Dark days return to Downton Abbey
So as Matthew is zipping down the road, oh so happy with his full-term baby boy born a month early, I immediately think of Meg Ryan in the that ridiculous movie "City of Angels" where she's a brain surgeon or something, and she's riding her bicycle down a mountain road and she's so happy she's found love she closes her eyes, and well, it doesn't end well for ol' Dr. Meg.
But the Downton writers wouldn't do something like that to us. They wouldn't. It's too contrived. They wouldn't do it—but they did! And then PBS has the nerve to ask me for money. Is there no time for grieving?
My partner in grief,
Last night, I was so wired after the "Downton" finale that I ended up texting and tweeting for half an hour and THEN had to take an Ambien (I know you don't approve, but you don't want to know me on no sleep). In the end, some of our fellow tweeps told me I'd consoled them a bit with an observation I sent out: "Crawley heirs are like drummers in Spinal Tap." I mean, Matthew didn't spontaneously combust, but he might as well have, his death was so sudden in juxtaposition with the arrival of his lovely son. I SO didn't see that coming. The ending did reek of a little too much happiness, but I figured we'd get a break from the evil writers just this once.
But, I can offer just a shred of additional solace to us all: I read this morning that actor Dan Stevens' contract was up and he didn't want to continue on "Downton." Ditto for Jessica Brown Findlay, who portrayed Lady Sybil.
Now here's where I get crazy: I feel a tad betrayed at least by Stevens. How could you encourage such a drastic change in a season already plagued by it? How????
Random: I hereby like Thomas now. How's THAT for crazy? He looked so great in that suit he wore to the fair, and he seems truly humbled by his forced outing. He fought for Jimmy's honor! How sweet!
And how about O'Brien NOT falling for her evil counterpart's whisky-laden plan to embarrass her at the ball? You can't out-O'Brien O'Brien, am I right?
I must say, I'm not so much grieving as I am crazy angry. I hated the ending and I feel used and abused.
So much of the episode seemed contrived to me — from the lovey dovey, cooing between Mary and Matthew; to the good doctor wooing Isobel (I have no clue what you're saying) Crawley; to old cousin Shrimpy (why couldn't he shake that nursery nickname?) who lost all his money because he didn't "modernize."
But then, I loved how Thomas turned out to be a good guy, James turned out to be a coward, but in the end they became friends. Loved how O'Brien met her mirror image in Scotland. Loved the bagpipes at dinner. Loved the butlers sitting in the Crawley Family Room armchairs. And loved the carnival with the all the servants in their Sunday best, including the smashing hats worn by both the men and the women.
And my favorite scene was Mrs. Hughes and Mrs. Patmore, giggling like school girls about Mrs. Patmore's "fancy man" over tea.
And how about Mary's snobfest regarding Mr. Gregson? She was so unnecessarily douche-y about his presence at Duneagle Castle. Oh, sorrrrry Mary, Edith needs some companionship, too. Not all of us got the perfect storybook ending, OK? Oh wait...
I don't know how to feel about Edith and Gregson, though. I'd love for her to be happy, but she's far too smart to endure as someone's beloved mistress. I'm not a fan of that sitch, and I'm certain the Dowager Countess will strongly disapprove.
Speaking of weird matches, I found myself OK with a Dr. Clarkson/Isobel union--particularly now, since Matthew's gone. Do you suppose she was putting him off politely at the fair, or do you think she wasn't sure what he was going ask? I'm not sure if this little flame is done with.
In another turnaround for me, I came to enjoy the Rose storyline — possibly because next to her mother, it doesn't seem difficult to emerge a delightful breath of fresh air. How awkward were those exchanges between Shrimpy and Susan? God! Don't they know it's rude to blatantly hate another person when there's company?
PS. I think bagpipes should be used at most occasions. When I saw the pipers on "Downton" I asked my husband why we didn't get one for our wedding.
I don't buy that the gentry would act so outrageously toward one another in front of guests, like the Scots did. But there were a few good lines last night:
"Heavens, that's not a word you hear often in the heather," Grandmama said when Lady Susan called her daughter a slut.
"No man's wanted to squire me since the Golden Jubilee" was one of the great lines delivered by Mrs. Patmore.
"That's very modern of you sitting in a pub alone"; Branson to Edna.
"Doubt he needs an under butler and two footmen."
O'Brien's comment , "I do so hate to see a lady's maid downgraded," cracked me up. Explainer here.
And of course, before everyone became enamored with Edith's editor, Lord Grantham asks, "Why do you employ amateurs like my daughter?"
I know Edith is getting no love from the family this season, but don't really want to see her with a married man. Maybe it's modern, but it can only lead to heartbreak. I don't speak from experience. It's what I've read.
Methinks young Rose will aid and abet Lady Edith with whatever shenanigans she might want to employ with Gregson.
And while it was incredibly sweet that Rose taught Anna how to reel for the Ghillies ball, was it me or was that a tad anti-climactic? I really thought she was going to announce pregnancy in the picnic scene with Bates. I'll say this: I would prefer it if the Bateses didn't procreate. He's too old, and I'd rather see Anna develop some sort of career outside of service, if possible.
Violet's statement re: "the heather" was, I think, the quote of the season. That or, "He looks like a footman in a musical review" re: James.
As for the fabulous Mrs. Patmore, I was so relieved when she revealed that Spice Guy was hardly the man of her dreams. PS. He was just gross. Not sure what in the hell the point of him was, but maybe time will tell. Here's hoping he gets his teeth fixed in season 4 if he shows up. *Shiver*
So, are you still feeling angry and bamboozled? I'm surprisingly OK, although I'd say the writers have their work cut out for them going forward, now that they've pulled a stunt like last night's dispatch of Matthew. Such a cruel end. I would've suggested a relocation to America for him and Mary, but I guess that wouldn't work, since he's King of Downton...or was...
So, I'm still angry. To paraphrase Mrs. Hughes, I have a position now and I'm entitled to my feelings.
On a local note, at the fair, did you catch the Westerly, R.I., Morris Men lookalikes dancing around in the background?
And for anyone who says Matthew's accident was not realistic because there were so few cars on the road in the 1920s (I don't think it was realistic for a lot of other reasons), a certain obituary writer I know said President George H.W. Bush's grandmother, Flora Bush, died in a motor car accident in Narragansett, R.I., on Sept. 4, 1920.
Two Rhode Island connections in one episode. Could this be an omen for next season?
I was very excited to see the Morris dancers. I love those guys; no one wears knee-highs as well as they do.
Also, because I'm psychic, I picked out this story to run today. You might be on to something...
Until next season!
Follow Kathleen, @edgecombday; and Marisa, @TheMDesk on Twitter.
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