“Downton Abbey” thoughts, Season Four, Episode Three

* Anna a woman alone, isolated against the sky outside the Abbey. Why subtle when you can spectacle?

* “I always think there’s something rather foreign about high spirits at breakfast.” Tell me about it, Lady Violet.

* The relationship between Isobel and the Doctor is one of my favorites on the show because of its politesse. “I’ll think about it,” she says of one of his attempts to persuade her back into business as a health advocate at the hospital. Then she adds “I will — I promise.” A promise to him and to her. lovely.

* “Don’t be transparent, Mama. It doesn’t suit you.” Throughout this episode Lady Mary’s Dowager comes out.

* Wait, Branson slept with thirsty maid? How did I miss that? Oh, right, the rape scene.

* “I am already full of regrets. There is nothing but regret in me.” The Irish can be exceedingly bleak. No, seriously, fabulous line. This is a well-written show, if you like to hear complex sentiments elegantly expressed, which I do.

* “It’s immoral to react in such a jealous and selfish way.” “If we only had moral thoughts, what would the poor churchmen find to do?” You see what I’m saying? That’s a funny Dowager line, but it’s also an exchange in which Isobel isolates and upbraids an emotion inside her she dislikes but feels nonetheless. You really don’t get that on TV very often — everyone’s either straightforward or deceitful. Few people are at the usual low-grade war with themselves that we all are.

* “I hope you find a way to make friends with the world again.”

* “Being a family means welcoming new members, isn’t that right Braithwaite.” Lady Cora can always be counted on for all-too-apt obliviousness.

* Say what you will about the conservatism of Downton Abbey and Julian Fellowes, but having Lord Robert refer to having doctors’ offices outside of hospitals as potentially creating “a nation of hypochondriacs” is not meant to make this position sympathetic.

* “Ivy moves so fast for a beginner, don’t she?” It’s fun to see Daisy take a crack at someone, but I still just could not care less about this footman/kitchen maid love quadrangle.

* “The woman you loved loved you.” “But it doesn’t change anything.” “It changes you, from where I’m looking.” Again, a complex set of ideas about interpersonal relationships expressed elegantly. And by Hughes and Carson, no less!

* An exception to this rule, and to my ears an appropriate one, is the bluntness with which Anna describes how being raped makes her feel, which of course is where this episode, and the season, and possibly the series, was going to rise and fall. “I’m not good enough for him. Because I think I must have somehow made it happen. I feel dirty. I’m soiled.” These are concepts that we learn about, if we’re lucky, in books and articles and essays designed to introduce them only to tell us “no, this isn’t true.” But Anna doesn’t have that. She can’t, and doesn’t need to, come up with some mellifluous way to reinvent the wheel about these feelings. She just comes out and says them. Mrs. Hughes tries her best to bat them down, but they’re snubnosed and strong.

* “Better a broken heart than a broken neck.” Perhaps Anna’s focus on Bates’s reaction is designed to show us her side of their mutual selflessness. Perhaps it’s designed to indicate she’s more comfortable worrying about him than she is dealing with how she feels about what happened to her. I think either is valid.

* Gillingham’s alright I guess.

* What a weird voice on that jazz singer!

* Cousin Rose dancing with a……………………

* LOL, leave it to the Irishman to punch downward in the social standings! This is as depressing here as it ever is.

* “I will find out” sez Bates. This is…less than romantic, dude!

* “Jeez, Mrs. Hughes.” That’s what my notes said, and I’m not sure why. But boy, is she a mover and a shaker this season! Oh wait, now I remember, it’s that Branson went right to her, of all people, to confess his dalliance, which I’m still not sure happened or not. Tom, she’s got enough on her plate right now.

* Gillingham pops the question after a whirlwind four-day courtship. “He’s dead, and I’m alive.” This is…less than romantic, dude!

* “You fill my brain.” Okay, that’s better.

* “You’re very persuasive.” “Then be persuaded.” Even warmer!

* “Take as long as you need.” Oh brother.

* Wow, Mrs. Hughes is Sherlock Holmes!

* “You can’t force me,” sez Edna of taking some kind of primitive pregnancy exam. Oh yes I can, says Mrs. Hughes. This is a troubling conversation to have given the concurrent rape storyline.

* Edna’s out, much to my surprise. This show moves quicker than Ivy!

* Edna reads Thomas, and vice versa. Glorious.

* “Edith’s about as mysterious as a bucket.” Lady Mary out-Dowagers the Dowager!

* “I don’t dislike him.” “Ooh, what a recommendation.” Violet on the comeback trail!

* Whoa, Edith and Gregson getting their fuck on!!!!

* “It’s good for you to be reminded you once had a heart, and it’s to reassure the staff that you belong to the human race.” IS THAT MRS. HUGHES’ ENTRANCE THEME I HEAR?

* “The business of life is the acquisition of memories. In the end, that’s all there is.” -Carson. Again, this is a very well-written show! And this may be close to its raison d’etre?

* Glad to see a Robert/Bates scene. “My goodness, that was strong talk for an Englishman.” Bon mots for everyone!

* “Matthew fills mine, still, and I don’t want to be without him. Not yet.” Lady Mary letting Gillingham down relatively easy, given the stridency of his “he’s dead and I’m alive.”

* “I’ll never love again as I love you in this moment, and I must have something to remember.” Yes, it’s been quite a long weekend!

* On the other hand, Kissing someone you know you will not be with, just to feel good? Ah, that’s romantic as hell. Erotic, even.

* Jesus the sunlight on their silhouettes after Mary jilts Tony, talking to Tom and Robert in the foyer, goddamn. And then Rosamund and Edith, streaks of red against dark color, sitting in that room. This show is a marvel to look at and listen to.

* “You may find yourself feeling very sorry later” says Rosamund to Edith regarding sleeping with Gregson. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. Is this why we had Tom and Edna’s short-lived pregnancy storyline — for foreshadowing?

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

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