‘Downton Abbey’ s5e2 – Widowed future countesses just wanna have fun

18 Jan

I hope you’re keeping up with technology. Things keep changing so much over the decades, so here’s a handy-dandy guide to keep you from getting confused:

British radio, or “thief of life” = Wireless
Having no wire = Wireless
Cellular phone or broadband = Wireless

Phew. That’s much better.

A few days ago I was watching a different period show where the characters started talking about “getting their mojo back.” One of the things I love most about Downton Abbey is the beautiful attention to detail in every aspect of production. It’s like Ralph Lauren’s philosophy that we get to hear every week before the show is taken straight from the production team. It’s not something that happens very often, and I just had to give kudos where they were due.

Edith’s charred bedroom looks like a set borrowed from American Horror Story, and I would never have known we were still at Downton in that scene until Anna walked in…and discovered the picture of Marigold under Edith’s pillow. Mrs. Hughes is definitely on the verge of discovery, and it wouldn’t hurt my feelings if Anna were on that trail as well. Sweet Marigold and Edith need some allies, and the sooner, the better. Has the Dowager totally forgotten? Did Aunt Rosamund not tell her about the second Switzerland vacation? I’m completely unsurprised at Mrs. Drew’s growing annoyance with Edith, but her reasons do surprise me. So many characters we see from that time period and social class would relish the opportunity to be relieved of responsibility, especially with a child that does not belong to them. But she’s clearly a woman of character who wants to be left alone to raise all her lovely ducklings in peace. It truly seems unfair not to let her in on the secret — she certainly seems like the kind of woman who could keep it. Maybe the real questions are who is going to find out and in what order?

A cricket pitch for a WWI memorial site? Wait, what? I’m no cricket fan, but even I know that idea’s about as dumb as a pile of rocks. Of course, on reflection, the man they’ve asked to lead their committee did come up with about a million horrible ideas for a servant’s day out before finally being forced to resign to the idea of the beach last season. Off the mark, but well-intentioned. Carson — and Lord Grantham — always do seem to get there in the end. And so they do with the memorial, thanks to the widow Elcott and her son.

Lord Grantham is the Isobel of this season — fighting against everything because he needs a project. What glorious mountains can we dream up for his lordship to conquer?

Out James goes with not a care in the world. Lesson learned: if you only sleep with the right person you get an excellent reference. Don’t let’s talk about double standards and Ethel. Let’s talk about the very touching goodbye to Thomas. James did bring out better things in Thomas, though Thomas still felt the need to blackmail Baxter. It’s hard not to feel for him when he’s truthful about his desire to belong — maybe no one ever told him that fitting in would be a lot easier if he’d just stop being such a stinker. Life’s what we make it, Thomas.

A “most informative lunch” introduces us to art historian Simon Bricker, flirting with the Countess of Grantham, I mean, Isis. The nerve of some people trying to steal the affections of other people’s dogs. Snort.

Daisy’s getting an education. Maybe Miss Bunting will get one as well. She can get along so well with others when she chooses to.

Lord Grantham’s “what a relief” comment was horribly rude — a slap in Branson’s face from his own past with the family. So what has Branson learned in all this, and what is he going to do about reconciling two ways of life and one awkwardly modern world? Let’s put aside the hurt card and get this game-changing strategy on.

Dear Rose is almost the Edith of this situation. She just can’t help but keep sticking her oar in to poke more holes in the sinking boat…presumably to save her own. Sometimes she’s so innocent and clueless, though, that I forget she’s no stranger to sneaking out to hotel rooms and how she’s come among them to benefit from a good influence.

So Anna must buy a condom. Assuming there’s a very large raise and an early retirement bonus associated with this transaction. You know, to prevent her writing the memoirs. (Dear Amazon, I’d like to pre-order my copy NOW.) Anna promises secrecy to Mary, but the fact that she’s not even hinting around about it with Bates is just plain weird. And here I thought her earlier promise to her husband to have no more secrets would trump her new promise to lapse-of-judgement mistress. Good golly, what’s gonna happen when he finds that book under Anna’s pillow? Dude, there is no way Bates doesn’t know what’s going on.

“Doesn’t sound like Lady Mary — sounds a bit Bohemian.”

Lady Mary, dearest, we’d better NEVER EVER NEVER EVER hear anything at all EVER again about that train ticket. Never.

“Such a pity Mary had to miss it for a boring sketching trip.”

When has Mary EVER sketched anything? When has Mary EVER just gone for a frivolous drive or trip or anything? When has Mary EVER set out to have fun? Who is “Annabelle Portsmouth,” why haven’t we met her, and couldn’t Mary have come up with a better fake friend name? Here are my top ten reasons why this weekend special is a BAD idea:

  1. Possibly not the best application/interview process for the future father of the future Earl of Grantham.
  2. How was it you dealt with Rose in the hotel in season three, Mary?
  3. Remember Mr. Pamuk?
  4. If you have to sleep with Tony to “be sure,” does that mean you weren’t sure with Matthew? Fear of divorce didn’t make you jump in the sack with Matthew, either. (When has fear of anything ever stopped you from doing what you want, Mary?) Tony has done such a good job convincing you to jump into a life with him that you’ve already turned him down once.
  5. Tony flings open the hotel room door and drapes himself on the door frame. He swaggers in and says, “Hey, baby, of course I know how to do this right. What’d you think? This is my first rodeo? Please.” Sure, Mary. You’re the first. You’re THE love of his life. I’m sure Tony is STD-free.
  6. Liverpool…really???? Fingers crossed Mable Lane-Fox and Charles Blake are in town and decide to have dinner in Church Street tonight.
  7. You can’t ruffle Blake, just like you couldn’t ruffle Matthew. Good men don’t ask things like this of women they value and respect. So do you want to bite a frilly lure on a line or would you like to reconsider your own bait? Blake doesn’t want to play games, and he won’t touch you with a 15-meter cattle prod when he finds out what you’ve done…after you have your OJ and toast in the morning and realize Tony’s bedhead is not the hair you want to spend eternity with.
  8. Only teenagers use the “Everybody’s doing it” argument. As Mr. Carson points out about certain modern fads, “You’ll only get a shock if you listen to it.”
  9. Don’t worry. No one knows. Just Thomas, and James, and Anna, and Bates, and the hotel staff, and Gillingham’s servants, and the real Annabelle Portsmouth. Just wait until Edith finds out. Dear Daily Mail…
  10. No mud. No pigs. How this is fun again?

Meh. All of Lady Mary’s excuses are actually for herself. They’re an effort to convince herself she’s right, and the first step to that is convincing other people. I’m with Anna — best of luck to ya, princess. You’re gonna need it.

The awards for Characters Acting in REAL Love in this episode go to:

  • Edith – for her love for her daughter that drives her to become a total nuisance to the woman legally responsible for her care
  • Carson & Mrs. Hughes – for how he makes her want to check the looking-glass to make sure her hair’s tidy
  • Molesley & Baxter – for finding their courage and learning true grace

“I’d give all in to rewrite that chapter of my life, but I can’t, Mr. Molesley. Not even for you.”

The bending of Molesley’s spirit — the growing of his soul — is beautiful and warming. Did Baxter find Christ in prison? Is tonight the night we’ll learn the rest of her story? Are these two destined for a cottage of their own next door to the Bates’? Here’s hoping there will be a LOT of downstairs action tonight.

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