Monday, January 14, 2013

Downton Abbey Series 3, Part 2

Downton Abbey continued with part two of its Masterpiece run last night, and thank goodness it was only an hour long installment because this episode was packed. And AWESOME. This is Downton at its best, for me at any rate -- absolutely insane drama at lightning-fast speed. *wink*

The Crawley family is in the throes of planning its second wedding in what -- a month? -- as Edith (Laura Carmichael) is determined to marry Sir Anthony Crazy Eyes Strallan (Robert Bathurst). NO ONE except Edith thinks this is a good idea, but the family all seems resigned to letting her push ahead with her grand plan to become Lady Strallan. But a pall even worse than gaining a sap for a son-in-law hangs over Downton, and particularly Robert (Hugh Bonneville), as the family must face putting the beloved estate up for sale. Robert is loathe to see his financial and leadership failures exposed to the world, but he's resigned himself to his family's fate, even if Mary (Michelle Dockery) hasn't, because her stubbornly MORONIC husband refuses to save the family home. *headdesk* The family decides to take a picnic to "Downton Place" which is far from a shack...but it's all about perspective, isn't it? *wink*

To her family's everlasting credit, they are attempting to celebrate Edith's big day and encourage her as she marries Sir Anthony, even though the marriage is virtually, universally frowned upon. For all that Edith suffers from "middle child syndrome," if you will, when compared to the glittering Mary or the unconventional Sybil (Jessica Brown Findlay), good friggin' GRIEF does she ever deserve better than marrying to become (as Violet so eloquently puts it) "an old man's drudge" (and keep in mind, I will be ALLLLL about a well-written May/December romance, as long as one of the parties involved doesn't give me the creeps!). I mean I GET that nearly all of the young men in Edith's social circle died in the war. I GET that Anthony gives her the time of day. But a mutual love of motoring is only going to take a couple so far... :P

So while Edith is all in la-la land getting ready for her marriage and a lifetime of having Sir Anthony as her own special "project," the rest of the family copes with the reality of having to leave Downton while downstairs health scares and personal rivalries take center stage. After two seasons of seeing O'Brien (Siobhan Finneran) and Thomas (Rob James-Collier) as allies in their shared quest for world domination and desire to spread pain and suffering where ever they go, they are finally on the outs...and people, I LOVE it. Last week saw O'Brien abscond with Robert's dress shirts in retaliation for needling her nephew, making Thomas (as his valet) look the fool. This episode saw Thomas up the ante and use poor, gullible Molesley (Kevin Doyle) to start a rumor that O'Brien was leaving Downton. When Cora hears this "news" through back channels she's understandably put out that her ladies' maid wouldn't confide in her -- and this leads to all sorts of awkward moments for O'Brien. She's so rarely off-kilter. *wink* (I actually felt kind of bad for poor Molesley, unintentionally running afoul of O'Brien!)

Matthew (Dan Stevens) continues to be a complete ass about the fact that he's due to inherit money from Reggie Swire, the man who would have been his father-in-law if that silly twit Lavinia hadn't up and died last year. :P Lavinia, to her credit, was more than gracious about the whole Matthew-is-still-in-love-with-Mary mess, and for goodness' sake she died from THE FLU. It isn't as if she wasted away solely through her own (lack of?) willpower. So for approximately three-quarters of this episode Matthew is a complete jerk about the fact that Reggie wanted to leave him his estate, apparently relishing the chance to wallow in self-loathing and guilt over how he shouldn't accept the money because of Lavinia. Dude, Lavinia DOESN'T care!!! *sigh* I know Mary can have something of a reputation for being difficult and cold, but goodness I wanted  her to smack Matthew upside the head so. BADLY. All things told, the new bride handled her husband's idiocy with real class IMO.

Downstairs, aside from the O'Brien/Thomas "war," the most compelling storyline involves Mrs. Hughes (Phyllis Logan) anxiously awaiting the biopsy results from Dr. Clarkson (David Robb). I really enjoy the layers this test has revealed not only in Mrs. Hughes' character, but the warmth of the friendship that she shares with Mrs. Patmore (Lesley Nichol). Mrs. Hughes' worry and fatigue become increasingly difficult to hide from the ever-vigilant Mr. Carson (Jim Carter), who first attempts to discover the cause from Dr. Clarkson (props to Clarkson for actually -- surprisingly? ha!! -- respecting doctor/patient confidentiality), and then wheedles the truth out of poor Mrs. Patmore. His worry for Mrs. Hughes just KILLED me...please, if they retire or something can they PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE get married Julian Fellowes? Because that would rock my world. I love how he goes to Cora on Mrs. Hughes' behalf, and then Cora calls her in and is all DON'T WORRY ABOUT A THING, WE WILL TAKE CARE OF YOU NO MATTER WHAT. I was close to tearing up right along with Mrs. Hughes -- particularly in that day and age, where she sacrificed the chance to make her own family for a career at Downton, when facing a cancer diagnosis she must've struggled with feeling so alone! HUGS ALL AROUND! And well done, Cora. :)

Edith and the Wedding of DOOM

So...Ethel's WEDDING EVE OF DOOM is upon Downton, and Sir Anthony has this horribly awkward conversation with Robert, where Robert, to his credit, doesn't tell Anthony what he's REALLY thinking (i.e., that Strallan is too lame to be his son-in-law). One gets the feeling Anthony is making Robert re-think Branson's (Allen Leech) suitability. *wink* Fast-forward to the next day, and the Crawley women all share a pre-wedding bonding moment, and then Edith makes her grand entrance -- and oh it kills me that she's so excited about this, because Anthony looks like he's going to throw up and she looks FAB. Seriously, wasn't her wedding dress amazing?! About this time I commented we have a runner -- and Sir Anthony Crazy Eyes does not disappoint, delivering perhaps one of the most awkward jilt-the-bride-at-the-altar scenes ever caught on film. LAME LAME LAME. Poor Edith is in understandable shock, but Violet (Maggie Smith) seizes the day -- and her comments about letting him go and it's all for the best -- AT THE ALTAR!! -- cracked me up. Vintage Violet moxie, that. *wink*

in hindsight, a portent of doom?

I predict that Anthony ends up dead if not by the end of this season, then before the end of the show. He is going off the RAILS, I can feel it!! :P I'd like to propose this scenario: Anthony runs his car off a bridge or something, because he can't stand that he's become SO LAME, and leaves all his money to Edith. Edith (who doesn't have compunctions about accepting odd and convenient inheritances like Matthew) takes the money and RUNS and goes on a grand European tour, where she takes up writing poetry. Somewhere in France or Italy or someplace AMAZING she meets an exiled Russian nobleman who had the foresight to put all of his money in a Swiss bank. They fall in LUV and Edith happily sticks it to her ENTIRE FAMILY by lassoing a HOT RUSSIAN PRINCE. The End. :)

Edith's heartbreak leads to a really touching scene between Cora and her oft-overlooked middle child -- people, that scene is why I love Elizabeth McGovern. She rocks. Cora doesn't often get the opportunity to show her "motherly" side, so it was refreshing to see her cast in the role of comforter here. I am quite excited to see where Fellowes takes Edith's storyline in the rest of this season and the next. Methinks the girl could do with a bit of scandal and genuine drama in her life. Mary and Sybil have carried the balance of that far too long. *wink*

Running parallel to the wedding prep and drama, Mary bites the proverbial bullet and -- against Matthew's express wishes -- reads his final letter from Reggie, wherein Matthew receives the man's full blessing. Of course Matthew is still an ass about it all and Mary actually has to go to the SERVANT'S QUARTERS to find out who the heck could've mailed a letter from Lavinia on her DYING DAY. LET IT GO MATTHEW, FOR THE LOVE LET IT GO!! But finally, after what, fifty-five interminable minutes of Matthew whining, he  takes the money and runs and puts Robert out of his misery -- with a twist. Robert insists that they in effect become "co-masters" of Downton, with Matthew's money being treated as an investment. Like this join chairmanship thing is gonna go down without any drama... :P

gratuitous Bates looking hot shot

In other news, Anna (Joanne Froggatt) goes all Miss Marple on the Bates case and interviews the last woman to see Vera alive. Of course this "witness" was Vera's BFF, who patently hates Bates and goes so far as to describe Vera in saint-like terms. Give me a break. I did rather enjoy seeing Bates (Brendan Coyle) manage to foil his cellmate's attempt to frame him by concealing a weapon in his bunk. Bates, m'dear, you are a badass. Love it. :) And in news I care absolutely nothing about, Isobel (Penelope Wilton) hunts down Ethel (Amy Nuttall), who has shown up at her wayward women reformation project multiple times, only to change her mind and run off at the last minute. WHY OH WHY is Ethel still on this show? Has she had another kid? Didn't she give her kid to random soldier father's parents? I don't even care enough at this point to look it up. :P

In the aftermath of Edith's wedding debacle, I thought it was quite touching to see the family and servants rally around the heartbroken daughter. I loved how during the servants' meal, where they got to eat all of the wedding food, Mr. Carson caved and "allowed" them to speak poorly of Stupid Strallan. *wink* I loved Daisy (Sophie McShera) in this episode, and how she's determined to become more outgoing in an effort to further her career and catch the eye of Alfred (Matt Milne), the new footman. When he asked her to play checkers and she had to say no I might've kinda screamed at the television. They could be SO CUTE together!!!

This installment concludes with perhaps one of my favorite scenes in Downton Abbey to date -- Mrs. Hughes returning to the house with the news that she is cancer-free. She lets Mrs. Patmore break the news to the anxious Mr. Carson, who is then so happy he starts singing while he works. SINGING. Carson. SINGING. That moment was utter perfection. :)

I absolutely loved this episode of Downton, precisely because it was so insanely wild. :) Good times, people, good times. Here's to next week's installment!


Anonymous said...

My goodness...I agree with you on almost all your points. And I laughed at loud at some of your wording! Fangirling at it's best, no? ;) I'll work my way down your post...
The wedding outfits of the 3 Crawley girls...LOVE!!! And Edith's gown was lovely, just as Mary's was.
I knew it would turn out too good to be true that we'd get 2 weddings in the first two episodes...
I actually warmed up to Strallan & Edith, thank you very much. All in all--I was happy Edith *seemed to* be getting her happy ending. I've always held a very odd esteem for the not-as-pretty middle Crawley girl...
Matthew is NOT moronic!!! He has a conscience--though, yes. I admit it. I did want to smack him a good one as his guilt trip wove ALL.THRU.THE.EPISODE! But he's not moronic...not even close.
And just wait till you see what happens/who Edith ends up with. I can't wait to hear your thoughts on that, because I SOOOO don't like how she ends up! Ticks me off...
And what also ticks me off, is the bad name you called Matthew!!! I *get* your frustration, I really do {& please know I'm only "talking" in the most teasing/giving grief manner possible...} but Mary was a tad cool & not understanding or symapthetic towards Matthew. But that is the essence of their relationship...
OHMYGOSH--I SOOOOO "ship" Carson & Mrs. Hughes. They are the grandparents of the ENTIRE household--just LOVE THEM!!!
That jilting speech was SO gosh. And Violet somewhat dramatically tried to save the day...but POOR EDITH!!
And your prediction abt Anthony is WROOOOOONNNNG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! You actually don't see him be happy, girl! ;)
The mother/daughter scene with Cora & Edith was SO touching. Very, very well done & poignant.
Grrr...I'm SO sick of Anna & Bates loooong drawn out drama. :P AND Ethel?! Yeesh...her storyline was point.less. The.freakin'.end.

Rissi said...

YAY! So happy to read you liking this, Ruth. :)

You are always so amusing, girl! The fact that such a big deal is/was being made by the family about Edith and Strallan is a bit annoying. Maybe he's not right for her but gosh, women married older men ALL THE TIME in those eras. Needless to say, Fellowes seems determined to turn her into the "bitter" sister.


Poor Edith - she has changed so much since those early days and still she is treated unfairly.

Hope you continue enjoying the ITV run!

Joanne said...

Oh, my gravy, this was a fun post to read! I KNEW you'd have lots to say about this episode,and boy, you said it in the most hilarious way!

Yes to pretty much all you touched upon....I'm just disappointed that Matthew and Mary's relationship is so contentious so soon....I get the drama and the seriousness of the financial situation, but I wanted to see some real marital "honeymoon bliss" from them and they just seem like a bickering old couple right now.

Edith's wedding.....lordy be! When I saw them gathering outside the church for photos near the graveyard, I got this terrible feeling that this wedding might go all Jane Eyre on us and just when they were going to exchange vows, someone was going to come running into the church and call a halt as Strallan has a crazy wife in his
attic!!! But it was SO hard to watch her pain and shock, obviously, and hope she gets a really good storyline ahead. (How about visiting grandmama in the States and being a big hit with the NY elite? How about a Vanberbilt?

Favorite line of the night for me? So hard as there were so many, but I think the best zinger was between Thomas and O'Brien: (paraphrasing)

O'Brien: "Being left at the altar....I don't think I could ever get over the shame and humiliation."

Thomas: "Then it's a good thing nobody's ever asked you." ROFLMAO!!!

I'll be back for next weeks' recap!

Anne Mateer said...

Ok so I knew the marriage was doomed when Edith told Sir Anthony he'd be her project for the rest of her life. Good grief! Even poor Sir Anthony wants to be loved! But for the first time I really did feel sorry for Edith left standing at the alter like that.

Loved Lord Grantham's introduction of Branson to Sir Anthony as "our tame revolutionary, every family should have one." What a hoot!

I wanted to throttle Matthew when he said perhaps Lavinia's father's letter was a forgery! I can't believe Mary didn't strangle him then! But at least he finally came around to do the right thing. Although I have to say, Downton Place was a great "little" house, too!

And oh, Carson was so sweet about Mrs. Hughes--as was Cora. Which was a good thing since the war between Thomas and O'Brien might tear the downstairs crew to pieces! I wouldn't want to be caught in that crossfire!

Yes, I don't even care about Isobel's new cause or the old maid. Completely over that story line. But Daisy and the new footman could be really fun.

And I am sooooo worried about Bates! It just stresses me out to think about it! (I haven't read any spoilers, so I'm completely in the dark.)

Can't wait for next week. :)

Unknown said...

@Meghan - Aww, thanks. I like to have fun with these, even when I get a little ridiculous. ;)

I really started to like Edith last between wanting to marry Anthony as a project, well -- I remain convinced she didn't love him any more than he actually loved her. I think she'll get her happy ending, but I'm thinking it is apt to be a wild ride!

Ethel, so pointless. I'm curious to see how this Bates prison drama is gonna play out, too, as the "save" is going to have to be pretty dramatic to warrant all this investigative work on Anna's part, no?

Also...generally speaking I hold a very high opinion of Matthew. But this episode he drove me up the WALL. I'm sure we'll be on better terms next week. ;)

@Rissi - I would be more worried about Edith if she married in order to have a "project." I want her to get out an live a little!!! ;) Thanks for stopping by!

@Joanne - HA!! Thank you! :) You hit the proverbial nail on the head with your assessment of Mary and Matthew's relationship status here -- this was way too forced to work in any sort of meaningful way, for me at any rate.

And I would not have been surprised AT ALL if Strallan pulled a Rochester on us, lol!! (BTW, I would love to see Shirley MacLaine again...I really liked the scene last week where she comforted Edith. I think they could be a lot of fun together.)

Thanks for sharing your thoughts! :)

@Anne - I know, right? *sigh* Poor Edith. Badly done, Sir A. :P

I rather wish we could've seen the inside of Downton Place...that house looked just gorgeous!

Okay question for everyone: I was talking to my mom about this episode, and a friend of hers thinks that Mrs. Hughes is not out of the woods yet. I thought it was odd that we didn't "see" her get the all clear from the doctor -- and since she went into her appointment alone, is it possible that she is concealing her condition from Mrs. Patmore and Carson in order to avoid pity/coddling? That is going to TEAR ME TO PIECES if that's how this plays out!!

Heidenkind said...

An even funnier and snarkier recap than usual, Ruth! This was a really good episode. Crazy Eyes Anthony was so unbelievably lame. I was kind of torn because on one hand I'm like JUST LET EDITH MARRY HIM IF THAT'S WHAT SHE WANTS, but on the other hand... ew. I don't think Edith fully thought through the wedding night, if you know what I mean. I hope she does hook up with a Russian prince, because girl needs a break. Oooh, maybe she'll become a Hollywood starlet!

Unknown said...

@Tasha - This episode really did bring out my snarky side. ;) I agree, I don't think Edith thought through ANYTHING except getting the heck out of Downton. :P Hey if this episode proved nothing else she DEFINITELY has the looks for a starlet...just give the gal the right wardrobe!! :)

Ella said...

Like you, I loved seeing O'Brien and Thomas on different sides for once. And trust me, having seen the whole gets even better =)

Poor Edith. She'll never catch a break will she? I can't help but think there is someone better for her than Strallan though. I loved the scene with Edith and her heartbreaking at the same time.

Got to love this show!

Kristin said...

All I can say is poor Edith!!! Good grief. Will that girl never get to be happy? {I did cringe when she told Sir Anthony he was going to be her project. Ouch.}

I cracked up when one of the family said something about how small "Downton Place" was. They are delusional. :)

The look of terror on Moseley's face when he realizes he's on O'Brien's bad side was priceless!

Mr. Carson and Mrs. Hughes should be married ASAP. His singing was adorable. :)

P.S. Ethel didn't give her son up to his father's parents. She decided to keep him when she realized they weren't going to let her have any part in his life. I assume he's still her only child, but who knows?


Holly (2 Kids and Tired) said...

My English husband recently got me addicted to this show and oh, my goodness!

Anne Mateer said...

Ruth, my first thought was also that Mrs. Hughes hadn't told them the real diagnosis, but then she looked too truly happy to be lying--although the test results could have been less than accurate and it might reappear as cancer after all.

Unknown said...

@Ella - Eeeeppp!! That's awesome. :)

@Kristin - Yeah, if I'd harbored any second thoughts about Edith & Anthony, her "project" comment killed them. :P And thanks for clearing up the Ethel & kid issue!

@Holly - Oh that's awesome! Welcome to the "club"! :)

@Anne - Oh dear, I'm getting really nervous for Mrs. Hughes now... :/

Jess said...

1. Poor, poor Edith. . . even if it does rescue her from a strange marriage, she was determined to be happy before Crazy-Eyes decided to run. You're right, it's about time she gets some more screen time and a worthy, happier storyline, perhaps.

2. That photo of the sisters, I agree, portend of doom indeed.

3. I, too, loved seeing Cora's maternal moment with Edith.

4. Your preferred story for Edith--that would be fantastic! lol

5. MATTHEW, GEESH. In other words, I again agree; I wanted to smack him so many times.

6. Poor Molesley! O'Brien's disconcertion was an odd thing to see, indeed.

7. I love the Daisy and Alfred idea, hope it turns out well! I think I like Alfred, so far.

8. That last scene was absolutely priceless, wasn't it?? Oh, Carson!

This may be the first season of Downton I watch without reading spoilers first, so I'm letting myself sit back and be surprised--except for a few key plot points I came across by accident.

Anyways, lovely review! Your blog is always my first stop after catching up on Downton online.

Unknown said...

@Jess - Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the latest Downton installment! I'm trying to avoid most spoilers too -- but I do know a few of the big developments coming down the pipeline, because it is so hard to avoid everything. *sigh* ;)

aimymichelle said...

if you are super desperate to watch what happens. (i watched the season months ago) you can find it all on projectfreetv.

Unknown said...

Girls. Sheesh.

Permit me to inject some badly needed testosterone into the discussion. Downton Abbey was never intended to be a cheap Lifetime Network series. If Season 3 continues on the path set by Episodes 1 and 2, it'll lose every (heterosexual) male viewer.

First, what's with all this sympathy for Edith? Have you all forgotten how she went to great lengths to ruin Mary's shot at happiness? Frankly, given all his money and standing, I think that Lord Strallan might have been even better than she deserved, although "Crazy Eyes" does accessorize Edith with Googly Eyes well.

Second, the two main themes emerging in Season 3 are (1) no wedding ceremony or reception shall be broadcast, and (2) a magical fairy tale solution to the biggest problem shall be found. In fact, theme (2) might have started in Season 2 when Matthew was suddenly and miraculously "hee yaled!" from polio--without so much as physical therapy needed.

Give me a break about Mr. Carson and Mrs. Hughes. They've worked together for a generation. If they didn't have a personal relationship in seasons 1 and 2, creating one in season 3 is a cheap romantic trick barely worthy of the aforementioned Wifetime Network. Carson singing? He never so much as whistled or hummed in Seasons 1 and 2. And "it's a miracle! Mrs. Hughes' lump is benign!"--as I say, miraculous solutions will be employed.

For two seasons (minus one Christmas special), Downton Abbey wasn't all about just giving the viewers what we wanted.

What this season lacks thus far is what made Season 1 so great--twisted malcontents scheming to ruin other people's lives! To that end, the only worthwhile plot development so far is that Thomas and O'Brien are at daggers drawn. However, in order to overcome the maudlin sappiness that pervades the rest of the show thus far, their contretemps is going to have to escalate rapidly. Which it very well might: we've already seen that Thomas is willing to risk--inflict, even--permanent bodily harm to suit his weaselly purposes. Perhaps there'll be a fire in the servants' quarters.

Bates was interesting only when he was the target of Thomas' aggressive efforts to employ the Schadenfreude School of Career Enhancement. In jail, there is no reason to care. At least his jury was smarter than Casey Anthony's. As sympathetic as I am to Master Bates, no reasonable jury could find him innocent, given the evidence. And you're telling me that the Old Bailey prison guards aren't smart enough to search the prisoners' persons when they can't find the contraband they planted in his cell? Sheesh, how far must I suspend my disbelief?

I agree (in my masculine way) with your assessments of both Isobel and Cora. Please, let Edith take busybody do-gooder Isobel out for a ride in the country, lose control of the car when a tire blows out, whereupon Isobel is thrown from the car to an instant death. If you want to spice up the story line, let Edith survive the accident with injuries eerily similar to Anthony Strallan's war injuries.

Cora--Mmmmm, . . . Cora. Serious cougar action. If not for Mary's irresistible combination of high intellect, slender darkhaired beauty, and self-destructiveness, Cora would be my favorite. (Sybil is stunning, but she's a communist. The end.)

Other than that, I agree with everything every one of you said.

Nat at RA FanBlog said...

Love Downton and love your reviews! :) I hope your Edith prediction happens. I wondered if the old man would bite the dust and leave his fortune to her too... but a Russian Prince? Icing on the cake!

Unknown said...

Hey everyone, I know this is like three months too late but I just wanted to say thanks for the comments! I hate that responding to these got lost in the shuffle... :)