Monday, February 4, 2013

Downton Deliberations – Season 3 Episode 6

With all the grief having infiltrated the house, Cora lays it on thick and heavy with Robert. However, whether the men are still licking their wounds, having let their egos run amuck in the previous episode, or they are reestablishing their pecking order; there is a lot of chest puffing and postulating. If nothing they point to how much better and easier life would be were women of more equal stature. They usually bow to them in the end with gratitude anyways.

The subject of Tom leaving the estate comes up. He asserts he will be bringing up the baby as a Catholic. Caught unawares, Robert hadn’t even thought of that as a possibility. Robert shows how he’s losing control of many parts of his life; his arguments fall on a deaf ear, unsuccessfully with Mary; and only Violet can console him with her wisdom.

At dinner one evening, the Vicar gets into a shameful argument about the superiority in God’s eyes the Church of England has over the Catholic Church. Robert overstates his position on being anti-Catholic. Thankfully, before they disgrace themselves further, Cora chimes in, “Not everyone chooses their religion to satisfy Debretts”. 

But there also seems to be a pensive theme woven throughout this episode. Examples include Tom and Matthew discussing their futures ominously, Bates and Mr. Murray preparing to do battle with Mrs. Bates, or Carson flipping his wig on more than one occasion. Carson certainly is entrenched in his ways.

Robert’s mettle is really tested further when he bristles against Matthew and Tom when the conversation turns to the future running of Downton, implying past deficiencies. 

Robert barges in on Mrs. Crawley’s ladies’ luncheon, feeling their being in the presence of a prostitute has disgraced his family’s honor. Once again Cora steps in and quietly shares, “Robert often makes decisions based on values that have no relevance anymore”. His family rebuffs him unanimously, refusing to leave the luncheon. If that were not enough, Cora rebuffs him again that night when he asks to move back into “their” bedroom.

Mary points out that the world isn’t going his way, and that is what is bothering him. She helps Robert to come back to center, although he has still to make up with Cora.

News comes that Bates will be released from prison and Robert is truly grateful and happy. And then to boost his spirits a bit more, Dr. Clarkson, under prodding from Violet, explains that Sybil’s death was virtually inevitable, allowing Cora to quickly forgive Robert, leaving them weeping in one another’s arms.

I can’t wait to see what happens next week, with Bates presumably returning. No doubt some feathers will be ruffled. Please leave your comments below and start a conversation!

The Etiquette Guy

I still get chills when the music starts even though this season of Downton has taken a dramatic and sad turn.  We start with everyone returning from Sybil’s funeral and it’s easy to wonder if the family will ever recover.  Alan Leech’s acting is tremendous; he has transformed himself into the perfect picture of a grieving husband.

Violet seems to have aged a hundred years; I hope this wont get the best of her and leave us without the Dowager Countess next season.  In the meantime she has a meeting with Dr. Clarkson about Sybil’s death.  She convinces him to tell Cora and Robert that Sybil would’ve died regardless of who her doctor was in an attempt to save their marriage.  "Lie is so unmusical a word" is the line of the episode.

Robert is taking his grief out on Tom who wants to leave Downton with the baby, name her Sybil and christen her Catholic.  It’s almost more than Robert can stomach under the circumstances.  He goes so far as to invite the local vicar to dinner in an attempt to make Tom see the light.  It’s no surprise how that dinner went and the rest of the family stands up for Tom, even Violet.  Mary tells everyone that Sybil told her she wants the baby baptized Catholic, which seems to be the end of that argument. Eventually Mary talks Robert around, speaking of Sybil’s love for Tom. 

Matthew and Tom discuss the future of the estate when Matthew learns how much Tom knows about farming.  Given the bond between the two of them it wouldn’t be surprising to find Matthew convincing Tom to stay and help run the estate.

Cora asks if it’s ever really over when one loses a child.  I think it’s safe to say the answer is no.  The tension between her and Robert seems insurmountable even though Robert desperately wants back into their bedroom. Being American she is much more practical and just can’t bring herself to forgive Robert for being the reason Sybil died. 

Ethel is doing her best to learn how to be a housemaid and cook.  Of all of them she knows perhaps the most the grief Cora is facing.  It’s not quite the same thing but certainly Edith knows she will never see her child again too.  It’s interesting they way they have countered Edith and Cora in this episode, two women, from opposite ends of the class system, facing a life without their child.  In a brave move Ethel approaches Mrs. Patmore for some cooking lessons which, when is found out by Mr. Carson, just about causes him to spontaneously combust.  It seems any women going to Isobel’s house will be accused of frolicking with prostitutes.

Isobel invites the women for luncheon at Crawley House when Robert bursts in determined to take the women home – it seems Mr. Carson has told him that Ethel is working for Isobel.  The whole story comes out but Cora refuses to leave, stating she is glad to know Mrs. Patmore has a good heart for helping Ethel.  Robert storms out leaving the six women staring at the slammed door.  I think the times are changing!

Bates is still in prison…blah blah blah.  Seriously Fellowes, get on with it!  Anna is starting to crack under the pressure of waiting for Mr. Bates to be released from prison and no wonder, between the letters being held back from both of them and the world’s worst lawyer; he could be there until Season 10!  Thank goodness for the letter that came telling Anna that Mrs. Bartlett has decided to tell the truth – Mr. Bates will be released in a few weeks!  Let’s hope that’s in Downton time and not real time.

Downstairs there is a love triangle between – well it is a triangle?  Or a polygon?  Either way, it’s dull as dishwater compared to the Anna/Bates storyline of the first two seasons.

Daisy visits Mr Mason and it’s so lovely to see the two of them spending time together, each of them having the family they need.  He offers her the farm to run eventually, wanting her to come live with him and learn the trade. The look on Mrs Patmore’s face when Daisy tells her says it all.  Daisy would be missed.

Oh Thomas…it will end in tears.  Always chasing the unattainable.  I am almost feeling bad for him.

Cora and Robert agree to visit Violet and Dr Clarkson delivers the news – Sybil would likely not have lived under any circumstances and they are not to blame Dr. Tapsell.  Finally Cora can properly grieve with her husband and allows him to comfort her.

My favourite scene of this episode is Mary and Matthew in bed, he tells her he will love her until the last breath leaves his body.  I am happy they are finally together and married.