Jun 012011

downton abbey picture three sisters

The maids are straightening out Lady Mary’s room when something startles Daisy and scares the bejeezus out of her. Anna and Gwen ask her what’s wrong and she answers that she gets the creeps in that room. Wait, what is Daisy doing in Lady Mary’s room, anyway? Shouldn’t she be downstairs, being bullied by Mrs. Patmore? Hey, how about a drinking game? Take a sip of your chosen spirit whenever I mention Mary in this here entry.

Over breakfast, the Earl mentions a letter from his sister Rosamund, (who writes under the pseudonym Joyce Carol Oates). He feels for his sister, all alone in London. Lady Mary retorts, “Why? She’s all alone with plenty of money.” Lady Mary has clearly never heard of Howard Hughes. On the other hand, I do see her point. But the Earl warns her, “There will come a day when someone will think you mean what you say.” Sometimes I wonder if the producers are foreshadowing a trial for Mary. I don’t think seeing Matthew in a powdered wig will bode well for this budding romance, though. It generally doesn’t. Not that I speak from experience or anything.

Lady Sybil – or one of her personalities – has applied for a job on Gwen’s behalf and informs her that she has the interview tomorrow. Fear not, for Lady Sybil has it all figured out! I dig Lady Sybil. Given her sisters’ personalities, she’s obviously a mutant. By the way, this is one of the few conversations in the entire series that does not revolve around Mary.

Isobel clues her son in about the ways of women, specifically that Lady Edith is not interested in church architecture but in marriage. To be more exact, with HIM. Oh, and then she’d get Lady Mary’s inheritance as well, wouldn’t she? Matthew tells his mother that Edith is barking up the wrong tree. Isobel hopes there is a right tree for poor Lady Edith. Luckily, the Flower Show is coming to town!

Meanwhile, Bates catches Thomas stealing wine. That Thomas. He’s like a Swiss army knife of villainy.

Cora and Robert are enjoying the beautiful day on their lush estate. Robert tells his wife that, according to his sister Rosamund, tongues are wagging in London and, you guessed it, it’s all about Mary. Lady Mary and Lady Gaga must share the same publicist. Evidently, Evelyn Napier’s chosen someone else as his bride and this reflects badly on Mary. I’m going to have to run out and buy more gin.

You’ll never guess what’s the topic of conversation downstairs. Anna asks Daisy if she’s recovered. Evil O’Brien and Thomas immediately want to know why. Daisy explains that after Mary’s fiance’s death on the Titanic and Mr. Pamuk’s sudden death, she sometimes wonders if Lady Mary’s cursed. Gwen asks what Pamuk has to do with Mary. Bottoms up!

We cut to what looks like a school gym, but instead of a bake sale, a Flower Show is being set up. Isobel compliments Mr. Molesley’s father on his stunning blooms. Isobel smells something fishy when she discovers Lady Violet wins Best Bloom every year. Getting under Lady Violet’s skin is quickly becoming Isobel’s favorite pastime.

O’Brien and Thomas gossip about – hic! – Mary. If I keep this up, my kidneys won’t survive another season. Apparently, O’Brien has cleverly figured out that Mary’s ruined reputation is all Thomas’ handiwork. All he did is mention Mary’s –L’chaim!  — after-hours rendez-vous with Pamuk to a fellow footman in London. But he has bigger fish to fry. Bates saw him steal some wine. O’Brien advises him to turn the tables on Bates. Bates’ refusal to turn Thomas is really irksome.

In the meantime, if Lady Mary won’t go for Matthew, well, then old, dull neighbors will have to do. Cora invites Sir Anthony Strallan, who is old enough to be Mary’s father, to dinner. This is almost as icky as carrying out a corpse, Cora, really. But maybe she figures that since Mary seems to kill all her suitors, the decent thing to do is to choose suitors who have lived enough. Cora has a little heart to heart with Mary about wooing Sir Anthony. Mary refuses, of course. Alas, no one has discovered reverse psychology, given that the field is in its infancy. Cora reveals that she is running out of options, especially since her reputation is in tatters: “Every door in London will be slammed in your face!” In her inimitably melodramatic fashion, Mary shouts: “I’m a lost cause, Maman! Help Edith. She needs all the help she can get!” Which, of course, Edith overhears.

I sure wish Sybil would hurry up and bring women’s rights to England already. But, no, she’s too busy helping Gwen become a secretary.

Bates and Anna talk about Lady Edith, and just in time, for I was getting ready to write The Hangover Part III. As I reach for water and aspirin, Anna says she’s sad for Edith, “loving someone who doesn’t love her back”. “Maybe he did love her back, but couldn’t say,” says Bates. You guys, get a room!

Things soon heat up for Bates but not in the way he’d hoped. One of the Earl’s snuff boxes is missing. Dammit! You know this is all Thomas and O’Brien’s doing.

And if O’Brien hadn’t had enough wicked work, Cora inspires her further when she mentions that “no one ever warns you about having daughters – they’re at each others’ throats from dawn to dusk!” O’Brien in turn uses Edith and Mary’s rivalry to get that secret out of Daisy. In a brilliantly sick scene, Lady Edith pretends she’s Daisy’s instant BFF although they’ve just met (“Daisy, is it?”). Daisy spills.

Over dinner, Edith flirts with Anthony Strallan, to Mary’s relief, since she is busy giving cousin Matthew googly eyes. Silly Matthew, don’t you know Mary plays with men the way a cat taunts a mouse? The Earl does: “She thinks if you put a toy down, it’ll still be there when she wants to play with it!” Well, the toy, er, Matthew is having none of it. He’s going home. Oh, but Mary can explain, Matt, old chap! You see, she had this bet going – wait, that sounds terribly heartless, doesn’t it? Why doesn’t Matthew notice Lady Sybil instead? Is it because she and Branson are going to be an item?

In the meantime, Anna has figured out a way to save Bates and get back at the evil duo of Thomas and O’Brien. She realized they planted the snuff box in Bates’ room and decides to give them a taste of their own medicine. She proposes a search of all the servants’ rooms. It immediately dawns on O’Brien and Thomas what’s happening and they both run to look for it. But Bates and Anna are too nice. Instead of getting the villains fired, they put the snuff box back in its place.

Guess who wins Best Bloom at the Flower Show? Lady Violet! Except she gallantly gives the prize to Mr. Molesley instead. Lovely gesture, Lady Violet!

You know what’s not a gallant gesture? Reducing your sister’s already imperiled reputation to smithereens! Which Lady Edith accomplishes by writing a letter to the Turkish Ambassador, presumably about the late Mr. Pamuk.

The next episode is all about Lady Edith! Psych!



  3 Responses to “Downton Abbey – Episode 5 – There’s Something About Mary”

  1. You know, I think Mary is such a rotten spoiled brat who always sucks all the oxygen out of the room that I didn’t feel bad for her when Edith wrote to the Turkish ambassador. Serves her right for being so nasty and spoiled and, as you said, playing with people like a cat plays with a toy. Also, except for being spiteful back to Mary, we haven’t seen Edith be mean to anyone else, wheras Mary is generally beastly to most people (when she is nice to someone I’m surprised) so I feel like Edith’s nastiness to her isn’t exactly a full reflection on her natural level of kindness but more of a sibling rivalry overreaction to having such a mean, spiteful big sister. Not that what she did was right, but I understand why she did what she did.

    Of course if it wasn’t such a hidebound, sexist, hypocritical society it really wouldn’t have been that big of a deal.

  2. Just a comment on Daisy being in Mary’s room. she is the scullery maid, and in the first episode you will find that it is one of her duties to clean the hearths and light the fires in the various fireplaces

  3. Thank you for enlightening me, Barbs. I saw this great reality show some years back that was all set around the Edwardian Era. I knew that each servant’s role was very restricted, so I wondered about Daisy being in Mary’s room. But now I know!

    Hey DarkPeggy, I know what you mean. She is very difficult and yet, I do like her. I like Edith as well, even though I really didn’t like her writing to the Turkish ambassador. Back in those days, a woman’s life really did depend on her reputation, as this series illustrates.

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