Jan 192016


A peer in favor of reform? It’s like a turkey in favor of Christmas.

So, Branson is back. Woohoo, I guess. Welcome to Downton Abbey Season 6, in which all happy endings play out forever.

Branson is a good character, decently acted, good-looking, but his story has never been fully realized. Was the obnoxious teacher from last season supposed to have put his radicalism to bed forever? That doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Politics change over time, and the move from downstairs to upstairs is going to unavoidably give Tom a different perspective. But he went from radical to wishy-washy with little motivation other than he was living in a very nice house and then his wife died.

So Downton is his home and the gentry are his family. What this really says to me is that every feel-good moment that the fans have wanted will be engineered in the final season. I fully expect Rose to return pregnant and move in upstairs with her Jewish husband, Lady Mary and Lady Edith to each get married, Anna to give birth to twins, and Isobel and the Dowager to hug like the cuddle-bunnies they deep down are. Okay, maybe not that last one.

Despite the EXTRAORDINARY BOREDOM of Anna’s pregnancy storyline, I did enjoy the exchange with Mary. Mary’s so thrilled when she can run other people’s lives, because people don’t know how to run their own lives and Mary can fix that. Mrs. Hughes doesn’t understand that—Mary just needs to FIX HER. Mrs. Hughes is a peasant and yet she imagines she can run her own life! So silly. Who does a wedding breakfast anymore, amirite?

We must talk about the Carson-Hughes wedding. Poor Mrs. Hughes was truly dispirited by Carson and Mary usurping her wedding plans, and her drab feelings were behind the drab dress she chose. Her speech in the drawing room, telling the entire family what she wanted, was masterful. It was fully as diffident as a lifelong servant should naturally communicate to her employers, and yet she spoke her mind and her heart clearly, and didn’t allow herself to be bullied by the difference in class. You go, Elsie!

Lady Grantham was a bit of a bitch, but she wasn’t wrong. Mary didn’t try all that hard to stop her mother from going upstairs and finding everyone playing dress-up in her room. In fact, Lady Mary sort of half-heartedly said something, didn’t so much as get out of her chair when her mother didn’t hear her, and then just shrugged, safe in the assumption that she will get her way because she always gets her way and that is that. In fact, Tom Branson may have been pulled across the Atlantic by the inexorable power of Mary’s need to get her way, since she wanted him home. Meanwhile, Cora walks into her bedroom to find people messing around with her clothes. How would you feel?

Cora is a good woman, though, and apologizes when she’s mean. I’m going to say, not wrong, but mean. No, I wasn’t told, and Mary has no right to give away my clothes without my permission, are certainly good statements to make, provided they’re followed with, it’s not your fault that my daughter doesn’t give a shit about walking all over people, and hey, tomorrow is your wedding so TAKE ALL THE CLOTHES.

You know what I found maddening? That after all that fuss over the wedding dress, after three different outfits—four, actually, because the coat that Mrs. Hughes ultimately wore was not the one we saw her try on—we get to the wedding itself and we can’t see what she’s wearing. Seriously, the entire wedding scene she’s blocked by the priest, or we see her face, or we see the guests. We finally close in on the bride and groom after the ceremony, and we never get a full fashion shot of the new Mrs. Carson in her dress. WHAT THE HELL DOWNTON? Way to pay off all that build up! It’s not like they don’t know we watch for the clothes.

Lifelong diffidence seems not to have affected Daisy, who has now crossed from inappropriate outbursts to just crazy-level of saying any damn thing that pops into her head. But education! Mosley’s championing of her is sweet, though.

In other news, Spratt and Denker are still at it, and now she’s ready to blackmail him. That’ll end well. Barrow gets a job interview at Satis House. Has anyone else noticed that Rob James-Collier has smiled perpetually throughout this season? He complains and he smiles. He flirts with Andy and he smiles. He gets rejected by Andy and he smiles. This is a shitty performance of pathos. His face was less irritating when he was a villain.

All the machinations, though, are in service to the Happy Final Season events. Edith will marry Binky or Bertie or whoever and be fabulous with Marigold in London. Mary will marry either Branson or Matthew Goode (I vote Goode). Barrow will get some kind of happy ending too, I bet.

So, anyone still watching? Anyone still reading? You all are awfully quiet!


  21 Responses to “Downton Abbey: Season 6, Episode 3: Lady Mary Gets Her Way”

  1. Hi Deb,

    Thanks for this excellent summary! I agree the endings seem a bit too tidy. I could careless about the pregnancy of Anna, but I am interested in early days of fertility practices. I had no idea they tried proceedures on the mother while pregnant.

    Mrs. Hughes was so in charge of the drawing room and I LOVED how Lord Grantham revealed his understanding of her feelings…lovely expression. And when that Mary said the nasty remark about Lady Grantham not wanting to bother to put on the party and Carson walked in….well, that was authentic to me! I can imagine jazz like that went on all the time between upstairs and downstairs.

    Loved Mosley’s embarrassment of hearing the exchange…just standing in the sidelines. His comment that he missed “everything” I found very touching. As many who were capable were left out of an education and opportunity. However, I think Daisy lacks the self-control and insightfulness to adjust to life beyond service. She is so sparky. Do you think the old man will get the cottage and tenency now that Branson is back in town? Also, will he take Mary’s place as boss?

  2. I have to admit, until I read last week’s recap, I didn’t have an opinion about Lady Mary’s butting in to the Carson-Hughes wedding.

    So, I chortled loudly when, after all the drama was finally resolved to allow Mrs. Hughes to have the wedding reception SHE wanted, Branson’s unexpected homecoming at the end of the episode abruptly upstaged the entire Carson-Hughes affair. 🙂

  3. One of things I’ve found that strikes an unexpected note over the course of this series, is that Fellows manages to be sympathetic toward the landed class characters as well as the “downstairs” ones – even as he makes most characters interestingly flawed. Latest was the curiously deranged lord of that rundown, formerly grand house. No reflexive Hollywood upper-class resentment there.

    I’d be surprised if Mary chose to bag her brother-in-law – that just looks too much like a brother/sister relationship. I wonder if Fellows will mine (has mined) the potential for conflict over the Estate Agent role?

    Do you think that Fellows (or the director) was intentional about frustrating the buildup over Bridal Attire – or merely clueless?

    • Yes! I totally agree the Mary and Branson agent tension is looming. He may resent the high and mighty yet if she usurps him…loveit!

      She’s getting worse with her importance…so bossy, probably needs another weekend in London auditioning a potential husband.

      Anna, get the device!

      • It isn’t a device, it is suturing of the cervix. This procedure is fairly common today and was written about in OB/GYN medical journals during the 1950’s, but in 1925? No anesthesia? No monitoring? I am not sure this is historically accurate. While I love this show and I know it is not the almost obsessively correct Mad Men, I was a bit astounded at this conversation.

        • Hi Donna,

          I was not referring to the London visit to the doctor with Anna.

          I was referring back to when she went to London for her hotel weekend of sex with the guy she was considering as a husband.

          Mary had Anna run to the pharmacy and get what I think was a diaphram but was not explicitly called that in the episode.

          So, you see, I was trying to make a joke of Mary needing a little sex to get over her bossiness…

          • Well, we all need that from time to time. I think I was just so astounded to hear the conversation between the doctor and Anna, and of course Mary, that it dominated my brain. BTW, I think Mary is looking for a hybrid mix of aristocratic entitlement and earthy behind the doors behavior…..hard to find at any time in history. But good research is always necessary.

          • Good research. Still, I doubt this was a common procedure. In the movie The Help this issue was brought up, so sad to think if Lady Mary had been around to boss Jessica Chastain around, she would have been able to have a better chance for a baby.

    • One of the reasons Julian Fellows was selected to write the script for GOSFORD PARK is that many of his relatives are part of the landed upper class.

      Several years ago he was honored with a life peerage, so he is currently Lord Fellows.

      Perhaps that factors into his upper class scenes.

  4. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/masterpiece/programs/features/slideshow/downton-abbey-s6-e3-carson-hughes-wedding/?utm_source=masternews&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=downton_2016&elqTrackId=22EE6C7AFA643598FFACD8388BBD750E&elq=048ba6504b5e4f1fba6ac3e510b5aaa0&elqCampaignId=1559&elqaid=3117&elqat=1

    I hope this link works properly. It is the wedding photo album of Elsie and Charles Carson’s big day! It has a fabulous snapshot of the coat. Sorry I could not make the photo directly link here.

  5. How old are Ladies Edith and Mary?

    At what age are they too old…I see a Peggy and Stan love combo for Edith and drink after work guy.

    And do you think Lord Grantham has cancer or an ulcer? He paused in pain when speaking with Mr. Carson this week…

  6. When it was still 1912 in DA season 1 Lady Sybil was 17. I do not recall specifics as to how much older Lady Mary and Lady Edith are. My assumption has been that Mary was born @ 1890 and Edith @1892. Thus in 1925 Mary could be 35 or 36 and Edith 33 or 34.

    • Dr. Adams,

      You always bring depth to the conversation! I had no idea they would be so old. Seems like there would be urgency to marry, but perhaps the upper crust women did not feel the pressure. Certainly economic motives would apply…but, did modern wealthy women feel free to be single?


      • Not normally, but Mary, as a widow, is under no social obligation to remarry, and Edith was left at the altar, thus garnering a reputation as “spinster” that would be hard to shake.

  7. A very insightful review, as usual. I’m going to guess that, perhaps in a pretense that it’s more serious than it is, Fellowes will deny just one or two feel-good endings. We could have a competition to guess just which one or two.

    • Berkowit28,
      A competition of guessing the ending sounds like fun.
      Do you think Cora would move to USA after the passing of Lord Grantham? Branson remains on the property with Lady Mary to keep the estate going…Lady Edith becomes a true powerhouse of publishers?

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