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'Downton Abbey' recap: Love is blind, alright

By Kathleen Edgecomb and Marisa Nadolny

Publication: theday.com

Published February 17. 2014 1:00PM   Updated February 18. 2014 8:32AM

Dear Marisa,

So there was all kinds of love in the air last night at Downton Abbey:

Something's brewing with Mr. Molesley and Miss Baxter. Love how she's boosting his ego. I always liked him, even though he was so down on himself and insecure. But Baxter does seem to bring out the best in him. He rang the bell, for goodness sake at the bazaar — which by the way showcased Downton's fabulous estate. I would have attended that festival.

Lady Mary's godfather, Lord someone or other, is sweet on Isobel Crawley. He sent her flowers. Together, now: ohhh, ahhhh. What will she do? I thought the doctor liked Isobel. It would fun to see two old geezers courting her.

Speaking of double wooers, Lady Mary is stringing along at least two sweeties. I'm bored with her love life but I do like how she's taking over at the estate. She's turning into a modern woman.

Tom likes the feisty school teacher.

Aunt Rosamund seems to really love Edith, pregnancy and all. But the warning from the Dowager to Edith to be wary of Rosamund wanting something in return frightens me. Seems like auntie is pretty sincere in helping Edith. All together now … a young woman and her aunt take an extended trip to the continent to learn French. Everyone should know what that means. Why is Cora so thick?

And my fave love story of the night: Daisy. She loved Alfred. Hated how Ivy treated him, then came to realize she wasn't going to be anyone's second best. But she sent him off with a basket off goodies and they ended friends. That was so sweet and so mature. I must say, I got a little choked up when Mrs. Patmore told Daisy she couldn't be prouder if Daisy was her own daughter. I love Daisy. She's the most beautiful woman on the show — I don't care that you all think she's homely.

The jazz singer let Rose go because he loved her. Meh?

Truly yours,

Kathleen

***

Dahhhling,

Yes, it was a very Valentine-y episode. Let's not forget Cora and Lord G's passionate/awkward kiss upon his triumphant return from America. (I'm still not buying that she's that into him, but whatever…)

Here's what I'll say about Rose and Ross: I get where he's coming from, but he might've kiboshed the whole thing a little bit sooner. And I'm finding the actor who portrays Ross to be like dry toast. Perhaps if he mustered up a little more chutzpah I'd feel a bit more sad/outraged/wistful/anything about his breakup with Rose (although he did dodge a bullet there), who proved a bit of a brat in the end with this thing. I truly thought SHE was the modern woman, throwing caution to the wind and dating whomever she wanted, regardless of race, but really, it seems like it was all part of her stunt to annoy mummy = LAME! You gotta love Mary for a good sorting out of the younger girls.

I'm relieved you noted Cora's "thick"-ness in the face of Operation: Switzerland. Yes, she questioned the value of learning French among the Swiss, but it took the Dowager Countess approximately three seconds to smell a rat. I LOVED the scene where she gives Edith and Ros the most elegant third degree ever. She is too cool, and "cool" hasn't even been invented yet!

Of course, I have to mention one more excellent power femme scene from last night, and that was Mrs. Hughes sending the stinkeye over to Mr. Green when he darkens downstairs once again. You know how Robert De Niro in the "Fockers" movies does that thing where he uses two fingers to point to his eyes, then one to point at his target to convey "I'm watching you"? Yeah, that was Mrs. Hughes.

Finally, as adorable as he was, the whole Lord Merton dating Isobel thing got tossed in quite a bit clumsily. Yes, she deserves to be happy, and YES, the Dowager is a brilliant secret matchmaker, but I needed a little more buildup. I agree that it would be fab to see Dr. Clarkson and Merton competing for Isobel's affections.

As for Mary, I enjoy Tony Gillingham, but something about him doesn't seem quite right, and it's bugging me — and it's not just the fact that he tossed Green at Mary's command (which was awesome). Mr. Future Farmers of America is an intriguing choice as well, but I don't know that he could hang at Downton for too long. I think all the pomp and circumstance would make him mental.

Oh, and I find Tom's schoolteacher a hair annoying. (Hmmm, maybe that makes her perfect for Tom…) BUT, I say Little Ms. Judge-y needs to take it down a few notches. But I thought Tom's retort to HER snobbery re: the gentry was perfect: "I believe in people," he says. Bravo.

Feistily,

M.

PS. As for Daisy's looks, you remain a trailblazer, as she is more than adorable in real life if this link is any indicator (and how about Mrs. Hughes?). I NEVER used the term "homely"; "painfully naive," yes; "annoying as all hell," absolutely; but I'm not THAT mean.

***

Dear M,

We must discuss Bates. I think he threw the rapist under the bus. I think he killed his first wife. I think he is a dangerous human being. We know he was a sot. We know he went to jail for a crime his first wife committed. We still don't know why Lord G is so indebted to him. OK, Bates saved his life in the Boer Wars where Bates was Lord G's batman, which is basically a valet in war. But what exactly did Bates do? I think it was something gruesome. I think Anna is seeing her hubby's dark side and she's not liking it. I think their relationship is going to fail. I never understand what she saw in him, anyway. Bates might be worse than Thomas.

OK, hairs on back of neck are standing up.

Yours,

Fraidy Cat K

***

Mdme. K,

Bates is most certainly worse than Thomas for one simple reason: No body count for Thomas. Yes, Thomas's bitchy little shenanigans suggest a boatload of narcissism, but HE's never been up on murder charges.

What burns my bum through all of this Bates business is how everyone's concerned about how HE'LL react if he discovers the identity of Anna's attacker. Meanwhile, Anna's left to cope with post-traumatic stress by her lonesome while everyone runs around trying to keep Bates from seeing red. It's like making women wear modest clothing to keep the men from getting all lathered up over an inch of ankle. In short, it's bullcrap. How about we get Anna some nice vacay time and spend less time preventing Bates from being a violent lump?

And the fact the he comes marching home from "York" looking like the proverbial cat that ate the canary was just the cherry on top. But still, I must ask, what really happened? We witnessed nothing, but several others allegedly witnessed Mr. Green's convenient demise under the wheels of a bus or lorry. If Bates DIDN'T do it, that's a bit too tidy a removal of the rapist by the writers; if Bates DID do it, well, our suspicions will at least be accurate. There's nothing he could've done for Lord G. in the war that could make up for all this bullying. Batman or no batman.

All this said, as you noted in conversation earlier, I miss O'Brien. Somehow I feel like less crap like this would go down if she were still around. His disapproving sneer would've scared any violent behavior out of Green AND Bates.

I'm getting riled, so I'll change the subject: how fab was it to watch Tom fix Ms. Judgey-Pants' car? I like the idea of a career in politics for him. Good idea Isobel!

Luv,

M.

***

Dear Luvie,

Yes, Tom is warming up to the schoolmarm. He does like a feisty gal. But if he married her, where would they live?

Did you notice all the eating that was going on? There was tea in the drawing room, tea for the servants, tea with the Dowager, Lady Edith and Auntie Rosamund, and Rose's tea at the restaurant with Mr. Jazz. Then there was dinner with Granny (where Tom shockingly didn't wear tails but Mary assured him it was "time to teach Granny about the real world"); Lady Mary's dinner with Tony Gillingham; and Isobel's dinner with the godfather.

And all those breakfasts! I'd love a cup a tea and one of those slabs of toast always piled high on a serving platter in the middle of the servants table. I counted 15 scenes at dining tables. But my favorite food bits were the basket of goodies Daisy brought from her father-in-law for Alfred — cheese, breads, spreads and jams — and when the workers setting up for the bazaar were hungry — "more sandwiches and beer!"

I was starving by the time the episode was over.

Taking lunch in a bit,

K

***

KE,

And how about the gorgeous desserts at the bazaar? And then there was the ice cream stand? You KNOW that's got to be fantastic ice cream: fresh dairy and nice and melty thanks to not-great refrigeration. Even the Dowager had to try a little!

Still, I, too, craved tea-time snackies as I watched, and what I wanted most was your thick toast with some of that cheese from the giant wedges Daisy was wrangling for tea.

Your count of mealtime scenes brings to mind a few of my favorite moments of the night. When Mary reveals to tails-less Tom that Granny is expected at dinner, he momentarily goes to pieces with a stilted "Oh God" and runs to change before Mary stops him. Ha!

The other great moment at last night came at teatime, when nanny brought the kidlets into the room. Soon as they walk in and start crying, the Dowager is off like a shot. Well played, Violet.

Furthermore, that atrium restaurant where Mary and Tony luncheon-ed was just divine.

But, of course, the line of the night goes to Lady Edith, who was not the first, nor will she be the last, young woman to utter the words, "Sometimes I feel that God doesn't want me to be happy."

Too bad Ben & Jerry's hasn't been invented yet.

Peckish,

M.

***

Dear M,

Upstairs at dinner, Mr. Blake was recounting what he did during his down time and said "thinking about life," to which the Dowager responds, "In my experience, it's a dangerous occupation."

And downstairs, when Ivy was telling Mrs. Patmore that Alfred proclaimed his love for her, wants to marry her, take her away to London and get her a job there. "Blimey, he puts a lot in a letter, does Alfred," Mrs. Patmore responds.

My favorite fave scene was the final one when everyone is toasting to dippy Cora's success at pulling off and putting on the bazaar. Mary jumps up to see off her two beaus and Lord G asks, "What sort of ménage has that turned into while I've been away?" On cue, Edith, Rose and Mrs. Crawley all turn and look in the same direction toward Mary.

Next week in the finale. I guess we'll find out if Bates killed anyone. And we'll get to meet the American relatives.

Until next time,

Yours,

K

We're on Twitter: @edgecombday and @TheMDesk.

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