RECAP: Downton Abbey 6.3: Coat of Many Confusions

Written by | Miscellaneous

“I learned that Downton is my home, and you are my family,” and Branson is back! But before anyone gives old Donk a kiss, we’ve got a magazine to publish and some staff members to wed. Let’s get to it.

By Matt Gurry

Everyone came! Family, staff…and who are those two? (Photo (C) Nick Briggs/Carnival for Masterpiece)

Everyone came! Family, staff…and who are those two? (Photo (C) Nick Briggs/Carnival for Masterpiece)

What happened upstairs…
Lady Edith might be getting a man, but not before she loses one. That would be her editor, who “can’t work with such amateurism” and walks off the job. So the “swirling cloud of crisis and drama” that is Edith (Lady Mary’s words) (of course) enlists both her secretary and her date to burn the midnight oil. Using only their moxy and some especially pretty montage music, they put the issue to bed, and Edith is officially in the workforce. (+1 These Changing Times)

Who run the world? Edith. (Photo (C) Nick Briggs/Carnival for Masterpiece)

Who run the world? Edith. (Photo (C) Nick Briggs/Carnival for Masterpiece)

A quick roll call on the hospital merger: the Dowager Countess and Dr. Clarkson are against it; Lord Merton and Isobel “I wondered when we’d hear from you” Crawley are for it, and Lady Grantham is likely to join the latter. In true Crawley fashion, it takes about 47 utterances of the word “luncheon” to establish this. While we’re here, I did my research and an almoner is the hospital staffer who helps patients with their social and financial issues, as in the hospital’s disburser of alms. (+1 Matt)

…and what happened downstairs…
Well, Spratt and Denker are back. And they still don’t get along. And then Sergeant Willis is back too, leaving us to wonder how the worst cop since Chief Wiggum has managed to keep his job over six seasons. (-1 Villagers) It’s something for us to ponder, but only after the Dowager gets her hot chocolate.

Thomas has another interview, this time with Mr. Havisham in Satis House. You see, England’s great houses are in decline. You might have to read between the lines to catch it, but that subtle point has become somewhat of a theme this season. (+1 These Changing Times) Back at Downton, Thomas once again finds himself lucky to work in England’s most progressive house of 1925 (+1 Staff), where everyone (excepting Carson) is sympathetic to his getting brushed off by Andy. There’s some dialogue midway through the episode that would be funny to take out of context, but we’ll all be adults and not make a thing of it.

Mrs. Hughes finds herself on the most boring wedding-themed reality TV show ever. What sort of cake does she want? “Whatever you think best.” What will she wear? “My brown day dress; it’s simple, but it will be fine.” That said, the wedding story has a nice build to it, starting with Hughes blasé over Mr. Carson’s intention to emulate the “posh people [who] stand around getting nibbly bits stuck in their teeth”; moving through both some typical Julian Fellowes upstairs/downstairs nonsense and some rare but appreciated scenes showing the friendship among the women on staff; and finally to the wedding itself. By the end, it’s a nice episode for Charlie and Elsie, with Jim Carter especially enjoying a rare opportunity to expand Carson beyond the gruff superintendent. (+1 Staff)

Mr. and Mrs. Carson. Or Mrs. Hughes and Mr. Carson. Or Elsie and her old booby. We’re still working it out. (Photo by Nick Briggs/Carnival Films)

Mr. and Mrs. Carson. Or Mrs. Hughes and Mr. Carson. Or Elsie and her old booby. We’re still working it out. (Photo by Nick Briggs/Carnival Films)

…and how Julian bulldozed the door between them:
Lady Grantham sure does take us on an emotional roller coaster this week! She gets us all cuddly at first by supporting Mrs. Hughes, even if it shocks the thoroughly modern Mary to learn that anyone still does a sit-down wedding breakfast anymore. (-1 These Changing Times)

But then comes the whole episode of Say Yes to the Dress: Cora’s Room—and Randy’s not around to keep everyone cool. Lady Mary loses points for not even making half an effort to warn Cora that three of her staff would be upstairs rifling through her clothes. (-1 Family) Which she duly redeems by putting Cora in her place. (+1 Family) Which affords me one of the nice little Hughes/Patmore scenes I’ve come to love so much. (+1 Staff) Which is all sorted out, finally, in a scene played just this side of saccharine by Elizabeth McGovern. (+1 Family) As annoying as it is, he wouldn’t be our Julian Fellowes if he didn’t make us work for anything nice, and I suppose that’s why we all keep coming back. Let’s just be thankful that no one had to die of Spanish flu to get there. (+1 Julian Fellowes)

There’s some more business with Cora and Daisy, too; I’d recap it, but I think we can all agree it’s getting too painful to watch. (-1 Staff)

Just Checking: Are These Times of Change?
If the Dowager Countess would stop fencing in the library for two seconds, she’d tell us that female pilots be damned, a London flat is no place for an unescorted lady to found alone. (+1 These Changing Times) Elsewhere, I propose we all let Sir Michael Reresby (Thomas’s nostalgic interviewer) continue on in the blissful delirium that Dryden Park will see its glory days yet.

But seriously, who’s on Violet’s hot chocolate? (Photo (C) Nick Briggs/Carnival for Masterpiece)

But seriously, who’s on Violet’s hot chocolate? (Photo (C) Nick Briggs/Carnival for Masterpiece)

Newfangled Gadgetry
Catalogs! After years of the family forcing their brash new technology on Mrs. Patmore, she’s finally coming around. The thoroughly modern Patmore is now ordering her clothes from a book and having them posted to her house! At this rate, she’ll own a hoverboard by the Christmas special.

Who Was That Guy?

    Bertie Pelham. We met him at last year’s Christmas special. He was the agent at Lady Rose’s handsome husband’s family’s house in what he calls a shooting-party scene, but I think he means a Ralph Lauren photoshoot. We all forgot about him, which makes him perfect for Lady Edith.

    Adrienne Bolland. She was, as Edith teaches us, the French pilot who became the first woman to fly over the Andes, from Chile to Argentina. (+1 These Changing Times) What Edith omits in bringing her up with Granny is that the reason she became a pilot in the first place was to pay off gambling debts. (+1 more, These Changing Times

    The Posh People Name-Dropped by Sir Michael Reresby at Dryden Park: The Fife Princesses are Louise and Alexandra, respective granddaughter and great-granddaughter of Queen Victoria through Edward VII. The Connaughts are the family they married into, which is confusing because they’re also Victoria’s family. The Queen of Spain was likely Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg. Any guesses on her namesake? The Duke of Argyll has for several centuries been one of the most powerful Scottish peerages, and yes, the argyle pattern is named after them, which was coincidentally coming into fashion in 1920s England. Make sure you tip me after you win your next trivia night, folks.

Branson in Boston York!
Who saw that coming? I mean, besides me because I follow all these people on social media more closely than I should, so of course I saw Elizabeth McGovern tweet a spoilery picture (-1 Family) of Allen Leech on set in costume way back in August:

But all of you! You must be absolutely thrilled! I’m really so happy for you all. And this time, he assures us, he’s staying for good. I have to meet with my writing staff regarding a decision on the creative direction of my erotic spin-off series starring Tom Branson and Matt, so for now, let’s use this space to revisit Tom’s maudlin letter to Lady Mary, which is pure poetry:

“I dreamt last night I was in the park at Downton,
Walking with Sybbie under the great trees,
Listening to the pigeons cooing in their branches.
And when I woke:
My eyes were filled with tears.”

(+1 Family)

Questions and Comments

  • Screw decorum: Thomas says to Andy, “I expect you’d be glad to see the back of me,” to which Andy answers, “If that’s what you’d like.” And maybe I’m just giddy from Branson’s return, but I’m giving us all permission to laugh at this now. (-1 Matt)
  • Did anyone else notice Allen Leech’s name in the opening credits and eagerly bask in the spoiler? Or do I need to dial it back a bit?
  • Mr. Carson’s face when his wedding guests shower him and his bride in petals earned PBS my member support for 2016.
  • I’d like to thank the zeitgeist for making the The Great British Bake-Off so popular in the U.S. over the past year; it’s because of that I knew the names of all the sponges, pies, and molds used as set decoration in the wedding reception. 
  • The mismatched stemware at the reception was classic Downton attention to detail…
  • …but who allowed that lush Ms. Denker near the punchbowl?

Learn to Speak Fellowes

  • “I’ll invent an appointment and we’ll whiz up to London!” Lady Mary to Anna, who is pregnant! But this can’t get back to Mr. Bates because he’d get too excited.
  • “Oh crikey! I won’t be long. Keep getting the copy together.” Lady Edith to her secretary

This Week’s Winner
Tom Branson! Welcome back, old friend! We’d all begun to worry that defending the proletariat over dinner wouldn’t be the carnal experience it once was. (+1 Family) (+1 Matt)

Tom Branson convinces Ladies Mary and Edith that socialism is incredibly sexy. (Photo (C) Nick Briggs/Carnival for Masterpiece)

Tom Branson convinces Ladies Mary and Edith that socialism is incredibly sexy. (Photo (C) Nick Briggs/Carnival for Masterpiece)

This Week’s Loser
Daisy. All the others on this show have managed to carve out character arcs for themselves, and yet, here she is, the same flittery blockhead she was back in 1914. Go scrub a pot, Daisy. (-1 Staff)

On Warning
Young Sybbie, Master George, and little Marigold, who are so happy to be reunited that they hug each other. Look, we’re all excited to see Tom Branson, but that is not how we express our feelings on this show, little ones. Stiff upper lip, and pull it together.

Season 6 Leaderboard
Villagers: -1 point (-1 from Episode 2). The working class doesn’t have time to earn points.
Matt: 0 points (+1 from Episode 2). I could use an almoner myself.
The Windsors: 1 point (no change from Episode 2)
Family: 2 points (+2 from Episode 2) I think this is correct. There was a lot of arithmetic to keep track of during the coat business. I’ll have Mr. Moseley double-check my numbers before next week.
Julian Fellowes: 3 points (+1 from Episode 2). I don’t know how he got Allen Leech to re-sign his contract, but I thank him for it.
Staff: 4 points (+1 from Episode 2). Good job on moving up even while pulling the dead weight of Daisy.
These Changing Times: 8 points (+4 from Episode 2). I think this is going to be a theme, folks.

Matt Gurry writes about Downton Abbey with an unhealthy enthusiasm at Join us next week for our next episode recap!

Last modified: July 27, 2017