Downton Abbey: The Big Bad, Revealed!

For five years, I’ve liked Charlie Carson, the butler at Downton Abbey. He might be uptight, but he does it because he has standards. He’s a professional, and he’s devoted his life, competely and utterly, to the Crawley family. He has his blinders, especially where Lady Mary is concerned, true, but it’s always to a good end.

No more.

This season, Carson has managed to make Thomas Barrow look sympathetic. Barrow. The one who’s always plotting and scheming and trying to get someone fired.

For the past five weeks, Carson has been giving Barrow a strong push out the door. This week, when Barrow begins to teach Andy how to read (last week we learned he was illiterate), Carson questions him about it, and Barrow, choosing to protect Andy’s secret (that he can’t read), asks Carson for a little trust. Carson says no.

How do we end the episode? With Barrow, sitting alone in the Servants’ Hall, crying.

Good job, Carson, you fucking dickhole.

But it’s not just Barrow that Carson is being a dickhole towards. Carson has a wife now — the former Mrs. Hughes — and he’s not treating her any better.

Carson is unhappy with her standard of cleaning in their own home. He doesn’t feel she makes the corners of the bed “crisp” enough. Her cooking is insufficient. In short, she can do nothing right. He sits at their dinner table, tells her everything she’s doing wrong, and shoots down any idea she has. The final straw may be when he decides that, because Lord Grantham has given up wine, they will also give up drinking wine.

I’m done with Carson.

Another character I’m done with?


I’m not going to expend many words on the subject of Daisy, because I think I’ve said them all in weeks past. She’s become a thoroughly unpleasant character as she’s aged — by this point, she should be in her mid- to late-twenties — and she should have learned better.

I get that she’s protective of Mr. Mason, which is quite a change from previous years where she deliberately stayed away from him. But it’s leading her to snapping at people when they say something nice about Mr. Mason, and this week it’s caused her to all but cockblock Mr. Mason when he showed an interest in Mrs. Patmore.

You can tell I’m pissed off; I’m using language that would make Cora faint.

If I thought there were a point to Daisy’s arc this season, if I felt that she would grow and learn from this, I might not be as annoyed with the character. But I don’t see Daisy growing and learning at all. You go back to the throwdown she wanted to have with Cora a few weeks ago, and she didn’t learn anything from that. Daisy is who she is.

The vituperation out of the way, there have been some auspicious moves this week.

After five seasons of being the butt of jokes and a bit of a sadsack, Molesley is really coming into his own. The headmaster of the local school has asked Molesley to sit for an exam to test his knowledge because he might have the skills and knowledge to be a teacher. This is a nice turn for a character who has been portrayed as a pathetic joke for most of the last five years.

Bertie Pelham, the agent at Brancaster Castle (and the distant cousin of the Marquis of Hexham), pays Downton Abbey a visit. Edith drives up in the car as he’s walking up the road toward the house, she stops, they kiss. It’s sweet. 🙂

They have an easy, comfortable relationship. Of course, some people think they shouldn’t encourage Edith in this relationship…

Robert has a point, I suppose. She’s the second daughter of an earl. He’s a titleless estate agent. He worries that Bertie has nothing to offer Edith.

But then, neither does Ozymandias have anything to offer his eldest daughter. And he, at least, admits it.

Mary cajoles Tom into visiting London with her where she contrives a dinner rendezvous with the eternally friendzoned Evelyn Napier and Henry Talbot, aka Ozymandias. There’s a nice dinner, there’s a moment where Tom excuses himself so that Mary and Ozymandias can be alone, Mary and Ozy get caught in the rain, there’s a kiss in an alleyway…

Ozymandias doesn’t have a title. He doesn’t have land. He just races cars.

I, personally, don’t see anything in the character (he hasn’t been written with any depth as yet), I don’t see why Mary would find Ozymandias appealing, and I don’t see why Tom has decided to play matchmaker for Mary to the extent that he has, but it’s the final season and there’s probably not enough time left for Downton Abbey to introduce a credible romantic pairing for Mary at this point.

In other plots, Violet tells Isobel to get over herself and admit that she loves Lord Merton and she’s being selfish by letting his idiot son get in the way. This is long overdue.

The local hospital will be merged with the York hospital, but everything will stay the same… except that Cora, not Violet, will be the hospital’s president.

And, the family opens the house to a tour for charity. The two points of interest here — first, Bertie takes charge, and second, the Crawleys are woefully ignorant about the history of their own home.

With three episodes left, this was a space-filler episode. It moves a few plots forward (mainly the relationships for Mary and Edith, but also Thomas’ increasing sense of alienation and despair), but otherwise it was pretty forgettable and dull.

Tune in next week to find out who will feel the wrath of Carson’s cane!

Published by Allyn

A writer, editor, journalist, sometimes coder, occasional historian, and all-around scholar, Allyn Gibson is the writer for Diamond Comic Distributors' monthly PREVIEWS catalog, used by comic book shops and throughout the comics industry, and the editor for its monthly order forms. In his over ten years in the industry, Allyn has interviewed comics creators and pop culture celebrities, covered conventions, analyzed industry revenue trends, and written copy for comics, toys, and other pop culture merchandise. Allyn is also known for his short fiction (including the Star Trek story "Make-Believe,"the Doctor Who short story "The Spindle of Necessity," and the ReDeus story "The Ginger Kid"). Allyn has been blogging regularly with WordPress since 2004.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *