Saturday, February 16, 2013

Thanks Goodness Some Smiles for Residents of Downton Abbey

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Well thank goodness, some sun on the horizon for the residents of Downton Abbey, at least some of them anyway. If you haven't seen last Sunday's episode, you might want to stop reading now.


After the tragedy of Lady Sybil's death, the fights between Robert and Matthew over the future of the estate, and the tension over Baby Sybil being christened Catholic, everyone needed some cheering up.

Bates makes a quiet return to the estate, which is great news to everyone except Thomas Barrow, who will now be forced to step down as Head Valet. As we soon see, however, Bates's return is the least of Thomas's worries. After weeks of being fed lines from O'Brien that Jimmy appreciates Thomas's overtures, Mr. Barrow decides to act. He slips into Jimmy's room and attempts to kiss him while he's sleeping. Not only does Jimmy awaken, he's horrified. To make it worse, Alfred witnesses the whole thing.

As Thomas tries to explain to Mr. Carson, men like him have to try and read the signs, and he felt Jimmy was giving him those signs. While disgusted by the whole thing, Mr. Carson agrees to let Thomas go quietly with a good recommendation. Jimmy will have none of that. If Mr. Carson doesn't get rid of Thomas and provide him no reference, he'll go to the police.

Surprisingly, it's Thomas's nemesis Bates who comes to his rescue and gets O'Brien to call off the dogs; though ultimately it will take Lord Grantham's influence to squash the potential scandal.

I have to admit to not liking Bates much in this episode. Lord Grantham offers he and Anna a cottage, but when they get a peek at it, Bates does not show any gratitude. He only complains about its condition. Though it seems like Bates is almost letting bygones be bygones when he helps out Thomas, he's actually trying to get him a reference so he'll move on. His goodness is a bit clouded by these actions, and I can't help but wonder if prison has changed him more than we realize.

The arrival of cousin Rose brings with it a breath of fresh air. But this flapper is destined to bring shame on the family. This storyline bugged me, too. Having a flapper can add an interesting element to DA, but I don't know why they paired Rose with a married man. Though, this did give Matthew Crawley one of the best lines of the episode, "‘Married men who wish to seduce young women always have horrid wives."

I was glad to see Rose sent away, but I've heard rumors she'll be back next season. Part of me can't help but feel she is partially a replacement for Lady Sybil. The main difference is that Lady Sybil never stopped being a lady, despite her forward-thinking ways.

This also brings me to the disappointing storyline for Lady Edith. Someone finally recognizes her talents and he happens to be a married men who flirts with her, justifying it by telling her about his wife who is in an asylum and no longer knows him. I know World War I wiped out a lot of the men Edith's age, but can't they find one who isn't attached for her to fall in love with?

And though there is much more that takes place in this two-hour episode, I will only comment on two other things:  Mary and Matthew, and Matthew, Robert, and Tom.

Mary and Matthew have done their share of sparring lately. Matthew sees his plan as the future for Downton Abbey and Lord Grantham wants nothing to do with it. Mary's loyalties are torn between the man she loves and the father she adores. To complicate matters, Matthew and Mary have been trying to have a child without any results. Matthew is worried his war injury caused the problem. Mary isn't sure what it is, but she goes to the doctor without telling Matthew and discovers the problem is her. She secretly has surgery performed, but that means no physical relations with her hubby until she sees the doctor again. When they accidentally run into each other at the doctor in London, Mary spills the beans over lunch. Her aristocratic upbringing doesn't allow her to share the details with Matthew, but he's just relieved that she's still interested in him. And when she tells him she's in his corner with the plans for Downton, things couldn't be any better for the two lovebirds.

Throughout the episode, Robert is fighting Matthew's ideas for the future of Downton, but he has Tom in his corner. They all meet with the estate's manager, Jarvis, who ends up resigning in a huff. I liked how Cora stuck up for Robert when Matthew said the last time he took an interest he ruined the family. At breakfast one morning, Tom has a pointed conversation with Robert, telling him for Downton to survive they must pool their resources and work as a team. Impressed with how Tom expresses himself and Matthew's ideas, Robert agrees to give it a go. At the end of the cricket match against the villagers, Robert, Matthew, and Tom share a manly group hug, painting a happy picture for Lord Grantham and his sons-in-law.

Tomorrow night is the Christmas special. I already know some of what is going to happen, so this happiness seems like it will be short-lived. I can't imagine going almost another year before Season 4 airs. I might have to break down and buy Seasons 1 - 3 on DVD, so I can get my Downton fix. I also have some Downton Abbey fanfiction ideas brewing. This is a wonderful period drama. And I highly recommend it.

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