Downton Abbey: The Shallowness of Robert Crawley

I have been stymied in my efforts to write any sort of interesting piece on Sunday’s episode of Downton Abbey, the penultimate episode of the sixth season (but the antepenultimate episode of the series as a whole). Things happened, but nothing really grabbed me, at least not in any positive ways.

The most notable feature in the episode, to me, was the differing attitudes Robert has toward his daughters’ suitors. Just last week, Robert said that they shouldn’t encourage Edith in her burgeoning relationship with Bertie Pelham; she is the owner of The Sketch and (paraphrasing from memory) “one of the interesting women of the age,” while he is a “penniless land agent with no prospects.” This week, he’s positively excited by Ozymandias (aka Henry Talbot), even though he’s a titleless race car driver and Mary prefers him to Tony Gillingham, who had both title and land. In Robert’s mind, it’s perfectly fine for Ozymandias to make Mary happy, but Edith shouldn’t be encouraged in her happiness with Bertie, even though Ozy and Bertie really aren’t that different in their future prospects.

Of course, the only thing Robert really cares about is that he got a new dog. His eyes almost fell from their sockets.

Edith’s unwillingness to tell Bertie that Marigold is her daughter is going to be an issue. One of the Downton Abbey podcasts I listen to — it might have been WITF Talks, but it also could have been the Slate Spoiler Special — brought up what Bertie may know or suspect about the precise nature of Edith’s relationship with the late Michael Gregson. He was married, but he left her a trendy London apartment and his publishing empire; might Bertie suspect that their relationship was more than just casual? If he has suspicions, they clearly haven’t deterred him — he proposed to Edith this week — but the issue of Marigold could be a festering wound.

I have nothing to say, really, about Mary’s break-up with Ozymandias. The problem, at least for me, is that we still don’t know anything about him except that he’s distantly related to nobility and he drives race cars. We don’t know anything about his hobbies, interests, or skills outside of the automotive. (To be fair, we don’t know much more about Bertie, except that he was in the Army, he can make coffee, and he can fix sandwiches.) I don’t understand what Mary sees in him. I don’t see what they have in common. I just don’t see them as a couple. I keep asking “why,” and I don’t get it. It’s just bewildering to me.

Elsewhere, Mr. Carson remains a ginormous jackhole, but at least Mrs. Hughes got a measure of comeuppance. The question now is whether or not Thomas will also find an upper hand in his ongoing (and one-sided) conflict with Carson.

The growth of Molesley the last few years has been charming to watch, and this week it all paid off as he was offered a teaching position at the local school.

Everything else about the episode — Mrs. Patmore’s bed-and-breakfast, Violet’s confrontation with Miss Cruikshank and her sudden cruise, Andy’s revelation to more people that he can’t read — aren’t worth spending the time on.

That’s it for this week. Next week, the season finale (but not the series finale). Will Edith accept Bertie’s proposal? Will Isobel and Lord Merton find happiness? Will Violet come back from the Mediterranean speaking French? Will the new dog ruin the carpeting in the library? Will Robert realize he’s been unfair to Bertie? Will Carson realize he’s being a massive jerk to Thomas?

Stay tuned!

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.

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