On Downton Abbey’s Shocking Episode

At work, I’ve been discussing Downton Abbey with two of my coworkers. Monday morning, we all send out e-mails to each other so we can gossip and vent and discuss the previous night’s episode.

Last night, of course, was a shocking episode. Perhaps the most shocking the series has done. Because of that, I’ve decided to archive my contributions to this discussion here. I don’t claim that these ruminations will have any insight whatsoever; they’re just what I write on Monday mornings as I’m waiting for the coffee to kick in, as I settle in at my desk, and as I try to figure out how to attack my day.

And over the next week, I’ll go back and add in my thoughts on previous episodes.

Without further ado…

Well.

What a sucky way for Dr. Clarkson to finally be right about a medical matter. It’s not like he ever had been before, thus I understood Robert’s decision to bring in someone else to oversee Sibyl’s pregnancy. On the other hand, he brought in Tim Pigott-Smith, and he never plays a good guy in anything he’s in, so he obviously had to be wrong.

I feel really bad for Tom. He’s trapped in a country that’s not his, his wife is dead, he doesn’t really fit upstairs at Downton, he has a baby to take care of. Maybe the best thing for Tom would be to go to Liverpool and do the mechanical work with his brother. However, what I expect will happen is that Matthew will take Tom under his wing as part of his “restore Downton’s finances to good order” project.

Mary’s a shrew, isn’t she? One sister just died, the other sister says “We should try to be better to each other,” and she says, “Nope, never going to happen.” And then she turns on Matthew because, even in this moment of tragedy, he has the best interests of the family at heart.

I am really not liking Robert this year. He is the product of a lifetime of bad decisions, and he lacks the capacity to see how badly he’s screwed up on so many things. I realize his characterization is supposed to be as a romantic who hearkens back to more innocent times, but he really comes across as a stick in the mud who is his own worst enemy.

I hope we’re finally seeing the end of Bates’ ordeal in prison. I’m to the point where I want to see him swing from the gallows just so it’s done. But no, Downton won’t do that to me. It will make me suffer for several more weeks with more prison scenes that do nothing but waste time.

Here’s what’s bothering me about the third season. There’s no Big Bad. I’m not saying that the show needs a sniveling villain, but it needs a threat, and I don’t feel like there’s any threat. The first season had all the stuff about the inheritance and the entail of the estate and Matthew’s “fish out of water” routine and Lady Mary’s scandal with poor Kemal. The second season had World War I and Sir Richard Carlisle and Mrs. Bates. The third season has had… what, exactly? Edith’s broken heart? Reggie Swire’s inheritance? Bates’ mean cellmate? It’s all sort of aimless thus far.

Looks like next week we’ll see Robert splutter a lot. Hugh Bonneville does indignant well.

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