Tonight was just an A-to-B episode, with no big drama until we get to the pig show. Which, isn’t that always the case?
By Matt Gurry
A bit more planning on the Carson/Hughes wedding, a bite in Thomas’s job search, and a check on the hospital merger. Even Lady Mary is phoning it in, hardly bothering to roll her eyes at Lady Edith’s magazine woes.
But, the downtime has given the show’s editors’ a chance to get a little saucier, like the fun little cut from Anna putting a barrette in Mary’s hair to Baxter putting one in Cora’s.
What happened upstairs…
Papa and the girls sit around the breakfast table checking their Instagram feeds. Considering that luxurious opening shot of mailman on the bicycle was, I was expecting bigger news than “Rose is pregnant. Maybe.” Something more like that Titanic telegram that got us in this whole mess in the first place. Anyway, Mr. Carson tells the family that he and Mrs. Hughes are in the market for a wedding venue, which will lead Robert and Lady Mary to a contest of who can be most noblesse oblige-y.
It’s pretty clear now that we need to get comfortable with this hospital story. If you’re not excited about it, just look at it as an opportunity for Dowager zingers (like last week’s “moral high ground” bit). For now, both sides are shoring up their troops. I’ve taken note that Lady Grantham wasn’t invited to a meeting including the president and the almoner, so maybe Violet vs. Isobel is a red herring to Violet vs. Cora, where we’ve had friction in the past. I still have no idea what an almoner is. (-1 Matt)
Lady Edith, along with Thomas, are our characters with dual burdens this week. We’ll go downstairs presently, but not before finishing our business up. Edith’s first problem this week is her editor, who’s making work “like being in a bullring with Attila the Hun,” but that’s part of being a business owner, whether you’re a man or a woman. (+1 These Changing Time). Her second, is of course, the pig show. Not to judge Edith’s parenting, but you know who wouldn’t lose a child at the pig show? Mrs. Drewe.
…and what happened downstairs…
Hughes and Carson have different ideas about using Downton as their wedding venue. Understandable, given that wedding packages at Highclere Castle start at $35,000 which is probably somewhere north of two servants’ budget. This whole wedding is a charming storyline, and I meant to pay attention to it, honestly, but the thing I was paying attention to on their walk to the market was, when did Downton Abbey get an…I want to say…aqueduct ruins?
Like Edith, the Emperor Fellowes has imposed on Thomas two conflicts. There’s his impending redundancy, which Carson is being opaque with. Then there’s Andy, who’d go on about his business alone, thanks. It seems that every time Thomas has a blow, it’s followed by a shot of Baxter cooing. Is this just meant to remind us that Baxter is no Mrs. O’Brien? Because really, it just makes me miss that cruel Irish hag.
…and how Julian bulldozed the door between them:
Mary and Anna have always had a special relationship, so it doesn’t seem too far-fetched that Mary would help Anna try to conceive. Or with her cervical incompetence, as the Harley Street doctor calls it. In Mary’s chambers, Anna muses, “We have had our moments, haven’t we?,” which had me concerned we were going into a clips episode. Fortunately, it only prompted a quick aside about their LOLZ, like that time Anna helped Mary with the dead Turk in her bedroom. What a hoot that was!
Daisy, meanwhile, is getting a little too cozy thinking of Cora as her buddy. I don’t think it’s entirely her fault; she’s probably just watched too much Downton Abbey. “Daisy,” warns Moseley, “we’re servants.” Then again, Cora’s doing what she can, so maybe they’ve been watching together.
Just Checking: Are These Times of Change?
These times are changing! Just ask Thomas. He’s interviewing for a job as an assistant butler, which is a combination footman-chauffeur-valet. To be expected to do one person’s job for one person’s paycheck is, his interviewer tells him, a pipe dream in 1925. And 2016. (+1 The Changing Times) And “hold onto your hat,” but Lady Mary is managing the house herself: both she and the fatstock show rep can agree that “it’s a changing world, m’lady.” (+1 The Changing Times)
Best I can do this week is that Mrs. Patmore declares she’s going to get a jar of horseradish even if she “knows it’s cheating.” More than anything, we look backwards this episode in the opening servants’ ballet, with Moseley ironing Lord Grantham’s newspaper. (-1 The Changing Times)
Who Was That Guy?
The Drewes (“Tim and Margie”). The Drewes are pig farmers at the Downton estate’s Yew Tree Farm. Way back in Season 4, Robert saved them from Mary and Tom’s plan to foreclose. More recently, they adopted Marigold, but antsy Edith took her to live at Downton. We spent most of last season watching Edith and Margie circle each other, which is why Edith is being such, to use Mary’s word, a ninny when Mary says the kids can come to the pig show.
Branson in Boston
Tom has written that they’ve opened the new sale room. You’ll remember he’s joined his cousin to sell farm equipment. Building their showfloor was tough work since they had to rip out drywall. To make matters worse, they accidentally hit a water pipe when they were pulling out drywall causing Tom to get soaking wet as he wielded his sledgehammer. Fortunately Matt entered with a jug of lemonade at just the right moment and the two took a break.
Questions and Comments
- When Thomas is interviewing for the job of assistant butler, the butler calls him a “delicate one” and then presses into why Thomas isn’t married. Do we think he was on to Thomas’s being gay? (“Alright, Mr. Barrow. I’ve got enough.”) Would people in the 1920s have figured that out on their own?
- Andy has to wind the clocks in the tapestry room. We’re totally just inventing rooms now.
- The internet is so quick to call Lady Grantham clueless, but I don’t get it! It was she who intuits that Hughes might not want to get married at her workplace. And Robert’s checkmate at the end of the episode to ask the Drewes to leave? Cora’s idea 20 minutes before: “If only the Drewes would leave or find a tenancy elsewhere.” (+1 Family)
- More medical layers! Harley Street doctors haven’t done us good in the past (see: Lady Sybil, death of). If Julian Fellowes has designs to use Anna as his punching bag, and he’s always using that selfless woman as his punching bag, I swear to God I will picket every performance of School of Rock until it closes.
- Spratt and Denker were mercifully absent this episode. So at least we have that. (+1 Staff, +1 Julian Fellowes)
- The other little George of the aristocracy, Prince George of Cambridge, went to preschool this week! It’s not relevant to us, per se, but he sure was adorable! (+1 The Windsors)
- Lady Mary knows something is up with Marigold. Right?
- Mrs. Drewe has like 17 children of her own. What’s her deal with Marigold?
- The biggest event of everyone’s week is the pig show at Brindley’s Dairy. This is with no irony: I am so jealous of these people.
This Week’s Winner
Mrs. Hughes. (+1 Staff) She’s holding her ground against not only Mr. Carson but, “heaven forfend,” “the blessed Lady Mary” as well. Mary shows us her skill with power plays this very week when she makes the pigman wait 10 minutes before being shown to the library. Honorable mention to Lady Mary.
This Week’s Loser
Mrs. Drewe. (-1 Villagers) Get a grip, lady!
Anna. When Mary notices Anna isn’t “wreathed in smiles,” Anna tells her “it’s almost funny, really, given the service” she once did for Mary. At first I thought we were talking about the dead Turk from Season 1, but then I realized she was bringing up that damn diaphragm again, and Anna, we really have got to let that go. Though in a second watch I caught her reply to Mr. Bates that yes, she will indeed be putting her feet up while she’s in London, and that was pretty solid.
Season 6 Leaderboard
Matt: -1 point (new to board): I’ll try to find out what an almoner does for next week.
Family: 0 points (+1 from Episode 1): Up from the negative numbers, thanks only to “clueless” Cora
Villagers: 0 points (-1 from Episode 1). Correction: Mrs. Drewe wasn’t interested in the pig show.
The Windsors: 1 point (new to board). Prince George’s coat is now sold out, by the way.
Julian Fellowes: 2 points (+1 from last week). A nice reprieve from Spratt and Denker.
Staff: 3 points (+2 from Episode 1). A symptom of these changing times?
These Changing Times: 4 points (+2 from last week), but to keep this lead, we’re going to have to do better than jarred horseradish, Mrs. P.
Matt Gurry writes about Downton Abbey with an unhealthy enthusiasm at decantersandbanter.wordpress.com. Join us next week for our next episode recap!
Last modified: January 22, 2018