“Aren’t you going to blog,” Paul asked me last night when he found me curled up in bed after watching Our Show.
I wasn’t trying to be melodramatic. And here’s a little secret (which I think I already alluded to): I already knew about The Death. After Sybil died, I just couldn’t handle another shock to my system. I know, I know. It’s a show for crying out loud. But a show like this, where the writing is good and the characters are so nicely developed, you do get a sense that you know these people. You are rooting for them, you want to see good things unfold for them.
Death, you discover, is not on your wish list. Even for fake characters in a fake show.
So yes, I started reading up on the final episodes of Season Three and when I read about that I was just so disgusted and disappointed. I know a lot of us feel that way.
Here’s something interesting I read this morning, if this will make you feel any better. That twit, the actor who plays Matthew, he basically gave Mr. Fellowes no other choice.
We wanted them to stay and said, “Would you just do two or three episodes? And then you’re living in America or in Dublin.” But they both felt they wanted to make a clean break. When an actor playing a servant wants to leave, there isn’t really a problem – [that character gets] another job. With members of the family, once they’re not prepared to come back for any episodes at all, then it means death. Because how believable would it be that Matthew never wanted to see the baby, never wanted to see his wife? And was never seen again at the estate that he was the heir to? So we didn’t have any option, really. I was as sorry as everyone else.
So you see, Julian (may I call you Julian?), you tried to spare us this misery. And we love you for that. But you had no choice and we see that now. We take back all the horrible things we said about you, don’t we dear reader?
I may have been equally disappointed with PBS itself, trying to tug at our broken heart strings as we sat in disbelief at the sight we just saw: the blood had barely stopped oozing from Matthew’s dear, in-search-of-greener-pastures skull when the staff of PBS was asking for money. Too soon, fundraising committee, too soon!
But I will say their plan worked (to a degree) because despite our being bored out of our (non-cracked) skulls, I would allow no one to change the channel, in the distant hopes that we might see Scenes. The thing we all live for. Yes, yes, the show is always great. But Scenes from Next Week’s Episode is where it’s at.
Alas, no scenes. And no “tying up that mess” closing few minutes. We were literally, Paul and Ethan and myself, sitting there calculating how many minutes the show actually ran, compared to what our channel guide was telling us, and thinking maybe, maybe???, the show would return for a brief closing scene.
No such luck. Do you think PBS made any money? They were banking on hordes of numb viewing patrons pulling out their wallets in a state of grief-stricken shock.
So Matthew died, and we didn’t get to deal with it at all. Paul describes the handling of Matthew’s death as “lame” and “a rip-off.” Also, Paul adds, “on Downton, if you’re good, you’re gonna die.”
But that was at the end. A few other highlights before that mess:
I saw something funny on twitter last night: The family’s away from Downton Abbey and all the senior citizens are hooking up. That felt about like it (with obviously so much more).
I loved how Mrs. Patmore was relieved when Mrs. Hughes broke the news about the town “suitor.” I also loved how quick Mrs. Patmore was to trust her friend. That could have turned into one of those “you’re just jealous” soap opera moments and I’m impressed that this was much closer to real life — when you are bosom friends with someone, you just trust them, the end. We were able to cut through so much bologna because those two woman know that they have each other’s back, as real friends do.
Is Mrs. Crawley that dense? I think so. Paul thinks so. But we just can’t be sure. I’ll admit I was interested in seeing that romance going somewhere. Wouldn’t it be nice for them to each have someone? But it’s cute how oblivious Isobel seems to be. (Unrelated: way back before Downton, when our Isabel was born, I wanted to spell her name Isobel. But I figured no one would EVER get that right, and as it is she often gets the french spelling, Isabelle, which if you ask me is a totally different name than Isabel. One is flowery and romantic; the other is neat and tidy and also romantic).
Anna dancing a Scottish jig while Bates looks on: I smiled and teared up in spite of myself. Oh you’ve won me back. I’m definitely on your side. I’m cheering in your corner.
Mr. Carson picking up baby Sybil (who was watching her by the way?) from her crib and holding her there. Melting.
Mrs. Hughes really is the heart of the home. She has her eyes on everything and her finger on the pulse. We cheered when she clued in to the maid with an eye for Branson. And I was proud of Branson for not giving in. And I LOVED how Mrs. Hughes was able to explain to Tom the importance of not letting anyone make him feel bad or guilty or embarrassed about his life, the changes he has made. She really loves the family so much and here I go again forgetting that this isn’t real life. I’m so ashamed.
Tom and Jimmy can be friends. I like how that closed out. And that was impressive how he stood up for Jimmy.
The marriage of the couple in Scotland made me so sad. But I think it’s a reality for so many people. You have the children to keep you distracted and then, unfortunately, discover you don’t really know each other, much less like each other, after all. I wanted them to explore the themes of Menopause Making You Crazy, but that might have been too much? I felt bad for Susan MacClare, who at one point tries to make a funny/sweet comment but her husband is unfortunately so used to her negative ways that he can’t take the bait. They are constantly nipping at each other and you can see it’s just become a way of life.
It will be interesting to see how Rose’s storyline works out. Someone wrote (sorry, I can’t remember who!) that when Rose first came on the scene it felt like the times a little kid is trotted out to bring life to a script. Is this a similar tactic? Will she “replace” Sybil? It doesn’t seem like it, but I hope she can calm her self down a bit, just so I don’t have to feel on edge every time she’s on screen.
It kind of amazes, when I think about it, that all the time and energy in the household with the staff and servants and all of it — it’s all about family. All these people cooking and cleaning and running this house and it’s for a group of people (not ordinary people of course) — a mom and dad and gramma and kids. Something about all the fuss and To Do of the meals especially makes me want to work harder. All those people coming together day after day, just for this family to live their life. Yes, it’s over-the-top. But somehow, to my mind, it also elevates (in a good way) the station of Family. Family life is quite important. (Note to self: get a maid and a cook. It’s worth it.)
Paul was quite proud of O’Brien for not falling for the whiskey-tricks of the other maid. “Does that woman think O’Brien wouldn’t notice the taste?” He was incredulous. And quite pleased with the end results.