25 January, 2011

Downton Abbey, Part III

Talk about Upstairs, Downstairs, there was drama aplenty both above and below the stairs.

Love is in the air down in the servant’s quarters. This week the housekeeper had dinner in town with an old beau. She was The One Who Got Away from him all those years ago, and he was now a widower who still had friendly feelings towards her. He reproposed. She was tempted, but in the end felt that her place was taking care of the upper crust.

She explained her decision to Carson (no decision may be taken in the house without Carson's approval) by saying something that I think was the theme for this week, that we grow and change, and you can’t really go back. She was no longer the kind of woman who would consider being a farmwife enough to satisfy her.

Sweet William, the Good Footman, expressed an interest in escorting Dumb Daisy, the kitchen maid, down to the Fair in town. Full of Spite and Malice, Gay Thomas asked her to walk out with him. She was dazzled by the invitation, and agreed immediately. Gah, William just stood there like a stump! The Cranky Cook tried to warn Daisy that Thomas “wasn’t a ladies’ man,” but she was so careful in her approach that poor, stupid Daisy didn’t understand a word she was saying. Daisy spent most of the episode making sheep’s eyes at Thomas and mocking William. William is tormented, but too sweet and wholesome to do anything about it. Bates threatened to punch Thomas’ teeth through his skull for general asshattery, which was the point when I fell in love with Bates.

Thomas and O’Brien snuck and schemed, and managed to maneuver Daisy into telling Edith that Mary had hauled  Mr. Pahmuk’s dead carcass back to his room. O’Brien realized that it would only be a matter of time before Edith used this information against her sister, who she hates with the white hot heat of a thousand suns. It’s not that there is anything wrong with Edith, she is pretty, she’s just not as pretty as her sister. She’s also tormented with a terminal case of jealousy.

Anna and Bates continue dancing around each other, doing the “I like you” minuet. When Anna is sick, Bates brings her dinner on a tray, and he helps her make up beds when Gwen fakes a fainting spell. Finally, Anna comes out and asks: “I like you. Do you like me? Check yes or no” Bates is forced  to tell her that he is not free to love her. Aagh, more heavy hinting that he has a terrible secret and is not free to declare himself. Since I am more than halfway in love with Bates myself, I am just gasping to find out what his secret is. A mad wife living in the attic? He’s actually a woman dressed up like a man? He has a social disease? His meat and two veg were shot off in the war? Curious minds want to know.

Red –haired Gwen goes on a job interview but isn’t hired. I think she needs to do something about her broad Northern accent. She's attractive and can apparently type. Heck, she has her own typewriter (!) She keeps wanting to give up, but Sibyl won’t let her quit looking. I think that Sibyl is living vicariously through Gwen, she would love to attend school and have a job, but her job as a lady of means is to look pretty, dress for dinner, marry a boring man, and have some babies. She does exert some sort of independence by purchasing and wearing a daring trouser outfit and reading suffragist pamphlets given to her by Daddy Earl’s Handsome Irish Driver.

Gay Thomas and O’Brien are stealing wine. Bates knows about it, and now the Diabolical Duo are more determined than ever to get rid of him. The cook is going blind, which we find out when she salts a dessert rather than adding sugar. I’m hoping she just needs glasses, because the future for a blind cook does not look rosy.

Last week Mrs. Crawley, Cousin Matthew’s mom, got one over on Dowager Dame Maggie Smith on the matter of the hospital. This week, Her Dameness gets hers right back. Mrs. Crawley is swanning around diagnosing people without benefit of medical school, and she decides her son’s valet has Hand and Mouth Disease, or something like that. When the Dowager is able to show her up in front of the Valet and the Doctor, she is sourly triumphant. The Valet (and I) were thrilled to discover he was just allergic to Rue!

Next  Dame Mags and Mrs. Crawley have an ongoing argument over whether it is fair for her Dameness to always win the Best Bloom contest at the Village Flower Show. It’s tradition that she gets the Best Bloom award for flowers her gardener grows, even though the NOT- Hoof-and-Mouth Valet’s Olde Dad grows bee-you-tee-ful roses. Roses that are so lush and lovely that Titania, Queen of the Fairies, has dresses made out of them. That doesn’t matter though, Dame Maggie Smith ALWAYS wins, because the committee is too afraid of Dame Maggie to NOT award her the prize. This year though, in a moment of kindness, she awards the prize to the Olde Dad and his magic roses. Yay!

Dame Maggie gets in several digs about Americans this week. Just keep talking Dame Mags, in about four years you and the rest of the country will be glad to see us “over there”.

The big question that all viewers are wondering about the Upstairs is whether Mary and Cousin Matthew  are going to get together and when it will come out that Mary bonked Mr. Pahmuk to death and covered it up with help from Lady Cora?

We finally see some signs of humanity from Lady Mary. She asks Daddy Earl why he won’t fight to break the entail so she can have some inheritance. Every time her Daddy Earl talks about Cousin Matthew, a vein in Mary’s temple practically bursts. Lady Cora tries to explain to Mary that rumors have begun to circulate that she is not as pure as the driven snow, unless it’s snow that has been driven over the dead body of Mr. Pahmuk. Mary acts like a complete mutton-head and insists that she won’t marry Cousin Matthew because everyone wants her to. She won’t marry the old man her mother wants her to because, well, he’s old and boring, and she just WON’T. Lady Cora, wondering why she didn’t drown Marsha and Jan at birth, reminds her that her life has been pleasant up to now, but if everyone finds out what a harlot she is, things could get ugly.

Lady Mary is having a BAD WEEK. She’s mad at her mother and father. She is sort of starting to like Cousin Matthew. She is just hateful to poor Jan Edith. When asked to be nice to the older guest who her mother would like her to marry, she acts like a spoiled brat and is very rude to him. Edith comes to the rescue and exerts herself to be pleasant to the gentleman. Just to prove she can, Mary then ignores Matthew and throws herself at Edith’s new friend. Matthew leaves in a huff, and Edith grimly heads upstairs to start a nice, newsy letter to the Turkish Ambassador about dead Mr. Pahmuk.

Fade to black.

1 comment:

  1. Whoever owns the copyright to "Mrs. Miniver" needs to sue the crap out of Julian Fellowes, because he completely stole that whole flower show/rose story from that movie plot. If Cora goes to London and buys a new hat next week, I'm calling the British intellectual property police and reporting Julian for his plagiarism.

    Also, I'm pretty sure that whole salt/sugar plot came from Upstairs/Downstairs.

    Changing the subject, I'm just wondering what the contents of that letter to the Turkish ambassador are? Food for thought.

    I have discovered that you can buy the episodes from iTunes for $3.99/hour. It's only Dave Ramsey that is keeping me from buying the last two sections!!!!