Please don’t read anymore if you haven’t seen this week’s installment.
This week’s episode turned out to be a 2 hour movie – it was a pleasant surprise to have a longer night of drama to savor. The biggest story line of the evening was Thomas Barrow the valet taking a chance on engaging James the footman in a tete-a-tete and getting caught red handed by Alfred, another footman. This dalliance by Thomas was initially supposed to end in his dismissal from Downton without a reference thanks to O’Brien’s meddling. But in the end thanks to Bates’ sympathy in righting the wrong resulted in Thomas not only staying on, but gaining an under-butler assignment. Plot lines that ricochet like this, no doubt developed by the creator Julien Fellows permeate this series. It is a bit hard to believe how these convoluted story lines change like a chameleon, but overlooking this flaw it makes for good story. I guess karma plays a part in Fellows’ story development.
One character that has emerged possessing the wisdom of King Solomon is Branson, Lady Sybil’s widower. In his ability to look at the situation from all angles, and being able to speak calmly and plainly, he singlehandedly has brought together all of the factions, namely Lord Grantham and Matthew, for the good of perpetuating the estate. I am glad he has won over the Downton women, because without them on his side, he might not be thriving in the position of Downton diplomat.
The Dowager Countess is up to her usual meddling, but for the greater good. She placed an ad for Lady Isobel’s maid Ethel to remove her from Downton and village scandal, but it turned out that Ethel was able to find a position near the Bentley family to be near her son. Another one of Fellows’ convoluted plot lines, that worked out for the best of all involved. She also deftly handled the young niece Lady Rose, who was fooling around with a married man; she was able to ship her north to Scotland and get her out of the picture before she ruined her reputation. Week 7 previews teased a trip north to Scotland by the Downton family, should be an interesting episode.
And now on to Lady Edith. She decided to become a journalist, and met her editor who right away began to flirt and pursue her. She discovers he is married to a mad woman who he cannot divorce, so now poor Edith is in another quandary. How she handles this latest predicament bears watching, I just hope she finds her way to a happy partnership, she deserves it after being jilted at the altar.
Mary and Matthew had an issue come up this week too: in their quest to have a baby, Matthew was taking on the burden of being the one who was having difficulty on his end contributing to the conception of the child. Turns out it was Mary, and she wound up having a surgical procedure to correct the problem. The problem though is why did she leave her husband in the dark, leading him to think that the marriage was under pressure? Perhaps she should take a cue from Branson and be more open and honest about matters affecting the couple. One thing though that is definite, their love is professed often and they adore each other.
The understory of this episode was the house recruiting a team to play cricket against the town team. There were scenes throughout the 2 hours anticipating the match, and recruiting men to play for Downton. The comic relief was provided by Molesley who professed to be a good player, when in actuality he was the one who couldn’t produce when the play began. I was sympathetic to Molesley earlier on, but it seems like his character has morphed into a silly presence, which undermines his former dignity. But with all the tragedy surrounding the abbey, his comedic actions gives a bit of levity to the series. I am glad that Bates has reestablished his presence, its like he never left and he is comfortably back in the role of hammer to Mr. Carson’s authority. I am happy for Anna that she has her man back in her arms.
So next episode is the last one of the season. I hope it ends on a good note and doesn’t leave us hanging until next winter. I anticipate there will be many twists and turns next week, so stay tuned…