‘Downton Abbey’ Recap: Everyone Is in Mourning


Yes, everyone, Lady Sybil is still dead. Unlike Matthew’s fickle paralysis and the waddle below the Dowager Countess’ neck there is not going to be any changing that. And everyone continues to be so, so very sad now that she’s gone. There were more pale faces on the show than in a consumption ward in a Charles Dickens novel. There were just as many jails too. God, can we just get Bates out of jail already? I continue to not care one lick about this storyline at all. I mean a vital young woman can have a baby and die in half an episode and they can’t even figure out how to get one poor loser out of the clink in over four? Seriously!

Well, there were plenty of things to love and hate in this episode, so let’s get right down to it, shall we?


Ethel Can’t Cook: It’s so sweet that Isobel gave Old Pro Ethel a job as her maid and I love that she’s a terrible cook. Poor Isobel, always the Christian martyr can’t admit to herself or others when she’s made a terrible mistake. It’s when that annoying friend of yours in college went vegan and the first time her birthday rolled around and she got a vegan cupcake and you watch the pained expression on her face as she tries to get that congealed sawdust with too much sugar down her gob. I love that face.

The Way Mrs. Hughes Says Ethel: I’m not quite sure how it’s different but it’s like the combination of a sneer and a vocal twirl. Like she wants to disparage her and herald her arrival at the same time. Mostly it’s the drawn out “lllllll” at the end of her voice.

Edith’s Seat at the Table: For whatever stupid antiquated reason Edith, my heroine in journalistic integrity, is not allowed to eat breakfast in bed because she’s not married, but when all the men are sitting around at breakfast discussing the fate of Sybil’s child, she’s the only woman in the house with a voice in the discussions. Funny how my darling Edith is more powerful than ever.

William’s Father Loves a Lady: Isn’t it so nice that William, the footman who died in WW I and was so idiotic that he was obsessed with Daisy (and how many times did we have to hear her annoying Cockney say, “But Aye don’t luv ‘im!”), hooked his beloved blushing bride up with his father? Isn’t it so nice that this working man has figured out that Downton and all the great houses are just waiting to be scrapped for bricks or turned into museums once PBS shows make them famous and fat Americans journey hours by plane and light rail to see them? Don’t you love that he wants to leave his farm to a woman to run? Don’t you love how modern he is? Don’t you wish he’d be more modern with a woman we love and not, you know, stupid Daisy?

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The Luck of the Irish: Of course Branson, like a good Irish man, only wants to farm sheep on his little farm that Matthew offers to give him. (And seriously, Branson, for the good of future seasons and your muscles stretching out undershirts and work shirts and filling out a pair of overalls, you should really take the damn farm.) Have you ever been to Ireland? The only think you’ll see more of than green, rain, and drunk driving PSAs are freaking sheep. There are no real crops, other than potatoes, shamrocks, and some sort of grain that they use to make the most delicous brown bread in the entire world. (Note to my Irish readers: If you send me a loaf of brown bread, I will drive all the snakes out of your country.) And then, as if to make himself sound even more Irish, he says that he’s just going to get a cousin of his to help him take care of his daughter. If there is one thing that the Irish have more than sheep it’s layabout cousins.

The Lord of Nothing: Oh god, how awful is Lord Grantham this season? He’s just so awful and old fashioned and no one is listening to him and everything he says is just stupid and wrong-headed and gets Mary’s panties in a wad more than Edith spitting in her split pea soup. Cora won’t forgive him for what he did to Sybil, he won’t relinquish any control of the estate to Matthew even though he realizes he’s the fool who put them in this position in the first place, and he has a total conniption when Branson says he wants his daughter to be Catholic. I know it’s hard to change, but he needs an attitude adjustment like Jimmy Kent needs a lesson on how to wind the clocks. The one good part came when he accused Mary of being against him and (that spoiled brat) Mary says “I”m never against you, but you’ve lost on this one.” It’s not that she’s against him it’s that she, and everyone else, it seems, is against everything he believes in. If he’s going to keep behaving like this, I’m glad everyone is treating him like crap.

No One Cares About Ethel: The only two people who care that Ethel was a whore are Carson and Lord Grantham and all the other women and whatnot are like, “Whatever, she sold it and now she’s getting her life together. That’s no crime. But you should taste her Salmon Mousse. They should lock her away with Bates for serving that.” It’s probably just that Carson and Our Lord are the only two that have hired hookers in the past so they’re feeling some sort of projected guilt.

Violet’s Quip of the Week: “She has an appropriate costume for every activity”

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Branson’s Attire: This was the guy who refused to wear anything but his ratty tweed suit to his sister-in-law (and former employer’s) wedding and now he’s wearing some fancy mourning jacket (not to be confused with a morning jacket or My Morning Jacket) without any sort of fuss. Come on now. That’s just crazy.

Ethel Gets Help: Mrs. Pattmore, I expected more of you. I know you’re a nice lady, but should you really go down there helping Ethel to learn how to cook? No, you should not. You should be at home in your kitchen shoving Daisy’s hands on one of the burners.

Salmon Mousse: Who would ever want to eat something called Salmon Mousse?! It sounds like that pink slime that fast food restaurants make hamburgers out of that caused a national scandal recently.

Lady Mary’s Gossip: How is it that Lady Mary always knows some key bit of information that she deploys at just the right moment and things always go her way. She finds out about Lavinia’s letter so that Matthew gives all her money to save Downton. She finds out Sybil wanted her daughter to be Catholic and then tells everyone about that. I don’t know about you, but if I was in that Crawley family I would begin to get suspicious of Mary’s well-timed pronouncements, wouldn’t you?

Chef Edith: Don’t make Edith learn how to cook. That’s just cruel for the poor girl.

Jimmy’s Gay Panic: I don’t know that I like where this Jimmy and Thomas storyline is going. I love that O’Brien is clamly instigating Thomas’ demise because of what he did to (her son?) Alfred, because I am a bitch and I think plotting like that is fun to watch. However, as an American homosexual, I don’t enjoy that Jimmy is getting all creeped out whenever Thomas touches him. I also don’t like that Thomas is being so handsy with this young man when he’s shown no indication that he wants to be touched. This is going to end either one of two ways. Either we’re going to find out that Jimmy, like Thomas, is gay and the reason he’s so uncomfortable is because he’s working out some issues of his own or, like O’Brien hopes, Thomas is going to go too far and Jimmy is going to bludgeon Thomas to death with a poker. I hope it’s the former and not the latter. And if it is the latter, can we forget about him to rot in jail so that it’s not all dragged out and awful like the whole Bates storyline?

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Bates’ Lost Statement: Speaking of the awful Bates storyline, I said I wasn’t going to talk about it anymore because it bores me so much, but I have to bring it up for a second to talk about a pattern of behavior on the show that I absolutely loathe. Mr. Murray, the lawyer, goes to see that mean old lady who saw the dead Mrs. Bates baking a pie and somehow proves that Bates is innocent (we don’t care how just so that this will stop). We see Mr. Murray go to talk to her and she is especially uncooperative. Then we see him come to Anna and say, “I got her to make a statement. Bates will be freed.” Say what? How did you do it? How did she change her mind? When is this going to happen? Why can’t you show us! Yes, this is a television show. On a television show we all watch things. Do you know what someone telling you about something that happened is? It is not watching, it is hearing. Do you know where you hear things? On the radio. We aren’t listening to the radio. It’s time that Downton starts with more showing and less telling. They had the same problem when Mary was like, “Matthew, I opened your secret letter and I read it,” and we never got to see it. That is ridiculous. Save all these stupid things for the audiobook. In the meantime, why not show us the key events that drive along the plot, no matter how ludicrous or tedious those plots may be.

Follow Brian Moylan on Twitter @BrianJMoylan

[Photo Credit: Masterpiece]