Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Going to the Chapel of First World Problems

Lady Gillian returns to give us more Downton Abbey recapping goodness!

Hello, English lit doctorates! Good thing your shift at the bookstore ends at eight so you can be home in time to catch Downton on PBS at nine! That Ph.D. was a good investment after all!

Downton is prepping for the Edith/Strallan wedding. It will be less of a swanky affair than Mary's wedding, since the Crawleys don't love Edith as much as they love Mary. Down in the servants' hall, Thomas and O'Brien flirt exchange barbs. Thomas approaches Moseley about his friend's daughter, who is looking for a position as a lady's maid. Moseley would like to get her in as a lady's maid so she won't have to debase herself by being a house maid. Thomas wants to be helpful and tells him a "secret" about O'Brien.

Cora and Robert are in the study discussing how they're going to about selling Downton. They have land near Durham and they intend to move there to a smaller house. They decide to go visit this tenement that they're likely going to be moving to. Moseley tells Cora he wants to put forward a candidate as O'Brien's replacement when she leaves the Crawleys' service. As in Thomas is playing him like a fiddle. Cora's taken off-guard and the Crawleys are most aggrieved. It's so hard to find conniving help these days.

Matthew has a case of sadface on so we know he's thinking about all the money he has to inherit. Again. If only there were other young men in Britain one could leave one's millions to. Unsurprisingly, Mary is Downton Crabby with Matthew still about his unwillingness to share his good fortune with the rest of the family.

Modern-day audiences will no doubt empathize with having so much money that you can afford to reject the offer of a free country estate out of principle.
More after the jump!

Meanwhile downstairs in the servants' hall, house-elf Daisy is asking Alfred about why he liked Shirley MacLaine's maid, Miss Reed. Alfred responds that it was because she was outspoken. Last week as we recall, Daisy was on strike. This week, she's likely turning feminista to attract the notice of one Alfred the Footman.

Carson tells Mrs. Patmore he thinks it's time they lessened Mrs. Hughes's workload.  His Spidey sense was telling him that Mrs. Hughes had been tested for cancer, and Mrs. Patmore accidentally confirms his suspicions.

During cigars and brandy, Robert talks with Strallan. Strallan says he will do his best to make Edith happy. Robert says he's happy Edith is happy and he's happy Strallan intends to keep her happy and he's happy about the happiness but no, he's not happy about it, actually.

Edith and Strallan have five minutes on their own. They spend this romantic interlude discussing the Duke and Duchess of Marlborough's scandalous divorce! (Actually happened IRL!) Edith is happy because she will finally have someone to control take care of. She tells Strallan she wants him to be her life's work. Yikes.

Lady Isobel is teaching the hookers how to sew. Why, it's Ethel yet once more. She's still a hooker and she doesn't want help. Well, she does want help, but not for herself. Clearly, it's baby Charlie she's coming about. And she leaves again.

In Agatha Christie news, Yorkshire lass Anna is asking about Vera in Vera's old neighborhood. Vera's neighbor Mrs. Bartlett takes agreed-upon funds from Anna and calls her a trollop. Anna, who is a lady's maid, thank you, and has manners, continues to question her. Mrs. Bartlett tells Anna that Vera was afraid of Bates and is pretty positive that he killed Vera.

Bates is in prison walking in a chain-gang circle. I'm not sure what kind of hard labor Bates has been sentenced to, but it's apparently an existential exercise in boredom. Yawn.

"Who am I? 24601!"

The Downtonites go on a picnic to look at their potential new home and OMG IT IS A SHACK. Branson points out the obvious to Sybil that it's a palace to most people. You'd think Sybil would have figured that out on her own, but nope. Isobel thinks it's unfair that Edith will be married by the regular vicar instead of the archbishop they had at Mary's wedding. Edith says she doesn't mind. Sure you do, Edith. Sure you do.

Away from everyone, Matthew reveals to Mary that Swire wrote a letter to each of the potential heirs. Matthew hasn't opened the letter. Well, why would he? It might contain some valuable information about why Reggie would name Matthew as a potential heir. Best to just burn it and continue flagellating himself.

After returning from luncheon at Downton Hovel, Isobel asks Mrs. Hughes about an address for Ethel, confessing that she's "fallen into a bad way" and Mrs. Hughes, worldly lady that she is, understands the situation completely. Now Ethel's a whore for realz.

Bates rummages through his bed looking for whatever his cellmate put there. The guards have been tipped off that Bates has some contraband. I don't remember what Bates's cell mate's name is – I think it's Bubba or Tiny or something – but this plot feels recycled. Bates doesn't have to deal with Thomas's scheming directly, so he has a cellmate who acts like Thomas. Way to shake things up, Julian Fellowes!

Upstairs, Cora clears things up with O'Brien. Turns out, no, she had no plans to leave actually. Cora then confronts Mrs. Hughes about her illness, which she heard about from Carson. Cora tells her that they will look after her, no matter what. Mrs. Hughes is clearly touched and rather surprised by Cora's offer. She doesn't dote upon the aristocracy like Branson does, so she clearly wasn't expecting them to look after her during her illness.

After dinner convo involves making the best of Edith's marriage. Then Sybil makes things awkward by saying that Edith likely won't get much sleep on her wedding night.

Vi: "Vulgarity is no substitute for wit."
Sybil: "Well, you started it."          
Oh, snap.

In the servants' hall, Moseley apologizes to O'Brien and O'Brien learns Thomas started the rumor.  She silently vows to Get Even. Also, instead of being dragged to the altar to pity-marry a gassed William, Daisy and Alfred have an "I kind of like you in that way" thing happening and it's CUTE AS HELL.

In the Mary/Matthew love nest, Mary read the letter! Before she died, Lavinia wrote to Reggie after she tried to call off the wedding. After she died, Reggie changed his will to include Matthew so he would inherit in her name. Reggie knew Matthew wasn't in love with Lavinia, but named him as a potential (and unlikely) heir for her sake. So, you see if it only it weren't for the serial killer running around and killing everyone who stands to inherit before Matthew, this wouldn't even be an issue.

Making a rare appearance in the servants' hall is Lady Mary. Her ladyship asks the staff if anyone posted a letter for Lavinia on the day she died. Someone must have mailed it for her. They all say no. So of course it was probably Daisy. Annnnd, a moment later, Daisy enters and confirms it.

It’s time for another wedding! Edith's dress might be worse than Mary's but I could be wrong. Mary apologizes for being a bitch (she's got money now so she can be nice!) and wishes Edith luck. Lady Violet comments that Strallan looks tres miserable. Oh, no. Strallan's thrilled. That's his O face. As in OH MY FUCKING GOD. And then Oh God! Epic wedding FAIL. He says he can't marry her! In front of like everyone! He says he can't let her throw away her life. Oh, but she wants to! Please let her! PLEASE DON'T LEAVE ME!!! Robert rather weakly tells Strallan it's too late. The shit hits the knave and Lady Violet intercedes and tells Edith to let Strallan go. Strallan runs! Can he run? Well, maybe it's more like he walks briskly.

Edith – who can actually run – runs into Downton and up the stairs in tears. As an additional dramatic gesture, she flings off her veil and it floats all slo-mo past the banister and falls to the floor. Symbolism! She throws herself onto the bed like she's Scarlett O'Hara and cries. (In an ironic twist, I think some of the Plain Jane make-up they put on Laura Carmichael rubbed off amid takes and she looks prettier having hysterics than she does when Edith is perfectly calm.)

In happier times. Like, five minutes ago.

Cora, Mary and Sybil follow Edith into her room. Edith expresses her bitterness and rightly so. Sybil is married and pregnant and Mary is married and probably pregnant (FORESHADOWING) and so she tells them to get out. (In Scenes We Didn't See: Anna is ordered to burn Edith's tween romance novels.)

So what's going on here? Strallan said in the premiere that Edith had "given him his life back." He likes her but he doesn't like LIKE her? Is he still in love with his dead wife? Or is he giving her up because he knows that her family is unhappy with the match? In the former case, he's a douche and in the latter, he's a coward. Pretty sure Edith can do better. At least Branson wore his morning coat without any protest.

Meanwhile, Robert and Violet. There you are. Keep Calm and Trust Julian Fellowes. Robert unfortunately doesn't see that he has a role to play here because he's just grateful Strallan is out of his coiffed hair. Based on Edith's comment at the beginning of the episode that, "Finally something in this house is about me," it's obvious she's never been at the forefront of the Crawleys' concerns. Clearly, Edith did not receive enough attention from Robert and Cora while she was growing up. Otherwise, she wouldn't be throwing herself with reckless abandon at a man old enough to be her father. What will Edith do now? All of the inheritance-prone emo hotties in the area are married to Mary and all of the politically-minded chauffeurs are married to Sybil. She might have to look outside the Crawley box for a boyfriend. Or maybe follow Isobel's lead and, like, get a damn job or something.

On the other hand, Mary and Matthew are having the Best Week Ever. Matthew tells Robert he's going to take the money and they don't have to leave Downton. That perks him up a bit. Robert says he won't take the money but he will allow Matthew to invest in the estate and they will be joint masters of Downton.

How can we help Edith? Well, let's stuff our faces with the wedding food so she doesn't see any of it. At least we're all dressed properly for dinner this time. Also, the servants downstairs are having a yummy dinner. This is the best jilting ever. At the servants' table, Alfred says that Edith can do better and that what Strallan did was a dick move. Mrs. Hughes quite agrees with him. Carson will allow trash talk of the nobility just this once.

The next morning, Edith is hoarding cats crying in her bed. Anna asks Edith if she can bring her anything. Edith responds with, "A different life."  How about an arsenic pie? Edith accepts her role as a useful spinster and hauls her broken-down, arthritic, 25-year-old body downstairs for breakfast.


In catfight news, O'Brien lets Thomas know she is a-plottin'. Thomas lets O'Brien know that he is a-plottin'. Just get drunk and have repressed sex already.

Isobel shows up at Ethel's house where one of Ethel's – ahem – clients is just leaving. A disheveled Ethel answers and Isobel tells Ethel that she's come to help her. Ethel says she's beyond help, but baby Charlie cries in the background. So, it's probable that Ethel will ask Isobel to take Charlie to his grandparents' house, whereas she was reluctant before.

Mrs. Hughes finds out the results her tests and it's not cancer. Carson expresses his happiness via polishing silver. He's very happy Mrs. Hughes is well and sings a little ditty involving the lyric, "She stole my heart away." You may all commence Carson/Hughes shipping starting…now!

But who's going to eat all this cake?

1 comment:

Maggie Cats said...

Two things:

1) I want to hug Moseley.

2) the song that Carson sings at the end is called "Dashing Away with a Smoothing Iron" and I actually sung it in one of my choral groups in years past! It's a traditional English folk song...sort of a whistle while you work kind of deal.