Downton Abbey, Season 3, Episode 5: Review

Julian Fellowes is a dog hater!

If you are anything like me, you watched the Super Bowl until 9 p.m., and then you made everybody mad at the party by changing the channel to Downton Abbey to catch the latest episode. Then, by the end of the episode, everyone thanked you for saving them from that monotonous drivel that is overpaid professional athletes hitting each other over a small ball and introducing them to the glories of a period British soap opera.

Admittedly, this week’s episode was difficult to watch, due to last week’s travesty: Lady Sybil’s death. Hold on. The flashback of her demise is forcing me to take a ten second break to go and cuddle my terrier puppy for comfort.

Ok, I have received enough solace from cute furriness to soldier on through my grief and recount this week’s episode.

Downton is in mourning for Sybil, as evidenced by all the black armbands and gloomy faces. Cora is dealing with her grief by continuing to be pissed off at her husband and Robert is dealing with his grief (and Cora’s anger) by being a downright jerk. Arghggh, I thought icky, dicky Lord Grantham had gone the way of Germany’s pride post-WWI after Season 2. Apparently not, since he’s continuing his campaign to be the Mayor of Pratville all throughout this episode. First, he doesn’t seem to realize exactly why Cora is mad at him (oh, maybe because your stubborn idiocy in backing Tapsell against Dr. Clarkson contributed greatly to SYBIL’S DEATH?). Then, he takes exception to the baby being baptized Catholic, like Tom. Ummm, Robert? It’s HIS kid. Also, Protestant and Catholic are brothers from the same mother that just don’t want to admit they’re related. Duh. 

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Oh, he doesn’t stop there. First, he invites a Protestant Minister to dinner, to hammer home his “No Catholics!” in the family point. Then, he tries to chase Tom away (but changes his mind when his mother points out the various and myriad plebian influences that will be forced on his little granddaughter if she’s brought up in a garage in Liverpool). After that, he complains to Mary, who basically tells him to suck it up and stop being a snob (I love Mary). And then, THEN, he takes exception at naming the baby Sybil. Seriously, Robert? Seriously? SERIOUSLY????

Still not learning his lesson, he has an unjustified rage attack when he realizes that the ladies of Downton are having a “lift your spirits” luncheon over at Mrs. Crawley’s house. Normally, this wouldn’t be a problem, but Carson learns that Mrs. Crawley has taken Ethel the fallen hussy on as a cook. After forbidding the staff to go to the house (an order that is disobeyed by both Mrs. Hughes and Mrs. Patmore), Carson tattles and tells Lord Grantham. Lord Grantham storms over, interrupting a lovely luncheon with delicious pudding and orders everyone out. No one moves. Robert slinks out as Cora glares and continues to freeze out his existence and you can just see the divorce papers being drawn up.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t happen because the Dowager Countess gets it into her head that “people like us aren’t unhappily married.” Um, excuse me writers of Downton, this was the ERA of unhappy high society marriages and didn’t Robert marry Cora in this first place just for her money? Continuity/bad line score all around. Now, if she had given him a “keeping up the appearances” lecture or a “it pains me to see you two in pain” sort of thing, ok, fine. But this “don’t have unhappy marriages” crap is just, well, crap.

Since lazy writing does not stop episodes in their tracks (though it should), good ol’ Violet bullies Dr. Clarkson into telling both Cora and Robert that even if he had operated, Sybil would have died anyways. Cora cries and hugs Robert, symbolizing her anger is over. Robert pats her back and looks smug. The Dowager Countess averts her eyes from all the emotion and seems to think her duty is done. And the feminists in me and the Ghost of Sybil are both screaming and burning our bras (or in her case, a corset) at this flagrant “poor, silly woman” storyline. Way to keep the sexes down, Lady Violet.

 Other than that, upstairs not much else happens, but Edith exists and Matthew and Mary have snuggle/beddy time (Mary apparently has forgiven Matthew for his bad estate talk timing from last week). They also hold their niece, eliciting “awwws” and shouts of “baby foreshadowing!!!” from certain people/me. 

Downstairs, things are astir mainly because Carson learns Ethel is local. Carson being Carson, he forbids any of the staff to visit Ethel. Mrs. Patmore and Mrs. Hughes being better than that, disobey him and help Ethel out when she has to cook luncheon for the Downton ladies (apparently, Ethel still sucks as a cook). Carson is furious. Mrs. Patmore and Mrs. Hughes take offense that he thinks THEY are corruptible (though Mrs. Patmore looks so adorably shamefaced at her disobedience, I just want to pinch both her ruddy cheeks). Carson deflates and sputters and the ladies triumph.

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The entire Alfred-Jimmy-Thomas-Daisy-Ivy circus continues to prance onward; as Thomas hits on an uncomfortable Jimmy; sexually threatened Jimmy continues to flirt with Ivy; Alfred crushes on Ivy and hates Jimmy; and Daisy shoots death glares at just about everyone because no one wants to date her. She does, however, get a rather significant offer from William’s father: if she leaves Downton and comes to live with him on the farm, he’ll leave everything with her. I hope she does. Daisy is wasted in the kitchens and it’s not like she’s going to get another promotion unless Mrs. Patmore dies/retires. Plus, she can find some hot farmer and parade him around whenever she chooses to visit the kitchens of Downton in all her property-owner glory.

Finally, FINALLY, the episode deigns to wrap up the Bates storyline by getting the neighbor to recant her recant (she said she had mentioned pie crust under Vera’s fingers, then she didn’t) after Bates throws his weight around in the prison a bit. Sooo that means: BATES IS BEING FREED! Hooooray! Finally, a man of sense and respect and integrity is returning to Downton Abbey. And he and Anna can be together! And be adorable! And make lots of plucky British babies!

Thank goodness all the wrongful imprisonment is finally coming to a conclusion. If Julian Fellowes decides to mess with Bates one more time, I swear, I will find a hacker who will send a virus to his computer that will corrupt whatever writing program he uses. I mean, come on. Bates is such a basset hound and Fellowes just keeps kicking him. Conclusion: Julian Fellowes hates dogs and I wouldn’t be surprised if he tries to off that yellow Lab in the credits. I mean, last season he had her dognapped. What’s next? A dog serial killer???? 

Someone needs to call the British version of the ASPCA ASAP. Wow. That was way too many acronyms in one sentence, so on that note, I’m ending this week’s  Downton review.