This week on Downton Abbey, Edith’s wedding day finally arrives only for her dream of marital bliss to turn into a nightmare.
Meanwhile, Matthew gets to take one last annoying moral stance before giving in to the power of plot necessity. Everyone treats a giant country estate like it is a shanty made of cardboard while Branson scribbles into his diary about stupid rich people.
And downstairs, O’Brien and Thomas continue their battle to discover once and for all who is the most terrible person, as I compose an epic love ballad to Carson and Mrs. Hughes.
This week’s episode is neither as exciting nor as irritating as last week’s outing, while still ratcheting up the drama quotient. Now that we know what the show is like with Shirley MacLaine, it’s devilishly hard to let go of her free-spirited American matriarch and dive back into the stuffy halls of Downton.
It’s possible the Crawley brush with relative poverty will be a storyline that bears fruit down the line and tells us something new and different about the characters. For now, however, it just seems like an annoying diversion too quickly swept under the rug. If the goal is to get Matthew and Lord Grantham to work as partners in the running of Downton’s estate, it feels like there should have been a less melodramatic and more organic way of accomplishing this task.
Even in this episode, Matthew’s character continues to take a hit as he digs his feet in deeper and deeper over his belief that he can’t in good conscience take dead Lavinia’s dead father’s money. Despite the fact that he won’t be hurting anyone if he does take the money, but would certainly be hurting many alive family members if he does not, Matthew persists until the very end.
Thankfully, there is another implausible plot point just around the corner to bail him out of any moral dilemma. It’s amazing how many letters and giant piles of money conveniently pop up at exactly the right moment! Either Matthew has a tiny blue-eyed angel on his beautiful shoulder or this is just terrible storytelling. I’ll let you decide which.
But have no fear, things can’t get too tidy in the Downton universe without something exploding. That something is, of course, poor Edith’s short-lived happiness. I understand the show doesn’t want all three sisters paired off at the same time, but beating up on Edith almost feels tiring at this point. I’m not Edith’s biggest fan, but hasn’t that character paid enough for having a bad attitude?
The more things change, the more things stay exactly the same on Downton Abbey. How will Edith bounce back from her jilting? Will Matthew sort-of owning the house he already sort-of owned change the dynamics of power within the Crawley family? We’ll have to wait and see. Until then, I’ll be doing a jig with Carson that Mrs. Hughes is cancer-free.
While it doesn’t happen until fairly late in the episode, it’s hard to remember much else that happens upstairs after Edith gets jilted at the altar. As the episode opens, Edith is absolutely giddy because, suffering from well-established middle child syndrome, she’s just happy something is finally about her.
Even Sybil is getting into the spirit by making ye olde sex puns. “Vulgarity is no substitute for wit,” the Dowager Countess warns. ‘Well, you started it,” Sybil says, and the Dowager’s facial expression is the best thing I’ve ever seen in my entire life.
There have been so many sex jokes this season, it’s like the Downton version of watching the Jersey Shore. Pretty sure those people don’t know what a weekend is, either.
Lord Grantham and the Dowager Countess aren’t exactly doing back-flips about the marriage due to Sir Anthony’s age. By the way they’re acting, you’d think Sir Anthony is the crypt keeper.
The Dowager says Edith will be an “old man’s drudge.” I have no idea what that entails, but it sounds like a Japanese horror movie. Considering how consistently Sir Anthony smiles, I’m not entirely sure he’s not already a serial killer.
He stops smiling at the altar, however, which is when you know things are about to get really real. After Edith upstages Mary in actually a much nicer (or at least more flattering) wedding dress and the two sisters have a heart-to-heart, it’s sad to see it all go sideways.
Literally on the altar, Sir Anthony comes to the realization that he is indeed old and basically half dead and marrying Edith would be wrong. Everyone glares at him as he runs away and Edith rips off all her wedding finery to cry in embarrassment in the house.
I didn’t particularly want to see Edith marry Sir Smiles-A-Lot, but there was no way I wanted her to be jilted at the altar. Poor Edith. Hopefully, the show will use this as an avenue to develop her character.
In other upstairs developments, everyone visits their retreat home to see if it’s suitable to inhabit. Everyone agrees it is basically one step up from a cardboard box on the side of the road except Cora and Matthew, but due to rampant stupidity his vote doesn’t really count anyway.
Of course, no one will have to move into such a sorry, beautiful country home thanks to Lavinia’s convenient need to send a bedside letter letting her dad know the state of her pre-death love life. Thanks again, Lavania! Your death is the gift that just keeps giving!
Downstairs, the raging battle between O’Brien and Thomas continues and almost claims Mosley as an innocent bystander. Thomas tells Mosley that O’Brien is planning to leave Downton, causing Mosley to ask Cora if his friend’s daughter can take her place.
Cora is shocked that O’Brien would leave without telling her, and Mosley’s droopy face gets that melted candle panicked look about it because he knows he’s done something terrible.
Downstairs, O’Brien promises to come at Mosley hard and Mosley quietly pees himself in terror. But it doesn’t take long for O’Brien to trace the leak back to Thomas and the game remains afoot! Who will win? Who will lose? Does anyone care which of these terrible people gets fired first? We shall see!
It turns out Mrs. Hughes doesn’t have cancer, which makes Carson revert to his showtime days of whistling while he works. Those two are adorable. I would much rather see the epic will-they-won’t-they love of Mrs. Hughes and Carson than watch Mr. Bates’ jail adventures.
Speaking of Anna and Bates, they both have a tough time this week. Anna meets with a friend of the former Mrs. Bates, who says Vera was scared before her death. So no good news for Bates there. In jail, Bates gets on the wrong side of his roommate, but manages to hide the planted evidence before it’s discovered.
God, Bates’ jail storylines are so stupid. Would someone break him out of the pokey already? Couldn’t Mrs. Patmore just bake a shiv into a cake or something? I’m so tired of the jail scenes sucking all the air out of every episode.
The Mary and Matthew of It All
The two hit some bumpy patches this week, due entirely to Matthew stubbornly holding out past the point of all sense or reason. When a letter comes via his lawyer from Lavinia’s father, he flat-out refuses to read it. Mary is like, “You are attractive and I love you, but I am this close to sex-murdering you like I did Mr. Pamuk.”
So instead, Mary reads the letter, which says Lavinia’s dad knew all about the Mary and Matthew of it all from a letter Lavinia sent shortly before expiring. Man, for a nearly-dead girl, Lavinia sure was busy.
Matthew more or less accuses Mary of forging the letter, at which point I give Mary permission to just toss his stupid beautiful face out the window. She doesn’t, however, but sets to finding out if the letter is real. Just when it seems it’s impossible that Lavinia had written a convenient moral absolution letter right before death, Daisy pops in to confirm its existence.
Mary threatens that if Matthew is a jerk-face about this money one more time, she will dig him a shallow grave and he agrees to save Downton. After the failed wedding, Lord Grantham says he will only take Matthew’s money if he agrees to be a co-runner and co-owner of Downton. So Downton is saved! At least for now, anyway.
What did you think of this week’s episode? Were you sad Edith didn’t marry Sir Smiles-A-Lot, or secretly relieved? Who will win in the war between O’Brien and Thomas? Sound off in the comments!
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(Image courtesy of PBS)