By Joe Heim February 1 at 10:00 PM
Approximately 16 people chose to watch “Downton Abbey” instead of the Super Bowl on Sunday night. If you’re reading this, you are probably one of them. I’m kidding of course. The audience for “Downton Abbey” was likely in the hundreds.
If ever there was a good week to miss the show (and I’m not saying there is) this might have been it. Maybe the writers realized they would be up against the Super Bowl. That would explain the feel this one had, of an episode that had been thrown together at the last minute. The official name for this kind of thing is “filler.”
But not all was lost. There was a punch-up this week and we so rarely see anyone on “Downton” losing control of his or her emotions (besides Edith of course) that the show was worth watching for the fray alone.
The episode began with the arrival of Aunt Rosamund, here to rescue the aforementioned poor Lady Edith from her misery. This, like almost everything involving Edith, doesn’t go well. More on that in a bit.
Another party is being planned at Downton and that’s a hint that the writers were getting a bit lazy. Can they think of no events other than parties to advance a plot? This time the bash is a cocktail party for Lord Grantham’s lieutenants (pronounced ‘lefttenants’ because the British hate to pronounce a word the way it’s spelled). The idea of having a cocktail party instead of a proper dinner is positively revolutionary, but perhaps Lord Grantham has endorsed the idea because he can’t bear the thought of the obstreperous Miss Bunting obstrepering yet another dinner.
In other inexplicable Downton news, Mrs. Crawley hasn’t yet decided how to answer Lord Merton’s lovely proposal. Seriously, Mrs. C, if you’re waiting for a better pitch than that, it’s going to be a long haul. The Dowager Countess, still worried about Mrs. Crawley gaining any social standing, decides to conspire with Dr. Clarkson to show Mrs. C just how shallow and ill-suited a partner Lord Merton would be for her. To both their credit, the DC and Clarkson come to realize that Merton actually is the perfect match. Now we just have to wait and see if Mrs. Crawley reaches the same conclusion.
Downstairs, Mrs. Patmore has come into a little bit of money and wants to know how to invest it. So she goes to Carson for advice. He’s a man and men understand investments. Just ask Bernie Madoff. She ends up disregarding his advice (smart Cookie!) but tries to make him think she actually took it. Men have feelings, after all. Maybe this will turn into a crucial plot thread, but it sure felt like more filler.
Okay, back to Edith. Lady Rosamund and dear Grandmama are trying to convince her to stop stalking Marigold and send the baby to a new family in order to protect her (and the family’s) reputation. I suppose it’s easy, given the modern view of these things, to want to shake Edith by the shoulders and tell her to tell everyone that she’s the mother and wants to raise the baby, married or not. But that is not how things were done. Having a high-society baby out of wedlock was almost always a non-starter.
(Random Aside no. 1: Wedlock is such a strange word. It sounds more like a prison sentence than eternal bliss.)
Lord Grantham and Tom are having their eleventeenth discussion about Miss Bunting. She might be the worst dinner guest ever, but Tom’s wishy-washy-ness is getting on my nerves as well. Grantham tries to convince Tom that his time at Downton has been a great opportunity for him and that he shouldn’t ignore that. He should ignore Bunting instead.
You know who Tom shouldn’t ignore? Mary. Their tete-a-tete’s this year make me wonder if they won’t try to be more than just in-laws to one another. At the very least, Mary may want to take a test drive.
In this week’s police news, Mr. Carson has received a note that the local constabulary will be stopping by again. These drop-ins are becoming a little ridiculous. Do the police only ask one question each time they visit the Abbey? Haven’t they ever watched “Law & Order”? This is not how you conduct a police investigation.
This time the local policeman is accompanied by an inspector from Scotland Yard and they are here to talk to Anna and Lady Mary. I actually think Anna is the one who killed Green. But my guess is we will need about 25 more police visits until that will be revealed.
Lady Edith takes Aunt Rosamund to see her darling Marigold at the Drews’. It’s a bit like a visit to a petting zoo. Wearing their Downton-y finest, Edith and Rosamund look like they’re planning to award a blue ribbon to the local pig farmer’s wife for how well she has raised this little girl. Mrs. Drew would like to clunk Edith over the head. How great would it be if Mrs. Drew moved into the Abbey and Edith moved into the tenant farmer’s home to take care of her brood? I think there was a reality show like that a few years ago.
This week our favorite art historian returned to Downton, purportedly to take a picture of the famous painting. But everyone knows that’s a ruse. He has his eyes on Downton’s prized possession, Lady Grantham.
Bricker arrives and Lord Grantham, who for some reason is dressed like a greeter at FAO Schwarz, gives him a brusque hello before heading off. Bricker is pleased to see the back of Grantham and more pleased to see the front of Lady Cora. Let the flirting commence!
READ MORE OF THE RECAP HERE: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/style-blog/wp/2015/02/01/downton-abbey-recap-a-rare-instance-of-fisticuffs/
(P.S. Don't blame the Washington Post for the pictures here - I included them. K. Wasylowski)