We bid you welcome to our weekly blog, Downton Abbey Devotees. We would be remiss if we did not caution that Downton Abbey secrets, even gossip, will be revealed in below writing. We are concerned the revelations may trigger a splenic attack for those unfortunates who haven’t seen the new episodes. Perhaps they should depart forthwith?
Genna: As Joni Mitchell says, you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone. I have spent the past four episodes hating on Sarah Bunting non-stop and, now that she’s leaving for good, I’m reconsidering. Everyone’s least favourite socialist schoolteacher made innumerable scenes at the Downton dinner table, but when she bids farewell to Tom Branson, we learn they really did love each other. Almost all that romance took place off-screen, which is a real pity.
With her farewell speech, Miss Bunting made me realize we’ve come to know unlucky Edith, sharp-tongued Mary, Luddite-loving Robert and the wisecracking Dowager Countess so intimately, it’s easy to forget their lifestyle is inherently quite villainous. If I were seated with that gang of leeching, freeloading, lazy-sod social Darwinists, I probably would have had some harsh words for Lord Grantham, too.
Patricia: Whoa there, fellow DAD! Bunting may have been in love with Tom Branson (who isn’t?), but Tom really, really wasn’t in love with her. Just witness the unreturned kiss given by Bunting to Branson as she left for the train station. Yikes, no romance there.
“You despise the family but my wife was one of them,” he said earlier. “Where does that leave me?” Thanks to the militant schoolteacher, he has remembered that he’s really a socialist at heart, but his old firebrand persona is tempered, now he knows the upper class really isn’t evil.
Genna: Uh-oh. It turns out that at The Farm Where Nothing Could Possibly Go Wrong, things can, in fact, go wrong. Ahem, I told you so. Edith can’t resist bringing Aunt Rosamund, keeper of the big secret, down to the farm to meet the little girl. Big mistake. Foster mama Mrs. Drew thinks Edith is using the child as a plaything and that she’s after the (irresistible?) pig-farming Mr. Drew. And she finally blows her top.
I perked up when Rosamund, in her plea to Edith to send Marigold to some ghastly French boarding school, describes the situation as “infinite danger to your reputation with no emotional reward.” This set off some anachronism warning bells. Did people subscribe to the concept of personal emotional well-being in 1924? It seems like a thoroughly post-1960 notion to me. Can any pop-psychology historians out there help me out?
P.S. Who named the kid Marigold? Was it the Drews? No one has said, I don’t think. Did Edith strategically name her something distinctly un-aristocratic as an extra layer of insurance against suspicion? Also, Marigold?!
Patricia: If it comes to a fight between Lady Edith and Mrs. Drew, I’m doubling down on Edith. Sure, she was totally depressed throughout this episode, but she’s developed a tough persona after years of attack by big sis Mary. She’ll whine a bit before figuring out how to kick ass. Jut remember how she started a writing career and hooked up with Michael Gregson.
Genna: Rose, in the course of her good works, meets a dashing young Jewish boy. And so begins what I think will be a very intriguing romance indeed.
I have strong feelings about Atticus Aldridge. Atticus Aldridge is the character Downton has been waiting for. Something about him reminds me of Prince William at his peak dreaminess circa 2002: the jaunty, slightly offset nose, the sweet, earnest manner and adorable shyness toward Rose, the impeccable manners . . . I could go on. Suffice it to say he’s got more charisma in his gallantly umbrella-wielding left arm than the rest of the cast put together. Sigh. Obviously, I believe Matt Barber is destined for greatness. Why isn’t he the star of everything? Seriously, I think he has the potential to be this generation’s Colin Firth. Oh, my, he would make a fantastic Mr. Darcy . . . or Mr. Knightley . . . or Mr. Tilney . . . I’m sorry, I’ll stop.
Patricia: For the second time this episode, I’m looking at my fellow DAD with concern, if not a touch of alarm. Sure, Atticus (with a name like that, even I couldn’t call him Aldridge) is staggeringly handsome and seems to be “the right guy” for Lady Rose, but I’m not swept off my feet by his charisma. In fact, he’s rather bland in this episode, a situation not helped by making him a banker starting a new job in London, a.k.a. a long ways away from Downton Abbey. My estimation of him would grow by leaps and bounds if he were to whisk Rose into his arms and off the show.
And how dare you compare him to the best Mr. Darcy EVER! Atticus may turn out okay, perhaps better than all right, but, right now, he’s more Matthew Macfadyen than Colin Firth. Seriously.
Line of the episode: Tom: “Why do the rituals and the costumes matter so much?” Dowager: “Because without them, we would be like the wild men of Borneo!”
Patricia: Talking about rituals, is anyone else sick of the Bates Murder No. 2 plot? Is homicide the only plot line available to Bates and Anna? Can’t she get pregnant, and then we can all worry for nine months? Or can he reinjure his leg? So when Bates told his wife, “I promise you that nothing bad is ever going to happen again,” you know that’s a lie. Sure enough, creator Julian Fellowes is again going down the criminal path, and this episode makes it clear that, instead of Bates, it’s Anna who is the focus of police attention. If this plot redux doesn’t end soon, someone needs to go to Downton Abbey and kill Bates. With his own cane. In the shoe-polishing room.
Genna: My offer to murder both the Bateses myself if this plot continues to stand. Also, re: Atticus, you’re wrong.
Patricia: On a much happier note, is there anyone alive who isn’t enjoying the romance between Isobel Crawley and Lord Merton? Oh right, the dowager countess. But then, her machinations backfire massively when she invites Dr. Clarkson to a lunch with the lovebirds so the physician, in love with Isobel, can point out the aristocrat’s flaws and break apart the couple. Merton charms Clarkson by, of all things, chatting about goiter and iodine deficiencies in the countryside. He may be a rich aristocrat, but he’s one who likes change, something Isobel Crawley adores. Score: Merton 1, dowager countess 0.
Coming up: There’s no way Isobel Crawley’s and Lord Merton’s slow stroll down the aisle will be uneventful. Just please, please don’t let there be a murder.