Jan 252016


“I’m surprised you know what a gear shift is.”
“I know more than you think.”

I don’t know why I never noticed it before, but Tom Branson wears enormous hats. In the opening scene of Downton Abbey Season 6, Episode 4, we see Tom walking the estate, and his hat is huge. But when I went looking for pictures, it turns out that this goes back practically to the introduction of his character. Here’s a picture of him with Sybil and it’s like he’s practically the Flying Nun. Look at that thing!


The “agent conflict” between Tom and Mary is going to amount to nothing, because Tom wants to be an auto mechanic (or “in that world”) when he grows up. He was a chauffeur, remember? So I guess he likes cars. And Mary likes running things. And for the record, Lady Mary calling Tom her “brother” should go a long way to calming you weird Tom/Mary ‘shippers. I never could get behind that one.

In other news about people named Tom, Thomas Barrow is just about on my last nerve. He’s Mister Mopey, all put out and sad while grinning. There was one steely-eyed gaze that made me think he’d return to being Thomas the Villain, and at this point, I’d relish it, but it remains to be seen. Thomas is doing what Thomas always does, being a bitch to people who won’t love him, because he’s a bitch, and then feeling sorry for himself because no one loves him. This is simply not fascinating, although his guided tour of Bad Places to Work in Yorkshire has been somewhat entertaining. But we didn’t get that this week.

We didn’t get much this week, in terms of actual events. The war over hospital management is interminable. Lady Edith may get involved with a college for women. Gwen came for lunch. Everyone felt sad about Sybil. Mary reunited with Talbot, who, because he is played by Matthew Goode, is a better prospect for a love interest than anyone else. Seriously, don’t hire a movie star if you want the audience to be surprised about a budding romance. The Carsons came back from their honeymoon, and everyone was absolutely overjoyed that Mrs. Hughes won’t be allowed to use her married name at work, because GOD FORBID THE GENTRY SHOULD BE MILDLY AND TEMPORARILY INCONVENIENCED. In those days, a married name meant a lot to a woman, and still does to many women today, and yet they all cheer to take it away from her because, for a few weeks, they’ll trip over their tongues, and that’s simply too much to ask. Assholes.

Mrs. Pattmore declared she will die a virgin, which sucks. She also called Daisy “Karl Marx”. Honestly, the whole Daisy thing makes no sense. It’s a series of miscommunications and half-communications and assumptions worthy of an episode of Laverne & Shirley, except with class warfare thrown in. But Daisy’s class warfare is incoherent; she’s not arguing that the lower classes should have additional rights, but that the upper classes should be more considerate out of the goodness of their hearts. And, in the case of the Crawleys, they are, so Daisy should never have gotten mad in the first place. In truth, it’s the plot that’s incoherent. People like Mr. Mason really were dispossessed, because, of course, they never were able to own “their” farms. Neither Daisy nor the show is interested in changing that, and the show further implies that if the lower classes would just shut up and wait, of course the gentry will help out. This doesn’t reflect reality. But the costumes are great. This is probably why Daisy is so incoherent–ugly costumes.

Oh, there’s this Baxter thing, and that could get good, except a dramatic confrontation of a serial abuser doesn’t seem very Downton Abbey, so it’ll probably happen off-camera, and then Baxter will thank Moseley, or something meek like that. I did like the ferocity with which she rolled her eyes at him, though. Also, Anna almost had a miscarriage, but didn’t, because the upper classes were there to throw money and cars and doctors at things.

In Very Important News of the Gentry, His Lordship has GIRD.

I don’t know why Lady Mary chased off her suitors, or why she is happy about it. This all happened off-camera. Now, a suitor is back, and he’s Matthew Goode, and they have a delightful dinner flirtation.

Also, I choked up over Sibyl. I don’t believe Mary misses her nearly as much as she claims, because it would involve Mary thinking about other people, but I choked up.

How about you Basketcases? Do you miss Sibyl? Did you remember Gwen? Who do you think Thomas will poison?


  11 Responses to “Downton Abbey, Season 6, Episode 4: The Mystery of Life”

  1. Re: Chekhov’s GIRD.

    Apologies in advance if this has already been suggested elsewhere, but my wife and I are convinced that the Downton Cottage Hospital storyline will be resolved when the Dowager Countess sees the folly of her position after Lord Grantham almost dies (from some yet to be revealed ailment) due to sub-par faculties at the hospital.

  2. Matt Maul,
    You are so smart! I got to thinking about your theory and wonder if a bit of irony might be at play in the story of the Dowager herself having a near fatal incident. Remember she left the kitchen early from fatigue…

  3. You know nothing, Jon Sn….er, Barrow!

  4. The costumes and sets are spectacular–but that aside the plot and writing are not much better than a soap opera (the kind of crap Meagan Draper once said she’d kill to be on!) It’s nice to have something fun to watch on Sunday nights but it doesn’t quite fill the Mad Mad size canyon left since last May. 🙁

    Does anyone think Thomas will commit suicide?

    The whole hospital controversy will come to a head with a health crisis (Robert, Violet or Anna) and they’ll all realize the importance of a good hospital. Not quite the impossible-to-predict writing of MW!

  5. Please remember that Lord Julian Fellowes is a direct decendant of Lady Daisy Fellowes, who was quite the diva/cougar of her day. For an entertaining read, look her up.

    Starting with Season 2 publicity J Fellowes has bragged that DA is soap. In the UK all soaps are very popular. The fact is people watch DA in 250 markets, just about every market available, in many languages, so for Fellowes et al producing soap is a successful business model.

    Back in season 1 when Gwen shared a room with Anna and had to hide her precious typewriter I enjoyed her character. I was happy Lady Sybil helped Gwen become a telephone company secretary. Perhaps Gwen became part of government when the UK Post Office took over all telephone service. It was nice the same actress played Gwen, but now with black hair.

  6. Thinking about Gwen learning shorthand and typing by correspondence brings up several interesting shots in Episode 603 while the magazine was being edited.

    Edith decided an existing article needed to be longer. Bertie took the copy and said the author would not mind. Then he ran paper into a typewriter and began touch typing. Later Edith is shown skillfully touch typing.

    This begs the question, who taught them to type? That was hardly taught at elite boy’s prep schools back then. Did Edith take night classes in typing, or did she find the correspondents lessons Gwen left behind when she left Downton Abbey to work for the phone company.

    By the way, since Gwen departed have we been shown a typewriter at Downton or even in the village?

  7. I agree this is a soap based show, but it has made me realize that I should have born in 188-something so I could wear the fabulous clothes, although I’m not too wild about wearing a necklace across my forehead. And I love how Maggie Smith is still wearing clothes from a much earlier time frame, just like my grandmother did in her 80’s. This is primarily a fashion show and a look, who knows how accurate, at the manners of the twenties in England. Enjoy it for what it is, cotton candy for the mind.

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