Jan 212015

Downton Abbey, the Dowager Countess meets her Russian Prince

Sympathy butters no parsnips.
–Mrs. Patmore

Action packed, my Basketcases, action packed! Every transition was practically racing from upstairs to downstairs and back again. Everyone had PLOT! Everyone had SNAPPY BANTER! Everyone had COSTUMES!

I can’t bear vulgar jokes.
–Lady Mary

…and not for nothing, but Lord Grantham remains an ass. What a snotty little temper tantrum he displayed! It’s not clear to me if Cora is simply unaware of how much Bricker is attracted to her, or if she finds it fundamentally innocent since she knows herself and knows she will do nothing more than walk and talk. I think the latter. Cora is clearly enjoying herself, and reminiscing about being beautiful and having a full dance card indicates her pleasure in the chase. But she is a grandmother and a loyal wife and she is most assuredly not doing the fucking around that the generations on either side of her indulge in. Because there’s not-vulgar Mary in her undies, and there’s the Dowager Countess, denuded in front of the entire family by a sexy encounter with a sexy Russian Prince and his sexy, sexy fan.

Granny has a past.
–Lady Mary

This is all a lot of fun. The flirting, the Romanov treasures, the shocked expressions. This is the sort of thing that makes Downton watchers swoon. Granny’s past manages to make Mary feel better about her own wanton ways, and gives Isobel ammunition in the Elderly Widows Teasing Each Other wars. I’m especially liking that this Isobel thing is turning more into an exchange of barbs rather than some commentary on the classes.

Speaking of wanton ways, Baxter did it for the sex. Of course. Cora can forgive that, since she’s slutting her way around an art museum. With a historian. Hussy.

But as I was saying, this was an incredibly busy episode. There’s plot and exposition for Daisy, Mrs. Patmore, Thomas, Baxter, Anna, Bates, Cora, Tom, Edith, Mary, and Granny. While Mrs. Hughes, Carson, Mosely, and Isobel don’t have much plot of their own, their presence is essential to furthering other plot points. I’m exhausted just typing up the whole list. Where’s my fan?

I’ve never even notice Spratt before. He’s hilarious. Those eyes!

Not all of it is equally compelling. I really don’t want to dive back into another Bates May Go To Jail plot. It feels played and tired. Let the Bateses be background characters; I don’t want to relive Anna’s rape over and over, and I certainly don’t want to see her protecting her husband from his own murderous rage, when, as a rape survivor, she should be protecting herself first and foremost. I hate the way that Anna’s rape was used as a plot point to further drama about Bates, rather than to honor Anna herself, but watching Joanne Froggatt accept her Golden Globe and speak on behalf of rape survivors, well, I was mollified.

Miss Bunting is as tone-deaf and poorly written as Tom himself once was. I guess that’s love, then. Token Radical, Stage Left.


  13 Responses to “Downton Abbey Season 5 Episode 3: The No Parsnips Episode”

  1. Thanks for the highlights of this week’s episode.
    It was indeed a busy hour. And I agree the Bates thingy is passed. Is he suicidal? If he thinks the authorities are on to him will he take a bullet? That would spare us from another trial.

    And what about little Marigold? Will whatshername with the googelie-eyes kidnaped her. I thought the mother’s panic was a possible foreshadowing.

    Lord Insecure has got to get a hold of himself. He thinks people flirt with his dog, wife and son-in-law. I must admit that school teacher is bad news. She is bloody irritating. I find the teacher to be a false representation of educated women of the time. She is bold and opinionated but to be rude in the presence of the “Family” I do not buy. She would be more believable if she worked more stealth like.

    Granny is not going down memory lane with the Russian prince. Been there done that. She’s playing the part of Marie Dressler in Dinner at Eight…coaching Mary to protect a proper reputation!

    Do you think Cora will be visiting anymore art museums? After all, didn’t Lord whatshisface have a serious make-out session with a downstairs maid a few seasons ago???

    Good dirt!

  2. I was astounded last week when Miss Bunting just happened to have the correct dress, gloves and hairdo to be comfortable at a formal dinner, not to mention the familiarity of the manners/customs of dinner etiquette on a rather spur of the moment invitation. Oh wait, that’s right she violated the first rule of dinner conversation,,,,she didn’t follow the hostess in conversation. In contrast to Sybil, Miss Bunting enjoys hurting the 1%, but does not really care for the 99%. Sybil had a giant heart for all. Surely Tom sees this? I love the teasing between the Countess and Mrs. Crawley, they both give as good as they take.

    • Donna,
      That is a great observation about Sybil v Miss Bunting.
      Tom is being stirred up…wonder who the lucky girl will be.
      A cute governess might make him happy but then again it
      would be awkward for the 1% …
      Stay tuned.

  3. Tom loves Mary. But it will never happen….She’s too big a snob. Tony to the curb girls. As I use to love to say, NEXT!!!!!! That Mary….her hubby must have been packing something fabulous is all I can say.

  4. Taking the “man’s” perspective on this (ugh) for a moment, I was not entirely unsympathetic to Lord Grantham. That Cora so concretely ruled out a second “date” with Bricker made it clear (to me, anyway) that she knew EXACTLY what he was up to.

    Nothing is more infuriating than another man hitting on your significant other under the pretense of innocent “friendship.” Certainly, it’s partly because we project our own failings (men are dogs) onto other men and also partly the frustration that we don’t think that women fully realize the depths of our “canine” tendencies.

    Obviously, Lord Grantham’s lashing out at Cora was degrading. And, FWIW, incorrect, as Cora’s keen insight into of art seems part of Bricker’s attraction to her. The Lord should save the verbal jabs for the actual target, Bricker, where they belong.

    • As a married man, you know we get caught up in our own imaginations and project that onto our spouses. Grantham had a fantasy about how thrilled Cora would be to see him and how romantic it would be. He’s angry with her for thwarting that fantasy. But how was she to have known?

      • Yes. That Cora’s “date” with Bricker thwarted his romantic plans was part of the reason for Grantham’s anger.

        BUT, trust me, he’s equally if not MORE annoyed at the thought of Bricker trying to implement his own romantic plans for Cora (hell, I wanted to smack Bricker). FWIW, I don’t think that Grantham fears Cora might fall prey to Bricker. While his tantrum wasn’t pretty, it was a very human.

        • The problem is, it’s been a long time, maybe all season, since we’ve seen Lord Grantham do anything *but* throw a tantrum. His wife went to a museum. Someone petted his dog. He’s not on the committee. He *is* on the committee but it doesn’t do what he wants. Things are changing! Buildings are being built! Tom MAY NOT make decisions about his own daughter. Miss Bunting MAY NOT have political opinions. On and on and on. I think it’s “the change,” nudge nudge say no more.

          • If the cause of his tantrum was indeed the nexus of all the things you listed (and you make a pretty solid point), I can’t argue.

            Nonetheless, I still found Bricker most annoying and transparent and despicable and…and… 🙂

            • I get annoying. I get transparent. But despicable?

              Bricker is smitten and has not crossed, not gotten near, the line that Mary and the Dowager crossed.

              I actually sympathized with him – the Lady has no doubt slayed many in the past with but a smile.

  5. Cora is no longer a great beauty but certainly as the wife of a Lord she has an appeal that the art historian would find valuable. Bricker may be playing her.

  6. “I really don’t want to dive back into another Bates May Go To Jail plot. It feels played and tired.”

    I agree. I feel the show has nearly ruined Mr. Bates as a character. He had such charm in Season 1, IMO. Then Season 2 he became the martyr. The show’s constant need to put him back into potential legal trouble makes it seem like they are running out of plots. (When it comes to those two characters, anyway)

  7. Spratt is awesome.

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