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'Downton Abbey' recap: And baby makes three?

By Kathleen Edgecomb and Marisa Nadolny

Publication: theday.com

Published February 10. 2014 12:00PM   Updated February 10. 2014 3:57PM

Dahhhhhhhling Kathleen,

It's so lovely to have you back behind the computer after last week's absence. Have you, like the Dowager Countess, quite recovered from your malady? "Malady" in this case being a furlough, but still, there is certainly such thing as post-furlough blues, so do be careful!

As for last week's episode, here are the main points: Edith hasn't heard from Gregson; Rose is starting an affair with Jack Ross, the jazz singer (having invited his band to the Abbey for Lord G's birthday party and PS. Mary caught them making out); Molesley's back in a job now that Alfred got a spot at the Ritz chef school after all; Mary and Mr. Blake the farm-report guy hate each other...until they don't; the Dowager discovered that the greenhouse kid didn't steal her stuff (after some lovely repartee with Isobel. Isobel: "How you hate to be wrong." Dowager: "I wouldn't know. I'm not familiar with the sensation."); and we got some advance warning that Cora's useless brother was going to affect the goings-on at Downton with his bad oil deals. Can't wait for Paul Giamatti to make his grand entrance as said useless brother! Oh, and Anna and Bates went out on a dinner date to a fancy hotel and were nearly rebuffed by a snobby maitre d'. Thanks to Cora, the Bateses got a table, but the date was still a drag. For viewers.

On to this week! What say you?

Considering a spotted pig for the house,

M.

***

Dear Marisa,

Thank you, dear. Fully recovered now from the furlough blues, but nearly had a relapse last night — so much to watch on the telly ... the Olympics, "Walking Dead," Beatles tribute AND "Downton" ... it was almost enough to send me to bed without any drama.

But I managed to watch "Downton" this morning and O.M.G. his lordship is going to America. And O.M.G. he's expected to do without a valet? What is this world coming to? Luckily Thomas stepped in for Mr. Bates who refused to go because he didn't want to leave fragile Anna home alone. How very gallant.

In the final scene with Mr. Bates staring at Anna's rapist across the table, I sort of wish he had gone to America. You can see Bates putting all the pieces together. It's not going to be pretty.

Now that I've emerged from blackout mode, looking forward to future correspondence.

Yours in the light,

Kathleen

***

Dearest K,

How lovely to see you up and about. Welcome back!

Now, I was truly waiting for the fork in Mr. Bates' hand to snap in half in that final scene. He's on to Gillingham's man, alright. And how about Mrs. Hughes busting into the bad valet's room and telling him off? I tell you, she has a dark history and I'm certain it's awesome. I'll bet Tom Branson eventually recognizes her as some Fenian daughter of the revolution of something.

And hey, looks like they've neatly set up a nice little romance for our man Tom. A lady who attends lectures? With a sense of humor? Nice match, indeed. I hope that romance blooms and Tom'll stick around to run Downton properly and let his daughter grow up with all the opportunities her rich relatives can give her. Yes, snobby, I suppose, but a girl only had so many options back then. If you can reap the perks of nobility, so be it.

Speaking of babies, OK, fine, you were right: Edith went and got herself in a family way. I'm not amused that she's decided to keep the baby, although I give huge points to Rosamund for standing by Edith's side at the doctor's. I know, my non-amusement isn't terribly pleasant, but it's the truth. (And boy would Mrs Hughes have been pissed!) Childbirth was and is a dangerous business, and I don't see any romance in bringing an unwanted baby into the world; particularly one with a missing, married-to-not-mommy father. And even if, as the "next on" teaser indicated, that Edith aims to give away her baby, I fail to see the romance in that scenario, too. Oh good, baby, you get to live in near poverty, or behind curtain #2, live as yet another "bastard" of the gentry with daddy issues. Yeesh.

Not bad, just like Edith isn't,

M.

***

Hold on there Professor Nadolny,

I'm sensing some hostility there. Maybe you should see someone! I don't think Edith is going to abandon the child. If she was, I think she would have gone through the "procedure." I must say, she's in a pickle and its tearing her apart. Unlike dear sister Mary, who, when she's in a pickle, just has the servants pick up the pieces — can you say Mr. Pamuk? And do you think something has happened to Edith's Michael? He's ditched her. Do you think his office has really sent someone looking for him? Wouldn't that be in all the papers and the talk of London — a prominent publisher gone missing. Something is amiss. I'm cheering for Lady Edith.

And isn't Mrs. Hughes "quite a plotter" when she wants to be? Very much the moral center of the downstairs.

And of course, we must discuss pigs. Because what story about the landed English gentry in the early 20th century would be complete without a romp in the pigpen? Ok Mary and Mr. Blake didn't exactly roll around in the mud, but they did get awfully dirty. But the scene was ruined when Blake tossed a mudball at fair Mary. Really? And why wasn't anyone around? I know it was "quite a long walk" from the main house, but no one lives near the pigs. Who shoots away the coyotes and wolves at night?

Wish I knew more about piggeries.

Yours,

K

***

Dr. Edgecomb,

Well, apparently that "highly recommended" "pig man" isn't very good at all, because, indeed, yon piggies nearly joined the Choir Invisible due to dehydration! Even annoying Mr. Blake knows living critters need food and water. What the heck, Pig-Man? For giggles, I did a Google search of "pig dehydration" and came up with several results. Apparently EVERYONE knows better than Pig-Man!

Anyhoo, I, too, am rooting for Edith, and I'm relieved the writers have seen fit to have her parents treat her with a bit more love and respect this season. Goodness knows she's going to need it.

BUT, in the "next on" teaser, we hear Edith mentioning something one of the tenants in a context that seemed baby-related, but perhaps those crafty editors have succeeded in whetting my appetite for next episode. Besides, EDITH's the one who brought up the prospect of introducing around her "bastard" baby around the drawing room.

Could it be Michael's a spy? Investigating the madness brewing in Eastern Europe? I would very much prefer that to the world's most ornate breakup with Edith, if I may be a modified Pollyanna for just a sec. Or he's dead. No bueno, all around though.

You mentioned Mary last note, which reminds me to ask you this: why is every man in a 20-mile radius in love with this woman? Is she that inspiring? I mean, she seems cool, she's pretty with those amazing eyebrows, and sometimes is quite funny, but you'd think these men have never visited a city before. She's surrounded by suitors and poor Edith's chasing a ghost. It ain't right. I might have to ask our former colleague and bona fide Mary Fan Steve Chupaska about her allure — her "aloof" grace, as it were.

Which also brings to mind one more point I've been meaning to present: is it wrong that I think Carson and Mrs. Hughes should share some more parlor space?

Discuss.

Love,

M.

***

Dear Love,

Don't think Mrs. Hughes and Carson should shack up, if that's what you're asking. They're already fretting about the disruption of love triangle of Daisy, Ivy and Alfred is causing. Carson already called Downton a "home for walking wounded." Can you imagine if Hughes and Carson started making eyes at one another? On second thought, maybe it wouldn't be that bad.

Not sure why everyone loves Mary. Maybe because she appears naïve but really isn't. I cracked up when she was stunned to learn that people think she's aloof. She pretends to care but then when Mrs. Hughes asks her to intervene with her father so Bates doesn't have to make the trip to America she snaps — as she's eating breakfast in bed no less — something like "I know we're good employers but even we need to get our money's worth." So dismissive. She pretty much bullies Mrs. Hughes into telling Anna's secret. I must say, it is the most well-known secret to date.

But thank god the pigs arrived!

Now, what about Rose? Not sure of that storyline. She meets the jazz singer once in a club and now they're an item. Kissing under the bridge in London in that fabulous rowboat with all those pillows propping up Miss Rose. That was a grand scene.

***

Lady K,

I ADORED those pillows in the boat. How luxurious! But still, do we really need to make out in public, Rose? A little decorum please. (Although still! What a kiss! Understandable that they got caught in the heat of the moment; of course I was too busy worrying that someone was going to flip that boat...) At least Jack had the sense to remind her that they're treading on dangerous ground if they pursue a relationship, and I did love that Rose asked him to just enjoy each moment as they come. Very zen, albeit very naïve given the people she's supposed to satisfy. Still, point taken re: staying in the present. Ommmmmmm.

Now listen, Mary knows how to scramble eggs, so I don't know WHAT you mean about HER naivete! I kid, but confess I was psyched that she had at least one useful skill. In truth, I could see why she was hesitant to get involved in the whole "Don't send Bates to America" thing. The situation was presented to her clumsily and randomly; why should she get involved in something she knows nothing about? She only refused because she was in the dark. You'll note that once she was AWARE of the actual stakes, she sprang into action to help.

Besides, she got right in the dirt to help out those little pigs. I NEVER would have thought she'd (ahem) get so dirty for something so ... common, but here we are. She's proving that she'd like to be more than a well-to-do lady of the manor in her "country seat." I wonder if your Edith would've bothered with the pigs.

Baby steps...

And appropo of nothing, can we talk about how absolutely delicious the food looks whenever the servants take tea or breakfast? Those thick slices of toast? That huge cube of butter and the dark-berry jams? That cake they had at tea? Come ON! I say downstairs eats better than up. Print it.

Pure peasant-stock,

M.

***

Dear M,

Yes, the slabs of toast caught my eye, too. Wonder if they'll show Alfred cooking up some French food, like maybe French toast? And Daisy is still adorable in my book. Especially when she chastises Ivy, who now likes Alfred. Grow up Ivy.

One last thing: I'm biding my time until I can use Mrs. Hughes' line to the jocular rapist, "Stop playing the joker and keep in the shadows." Very ominous. Mrs. Hughes is my hero this week.

OK, off to work I go.

Tata,

K

***

Lady K,

Agreed, Mrs. H kicks major butt. I'd like to work "stuff and nonsense" into my lexicon thanks to Mrs. Hughes and Mrs. Patmore. Love it.

But now, in a segment I'll call "Ask a Dude," we get an explanation as to why men dig Lady Mary so much, by frequent Day contributor and Knower of Things Cool, Steve Chupaska.

Here's Steve:

Marisa/ Kathleen,

Why do men like Lady Mary Crawley?

Well, first let's state the obvious. Actress Michelle Dockery's appearance, countenance and manner is such that those of us who are, indeed, of the heterosexual persuasion find her most attractive.

But enough coarse locker room talk.

I can only speak for the Lady Mary we meet in the first two seasons of "Downton Abbey." My television isn't hooked up to anything that's not Netflix, and "Downton" has been off Netflix's streaming service for some time now. I supposed I could have watched season three and four on PBS's site, but then came "House of Cards" and splurging for "Mad Men" on iTunes, not to mention figuring out nefarious ways to watch the excellent current HBO shows, "Looking," "Girls" and "True Detective." Life gets in the way.

Truth is, we just stopped making time for one another. It happens. What can I tell you? It just happens. Even to the best of period soap operas.

At least in the first season, I think Mary's most attractive quality is also her most annoying quality: her indecision toward Matthew, despite his unending charm and general dreaminess.

As Morrissey put it, "I want the one I can't have."

Also, you get the sense she's searching for something more in life; whether it's love or some sense of personal fulfillment, it's an attractive quality. She's a bit like Jo March in that respect.

Mary is devoted to her family legacy and people tend to respond to loyalty.

Plus a complicated person who is seasoned with kindness is, yes, alluring.

But I think I've moved on. I think I'm in love with Lady Edith. She's a Jan Brady for the pledge drive set.

— Steve

We're on Twitter: @edgecombday and @TheMDesk. So's Steve @schupaska.

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