Downton, First Footman Edition

Another interesting week on Downton, and I actually found it more compelling than last week for reasons I really can’t explain. There were just some engaging themes, I guess, and fewer interactions shrouded in secret. This week was just…better. It might not be Grantchester, but it was good.

For starters, everyone needs a relative named Shrimpie. I mean, I do anyway. It’s just a great name. Thanks for being you, Shrimpie, and for the joy you brought me last night each time your name was mentioned.

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Amazing name aside, Shrimpie’s storyline was actually very compelling. Unhappiness in marriage, divorce, changing of the times with attitudes about divorce. Or not. Maybe Shrimpie doesn’t care that he will be shunned; he’s ready to be happy, which is a new thing for him. Is it a new thing for other married folks? Why can’t he just live separately like his daughter suggested? He needs to be free. His wife must be a real jerk.

Speaking of love, I did think it was interesting that Rose articulated her feelings on love (a big theme recently in the show, I’ll take it) and how she’d rather be alone than marry the wrong person. Was that Rose, or maybe Mary? Anyway, it’s a theme that was covered last night and perhaps a trend in feelings of the time. Were people starting to examine how they felt about love, was there more freedom in that area, versus simply being told how things were going to go down.

On that note, I’m sorry but I absolutely loved Violet’s recounting of her almost-tryst (or maybe it happened?) with the Russian and how her husband gave her a framed photo of their children. Reality check. A lifetime of happiness and devotion versus chasing “in the now” feelings. It’s something every married couple needs to acknowledge, that the concept of soul mates is great until you start feeling the inevitable ennui (everyone does, many get through it) and that just because things aren’t always operating at 110 percent in the Wowzah Marriage Department doesn’t mean you’ve made a mistake. It also doesn’t mean you need to wreck a family for what will ultimately be something you can get through if you set your mind to it. I just loved her practical approach to the situation and maybe the lesson was she wasn’t free to “follow her heart” but you get the impression her willingness to her commitments in the end served her (and all her loved ones) best. The Dowager Countess, For The Win!

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Speaking of love, YES. I loved Lord Merton’s proposal and how he clearly explained where he was coming from. Not from a place of loneliness or desperation, but a place of love. It was a sweet little moment and I hope Isobel makes the right choice (meaning I don’t know if he’s genuine, he seems to be, but if he’s the Real Deal I hope she finds love and joy with him). What do you think?

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And now let’s talk about Mary and how she just got herself in a fine fix. Okay, full disclosure: I’m all for her breaking up with Tony. Hear me out! Hear me out. If Tony is going to be a dull life partner, better to find out now than a month after the wedding. And yes Mary did a very bad thing and now Tony is going to make her pay. So she’s getting hers, for breaking the moral code. But let’s admit that the actions of their pre-honeymoon honeymoon are done and shouldn’t mean she’s locked in to anything…I feel really morally bankrupt for writing that. But it’s true.

Can we give Cora some discussion here? The thing is…last week Cora felt useful. And you saw the joy in her as she showed off the art collection and enjoyed her time with a man who (yes we see what’s coming, he’s a weasel) is giving her attention and making her feel special, wanted and necessary. I finally caught on after about the third encounter how Cora is trying to be a part of the land development decision and is continually shut out by her husband and daughter. Last week, in the scene with the gorgeous orange wrap (I was distracted by the wrap last week and had to re-watch to catch the dialogue) she was talking about how wonderful it was, during the war, when she was “running everything with Barrow” and the girls were helping in the hospital. Her life had meaning and purpose, and now it’s back to just ambling about her day. She needs to start getting involved. What should she do?

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It was basically Fashion Week in Downton and In Real Life, such a fun comparison (yes, I follow Fashion Week…I need to know how to dress for my weekly outing to the local Mexican restaurant with friends). So fascinating that it’s basically the same? You are writing down what outfits you plan to wear next season. Exactly like my life. I could seriously relate. (Insert Target weekly flyer pics here).

Thoughts on Bunting (according to my handwritten notes from last night, and I quote): “Ugh.” “She is so short.” “Dang I can’t stand her.”

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I thought for a brief moment Bunting had redeemed herself. Daisy’s moment of clarity was beautiful, “I have choices, interests, facts…” and I was all “Oh Miss Bunting I’ve misjudged you.” And then she just would not let it go and ruined dinner and I love that Mary kind of ganged up on her with her dad and I wish there would have been some kind of beat down.

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(If these feelings are wrong I don’t want to be right.)

And of course, Mr Molesley doesn’t seem to be long for the First Footman world. Are they trying to run him off? And what is Thomas addicted to? Is it time to start feeling sad? These and other questions will (hopefully) be answered in the coming weeks.

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Comments

  1. Mary Kate says:

    You basically articulated everything I said or felt during last night’s episode (on Bunting: word-for-ever-loving-word.).
    I, too, thought Thomas was on heroin or something, but when Baxter asks him if he’s continuing “some sort of treatment”, I began to wonder if she’s on to something. Can he just go away please?

    Also, very obvious that Gillingham is going to blackmail Mary. Oh well, them’s the breaks! 😉

  2. Ok, so, the only reason I’m thinking this is because I’ve heard many interviews/reviews about The Imitation Game lately (thought I haven’t seen the movie), but could Thomas be perhaps pursuing chemical castration?? It seems like he’s given up on love and would do anything, even self-punishing, to make his thoughts/feelings go away.

    I don’t even know if it was around in 1924, but in the movie it was apparently used in around 1950s England. It does seem almost too coincidental that I’d never heard of it until the last week or two and then bam! there it is (might be) on the show, but it fits.

    • I think you are onto something there. I was thinking he was trying out some sort of “conversion” therapy, but perhaps that wouldn’t involve medicine. Your idea seems more logical.

    • Oh my gosh. That’s going to make me feel so sad if that’s the case. But an interesting look at the way those kinds of personal “issues” were handled back then…

  3. Double standard Tony. He wanted to check her out and see if they would be yuck- “good together,” but can’t imagine she found him failing in that department. Modern themed week indeed!
    Bunting- ugh! I hope she leaves that house and doesn’t come back. How many times does she have to be uninvited?! What nerve! No manners at all.
    Too many questions. What is with Thomas? Is Edith going to kidnap the baby? Will we meet Susan soon? What did Charles mean at dinner…is he hinting he is still interested? But not terribly interested. What will Isobel decide? What is Anna doing? Sigh!

  4. Bunting – hate her! She’s the worst. And poor, poor Edith – that whole thing with the baby is breaking my heart. Can’t something good happen to her for once?

  5. I want Edith to just come out and tell her family and take her daughter back.
    I want to never, ever see Bunting again. How can Tom – whom I really like – be attracted to someone so rude.
    Still love Daisy. Loved that Lord Grantham supported Mrs. Patmore.
    I was a little taken back by the scene at the Peter Pan statue. Can he control her like that? I suddenly found him to be a creep and a little scary.
    I was also thinking that Thomas was trying to stop his SSA in some way. I don’t hate him like a lot of people do.

    • I feel like Thomas is moving in a likable direction, like starting to show some humanity. But everytime he gets close, something goes down. Maybe this time he can stay likable…

  6. I love your reviews! I want to just punt Ms.Bunting off the show. And she and Tom have zero chemistry. I feel bad for Thomas. He has never known love in his life, or so it seems. I think he is sick and injecting medication. He doesn’t want to lose his job. I know how awful he can be…but I don’t hate him. I’m glad Mary won’t marry Tony. I never trusted him. Violet is my absolute favorite character! She has the best dialogue!!!

    • Violet consistently wins for best lines, for sure! If Bunting somehow stays on the show, we better see a complete change of personality. She is driving us all NUTS.

  7. I agree. I think Thomas is going for something to take away his SSA. It’s been hard on him since Jimmy, a true friend, left. Let’s remember that we’ve met Shrimpie’s wife, Susan. She was that ghastly woman who stole away O’Brien (not that I was sorry to see her go). Susan was very critical of all things Rose and treated her servants terribly.

  8. Tony was really starting to scare me in the park there. When a man simply won’t accept that you are breaking up with him, my inner alarm goes off. That’s the kind of guy you get a restraining order on. I have always been on Team Charles Blake anyhow, and last night just confirmed that in spades.

    Miss Bunting’s character is clearly there to force Tom into a choice — leave the family, or stay? — but it would be so much more effective if her character were likable! I gave her the benefit of the doubt for a long time, but just couldn’t after last night when she was so hostile yet AGAIN.

    Not sure why I didn’t consider “Shrimpie” as a name for either of my boys. Missed opportunity.

    • Haha! Maybe use Shrimpie as a nickname. That would be AWESOME. Especially if one of the boys ends up really tall…

      Yes, I agree about Tony. That was scary. And I don’t like how he just led her away after their discussion. I hope Mary figures out how to stand firm in all this…

  9. I have to make an observation about Rose. Last season she was kind of flighty and immature. But, now she is really one of the most like-able, authentic characters. You know who she reminds me of? Sybil. Why? She’s not afraid to ‘get her hands dirty’ by volunteering to help with the Russian refugees. She doesn’t seem to see or feel bound to the boundaries of social structure…i.e. she has been the one to invite Ms. Bunting to dinner so often (albeit a poor choice). And, as you mentioned in your review, her desire to marry for love and not be bullied into a ‘suitable’ match.

  10. You know who I’m feeling for? Lord Grantham.

    He’s doing his best to keep the roof over their heads, and he can’t seem to catch a break from anyone. He’s taken in Rose, and she keeps insisting on inviting Miss Bunting to dinner. Rose knows he can’t stand her, and knows Miss B. can’t stick a sock in her mouth for love or money. Yet she continues to initiate the idea of inviting her. Girl, just stop that.

    Lord G. was forgiving and generous after Daisy (GO DAISY) made her speech; and again in apologizing to Tom later. And he was as kind and wise as could be (with the facts he had) to Edith. And he agreed with Mrs. Patmore, and told her so. He’s just not that bad a guy.

    As for Cora — well, you know. Beeeeee careful, Cora!

    Nobody’s ever accused him of being a sharp businessman. But to reject the idea of building poorly constructed housing for maximal profits — well, that’s OK, right? So: is it possible to build solid, attractive, affordable housing? (The eternal question, right?) I’d love to see a plot development there.

    I’m surprised the dog still follows him.

    • Hahaha! Good Ol faithful dog. Poor Lord Grantham. At least he’s not being seduced by servants. That was NOT COOL to watch. I’ll take this over that season. And I agree, was very proud of him for standing up for the kind of development he wants for his land.

  11. Kaitlin @ More Like Mary says:

    I agree with you about Mary. Just because she made a mistake with the hotel week, doesn’t mean she has to make another one and marry the guy. Tony really made me angry with his reaction. His original suggestion to Mary about the week was clearly meant to convince her he was the one. She wasn’t expected to already KNOW he was the one. He’s back-tracking on his original offer and acting like it’s her fault.

    I hope Ms. Bunting is never seen again.

    And I agree with Claire about Lord Grantham!

  12. Kaitlin @ More Like Mary says:

    And i’m torn on the Edith situation. This little girl has an adoptive mom who loves her! Edith needs to think about that and what’s really best for the little girl.

  13. I think the jilted Lord Gillingham and the murder mystery plots are going to intertwine eventually. As we saw a glimpse of in this episode, Anna has caught the police’s interest. I think the truth about the rape is going to come out, she will be the likely suspect, Mary will plead on her behalf to who else? Tony. But the poor scorned fellow is just going to throw her to the wolves in order to get his revenge on Mary.

    Or, Anna will be charged with murder and Bates will have no choice but to admit his guilt in order to save her from going to prison.

    • Woah! I like the intrigue… we shall see! Hopefully it won’t take Julian too long to let us find out…

    • You called it.

      Lord G, one of my favorite characters in the past, is really being dismissive of Cora. At least once per season, the scales seem to fall from his eyes and he begins to appreciate her for the beautiful, stalwart wife she is. My guess is that he will wake up and realize that she has an eye for beauty and ask her to design the new housing development which will turn out to be tasteful and profitable. Go, Cora!

  14. Catherine Carlson says:

    Thomas has AIDS maybe or some other kind of STD? That was my first thought.

  15. I am pretty sure Thomas is going through chemical gender change. If you look closely at the magazine he got really upset about Baxter reading, it was an ad for “a change” if you’re not happy. Yikes. I didn’t know they had such a thing back there.

    Also, I have very little respect for Edith. How dare she even think about taking the child away from the family that has already bonded to her. I hated it when she did it to the Austrian couple. And now she is doing it again. Very selfish. Can you imagine that happening to you? She made her decision to give the baby up now she has to live with it. But I’m grateful she didn’t abort.

  16. While Edith made a decision, an argument can be made that she did not make a free choice. She was coerced by her family, the times she lived in, the cultural norms. You can tell that all she really desires is to raise her own child. I wish someone in her life would let her grieve the real loss she is experiencing. If someone accepted her feelings and thoughts and didn’t try to shut her down when she cried or expressed concern or remorse, perhaps she’d begin to head down the road of healing or at least make peace with the outcome.

    She is living with the consequences of her actions and I have compassion for her character as it’s taking a heavy toll. Eventually, she’ll have to stick with her original decision or take her and raise the baby at great cost. In real life, Edith and Marigold would be socially ostracized and live in deep poverty. Let’s see whether our pal Mr. Fellowes churns out a miracle and we find ourselves watching a scene in which all 3 babies are playing in the nursery together. Final episode, season five?

  17. I would like for Mr. Fellowes to focus on a few interesting story lines and follow just those. Each person in the ensemble does NOT have to be the star of his or her own minidrama. Some actors can be “supporting” cast.
    The drama would be much more interesting for the viewer.

  18. How do you like that 30 minutes of forced hilarity that now follows DA on GPTV before Grantchester starts?