“Downton Abbey” thoughts, Season Three, Episode Four

The thing about comfort food is that when someone serves you a piping hot plate of it week after week, you never suspect that one day they’re going to grab it and smash it into your face.

My review of tonight’s episode of Downton Abbey is up at Rolling Stone.

5 Responses to “Downton Abbey” thoughts, Season Three, Episode Four

  1. BW Costello says:

    Great piece. I’m suddenly engaged by what had been a pretty lackluster season to this point, not just because of the events of last night’s ep but by the way that the show is gradually positioning Robert as a villain simply by virtue of his continuing to be who he’s always been while the world changes around him.

  2. Hob says:

    Really nicely done, the review and the episode.

    One thing I haven’t seen mentioned much, maybe because it stands out more if you’ve been around lots and lots of doctors, is that with Sir Phililp vs. Clarkson we have two different types of paternalism, one of which just happens to be more dangerous in this situation. Sir Philip treats the very rich; Clarkson is a village doctor who also sometimes treats the very rich. So Philip probably works less often and also sees emergency complications less often (eclampsia was & is correlated with lower income). But also, for him it’s more important to be able to say “everything is fine, trust me” in a nice deep voice and make the anxious rich people feel safe– at least, the male ones– because as long as everything does turn out fine, that’s how he’ll get recommendations. And Clarkson is fucking up his story, so it’s important to him that Clarkson not be right.

    Clarkson’s patients, at least the non-Grantham ones, don’t have much choice about which doctor they go to. He’s more used to giving people bad news and just assuming they’ll deal with it (although part of that may just be that he lacks social skills; he sure doesn’t know how to talk to anyone in an emergency any better than Philip does). He’s still dismissive of others’ opinions, especially women, but he’s at least able to admit that there are limits to medicine and to his control, whereas “there’s nothing I can do now” is a no-no in Philip’s professional vocabulary.

    • I’d give Clarkson more credit than that, if only because my wife’s watching the series for the first time and thus an early episode in which he (after some persuasion) sides with Isobel over Violet over an experimental treatment for the farmer who was sick with dropsy is fresh in my mind.

      • Hob says:

        Yeah, he did do the right thing there eventually – I just mean that his instincts are still pretty retrograde (though I’m not sure that’s the right word, since a lot of doctors are still like that); if Isobel had been just a very knowledgeable nurse with an interest in medical research, rather than a sort-of-aristocrat from a family of doctors with an unusually forceful personality, he’d probably have shown her the door.

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