Before I dive into last night’s episode of the Crawley Chronicles, we now live in a world where there’s a Muppet Dowager Countess:

Muppet Carson resembles, at least to my eyes, former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown far more than he resembles Jim Carter. Don’t try to take it seriously. You can’t. Otherwise you’ll wonder how it is the Dowager Countess and Carson can stand upside down while their tea and crumpets are subject to the laws of gravity.

To the real Downton Abbey!

After last week’s cataclysmic episode, last night’s was a low key affair — at least when Robert wasn’t blowing his top about various things like, oh, Catholicism, baby names, Ethel, Matthew’s plans, etc. I’m sure that, given more time, Robert would have blown his top if Isis had left a present for him in the drawing room. Robert isn’t having a good run of late. To borrow a line from Doctor Who, “Don’t you think he looks tired?” Maybe it’s time for Robert to retire and leave the estate to young minds and fresh ideas.

I feel like last night we saw more of Cora — and that she was more integral to the story — than at any time since the first season. I know she’s mourning her daughter, but I still find her unpleasant. I was amused by her reaction to Robert when he burst into the luncheon, but that scene really belonged, in my opinion, to Violet and the Dowager Countess both.

I can’t believe that anyone believed Dr. Clarkson. Cora, especially. Set aside the fact that Clarkson has never, ever been right on a medical matter. At the very moment when she’s blaming her husband the most for their daughter’s death because he had overruled Clarkson’s medical opinion, Clarkson very conveniently says that nothing could have been done even if they had followed his medical opinion. And Cora believes this? There’s gullible, and then there’s…

history-aliens

Otherwise, nothing happened upstairs this week worth noting. Matthew and Mary declaring once more how much they love each other? Edith fretting about what kind of person she wants to be? Yes, this is all stuff we’ve seen before. I think we saw it last week. And the week before that. And last year, too. We get the idea. Get on with it!

Downstairs, though.

I get where Carson was coming from on the Edith situation. I can understand why he wanted his staff to steer clear of Crawley House. He overreacted — and it was funny. I liked Mrs. Hughes’ snarky reaction to his explosion. At the same time, when he learned why Mrs. Patmore had gone to help Ethel, I was annoyed by his reaction; I’d have thought that his duty to the family would have made him realize that a prostitute-turned-cook was a lesser evil than a luncheon-gone-wrong.

The love quadrangle between Daisy, Alfred, Ivy, and James is already getting old. Daisy has a crush on Alfred who has a crush on Ivy who has a crush on James who…? Well, I don’t know who James is interested in — except that he’s clearly not interested in Thomas and he seems more interested in Daisy than Ivy. I have the impression that James is hiding something. Based on his reaction to Thomas’ advances, it’s not his sexuality. I think back to his interview with Mr. Carson a few weeks ago, and I wonder if he’s not hiding something from his experience with his previous employer. I’d like to see Alfred get hit upside the head with a clue-by-four where Ivy’s concerned, Daisy take Mr. Mason’s money and leave Downton, and the mysteries of James resolved.

Ah, Bates. He’s not going to swing from the gallows. He’s apparently also cured his limp while in the penitentiary. I’m baffled at all how the threat he made in the prison yard ended up clearing him; really, what kind of hold could this conspiracy have over Mrs. Whatserface who held the key to Bates’ release? Really, why did anyone care about making Bates suffer in prison? Did they know Vera? The upside to Bates’ release is that it should ground Anna more in the Downton drama.

And Thomas is heading for a fall. I’ve actually begun to feel bad for Thomas. Yes, he’s brought this upon himself, but he has no idea what he’s walking into.

Next week looks like the final two episodes of the season in two-hour block with the Christmas special the following week.

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