Stephanie: This week’s episode felt a little meta: Mary and Tom determine to open Downton for public tour to raise charity funds, and in turn, open the household and the family to outside speculation. In the same way viewers of the show are fascinated by watching aristocrats living luxuriously, so apparently are the people of the English countryside, who line up to tour the estate. Mary, Edith, and Cora are thrust into impromptu roles as tour guides, and each stumble in explaining architectural details and naming subjects in paintings. Their inconsistent knowledge of the wealth they experience every day only highlighted their privilege, as did the Dowager’s huffy protests. I loved how Isobel, later having tea with the Dowager, mentions Pride and Prejudice’s Elizabeth Bennet touring Pemberley as a precedent, followed by the Dowager’s quip how that moment didn’t go so well. Further telling of these roles of privilege is Carson’s own disgust at the common people finding the Downton way of life worthy of inquiry (or more perhaps, that they should be allowed to inquire). That along with his reality check of what life is like off the estate in his new married life show how adverse to change Carson is both in culture and when it concerns him directly. As Mrs. Patmore lamented, Carson may be too old to be trained a husband.
Catherine: Carson envisioning house tours leading to the French Revolution was a high comedic moment. I mean c’mon, really?! really?! Carson is quite fussy when it comes to change but yet how is he to know that house tours will lead to a viable source of income in the coming years– not only for Downton but for other great houses. And speaking of Carson’s horror of change, I’m still rooting for him to become the cook in his own little family. May his disgust and persnicketiness rule over his need for everyone to behave in their “proper roles”! Nothing like being grossed out over food to force someone towards change. May Downton end with Carson having secret cooking lessons with Mrs. Patmore.
And speaking of secret lessons, there’s some grasping at dramatic straws to make drama happen over Thomas teaching Andy to read. Carson’s outburst (or as much as Carson is capable of outburst while speaking in an even tone) at Thomas upon discovering that he and Andy were having secret meetings was over-the-top. All this is, of course, to get Thomas out the door. Since we’re not seeing Thomas envisioning a new job for himself (unlike Molesley and the others), I’m curious to see how he’ll end up. Downton has a track record of either giving people happy endings or killing them off and I’m starting to wonder if Thomas will get the macabre end. I was previously of the mind that Grantham would be done away with but as he’s survived his bloody perforated ulcer, surely someone else will get the ax.
Stephanie: I love the idea of Carson sneaking into the kitchen for secret cooking lessons! That would be a wonderful ending montage with future glimpses of all the characters (with everyone seeming to pair off, we may need a montage!). I agree, the two bits of story grasping at the proverbial drama straws are the boring court stuff with Baxter (not even going to comment further) and the bringing back of Thomas Barrow’s illicit same-sex attractions as potential scandal. That ending image of Barrow crying got to me, though. I declared, directly to my TV, if Barrow takes his own life, the blood is on YOUR hands, Downton! The lot of you! You’re right, we aren’t being given much to work with on Barrow’s future. That would be rather sick in today’s mindset for the show to kill off the only gay character. Just don’t, Julian Fellows. Don’t be that guy.
Catherine: There has been criticism aimed at Downton for having the only gay character cast as a recurring troublemaker and villain. Killing Thomas off would be yet another cringe-inducing “why’d you have to go and do that?!” moment.
Daisy’s having her own off-kilter moment by throwing away her father-in-law’s thank you note to Mrs. Patmore. What’s going on there? With Daisy, all is always revealed but I feel for Mrs. Patmore in the meanwhile. There’s a woman that doesn’t have too many bright spots in her life. To do her credit, she remains cheerful (perhaps by remaining sharp and prosaic) but it would drive me crazy if I had to put up with Daisy’s ups-and-downs on a constant basis. It was hilarious to see Daisy lovingly shine her deceased husband’s picture during this episode. Let’s remember that Mrs. Patmore talked her into the marriage and Daisy was desperate for her husband to die in WWI. Daisy did get a very sweet father-in-law out of the deal and perhaps she’s afraid that Mr. Mason and Mrs. Patmore will hook up and push Daisy out of the picture.
Stephanie: The Daisy drama feels a little forced. Understandable she’d be upset at her father-in-law barely avoiding displacement from his farm, but now acting all stampy-feet that he and Mrs. P might have the feels for each other? Grow up. This doesn’t mesh with Daisy’s ambition to take placement tests and earn an education. I wish her confusion about Mrs. P and Mr. Mason was played more subtly. Speaking of not subtle, Edith and Mary continue to spar. Though, how far Edith has come! She knows Mary is getting sloppy with her jabs, and better yet, Edith is stronger and can fight back. Edith’s life isn’t lame. She owns a business and took control of her daughter’s situation (poorly, but she didn’t concede). Edith absolutely has power in her relationship with Mary. My hope is for Edith to be the one to tell Mary about Marigold. She needs to quit giving Mary power over her. Speaking of Mary, I can’t imagine being the woman who, after hottie Henry Talbot confesses he’s falling in love with her, responds with how “rather compelling” his argument is. The ever-stoic Mr. Carson had a more sentimental reaction to his love for Mrs. Hughes. Come on, Mary! Feel something!
Catherine: Mary hasn’t said a heart-felt line in her life except, “You disgust me,” and “The pigs have escaped.” Both were spoken in monotone so I can’t be completely sure. It’s fun to see Tom elbow her verbally and then laugh at her discomfort. He’s her only friend that’s her own age and whom she respects. His matchmaking skills to get her together with Talbot consist of him verbally whacking Mary on the head about it. But perhaps that’s the way to go with Mary. In contrast, Edith doesn’t need a matchmaker. She’s sailing down the relationship road with Bertie at a good pace and I did love the moment when Grantham said that Edith is “becoming one of the interesting persons of the day.” It was lovely seeing her father recognize her with her respect. He views being and Interesting Person as a full time occupation and perhaps it is.
Granny lost her full time occupation as hospital overlord and everyone’s going to pay for it, particularly Cora who will now take over the job. This is a terrific move for Cora and should have seasons ago for her.
Stephanie: I loved that moment with Lord Grantham recognized Edith coming into her own. Now, he needs to tell her! Maybe we’ll see a heart-to-heart with Cora and Edith about her life that will embolden Edith to confront Mary. I wouldn’t mind the series ending with the downfall of Mary, but I think that’s akin to wishing court-related plotlines on Downton don’t drag out. My vote for this week’s MVP is Maggie Smith. The absurd rigidity of the Dowager Countess was in full form, with her sputtering outrage at being as hospital president. She scolded Cora publicly and hurled her rage at her son, who I have to say did a decent job defending his wife. The Dowager declaring she’ll choose principle over logic any day takes the cake. She knows she is being illogical and yet will not give in. As we approach the series finale, and series finales are fond of not only marrying off but killing off characters, I hope Granny isn’t the one to go. It would be too convenient to have her pass on when she has years left to rattle cages.
Catherine: The Dowager had the best lines in this episode– or it’s because Maggie Smith makes them the best lines. Not only did she deliver that line of preferring principle over logic with great aplomb, she commented to the tour that the Fourth Earl of Grantham collected books, women, and horses, all to visitors’ happy merriment. Granny would make the best tour guide of Downton. My favorite scenes take place with Granny and Isobel during tea at Granny’s house and it’s for that reason that I don’t want Isobel to marry Merton. Who is this soon-to-be- daughter-of-law of his and why is she making amends to Isobel for Larry, the angry fiance? I couldn’t make out if she was ominous or not. No doubt we’ll find out her motivations on next week’s episode. See you then!
Catherine Eaton is a writer living in a western suburb of Chicago. She blogs over at sparrowpost.com and enjoys foraging around the neighborhood in her spare time.
Stephanie Scott is a Young Adult writer living in the western Chicago suburbs. Library superfan, award-winning TV-binger, and she just might be your cat’s new best friend. She tweets at @StephScottYA.