Downton in the City

downton crewWhat a season finale! I loved it.

Romance! Costumes! High Drama! A ball, a murder, love percolating in every corner.

First off, let’s talk about that romance.

Relationships I Can Get Behind
1. Isobel and her noble suitor. It’s fun to watch. Though I hope the good doctor doesn’t get his feelings hurt. An interesting storyline for next season? Isobel marries up in the world and is now bonafide English aristocracy and can no longer set herself apart. Not that she does in a bad way, but her “station” has certainly been the thing keeping her grounded. What now?

2. Cora’s brother Harold and Madeleine Allsop. The most interesting relationship of the night. The writers did a nice job there. It seemed like an understandable situation and believable progression. I was actually rooting for those two. Maybe we haven’t seen the last of Harold? I hope not. I liked that it gave us a lot to think about in terms of unions and money and status — and how sometimes it worked out better than others.

3. Molesley and Baxter: that would be perfection. When Mr. Molesley addressed the obvious fear Barrow lords over Miss Baxter, well a new hero was born. Gone was victim Molesley, and we met someone with some real character potential. “You’ve made me strong,” said Baxter. Let’s watch this plot unfold!


Relationships I Cannot Get Behind

1. Mrs. Hughes and Mr. Carson: because… I just don’t believe it!

I’m all for them being happy but I just don’t see this going anywhere. What’s wrong with me? I should have been thrilled. I thought it was sweet, but I’m more for that being a “moment” than an ongoing theme. I guess I just need Mrs. Hughes to continue being the voice of reason and sanity for all the other people, places and things in the Abbey. No time for romance. We need solutions!

Relationships I Don’t Even Understand
Mary and her Men: don’t you think if you were sort of encouraging two men to compete for your affections that you would… pretend you didn’t notice the competition? I just don’t understand sort of announcing things as the Mary’s Games and encouraging the games to begin. That’s how we ended things last night and I cannot for the life of me figure out where this is going. I mean, besides the totally obvious place this is going. At this point, we have no real leverage with either fellow other than maybe I like one guys bangs slightly better than the other? They both seem equally nice and handsome and rich. How do we differentiate? How will Mary?

mary suitors

Moving right along…

1. Morals, morals. Here’s the thing: I could not for a moment believe Mary was going to rat out Bates. Okay, I know I’m supposed to be in support of a high moral code, but let’s just suspend reality for a quick sec and look at the facts: we are rooting for Bates, we have been conditioned to be on his side. We cannot for a moment be in favor of Mary going to a higher authority to share her suspicions. And can we back up a few years real quick? Back to the Days of Pamuk. It seems to me the way we make decisions in Downton World is having a firm grasp on who is going to get what based on station in life, nobilities and what looks good. Not on a higher moral code. I.e. we don’t talk about Pamuk being with Mary at time of death because it would destroy her life. And so, I think, it goes with Bates.

Okay, full disclosure: I don’t entirely agree with what I just wrote. But in some ways I do. And bottom line: Mary turning Bates in on her suspicions didn’t pass my stink test. Based on the character of Mary, I don’t think she would have done that. In real life I am imagining a servant would not have enjoyed the same kind of immunity. But we are talking about THIS show and THIS character. And anyway, in the end Bates saved his own hide by having a quick hand. Nice work, all around.

2. Here’s a crazy thought: what if…Edith was the daughter of ROSAMUND? Did anyone else pick up on Rosamund’s sadness and deep empathy for Edith? Not that she handled it the way Edith wanted her to, but she was so very committed to helping Edith. And yes, I’m still sad Cora is so oblivious. That was a great point you dear readers made last week. But anyway, I think Rosamund has been in this position before and I suddenly thought…what if?!

3. If the teacher is so down on the Crawley clan, why is she so determined to spend time getting to know Tom? Leave him ALONE. p.s. How did that work out last night with Tom and Lord Grantham? One of the boys walked in with a question right when they were discussing Barrow’s “accusations” so I missed if there was any resolution.

4. On that note, I was totally squirming when Tom was showing Miss Crabapple around the house, but also I loved the views. What a gorgeous home. And Tom stood his ground with propriety, though I wish he would not have gotten suckered into the situation in the first place.

5. The family loves Tom and is loyal to him.

6. Go Daisy! And go, Ivy. Go.

7. There was such interesting real life history tied into this episode. Very fascinating with the letters, which eventually did get leaked (but not on Lord Grantham’s watch!) and it’s true that Edward eventually made life very hard for himself, falling for Wallis Simpson (leaving Freda for another married woman). After that episode of Downton we can run and pop in The King’s Speech and work our way down a timeline.

8. Oh the high-jinx! So fun. Breaking and entering. Bamboozling a bamboozler. Kicking butt and saving face. I enjoyed every minute of it.

Best lines of the night:

“I’m too tired for an evening of second-hand emotions.” I will now use this as my official excuse when I’m not in the mood to watch TV.

“I’ll leave you to the delights of your soup.” This is exactly how Paul talked to me when we were courting.

“We came three-and-a-half thousand miles so we could change the subject.” Vacation is good for everyone.

Final thought: there seemed to be an overly-pedantic approach to the changing of the times last night. When Cora’s mother says to the Dowager, “Your world is slipping further and further away…” it made me wonder if the people were really so self-aware. Sometimes we don’t fully understand what’s going on until we are through it. Did the royalty of the time realize so clearly the changes coming down the pike? Did Americans? I understand they recognized that the War had greatly changed Britain’s way of life, but how fully did everyone grasp those changes?

And we end at the shore. Which is where everyone wanted to be in the first place.

What a beautiful season. I, for one, am a very gratified fan!

john bates



  1. Angela Weaver says

    I think some of them did see the times changing and tried to do something about it. I see that in literature from the time. Not all were forward thinking, but I believe they were in the minority. Just my two cents.

  2. I was anxiously awaiting your post today. I love reading your take on the show! you might be on to something there about Edith and Rosamund. wouldn’t that make for an interesting storyline! I just blogged today too on some of my thoughts about last night’s episode. I think it’s the first time I’ve ever blogged about a show. But Downton Abbey feels like so much more than just a show doesn’t it?

  3. I agree with every single thing! Everything! Great re-cap!!!!! I thought the same thing about Rosamund, that she had a daughter somewhere, but I never guessed it was Edith!!! Great thought. I hate that this season is over!!!

  4. If you think it through, whatever evidence they thought they had on Mr. Bates was purely circumstantial. Sure, he had motive. But they would be hard pressed to tie him to the deed. There didn’t seem to be any witnesses coming forward.

    I’m a little preoccupied with one loose end. Remember the patient claiming to be Patrick back when they turned the abbey into a hospital? He seems to have disappeared into thin air. My guess is that he’ll come back after plastic surgery and complicate things, either with Edith or Mary and her suitors.

    • I remember the cousin thing — that was from the second season, right? I wonder if it will ever come back into the plot thread or if it was just a one-season thing. You’re right; it never really seemed resolved.

    • I bet he’s hanging there like a loose end IN CASE they need him next season… but wouldn’t that be interesting!

    • Harold’s brother had the exact same squeaky voice as the fake Patrick Crawley. I’m going to google him to see if they’re the same actor. But that would be very strange.

      I’m glad Harold turned out to be more than a mannerless oaf. Martha is insufferable. Her non-stop “you people” blah, blah, blah is nauseating.

      Love Mosely.

      A reporter asked Jim Carter (AKA Mr. Carson) if there would be anything between him and Mrs. Hughes. He said it was possible, but that Mr. Carson would still insist on calling her Mrs. Hughes.

    • I’m betting Bates will be outed in Green’s murder. Someone saw him on the train, I’ll bet

  5. My favorite quote from the episode… Daisy: “I don’t get excited about anything.” 🙂

  6. I loved last night’s episode. I thought the contrast between English reserve and American frankness was so fascinating. My favorite moment (one of them, anyway) was when the chirpy American valet is talking up the hors-d’oeurves and Carson comes up to him with an expression of utter horror (probably because no one does an expression of utter horror as well as Carson). I laughed out loud.

    Totally agree that the thread with Cora’s brother and the young English lady was very compelling. I sort of want to see more of him next season; he is such a good foil for the Englishmen in the series. On a related note, I wanted to smack the Prince of Wales when he was so rude when Howard introduced himself. I guess to the Prince that was a serious affront, but come on, dude, lighten up! Not sure I’d commit petty theft for that prince.

    Mrs. Crawley has always been one of my faves, because I love how she speaks her mind so pointedly while beaming her big beautiful smile. Interesting that she seems to have found a fan in the lord guy (though I still like the doctor best).

    I also think Mrs. Patmore has had a nice chance to develop as a character this season. I think her maternal instincts toward Daisy are very sweet. She showed a lot of wisdom in recognizing that Daisy needed a little male attention.

    I’ve always wanted to grow up to be Ma Joad in The Grapes of Wrath. I still do, but if I grew up to be Mrs. Hughes instead, that would be pretty awesome too. What a great woman!

    • I loved the American valet. Thanks for mentioning him! I don’t know how he didn’t make it into my post but he was a FUNNY character. Maybe he and Ivy will hit it off…

  7. I LOVE your recaps! Ever since Edith confided in her dear Auntie, I’ve been waiting for Rosamund to ‘fess up. She’s shown SUCH compassion and empathy that I can’t help but feel that she’s beentheredonethat. And while I enjoy the attention Isobel is receiving from this new guy, I remain TEAM-DOCTOR-CLARKSON all the way! Sigh … Such a great show. I wish EVERY episode could be two hours.

    • It’s kind of odd how the doctor just dropped out of sight. I just hope it’s not another love triangle thing. It’s too much. I agree — wish they could all be that long. So great.

  8. We were talking about it at work…and Mr. Bates being the one that killed that guy just seems way too obvious, don’t you think? I agree that Mr. Mosely really came into his own this season. He was always sort of whiney, but I really like how he has been with Baxter. Anna seems back to her normal self.

    I must say that I really loved the dresses last night. For most of the whole series I haven’t been very enamored with the dresses–I think they make every woman on the show look like they are flat-chested and they haven’t been very flattering. But, last night I loved the dresses. Edith even wore a dress that had a sort of halter neckline and showed her shoulders.

    Never even thought of Rosamund being Edith’s mother…but, it works for me!

    Thanks for the great recaps this season! I share them with my friends at work!

    • That’s a good point about Bates. Maybe we are supposed to (obviously) believe that Bates killed that guy and at some point in the future the truth will come out and we can all rest assured he is innocent. Except I don’t think at this point anyone is too concerned. Which I know flies in the face of morals, etc etc etc. 🙂

      • hmmm remember the look on Mrs Hughes face when she confronted Green and he was an asshole? Where was SHE that day… But I still think someone saw Bates on the train that day.

      • I work at a Catholic college (that Danielle graduated from 🙂 ) and I was talking to one of the monks after the show aired. He’s a huge fan of Downton and we have conversations about the show. Anyway…he thinks Mr. Bates was definitely there when the guy died–but that he went up behind him, whispered in his ear, “I know” and the guy freaked out and jumped in front of the train in surprise. He also told me he “welled up” when Mrs. Hughes and Carson held hands! Everyone loved your idea of Rosamund being Edith’s mother. Hmmmm….

  9. Edith as really Rosamund’s daugther???!!!?? My mind is blown. I never thought of that. I did think that Rosamund had a child out there someplace, but not Edith??

    And, it’s incredibly pitiful and sad how oblivious Cora is to Edith’s plight. I mean, you think she would have at lesat suspected something!

  10. Oh, I love this! Finally caught up on Downton last night and rushed to your recap first thing this morning :). Love the idea about Rosamund being Edith’s mother– I, too, thought that she had a son or daughter out there somewhere, but Edith would really make sense. Now I am also feeling like the only one in the world who kind of likes the teacher, but maybe I just want Tom to be in a normal, happy relationship after Sybil’s death and that awful servant (what was her name?) who seduced him.

    I wanted to mention, on the topic of literature about the fall of the aristocracy and their reaction to it, there is a wonderful novel by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa that takes place during the fall of the Italian monarchies (specifically the Kingdom of Sicily) during the unification of Italy in 1861. It’s called “The Leopard” (“Il Gattopardo” in the original) and was made into a movie with Burt Lancaster that is also really great (talk about gorgeous period costumes!!). I think you would really enjoy the book– it is obviously a different location/historical time period, but does a really fantastic job showing what the aristocracy went through when the started becoming obsolete. Reminds me so much of this theme in Downton this season. Since you are a Downton fan and a fan of Italy, you’d probably really enjoy it!

  11. I am friends with “Downton Abbey Fan Club” on Facebook (please don’t judge me 🙂 ) and on Thursday they posted a picture of Mr. Bates–a TBT (throw back thursday)–my goodness he was adorable! He looked a lot like George Clooney.

  12. Bravo! Another stellar recap. So much fun to read! On the topic of Butlers hooking up with Head Housekeepers, have you ever read The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro? It’s an absolutely fabulous look at the relationship between the two posts, told in flashback by the butler. It was made into a movie with Emma Thompson and Anthony Hopkins but I’ve never seen it…the book was so incredible I was afraid to mar the memory of it by seeing the movie.