Feb 162015

Rose and Atticus

A lack of compassion can be as much a curse as an excess of tears.

Despite quite a lot of running around, a fake kiss, a real proposal, and a diagnosis of cancer for poor Isis, it seemed like not a lot happened in Downton Abbey episode 5.07. I mean, this season has been a masterwork of non-stop action, as people run from room to room, delivering exposition at a breakneck pace. Comparatively, this episode was somewhat leisurely. With the exceptions I’ve already outlined, mostly there was wheel-spinning. Daisy decided to give up the studies she was passionate about, and then un-decided. Anna and Bates, who had a big fight last week, un-fought, having made up off-camera. Edith, who had run off last week, un-ran off. Mary, who was briefly engaged, is unengaged, and was involved with a second man, and is un-involved. Baxter apologized a lot. Baxter spends an inordinate amount of time telling everyone how deeply sorry she is.

He’s a man. Men don’t have rights.

Are we going to laugh a lot at the fact that it took an outsider, Atticus, to understand that if Edith inherited a magazine business, one she’d already been involved with, that she might, y’know, go there? It’s hilarious but also sad, because clearly no one in her own family has any idea what Edith wants, where she goes, what she cares about, or what motivates her. Why should they, then, anticipate that she might go someplace important to her? It’s obvious to Atticus because he makes this crazy assumption that Edith is a human being.

How can you imagine I’ll ever trust you again?

So, they all did a lot of running around in order to preserve Edith’s secret, meanwhile telling everyone her secret, and everything ends back at status quo. Once again, the family comes up with a solution that further torments Mrs. Drewe and, not for nothing, Marigold. They all care so much about Edith’s reputation, and the family’s reputation, and whether anyone knows that Edith had the nasty sex, but they don’t care about dragging a child all over, tearing her from people who love her, then sending her back, then ripping her away again. They don’t care about how that affects the child, or the foster parents, or the other kids. They don’t care how Edith feels. They care only about “their” child/grandchild/reputation. I’m tired of being disgusted at this plotline.

I mean, the kids on this show are props. They’re not cute, or clever, or engaged with their family. Sibby saying “why” over and over is as much as we’ve ever seen a child having a personality. They are pointers—to dead parents, to extramarital sex, to machinations. They aren’t individuals. Why should I care where Marigold ends up when I have no sense of this child at all?

Lord Merton: We’ll laugh about this one day.
The Dowager Countess: Yes, the sooner the better.

Mary is topping off cold bitch this week, with her “so what?” about Edith, and her lecture about the classes to her Granny. After all the drama about how she’ll get rid of Tony, it ended up simple, and non-eventful, and rather anti-climatic. Especially since all of this was engineered to get her with Charles, and now we find she won’t be with Charles at all, something she tells her father; another thing that happened off-camera. Geez Pete. I guess we need another season of Mary Romance Drama.

We never changed our name.

The centerpiece of the episode, of course, was the dinner party with the Jewdridges Aldridges and Lord Merton’s sons, Evil and Eviler. Did we know Cora’s father was Jewish? You’d think that would have come up at some point. It certainly would have taken the edge off the (not very) dramatic anti-Semitism we anticipated towards Atticus.

Isobel’s engagement announcement was lovely, and touching, and the vitriol directed at her by these nasty young men was sad. The look on her face, starkly alone as Rose and Atticus snuggled behind her, was striking, and probably the best moment of the episode. Violet’s sorrow at losing her friend was also quite touching, although Lady Mary did her best to ruin it.

In terms of other events, after Lord Grantham going on and on about how his granddaughter WILL! NOT! be taken from him, he certainly took Tom’s decision to move to Boston calmly. I guess now that Allen Leech has been in The Imitation Game, he feels secure about his future and is moving on. Therefore Grantham must accept the inevitable.

Finally, Isis. Her illness and eventual death has been broadcast so much all season that it’s hard to come up with the requisite gasp when we finally hear she’s sick. Grantham managed to be both an asshole (of course) and quite moving, and bringing the dog to bed was sweet.

So, Basketcases, weigh in. Do you care who Mary ends up sleeping with next?


  10 Responses to “Downton Abbey: Season 5, Episode 7: A lack of compassion and an excess of tears”

  1. I knew or assumed Cora’s father was Jewish, because her mother (Shirley MacLaine) was named Martha Levinson. Cora was an American heiress who was brought to England to find a titled nobleman who needed a rich wife.


  2. Am I the only one who thinks Julian Fellows is preparing us for the end of the whole shebang by starting to hint, a season and a half ahead of time, at what the characters will be doing when it’s all over? I heard the sixth season had been approved and guessed that would be the Fellows fellow’s last as chief writer. I then wondered if someone else would take over as writer but I’m now guessing the series will end.

    If Atticus’s father, Lord Sinderby, becomes ill Yul Brynner could fill in for him.

    I really like the way Mary said “What?” (whought?) in the Kinema (sic) lobby when Charles told her to kiss him. She’s not used to people telling her what to do but Charles is the one to do it.

    • Word from the UK is that DA Season 6 just started production for Fall there and January 2016 on Masterpiece in the USA.

      Julian Fellows is obligated to write another series, meaning Season 6 might be the final one of DA.

      At least nothing has been said about splitting Season 6 into two halves.

    • Yes, I think this next season will be the last. Julian is committed to NBC to do a new show about American heiresses looking for British husbands, which I’m excited about.

  3. I believe A LOT of pressure will be put on Fellowes to keep the series going past Season 6. DA is the most successful show in the history of PBS, and – that’s a nice thing to be able to brag about, but more importantly – it’s a huge hit on commercial networks all over the world. There’s an enormous amount of money to be made by lots of parties if the show goes on for additional seasons. And money is what the TV biz is all about, as much as we’d like to concentrate on brilliant storytelling in shows that speak to the current human condition.

    I’m not saying that it SHOULD continue past Season 6. As it’s gone on, DA has become beyond redundant, keeping plots and character issues spinning WAY longer than necessary. I don’t think Fellowes really has anything important left to say about the characters and times, so the series has hardened into kabuki-like stereotypes in great costumes:

    Everything that Robert says/thinks is wrong. Cora smiles beatifically. Mary is a ballbreaker. Edith is a hard-luck Hanna. Rose is a bad Xerox of Sybil. Bates and Anna were great characters back in Season 1, but not so much since. Thomas ping-pongs between being a villain and a victim. Baxter is O’Brien-lite. Violet always gets the last word (and Maggie Smith always elevates the material). Tom is torn between two worlds. Mary’s suitors are indistinguishable upper-class twits…

    The show is already pretty tired… but I can’t stop watching!

  4. Thanks for pointing out Lord Gratham’ s change of attitude about Sibby going to America. I thought I missed something. Maybe it was another behind the scenes moment.

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