Downton Thoughts

I had initially planned on titling this entry, Curse You, Dan Stevens. But that seemed a tad harsh.

But the truth is a lot of the heartache we are having to endure watching the first two episodes of this season’s Downton Abbey are because an actor decided that he could do better. The end. And now we’re stuck listening to gut-wrenching lines like “he died 50 years before his time” and having to watch Matthew’s dear, poor mother decide if she can actually handle going to the dinner party because laughing and living makes her feel unfaithful to his memory.

So a lot of what’s going on in the show is paying appropriate homage to the memory of this character, because I have a feeling (I’m hoping) that once we get an ample amount of sads out of the way, there will be no turning back. In the spirit of O’Brien — “she’s gone!”

Poor O’Brien, that was quick. Nice and painless, like a band-aid. Right off! For such a horrific character, she sure faded away instantly.

Unrelated to screen-deaths and greener acting pastures, this season I am really enjoying the sweeping vistas the camera now affords. I like the view of the grand gathering room. I’m sure there’s an official name for this part of the house, I’m going to call it “the spot with the gorgeous red rug and pretty side chair”. I also loved the view last night of the land, with the house itself off in the distance.

I don’t remember getting this many overhead or sweeping shots before. In seasons past I felt like it was much more close up and we had to assimilate all the spots into our minds. It reminded me of how the Hobbits and Humans couldn’t really be filmed together in the first two Lord of the Rings, but by the third they had the proper technology to show just how small lil Frodo was next to Gandalf.

Hold on, there’s a knock at my front door.

Cool, it was someone bringing me my gold medal in NERD ALERT.

Whatever. The LOTR movies are very dear to me.

I don’t really want to discuss this but if I don’t it’s the elephant in the room: Anna’s situation.

What. The. What.

Julian Fellowes may or may not be waking up to a dead horse head in his bed this morning.

I’m sorry but that’s just rotten. I think Paul referred to it as being “emotionally disconcerting.” Or something. Oh, it upset me so much. I don’t think any of us saw that coming and why did it need to happen?? (I started to remove that second question mark but it deserves to stay. I feel really upset about this.)

Here’s the thing: I appreciate that this kind of crime likely occurred? Did it? I guess? Does this give us unique insight into an aspect of upstairs/downstairs life that we had not previously considered? Crimes occurred, things could not be properly dealt with.

But my take-away from that was this: I bet a lot of people had chronic stomach conditions in this era as well. Notice that the show’s writers don’t deal with that. Can’t we be spared a few of the nasty’s? It’s just more than I care to take on, it being Sunday night and all.

Truth be told, Paul and I ended our discussion on this detail of the show with me saying, “I hope Bates finds out. I hope he kills that man and everyone in Downton helps cover up the crime.”

Justice is served, the end.

The overriding theme of the last few weeks, to me, are the lack of openness in too many situations. If people would be honest, “live in the light” so to speak, so much heartache could be avoided. Why was no one willing to tell Cora about the servant and her Irish son-in-law? And now we’re going to have to go through that again, that conniving woman on the scene and us having to watch the train wreck that is sure to be barreling down the tracks.

A few last thoughts:

–Oh how I love the dresses this season. The necklines are gorgeous.

–The gambling scene played out so well. It was fun to watch the newspaper editor have his moment to shine, even though I know we shouldn’t be rooting for him. That farmer from Season One is looking better and better all the time.

–Did we used to not like Molesley? I can’t remember. But he is a light right now, I hope things work out for him.

What am I missing?

EDITED TO ADD: I knew there was one other thought I had swirling last night while watching the show. Having the “party” come to Downton was a fun way to add characters (though I was having those thoughts before the final scene between Anna and that disgusting visiting servant). It reminded me of Gosford Park, the movie by Fellowes about upstairs/downstairs interactions.


  1. I feel that exact same way about the Anna deal. Was she fixing a tonic for her stomach? Could she be pregnant? And if what we assume happened really did happen, will she wonder who the father is? No, no, no. Ugh.

    Someone please smack Branson and fast. Just when I think he’s left behind the morose, whiny adolescent persona he adopted before Sybil’s death (I’ll never see Ireland again! Woe is me!), a house party brings it all back and along comes that scheming Edna to make it all better. Ugh again.

    But I just love that Mrs. Patmore and Mrs. Hughes and Mrs. Crawley.

    • You are so right! I love those ladies.

      I’m fearing a similar situation — pregnant, and then do we have to watch her lie about the situation still? I hope not. That will definitely send this show into soap opera status. Which I won’t be able to take.

  2. Aunt Catherine says:

    You’re making me want a new tv show when I hardly keep up with Benson, even from last week’s stir. Darn, you. You do it so well.

  3. I really like downton but it’s turning into so much more than I bargained for. I mean, I knew it was a drama/period soap opera, but it’s getting ridiculous. If they go in a certain direction i may not continue…… but the clothes! I love the clothes!
    Side note, with the exception of one episode, i’ve really really enjoyed call the midwife, have you watched it?

  4. I’ve enjoyed the stories this season. I do like that Mary seems to be snapping out of her grief and getting to work. I love, love, love her gowns!

    About Branson, are we saying that a man who chose Sybil would choose Edna? She’s conniving, manipulative and plain. I don’t get it. Doesn’t it trash Sybil’s memory? I would much rather he had found a nice war widow in the village….

    I wondered why Anna doesn’t want to tell Bates? That seems out of character for their relationship.

    I will also say: I love the gowns but I hate the hair. That whole Marcel wave thing is just too weird….

    I have to second Kaitlin’s comments about Call the Midwife. It’s very good as well!

    • Good point about Branson, which also should remind us…what kind of “driver” would be able to land the high-class daughter Sybil? A confident man! If he was really some sniveling wimp, Sybil would never have fallen for him. I don’t buy it. It’s a cheap story line.

  5. The Downton season isn’t complete without your spot-on reviews Rachel! Keep them up please!

  6. Anna said why she doesn’t want to tell Bates. She is afraid that he will kill the vile creature and because Bates is a convicted felon, this time he will hang. That said, in real life, truth is always the better choice. In soaps, even high class soaps, lies make for more drama.

    • So true! I get her reasoning, but it’s still hard to believe she could make such a decision in such a traumatized state. But I do think it’s a clever way to add the drama this show is so clearly going for…

  7. Yes, yes, yes!!
    I want a period drama not a soap opera!!

    If Branson is reconsidering his decision to move to the agent’s house fine, but hooking up with Edna ~ NO!
    Did like how the whole gambling storyline resolved.

  8. I just love when you write about Downton. I have always pretty much liked Mosley but you’re right, he is a light right now.

  9. I finally watched, and then I looked for your review because I love these. Your spot on as usual I’m know I’m going to hate the Bates/Anna story line, please PLEASE Mr. Fellows do not make this typical and heart wrenching, surprise us and have the scoundrel publicly found out and for Bates to know and be there for Anna – I WANT THE FAIRY TALE ENDING!!!!
    I absolutely love the costumes, the scenery and all the cinematography – and the gambling turn around was so wonderful, I loved it!

  10. Liz Cosper says:

    Do you think Edna drugged him? Or did they have that back then? I can’t stand her hair. I liked it better blonde.

    I hope to God Anna is not pregnant. The show will turn ridiculous.

    I do love the dresses!!

    I miss Matthew 🙁

  11. I was very bummed out about the Anna incident last night, too. I kept thinking, “Tell someone! Call the police! Tell Bates, tell Lord Grantham … tell someone who can do something about it.”

    But then it hit me that she probably feels that she can’t. As she said, if she tells Bates, she’s afraid he’ll kill the guy. She will stay silent about this to protect him — and, maybe, out of some misguided sense that she needs to protect the family she serves. And would the police even believe her?

    The times have changed, but rape is still such an underreported crime. There are many reasons for that, but lots of women don’t come forward because they feel they need to protect someone who would otherwise be hurt/inconvenienced/etc by their revelation. We like to think we are so much further along than they were in “Downton,” but Anna’s situation still goes on today, with women who feel like they need to stay silent for the sake of others. Meanwhile, they don’t have the chance to get the healing they need.

    So yes, I was totally unhappy about this plotline too, but it did put this issue — and especially, the silence that lots of victims suffer — right out there, and I think that’s good. (I also appreciated what they didn’t show … it could have been much more graphic in its depiction, and I’m glad it wasn’t.)

  12. On a MUCH lighter note: I adored Edith’s dress at the party. Gorgeous!

  13. Glad to read Downton posts again; I’ve been looking for them. (No pressure!)

    Anna is so sweet but resolved. She married a man who arrested for killing his wife and then , in a very level- headed manner, plowed ahead to have him freed- without flinching.

    Not sure about you, but Fellowes is dismantling any romantic notions I harbor of bygone eras in an escalating fashion.

  14. Elisabeth says:

    Here in Norway we have already (before Christmas) watched the last episode of the season you are discussing here,and it IS a good one! Can’t wait for the next one! There is a Christmas special this season,too,like in the previous season,and I guess you guys’ll get to watch that one,too,eventually. That one is REALLY good! And don’t you all just LOVE Maggie Smith in this role? Her comments are just to die for! Btw,did you know that she has won more awards and honors than ANY other British actress,ever?