‘Downton Abbey’ s6e1 – Awkward Abbey

10 Jan

I can’t decide whether to be happy or sad. Blessed Downton Abbey has finally returned but this is our last premiere episode. Only a few more hours of this amazing series to look forward to before it ends forever…sniff. Chin up. Let’s get to it then.

It’s 1925. Headbands and downsizing are all the rage. The styles are marvelous, but as the neighbors sell up, the Crawleys do a little shaking in their boots at the future of their own estate. And Denker “never disappoints” when it comes to spreading the sunshine allll around. Bless Mr. Mason’s poor heart — he dreams of leaving his business to Daisy, who dreams of storming the streets of London. But Daisy takes the wrong page out of Miss Bunting’s book and drives a stake through the heart of any possibility of his dream coming true. How will Daisy find a way to fix it?

The little heirs help Mrs. Patmore in the kitchen, but can we really trust Thomas with them? Were you as nervous as I was when they (a little too eagerly) went off to play with him?

Mary washes her own hair. Is this normal? Is this a sign of the times? Please don’t tell Carson.

A hotel maid from Mary’s “girl’s painting trip” shows up for a game of blackmail. Mary turns to Anna for advice, but it’s Lord Grantham who saves the day. Bevin is gone for good…or is she? Do we believe a character this devious is out of the picture for good?

Granny and Isobel go to war over the hospital. Again. These two can be so tiresome. I nominate Cora to work it all out behind the scenes and just let the two of them show up when it’s all over. Meanwhile, Clarkson has turned ten shades of green where Lord Merton — “that famous fount of all medical knowledge” — is concerned. Me-ow. I predict he’s not finished fighting for Isobel’s hand yet.

Edith discusses the possibility of a life in London (in the flat Michael left her where she met Virginia Wolfe), and the fam is ultra-supportive. Mary still hasn’t done the math about Marigold. Fail.

And Mary’s also up for Branson’s job…in her own mind. Her ladyship is perfectly capable, but we’re talking about real and actual responsibility here. With the neighbor’s packing up…this road could get rocky. But Lord Grantham gets a Gibbs head-slap for insisting the job will “wear her out” and “kill her by year’s end.” What in the world would he think of what I do for a living? What does he think little bitty Anna does every day? Oy with the poodles, m’lord.

The biggest news of the episode may actually be: Lord Grantham finally meets his own refrigerator.

But most Downton fans would probably agree that it’s the Patmore/Carson sex talk.

AWKWARD.

With a side of awkward served on an awkward platter.

But personally I’m glad Mrs. Hughes was nervous. I’m glad she asks the question. How often do you ever see characters nervous about sex? And it opens a door to talk more about the meaning of marriage. I adore Carson and his lovely way of expressing his feelings, however, I can’t help but think of C.S. Lewis and his wife Joy. Not sure I would accuse them of not having a “full” marriage. Carson’s lived this long side by side with Mrs. Hughes without it — but his love for her is impressive, and I can’t wait to see more of this power couple in action. I hope that will be a sequel series.

And once again…FREE BATES! Both are now free and in the clear because the brave victim/killer came forward. I’d like to see more of that story, too.

I’m counting the hours — and dreading how fast they fly — till the next episode.


UPDATE (01/17/16): Since PBS is broadcasting each episode six times this season (plus online streaming), repeat watching is positively inevitable. The glorious thing about repeat watching is that good stories are like onions…each time you peel a layer back, you find a lovely new one underneath. Not to mention that a few days in your life can completely change your outlook or how the story is able to impact your life. About my fourth watching of this episode, it occurred to me that I had neglected to mention two beautifully important elements:

1) I kind of glossed over the Patmore/Carson sex talk, partly because it’s such a crucial element to this storyline and there’s just no substitute for watching it. However, the detail that I am sorry to have left out of my original recap is the beauty of the friendship between Mrs. Hughes and Mrs. Patmore. Do you have anyone you could go to in your life that you could actually ask to go to your fiance to ask him about sex for you? I’m not sure that I could. Or even if I would. In all of Mrs. Hughes’ confidence in her station, situation in life, and personality — the woman who could hire and fire and stand up to O’Brien, for Pete sake — even she could not muster the ability to speak to Mr. Carson herself. But she can ask a friend for help. Do you have a friend in your life that if you asked this of her she would say YES? Mrs. Patmore could have said, “You do know I’ve got three different meringues to make, right?” and found an excuse to bow out. But what a good friend she was — and fearless to climb into the lion’s den no less. Hats off to this precious relationship. Exit questions: How would you have written this storyline? Should Mrs. Hughes have spoken directly to Carson? Should Mrs. Patmore have said no? Since this storyline is so rich in relationship opportunities…what was the best relationship moment in it and what was the worst?

2) Remember that cheery Christmas special we just came off of (one year ago)? It feels I’m perpetually asking this question, but what happened to the characters we met there? What happened to the charming men the Downton girls met and why aren’t we even hearing their names mentioned? Just wondering.

 

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