      And would you consider a second date with such a clod?

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