Catch up on the rest of our Downton Abbey Blog
In the aftermath of Sybil’s death, Downton did remarkably well at packing in the laughs. There were some tearjerkers such as the funeral, the Earl talking about Sybil’s favourite rose, grieving Mary offering sympathy to Anna and Branson’s puppy dog eyes; but there were also plenty of one liners.
“Do I look like a frolicker?”
It’s amazing really that they didn’t come across as insensitive, but then Downton’s wit has always been on the sweet and genteel side. Cue Carson and the most indignant eyebrows we’ve seen yet – they were higher even than when the new toaster arrived and Edith threatened to write a newspaper column. Not one of the ladies refused to eat a delightful charlotte cake crafted at the hands of a hussy? What is the world coming to?
It was an episode of characters on form – Mary and Matthew were beacons of heartfelt, proper togetherness, gently steering the rest of the house out of grief and into activity. After the first couple of bedroom scenes between them I was beginning to get a bit queasy, but last night’s embrace was touching and emotional. Their coming together in the light of recent tragedy was also an excellent juxtaposition to the divide between Cora and Robert. If there’s one thing that was a little unbelievable it had to be Cora’s unquestioning acceptance of Dr Clarkson’s badly lied confession that nothing could have saved Sybil – but hey, we can’t have Cora and Robert apart for long.
It seems to me that I haven’t commented nearly enough on the Dowager this series – but it’s hard to think of new ways to praise her perfection every week. She simply is the backbone of the show, and, sometimes, the only thing holding the ridiculous plots together, thwarting bad dialogue at every turn. This week she was the essential balance needed between compassion (“I do not speak much of the heart because it is seldom helpful to do so. But I know well enough the pain when it is broken.”) and cynicism (“Perhaps she could go and stay with ‘that woman’ in America.”).
Downstairs Daisy’s love triangle (rectangle? pentagon?) is gathering pace like an avalanche – could affairs of the heart below stairs take out the entire household? Unlikely, unless there’s a mass suicide out of unrequited love and the aristocrats starve to death because Edith never did learn to cook. Daisy definitely likes Alfred, who’s pretty clearly chasing new kitchen maid Ivy. Is Ivy really that bothered about Jimmy? Hard to tell but even if she is she’s probably terrified by the competition from Thomas. And who exactly does Jimmy like? Please let it be Daisy!
Welcome return too for William’s lovely dad, getting Daisy her ticket out of service. She’s going to be a free independent woman, rocking the farm, making posh farmers market chutneys and bossing around trophy husband Jimmy. One of the most touching moments of not just this series but the entirety of Downton has to be the sadness in Mrs Patmore’s eyes when Daisy discusses leaving Downton with her. The Mrs Patmore and Daisy double act has dwindled over the years, and it would be devastating to cast the two of them asunder, but it was gratifying to see they still love each other really.
Finally, on the preview for next week’s episode, the most shocking twist we’ve ever had – BATES REALLY HAS MADE IT OUT OF PRISON. Can’t wait to see Thomas’s face.