Downton Abbey Season 4, Episode 8: The London Season

February 23, 2014 @ 8:33 pm | Filed under: Television

My previous Downton Abbey recaps are here.

downton abbey season 4 christmas special
Cousin Oliver’s big day

If I enjoyed screencapping more, I would turn this into a fashion blog and do nothing but rhapsodize about this week’s costumes. What an eyeful we got! Alas, I lack the vocabulary, not to mention the fortitude.

In lieu of gown-swooning, then, let’s talk plot. This is the supersized Christmas special, so there’s a lot of ground to cover. Here we are in June 1923, with the gang heading to London for Rose’s long-awaited presentation at Court. All season we’ve seen Rose chafing to be free to be out and about in London society—you know, as opposed to the dull life she’s been leading up till now, going to jazz clubs and sneaking off to float down rivers with her secret boyfriend—and all season Cora has chirped at her to be patient. Well, it looks like Rose has survived the wait without scandal, despite the way the season has pretended her reckless disregard for social norms was bound to lead to catastrophe. Not only do we have nary a whiff of scandal, there is absolutely no mention of her erstwhile fiancé, Jack Ross, nor the broken heart she might have been supposed to suffer when he, for her own good, broke off the brief engagement last episode.

Eight months have passed since the Jack Ross adventure, during which interval Edith and Rosamund disappeared to Geneva and Edith has “come back looking more tired than when she left,” in the kitchen staff’s opinion. Of course we know what the staff does not: Edith has had her baby and is now sadder than ever, wishing she could have kept her little girl. She is not exactly enthusiastic about the London trip, envying Tom who gets to stay behind for a couple of days—he has an estate to run. He’s expected to show up at Rose’s ball, though. I mean, someone has to bring Lord Grantham his dog.

The staff flap around in a frenzy of preparations. Mrs. Hughes is going up to London to run the house there, and Daisy will join Mrs. Patmore and Ivy, who went up early to prepare for the eleventy-thousand people they’ll be cooking for all week. This means Daisy has been left in charge of Downton meals for a few days already, a nicely subtle reminder of how competent she has become these past few years—skills that will take center stage later in the episode.

Nearly all our main belowstairs players will join us in London; only Thomas is left behind to boss the assorted unnamed housemaids and underservants. A bit boring for him, really; what’s a conniving villain to do without anyone to scheme about? He sends a not-very-cryptic and completely unnecessary message to Miss Baxter via Daisy (“Tell her I’m looking forward to her stories”), for which Daisy rewards him with her best are-you-daft look; and then I’m afraid it would have been a dull week for Thomas if he hadn’t suddenly remembered that he passionately hates Tom and resents his unwarranted rise to “Sir” status. WHEW. For a moment there I thought Thomas might actually have nothing to do but enjoy some down time. If an evil underbutler snarls in the forest where there’s no one to hear him, does he make a sound?

Daisy, a volcano of excitement about going to London: “I don’t care where I peel potatoes.”

Edith visits Violet, who attempts sympathy for Edith’s feelings, trying with what I thought was rather endearing forthrightness to talk about the baby. Edith snaps at her for saying “it,” not “she” and smacks her down for Violet’s feeble attempt at cheering her up. Edith, listen, I’ve been in your corner for a really long time, and your situation is genuinely tragic, but here’s the one person at Downton who knows why you’re in pain, and you’re biting her head off. She’s trying, which is more than you might have expected her to do.

mrspwMeanwhile, the rest of the family is demonstrating equally charming manners. Robert whines about having to go to London; Mary sighs over the impending arrival of the “American contingent” (Cora’s like, Hey, that’s my mother you’re talking about); and then Cora completely loses her mind and suggests that Edith and Mary might have to share a room in London. Mary: “You’re joking. I’d rather sleep on the roof.” I’d give anything if only Cora could call in Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle at this point. Chapter 12, The Insufferable Sister Cure. “Oh, I know just the thing,” Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle said. “Take a blanket and pillow up to the roof, and make up a nice little bed for Mary and my pig, Lester. He has the loveliest manners.” After all, we know how inspired Mary is by Pigs.

Well, I’m with Cora. All this kerfuffle! Get out the door to London, already! They haven’t even made it to the car yet, and already Rose is pestering to go out to a club that night. “Your niece is a flapper. Accept it.” This from Mary, that famous progressive.

But at last, they’re off, and the stragglers can quiet down—except for Isobel, who is surprised by a visit from Lord Merton, hinting that he’d like to be her date to Rose’s ball. Isobel doesn’t plan to go—”not my natural habitat”—but we can make short work of this plotline. She’ll decide to go after all, because it’s tradition. Not her tradition, but the Downton Granthams are her people now, etc. I’m feeling a little sad about Isobel this season. She’s a wonderful character, somewhat wasted. All season we’ve seen a penduluming relationship between Isobel and Violet—they exasperate each other, but they look out for each other nonetheless; and since neither one of them seems inclined to be a hands-on grandmother, they’re left without much to do except keep each other’s blood pressure up. But since Violet’s other foil, Cora’s mother Martha, will promenade into the scene as soon as we hit London, Isobel becomes something of a shadow again. You’d think Martha—so loud! so vulgar! so American!—would make Violet appreciate Isobel’s merits, but we’re denied the fun of seeing a three-way snipe-fest between them.

LONDON AT LAST. The flappers head to the Embassy Club—Rose and her friend Madeleine Allsopp—and immediately bump into Madeleine’s father, an impoverished baron, hanging out with his good buddy the Prince of Wales. This is the future King Edward VIII (David to his family and friends), and he’s here at the club with his mistress, Mrs. Dudley Ward—Freda to her friends, and “My vewy vewy own precious darling beloved little Freddie” to the Prince. No, seriously. You see why it was so imperative that his letter not get into the wrong hands. Freda Dudley Ward and the Prince had an affair from 1918-1923 and remained close even after it ended, right up until he started seeing Wallis Simpson in 1934 (for whom he abdicated the throne in 1936).

Well, it turns out the Prince is fond of Rose’s father, good old Shrimpy, who hosted him in Bombay last year. Freda thanks Rose for perking up her grouchy date, and just like that Rose has some new friends.

BACK AT DOWNTON, Tom doesn’t want to make any trouble for the servants, which irritates Thomas no end. I mean, obviously, them’s fightin’ words. Gloves OFF. Or they would be, if Thomas wore gloves—what do you think he is, a footman? You want to be on his hit list, too?

Tom bumps into his new friend Sarah Bunting again, just in time to introduce her to Violet, whom I absolutely love to see peering from a car window. You can totally picture her peering from carriage windows with the same lofty distractedness, fifty years earlier. She takes little notice of Sarah and calls Tom “Branson” again by mistake, catching herself with an endearingly fluttery, “Oh, I mean Tom!” Sarah decides to take Tom up on his offer of dinner, and then all but goads him into giving her a tour of the house. Tom is terribly uncomfortable about it, feeling that it isn’t entirely appropriate, but he can’t take Sarah’s teasing. He does live in the house, after all; isn’t he allowed to have his friends over? HELLO, not when there’s an Evil Underbutler out to get you. Of course Sarah wants to see the view of the gallery from the top of the stairs—the bedroom stairs, Thomas will make a point of calling them to Lord Grantham later, when he rats Tom out.

downtonchristmasshirley

LONDON. Edith arrives at the same time as her grandmama and Uncle Harold. Uncle Harold is Paul Giamatti! This ensures I will love him even if he’s despicable. But it seems he is not despicable, that Teapot Dome business notwithstanding. “It should’ve worked.” Uncle Harold is cynical, picky about his food, wary of fathers on the prowl for rich sons-in-law, and inclined to take a dim view of his own charms. But he’s got a sweetly sad manner and is frank without being embarrassing (unlike his mother). Of course if Martha’s on screen, we hardly notice anyone else. It’s obvious Shirley MacLaine is having a blast with this role, and I’m glad, because playing it with that kind of over-the-top relish is the only way Martha’s character is made tolerable—otherwise she’d be such a cardboard stereotype of the Pushy American with Terrible Taste. MacLaine imbues her with a sense of humor and self-awareness: yes I know I’m ridiculous, I like it that way.

Uncle Harold has a chatty valet, Ethan Slade, whose American accent will make you wince. (It’s even worse than Jack Ross’s.) And boy howdy is he American! Pronto! You bet! He meets Daisy and is instantly smitten, for no reason at all. Well, he did mention that you have to have skin like a rhinoceros to work for the Levinsons. Daisy’s cold stare doesn’t faze him a bit. (“Are you excited?” “I’m never excited.”)

Carson has been charged with thinking up a nice outing to reward the harried staff at the end of their London stay. His ideas—visiting the “new science museum” or Madame Tussauds—exasperate Mrs. Hughes, because they’re apparently all boring from top to bottom. Rather than just come out and tell him what everyone will like (a visit to the seaside), she sticks a picture postcard at his eye-level and waits for him to be struck with the winning idea. After trotting out all sorts of eager suggestions to an unimpressed staff, he finally suggests the beach trip, at which point Mrs. Hughes jabs that it took him long enough to get there. Okay, this makes no sense at all. If it’s so important that he come up with the idea on his own (as suggested by her postcard ruse), why let him know she had something in mind all along? I love Mrs. Hughes, I really do, but this is not the first time this season her behavior has perplexed me.

And it happens again in the Bates plot. Anna donates Bates’s old coat to a cause Mrs. Hughes is collecting for. Mrs. H. finds an incriminating ticket stub in the pocket: York to London on the day Anna’s attacker, Mr. Green, was killed. EIGHT MONTHS AGO, remember. Let’s not linger too long on what it says about Bates that he has hung on to a damning piece of evidence all this time, like a trophy. He knows it was in the pocket because he’s very upset when he learns Anna gave the coat away without letting him go through the pockets first. He fixes his Sinister Gaze upon Mrs. Hughes, clearly suspecting that she suspects something. And here’s where Mrs. Hughes confounded me again: she shows the ticket to Mary, then gets very distressed when Mary contemplates turning Bates in. Then why tell her in the first place?

Robert’s all glum that Tom hasn’t arrived, and Cora coos because she thinks that’s sweet, and Robert’s baffled: “No, I mean he’s bringing Isis. I miss her.” HIS DOG. Best laugh of the night.

Another night at the Embassy Club. Rose is “tiddly,” to potentially disastrous effect: she blabs about a secret letter Freda has in her handbag, a tender missive from the Prince. Naturally the scoundrel Sampson (the card shark from earlier in the season) takes the opportunity to filch it. It’ll make him a tidy sum with the foreign press. When the news ripples back to the Grantham clan in the days following, they spring into action. Robert is a monarchist, for Pete’s sake! No relative of his shall be a party to bringing scandal upon the Royal Family! A very elaborate plan is hatched, involving a decoy poker game, a decoy theater outing, a forged letter (good old Bates!), and a secret search party in Sampson’s flat. Both of Mary’s fellas are in on the plot, and Charles is just so pleased that Mary reached out to him in a time of need.

Alas, the search is a bust: the letter isn’t in the flat. Back at the house, Bates puts two and two together and pickpockets the letter from Sampson’s coat right under everyone’s nose, because he is a master criminal. Brilliant forger (who sits brazenly in the servants’ hall doing the forgery he’s supposed to have contracted out to a friend), silken touch, can bump a man into traffic in front of hundreds of witnesses—is there nothing he can’t do? I’m starting to have second thoughts about Vera’s arsenic pie.

His pickpocketry saves his bacon, because Mary is so grateful for his loyalty to the family that she tosses the incriminating train ticket into the fire. All’s well that ends well.

In between the letter’s loss and its recovery, we had that tiny little diversion of Rose’s Presentation at Court. Gowns to die for. The King makes conversation with Rose—good old Shrimpy again—and Rose acquits herself admirably. But that is just a shadow compared to her success at her coming-out ball. With the dangerous letter safely back in Freda’s beaded purse, the Prince of Wales is in Rose’s debt. He crashes her ball and asks for the first dance. “If she’s not the belle of London society after this,” remarks Robert, it’s not his fault.

All week, Madeleine’s father has been pushing her at Uncle Harold, while daddy himself is making a play for Martha. Both Americans see right through the ploys and rebuff them with good humor. Harold actually winds up connecting with Madeleine, and they become friends of sorts. Meanwhile, Harold’s valet has made his own play for Daisy, offering her the chance to come to America and be Harold’s cook—after all, he adores her delicious fish mousse. Daisy declines, but is tickled by Slade’s interest. Ivy jumps at the opportunity since Daisy doesn’t want it, and everyone winds up happy. Daisy even smiles, which is how you can tell this is a season finale.

The season ends with a reason for Edith to smile, too. All along she’s been pushing back at Aunt Rosamund, regretting giving her baby away to that nice Swiss couple. And now that news has come at last of Michael—it seems he clashed with some Nazis in Munich (a “gang of toughs” who “wear brown shirts and go around preaching most horrible things”). We still don’t know if he’s dead or imprisoned. Edith has power of attorney over the magazine, and she may inherit his personal property as well. She feels very strongly that his daughter ought to have a share of that, and while the London crew is still recovering from the ball, she slips home to Downton and makes arrangements with Mr. Drew, the reliable farmer and new pig man. Drew agrees to raise the baby (her “friend’s” baby, but he susses out exactly what the situation is) as his own. Edith will get to watch her little girl grow up. This was the bit that made me feel most eager for next season.

I’m afraid Mary’s double romance, which is supposed to have been the dominant arc of this season—What Will Mary Do?—has left me rather flat. I like Tony, I like Charles, I don’t like watching Mary string them both along. I know she keeps trying to shoo them off, but never very convincingly. And now she’s got them fighting for her—”Let battle commence”—and, well, I keep thinking of the day one of my daughters complained about another: “Mom, she’s smugging again.”

What else is left to wrap up? Thomas bullies Baxter for more sssssecrets, but Baxter has drawn strength from Molesley’s kindness and decides to take her chances with whatever leverage Thomas has over her. Listen, look at Bates and Thomas—at this point a shady past is practically a requirement for new Downton hires.

And so the tide goes out on Season 4 at the seaside, with Carson and Mrs. Hughes holding hands and wading into uncertain waters. “We’re getting on, you and I,” she tells him companionably. “We can afford to live a little.”

The primary task of every character this season was to decide what world to live in: the old pre-War England, or the new. Robert has clung to the past like a toddler clutching his mother’s leg. Even Carson has accepted change with more dignity than his employer. Thomas, too, seems stuck in a past built on pecking order and rank. I wondered if his trip to America would open up new prospects for him, but it seems he came back more hidebound and bitter than ever. He wants esteem in the old order, and it’s fading away before he can climb to the top of his ladder. Cora seems to be fading away right along with it; she’s much less vital a person than she was during the war. Violet may not approve of all the ways in which society is changing, but she’s rolling with the change much more amiably than might have been expected, and I didn’t think Martha’s barbs about “your world is ending, mine is beginning” were entirely fair or accurate. Violet is accepting social change tolerably well; it’s Martha’s style she objects to, and her idiom. And her personality. And her face.

Mary has decided to orient herself toward the future for the sake of keeping Downton intact for her son—and that’s an interesting twist on progressivism. She’s open to new ideas only because she wants to maintain the status quo. It’s a nice little paradox and I’d like to see Mary grapple with that problem rather than her question of whom to marry whenever she feels like marrying again. But in the end, it’s the outliers I care about—Edith and Tom.

Season 4 • Episode 1  •  2  • 3  • 4  • 5  • 6  • 7 


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Comments

20 Responses | | Comments Feed

  1. And Molesley–I care about Molesley!

    I thought there was a nice parallel between the two rather sad men, Molesley and Harold.

  2. Great recap! Two thoughts on my mind about this season:

    1. Why did Jack Ross need an American accent at all if his family had been in England since the 1790’s? Is it just because all jazz singers have American accents?

    2. I hate how they try to throw Isobel & Violet together as the “old ladies”. Isobel should more rightly be Cora’s peer.

  3. I love that you brought in Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle and Lester! I often think of Lester during mealtimes with my very own Littles… sigh.

    I was a bit perplexed about Edith’s scene with Mr. Drew. Was he choking back tears?

  4. i have been trying to remember who was the farmer Edith had a brief fling with back in season 2, i think? It wasnt this Mr.Drew, was it? It was when she was first driving and used the driving excuse to meet him in his barn.

    I too feel like some of these characters are so much flatter than they were. Is the writer concentrating on pushing the plot to a certain place at the expense of developing the characters more fully?

    I do think the over arching theme for this whole series is the new vs old.

  5. Well, I think Edith can be up for Downton Mother of the Year. She had her baby, stayed longer abroad than she had to- presumably to nurse her daughter- and now is going to fight for her. She seems to have gotten all the maternal genes Mary missed. Or maybe Mary is fighting for George in a different way… via the estate. And hey- she did hold him at the Church bazaar for at least one second on screen.
    Was Michael sent off to jail by the Brownshirts? That is a feasible story line for that particular time in history. It will be interesting to see how that plays out next year.

    Tom… I don’t like Miss Bunting, maybe because her dresses are so ugly. Or maybe it’s just time for Tom to have a new story line, not another repeat of “I’ll tease and badger you about your life until you do something you regret.” It just doesn’t ring true that he had not seen her for months, bumps into her in the village and then invites her to come look around the house late at night. Wouldn’t the house be better seen in the daylight? But it’s also true that Thomas must have a reason to be dastardly, and with the family gone, this was his only shot.

    The dresses! I am just jealous. Nothing too tight, too clingy, no bra straps flapping in the breeze…
    They all look so comfortable in their gorgeous clothes. And it’s amazing how a beautiful hat can make anyone look glamorous. Maybe that is why modern women are so stressed and grumpy- we all have to wear clothes from Old Navy that are too long and skinny, only moderately attractive at best (and that is debatable), and we don’ t even get to wear a smashing hat, even now and then. If we do , we are just seen as “Out There” or “Bohemian” or even “Just like that, don’t pay any attention to her”. Sigh.

    I liked the American valet, even if he was really Boy Next Door from the good ole USA. He was fun- I liked his Carson encounters. And I liked Uncle Harold. He was refreshing and could laugh at himself- always good.

    I have to admit I was disappointed that Mr. Drake really is “one of us”. I suppose it was inevitable, though, as I really don’t think Mary would consider him seriously for long if he was “one of your lot”.
    I am still Team Tony- he is just so handsome and up front. Poor Evelyn… off in Paris, his chances dwindling away.

    My favorite scene of all was the family in the drawing room plotting to get the missing letter back. It just reminded me of the Scooby Doo gang, somehow- there was even a dog! The gang was goes off to find the missing letter…. and then can’t you just hear Mr. Sampson saying, “And I would have gotten away with it, too, if it hadn’t been for you meddling kids!”.

    And really- could no one figure out that Mr. Bates is an expert forger?

    Anyway- it was fun to watch, and I loved the ending at the seaside. Daisy looked pretty in her dress- not so hardbitten for once. Mr. Carson and Mrs. Hughes holding hands- priceless!

  6. If What will Mary do? was the main story arc this season, it was pretty weak. And the old vs. new thing was extremely unsubtle. I would have preferred seeing the Prince of Wales story line brought in much, much earlier and making that this season’s story. They could have still used a lot of the same characters and scenarios–the card shark, certainly; the Anna rape story, Bates redeeming himself for possibly murdering the rapist by saving the royal family. (Hmm. Is saving the Royal Family worth letting a possible murderer go?). The “I am a Monarchist” thing could have come in much earlier and fit in with their old vs. new theme. There would have been a real story for the season. The Prince of Wales business done in one episode had a kind of Keystone Kops aspect to it.

  7. **must read** npr has a column on Edith. She actually is empowered by the end of the show. Bless her heart.

    http://www.npr.org/blogs/monkeysee/2014/02/23/281597407/oh-lady-edith

  8. I could have done with more of the young women throwing themselves at rich Paul Giammati storyline, too. The most interesting things all season (except for the pig interlude) happened in the final episode and were rushed through.

  9. Finally got a chance to watch it tonight. I wish I could have something witty to say, but today is my birthday and A) I’ve eaten entirely too much sugar, and B) it’s my first birthday since finding my birth mother a few months ago…Lady Edith’s story just has me speechless and sad. For a mother who wanted her child, having to give it away is more tragic than you could imagine, even more so if she nursed it for several months. I don’t blame her for biting the head off Violet even if she was in her corner. As for everything else, I agree with you, and love, as always, how you said it. :)

  10. I enjoyed this episode for the reasons I generally enjoy the show: locations, fashion, little bits and pieces from downstairs. I loved the scenes at court. Always love Isobel and Violet.

    As for Edith, I’m pleased she is empowered, but can’t help but think it’s a little to late – the child has been accepted into the heart and home of the Schroders in Geneva. How hurtful to remove her now, and then place her with another surrogate family … and who knows if the plot will have her daughter moved once again? But … this is a British Soap Opera, after all.

    Mr. Drake was the farmer that Edith helped by driving the tractor. Also Mr. Drake had the serious ailment (dropsie?) that Isobel fought to relieve in the 2nd episode.

    I think Mr. Drew did tear up at the plight of Edith – and what a wonderful gesture to help her in such a generous way.

    I love Mrs. Hughes and Carson – and loved that they ended on that happy note of stepping into the water. Another picture of stepping into the future, perhaps.

  11. So who dresses Lady Edith? Is that a maid who’s off camera? Or does only the first daughter get a lady’s maid and the others have to dress themselves?

  12. I wonder if the ticket in Bates’ jacket was a memento of his going down to London to bury his mother? One would keep such a thing. Was there a date on the ticket? Did anyone else think of T.S. Eliot (another American in London) when Carson and Hughes waded into the sea?

  13. LOL- I guess that Lady Edith’s maid has to sleep on the roof.

  14. If it were a poignant keepsake from ma’s funeral, would it merit those supremely dirty looks he was giving Mrs. Hughes and Mary? And couldn’t he have explained to Anna why he was upset she’d given away the coat? No need to be cryptic if it’s a keepsake you don’t have to cover for.

    I think the weird timing comes down to ‘this is television.’ 8 months had passed in the Edith storyline, but the Piccadilly murder suspicions are as fresh in Mary & Mrs. Hughes’s minds as if it had just happened. And Tom’s relationship with Miss Bunting is exactly where we left it. Not to mention, if it’s been 8 months since the Teapot Dome scandal, Martha’s dragging Uncle Harold to England to “put a little distance” between him and scandal doesn’t make much sense! Also, how many of our Pigs have we sold and/or eaten by now?

  15. I’ve been wondering about Lady Edith’s lady’s maid, too. On some DA discussion, somewhere online, someone commented why couldn’t Cora just dress herself for a while rather than being so desperate for a new lady’s maid. Well, the clothes for the upper classes probably required a lady’s maid. I put on my “Jane Austen dress” to wear to a “Colonial Tea Dance” a while ago. This was the first time that DH was at work and DS was off at college when I needed to wear this “period” costume, and I couldn’t get it on by myself! Had to go kind of half-dressed and get one of the other moms to do the buttons and tie the ribbons I couldn’t reach! That said, Lady Edith seems to be getting along on her own somehow. Maybe Anna sneaks in to help her :-)

  16. I figure Edith has a lady’s maid, for certain, but she simply doesn’t figure in the plot. One character too many, maybe, in the writers’ eyes! (Which is a pity: a lady’s maid would for certain know about the pregnancy and baby. There’d be no way for her not to know).

  17. Ellie, I agree, I think another lady’s maid must have seemed one character too many for the script to juggle. She’s what I think of as ‘necessary invisibles’ in film and fiction—characters or events that would bog down the action too much if paid any attention. (In plot the most obvious Invisible is the need for a bathroom…you almost never see characters in the middle of a quest worrying about where they’re going to go. ;) As a child it sometimes puzzled or annoyed me, since it seemed like such a vital question. Which is one reason the question pops up in Prairie Thief, actually!) If we saw Edith’s maid, we’d have to fit her into the car sometimes, and yes, there’d certainly have been the tricky issue of the important secret she’d be privy to…poor Thomas, missing out on the gossip of the century all because Edith’s maid is an invisible!

  18. Hee! When the girls were waiting to be presented at court Madeleine whispers to Rose that if she needs the loo, all there is is a chamber pot behind yonder screen!!

    This season was such rough-goning, wasn,t it?! I am so tired of Mary and her beaux, i mean, i just don’t care, at all. Obviously, i dislike Mary, so there’s that. But it’s also tiresome, i think, to have a girl with so many men. And she’s so cavalier about it. Obviously thinks it’s no more than her due … As a plot, it has little interest, for me.

    Edith i’ve always had a soft spot for … This, her baby, losing michael … Thisw asn’t easy for me to watch. It hit too many of my own sore spots, no matter how much of a soap opera it has become. I am glad she was able to bring the baby to the estate, however covertly.

    My son and I were discussing, the most realistic storyline would have been for her to confess all to her parents and then the only course of action would be her and Tom having a marriage of convenience. As it is … What a painful situation, with only granny and auntie in the know. And the pig farmer. Awful, really.

    I almost don’t want to mention Bates at all …. Keeping the trophy ticket all this time, being angry with Anna, telling her on the beach he just wishes he’d had the chance to clear his pockets …. I do wish the storyline had gone otherwise — he could have gone downstwirs after Anna, checking on her with her headache, found her being attacked: he could have killed the valet in a blind rage. And then it would have been …. Bury the body in the garden? Or he goes to trial and is acquitted? But this way, the premeditation, keeping the ticket, having this hanging over the characters and viewers …. Ergh.

    I quite liked Howard and Madeleine! We were rooting for them, funnily enough. Perhaps that story isn’t over.

  19. Wait, is it Harold or Howard? Sorry, whomever! :-)

  20. My friend Darron and I have been entertaining ourselves by cooking up plots for a new show starring Uncle Harold in America…featuring Ivy as cook, of course, though I’m afraid I’ll have to axe that nice Mr. Slade because I can’t take his terrible American accent. Tom marries Sarah Bunting and they bring Sybil to New York, where they’re constantly clashing with Martha who of course has opinions about what’s best for her granddaughter. Do you think Harold loses all his money in the Crash? Tom can open a little mechanic’s shop, I think he’ll be all right.

    I’m also yearning for Downton: The Victorian Years. Only I want it to star a young Maggie Smith, aged 35 or so—and Carson exactly the age he is today, because he’s always been that age.