Sunday, January 27, 2013

Stop Whining and Find Something to Do

Get out your shoulder pads and sparkly dresses! It's time for Dynasty Downton Abbey! Julian Fellowes has got his mojo on in this episode, so get out your newfangled electric toasting ovens and let's make some brioche! Carson is passing out envelopes to each member of the staff. Party invitations? Don't be silly. Those poor SOBs downstairs only get to have a party when someone hands them a sock. It's mail call. Once again, Anna hasn't gotten any letters from Bates.  We learn that Bates also isn't being allowed visitors, so we get to play the game of, "Who is unfairly picking on Bates now?"

Isobel has a letter from Ethel for Mrs. Hughes.  Mrs. Hughes asks after Ethel and learns that she's become a prostitute, which is not something we say at Downton Abbey. Isobel says "prostitute" with such relish that she really makes up for the lack of its utterance in other quarters.

Poor people sometimes have to make humiliating choices? Shocking!

Carson wants to know if he can now hire more staff since the influx of Matthew's capital. JobCreatory McInheritancepants wants to know if that's really necessary, and there's subtext that maybe what Matthew wants to do with his take in the estate is eliminate some positions. 

More after the jump.

At breakfast, Spinster Edith reminds Robert and Matthew that she's not married. But she is SO over Strallan. Oh, look. Those adorable Americans are giving women the vote. How jolly of them. Robert thinks these silly females have the vote, and Edith reminds him she doesn't since she's not over 30 (but she's #foreveralone) and doesn't own property. Robert tells Edith she sounds like Sybil. At least he doesn't have to worry about her getting married at all, let alone someone beneath her socially. Ha! Matthew tells Edith to write to the Times and she says she thinks she will. Robert reminds Edith of her place and tells her to ask her mother if she needs any help with their "toffee-nosed" (his words) archbishop dinner guest.

(History hour: In 1918, Parliament passed an act giving the vote to women who were over 30 and who owned property, were the wives of men who owned property, occupiers of property worth more than £5, and graduates of British universities. Edith is quite right that she doesn't qualify.)

In breakfast is the most awkward meal of the day news, Carson tells Anna she will be officially promoted to Mary's lady's maid once they hire a new maid. They will also be taking on a footman and Thomas is hopeful it will be the footman of his dreams. O'Brien has been putting her machinations to good use and wants an assurance from Carson that Alfred will be first footman. Thomas tells Alfred he looks like a Weasley, and then Mrs. Hughes and Carson talk semi-privately about Mrs. Hughes's letter from Fallen Woman Ethel.

Upstairs, Mary is converting the nursery into a sitting room. Matthew mentions Mary has been to the doctor. She's not preggers, just sneezy. Matthew is eager to hear the pitter-patter of little flippers feet, but Mary's body language indicates she doesn't have much interest in breeding.

In old maid news, Edith's outfit is SO DAMN CUTE. At least bitch has some good clothes. She talks to Granny about a potential hobby for her. Turns out that, shockingly enough, there's not much to do at Downton. Granny reminds Edith that she's smart and has "reasonable" abilities, SO STOP WHINING AND FIND SOMETHING TO DO. (The official slogan of the British Empire from 1915 to 1939 until the Blitz began.)

Downstairs, Mrs. Hughes catches Anna crying.  Anna says nothing is wrong, she's just crying because she's so happy to be Lady Mary's maid at last. No, really. She reveals she hasn't heard from Bates. Mrs. Hughes reassures Anna that she's sure Bates isn't just being gallant and trying to set her free. (Bates? Gallant? What?)

Meanwhile at the Bastille, Bates is honing his newfound penchant for crocheting flour sacks. (His other hidden talent: underwater basket-weaving.) Bates has been reported as a violent prisoner because he gave his cellmate a wedgie. Bates learns his mail has been seized, so that's the end of that worry. But at least he can carry on playing some malicious game of "find the shit I hid in your mattress" with his cellmate. Good grief.

Back at Downton, Carson is helping Alfred learn about bouillon spoons! Bouillon is not the same as soup! This is super-secret footman knowledge and Thomas doesn't like it being revealed to just anyone.
Over at Isobel's, Ethel wants Mrs. Hughes to write to the Bryants to ask them to adopt Charlie. No surprises there. Isobel's maid Mrs. Bird does not take kindly to handing prostitutes their coats. 

My people haven't suffered through multiple generations of degrading physical labor to suddenly be nice to the unfortunate, you know.

In mysterious phone call news, Sybil calls Downton and leaves a cryptic message about flats and being all right, leaving Edith about as confused as she was on her wedding day. Cora and Mary are wearing matching tiaras (Edith doesn't get one because she's not a pretty, pretty princess) and Edith gives them the message. There is brow-furrowing.

Branson manages to interrupt dinner yet again. He's on the run after attending meetings with some Fenians where attacks on the Anglo-Irish were discussed and now some compatriots have sort of attacked Lord and Lady Drumgoole's estate.  But it's sort of okay because Lady Vi thinks the house was totes hidz. Robert is Fed Up with Branson and he’s now going to have to go to London to pull some strings so Branson doesn't get arrested. Class warfare FTW.

Downstairs, Carson does not like electric toasters and sheltering dangerous revolutionaries.

The next morning, there is MANCAKE ready in the kitchen. There's a new applicant for footman and his name is Washboard Abs. Actually, his name is Jimmy. Washboard Jimmy used to work for a cougar dowager countess, and Carson hints during the interview that he's a manslut. Hello!  Hey. O'Brien ain't made of wood. Neither is Mrs. Hughes. Thomas is of course smitten. You see, the thing Thomas likes about footmen is that he keeps getting older, but they stay the same age. 

Yup. No way that I'm a romantic plot point in development.

Speaking of sluts, Ethel brings Charlie to meet his grandparents. Okay, I have to digress here. I am heartless and devoid of a functioning maternal instinct, but damn that kid is cute. Lots of things changed after the war, but Mr. Bryant is still an asshole as well as a stalker and has been having her followed. Unsurprisingly, he slut shames her for being a prostitute. Lady Bryant, who is a really sweet lady, tells Ethel they're prepared to offer her some money. Isobel encourages Ethel to take the money and keep Charlie with her, even though it won't be enough to send him to Eton and Oxford. In the end, she decides to give Charlie to the Bryants, and Lady Bryant promises to write to Ethel. Ethel really doesn't have many choices here. She's ineligible for a widow's pension because she wasn't married to Charlie's father, and with no money, no education, no social connections and no social welfare programs in place at this point in history, girl is SOL. It really is up to Isobel now to find some way to personally help Ethel out of her predicament. 

I want to make a snarky comment but...just...<sob>.

Sybil arrives at Downton and she and Branson make out in the entrance hall. Ah, l'amour.

Daisy's finally accepted William's father's overtures of friendship, and she visits his farm. She asks her ostensible father-in-law if it's all right for her to like Alfred. Mr. Mason is totally cool with this and encourages Daisy to tell Alfred how she feels.

Matthew informs Mary that he's been looking through the estate's books. Turns out, not only is Robert a bad investor and a terrible father, but he also sucks at managing his estate. What Robert does have going for him is connections, and Branson's punishment for his gangsta activities is that he is banned from returning to Ireland. During dinner, Edith reveals that she did in fact write to the Times and Lady Violet chastises her. Why shouldn't she? Lady Sarah Wilson was a war journalist. Because, my dear, she's a Churchill. The Churchills are different. As we learned in the last episode, the Churchills do things like get divorced.

Carson sees smoke and figures it's Branson trying to set the house ablaze. Nope. It's just Mrs. Hughes trying out her new rinky-dink toaster. Branson is too busy with his newfound marital problems to bother with pyromania. Turns out, Sybil didn't take too kindly to Branson's attending Fenian arson parties. Branson tells Sybil that he can't stay at Downton, and she tells him that he must.  So, it's entirely likely that he won't and will, in the grand tradition of Irish rebels, get his ass shot.

Come come! Earl's Daughter Speaks Out for Women's Rights. It's in the Times! Robert told Edith that they wouldn't print it and they did. In your face, Pappy! Matthew supports Edith and tells Robert he will, too, when he stops PMSing.

Down in the kitchen, Daisy's long-awaited kitchen maid arrives and she steals her man! Well, Alfred's not her man. She was going to tell him how she felt until that skank arrived. Alfred's smitten with the new Miss Ivy Stewart, and Daisy realizes that she's just been demoted to the Friend Zone.

As for Anna and Bates, they both get their letters. They read them. Etc. Going by the preview for next week, it looks like there might be some resolution to the Vera murder mystery. I know! It was Mrs. Patmore in the wine cellar with a candlestick! 

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