Downton Abbey 3×06

Let’s just say that Thomas is no match for Miss O’Brien! I don’t know why he let himself get dragged into a flirtation with Jimmy knowing full well that O’Brien knew his sexual orientation and she seemed to be laying low with her payback. I almost felt sorry for Thomas until I remembered how unnecessarily cruel he’s been to William, Bates, and Daisy as well as his three-seasons worth of scheming against everyone for his own benefit and amusement. I do, however, believe that Jimmy was playing everyone–if Bates hadn’t been released from gaol (thanks to Anna aka Mrs. Sherlock Bates) he would have manipulated Thomas’s come-on to nab the position as Lord Grantham’s valet.

Speaking of Bates, how sweet was it to see him and Anna set up house? Even though lots of people cringed at their honeymoon, Anna and Bates have such an easy, natural chemistry, and compared to every other romantic relationship, theirs is built to last. He also looked pretty dapper in his panama and blue suit while keeping score at the cricket match.

Besides the scandal with Thomas, we also saw the introduction of Rose. She’s young and wild and pretty, but I don’t think she’s a Sybil replacement. Since the Crawley family is very country-based and Edith and Mary are in their mid/late-20s, there was no other way to insert a bit of  “Golden Twenties” hedonism into the series without a new, much younger upstairs character. So even though Rose is wayward and bratty, I don’t mind her. Part and parcel with Rose is a new suitor for Edith–her editor Michael Gregson, who, IMO, looks like Sir Anthony Strallan’s younger brother! Edith plays it cool, thankfully, and uses her head this time by checking up on Gregson, and discovers that he’s married to a mad wife (shades of Jane Eyre). I don’t see this ending well. And why can’t Edith have a suitor without any baggage or wives?

Branson seems to be settling in now that Matthew has taken him under his wing. After Mr. Jarvis quits his position as estate manager, Branson is thrown into the role even though, realistically, he is woefully under-qualified. But whatever keeps him at Downton!  In the meantime, his brother Kieran comes for the christening and acts as boorishly as Branson did in the beginning of the season. We see how much Branson has been tamed…The highlight of this segment is when the photographer asks Robert and Violet to take a photograph with the Catholic priest who christened Baby Sybil–the looks on their faces!! And of course Cora gets a snarky word in–go Cora!

The ongoing saga of Ethel and Isobel petered out to an end, with Violet doing her usual meddling in Isobel’s life by having Edith place advertisements for a cook/servant in The Lady. The solution to getting ex-prostitute Ethel out of Downton village is quite simple when the position that interests Ethel just so happens to be in the vicinity of the Bryants. Mrs. Bryant makes an appearance to give the okay for Ethel to hover around the fringes of Charlie’s life and vows to take care of Mr. Bryant’s reaction to the news. I don’t know about you, but Ethel’s storyline could have gone this route a long time ago. After all, she did offer to be Charlie’s nursemaid when she first contemplated giving him up, but I guess Isobel wouldn’t have had anything to do (Julian Fellowes didn’t take my suggestion of having her stand for Parliament!).

My absolute favorite part of the episode was, however, Mr. Molesley’s Cricket Tips. He really is a source of sly, underrated humor on Downton Abbey and I hope he sticks around!

What did you think of last night’s episode? Do you feel sorry for Thomas? Is Rose an interesting addition to the cast? Are Mary and Matthew’s fertility problems over for good?

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About Evangeline Holland

Author of Edwardian/WWI historicals. Likes cooking, the smell and collecting of old books, various artsy hobbies, travel, classic cinema, period dramas, the fusty areas of history, and all things French (though is terrible with maintaining fluency in the language). Read more about her novels and non-fiction here

  • Nancy W

    First, Thomas is not a very likeable character due to his past evil deeds. Was he not a war profiteer as well as a villian in several plots within the story?

    He found himself ill treated as he had ill treated others AT LAST. Then found himself SAVED by some of the very people he had treated badly in the first place.

    No I do not pity his character at all.

    Every piece has to have a villian or near villian. Even fairy tales. : )

  • http://www.melissamarsh.net Melissa Marsh

    Very disappointed in how the Earl reacted to the whole Thomas thing. They have taken great pains to show how “behind the times” he is with everything – women’s rights, class status, Catholics, estate management, doctors!, and just about everything else you can think of. He had a fit when his family was being served luncheon by an ex-prostitute. Yet we are supposed to believe his enlightened attitude on homosexuality? Not buying it. I think it was a total PC move by Fellowes & Co.

  • Robin Woods

    I am truly happy for Ethel. It is a solution that was in line with the times. My grandmother had a baby girl, similar to Ethel’s situation and she was a “baby sister” to my grandmother & her siblings in 1909. The man was a real cad, from what we can find out! Looking through birth records, he fathered 28 children and died of syphliss in 1919! Given the lack of reproductive information young women were given, we think he smooth talked or raped them. Maybe a little of both.
    Horrah! Mr. Bates & Anna will have their happily ever after! What a lovely little home they have for themselves. Leave it to Miss O’Brien to make a snide comment about it, but wasn’t SHE surprised when she did leave! All her conniving didn’t get her what she wanted, Alfred as 1st Footman & Thomas gone! All her plans gone to naught!
    I have to say;Gregsen looks like he could be Sir Anthony Strallen’s SON!! He even has some of Sir Anthony’s mannerisms. It was freaky to watch! I’m STILL hoping for Patrick to return for Edith, though.
    I am dissappointed in the way the “Thomas” situation is being handled! There are too many phrases & beliefs of today’s attitude about homosexaulity creeping in! I was hoping for an accurate portrayal of THOSE TIMES! And to make him “under-butler” is out of line! He would have been sent to the Bryant’s or cousin Shrimpie or Lady Rosamund or maybe even Crawley House for Isabel to “reform”. Now, he can take it out on all those who ever opposed him or looked askance at him! Alfred may take the brunt of it, in future.
    There are too many references of “last breath or till I die” with Mary & Matthew for something dreadful NOT to happen & I’m sorry about that. I think the changes to the estate that Matthew is implementing, will be the saving of Downton! Maybe, Tom Bransen will see the fruits of Matthew’s labor in the end and Bravo! for Tom calling his brother Kieran to task regarding Kieran wanting to eat downstairs! He stood up for his wife’s values of hospitality & good manners, in so doing,as well as M & M’s support of him!
    The end draws neigh! How sad, another season nearly finished & a year to wait for the next! I may JUST have to break out some “mad money” and buy it all so I don’t have “Downton withdrawal” this year!

  • Terri

    i would like to know what kind of surgery Mary had?
    Never been a fan of Thomas and feel that he did this to himself by listening to O’Brein, knowing that she is as conniving as he is.
    I’m finding it hard to believe that Robert would think and do the things he did for Thomas given his track record with Ethel past and his other ” Old World” thinking.
    Glad to see that Tom his finding his way with being part of the Upstairs now.
    Ethel story line could have gone that direction a long time ago, but what would Isabel do if she didn’t have some sad person to take care of?
    Glad to see that Edith used her head with this one, but can’t she just find a love that doesn’t come with issues?
    There is more to Jimmy then we are being shown and I can not wait to see how his story unfolds. Sorry but I’m not buying that his former employer begged him to come with her and he turned her down.
    Glad to see all 3 men coming together to help save Downton.

    • http://evangelineholland.com Evangeline Holland

      @Terri: some Downton fans have speculated that Mary had surgery for a tipped uterus.

  • Terri

    Thank you Evangeline. I know that today there are many different surgeries for infertility, but for that time period I wasn’t aware of what was available.

    I also have another question that I hope someone can give some insight to.
    In real life would the Upstairs people care that much about the Downstairs people that they would hire a lawyer for them? Such as the case here with Bates. Or with Robert keeping Thomas out of jail because of his life style.
    Thank you to anyone who can offer me some insight on this.

  • http://heidenkind.blogspot.com heidenkind

    Is Jimmy the young Simon Baker guy? I thought the editor guy looked like he could be Colin Firth’s brother.

  • NJGill

    It seems that there is a general unawareness of the prevalence of bi- and/or homo- sexual behavior amongst the English public school “upper class” lads. As Robert says, “If I cried blue murder every time someone tried to kiss me at Eton, I would have been hoarse in a month”. It often wasn’t regarded as perversion so much as a phase that was left behind when the boys left school. And boys who “kissed” boys also enjoyed girls when they got the chance. Evelyn Waugh, who wrote “Brideshead Revisited” married as his first wife a woman also named Evelyn (they were called He-Evelyn and She-Evelyn by their set). On their wedding night, they were confessing their non-virginity to one another and comparing notes – it turned out they had both been deflowered by Tom Mitford, the only brother of the famous Mitford sisters.
    Incidentally, Robert resembles Lord Redesdale (father of the Mitfords) more and more as the series progresses. My guess is that Fellowes read and borrowed heavily from the fiction and nonfiction works of Nancy, Jessica, Deborah and maybe even Diana Mitford in creating the Crawleys.

    Ethel could not have taken a job as a cook elsewhere any sooner than she has – she had to learn how, and nobody else would have given her the opportunity that Isabel did.

    I think the treatment of Bates is because of the relationship forged when he was Robert’s batman in the Boer War, and not just because he is part of Downton’s staff. As for Thomas, Bates’ intercession on his behalf would carry a lot of weight with his Lordship, AND he certainly would not have wanted the public notoriety that would be attached to the family name if Thomas were jailed.

  • Carole Cox

    I love the fact that Thomas is evolving. As in real life, we often grow out of our evil ways and beome better humans in the face of crisis. I do think he is handsome…to bad he is a poof. Maybe he will convert? Now there is a lively tale!

    I used to think Lord Grantham was my hearthrob but I have moved on to Bates. Anna, you lucky girl. After all, you deserve it!

    Violet…what great lines! Underneath all the snobery and pretense, a really fine woman!

    Branson coming along and maturing. We all give up ideals at one point or another.

    I spent the weekend watching all of season three. I will not comment other than to say its full of marvelous ups and unfortunate downs.

  • http://elizabethvaradansfourthwish.blogspot.com Elizabeth Varadan

    Since Dan Stevens has said he won’t be with Downton Abbey next season (he wants to play other roles), at one point I foresaw a divorce between Matthew and Mary. But they look so happy together, now, that I suppose some tragic accident will have to happen to Matthew to get him out of the picture.

  • Elisa

    Anyone notice how Lady Rose’s necklace kept changing positions while she was talking with Violet after her mischief in London?

    I recognized Charles Edwards (as Gregson) from seeing him as Arthur Conan Doyle alongside the late Sir Ian Richardson in “Murder Rooms” 2nd season.

  • http://romanticarmchairtraveller.typepad.com Danielle

    Season Three has given me more trouble than ever accepting the show’s logical fallacies, misleading history, characters undergoing personality switches, and the “rewards” of feudal patriarchy. Among other things, Sybil’s arc, which drained her of independence and feminism , re-writing her into a passive vessel whose function was demoted to a mere plot device (and in the process ignoring historical accuracy regarding medical treatment of her condition); the re-education and de-fanging of a “savage colonial” by English arisocrats; and the ill-handled, parallell storylines about prostitution and the then crime of homosexuality, which managed to bungle any social point it might have tried to make in the attempt to redeem Lord Grantham through a PC trait that masquerades as character complexity. While I would not say I admired the series, I was amused by the character shenanigans for a while. I no longer am. In charitable moments I do wonder, though, what this season might have looked like had it been the last. It would be less detrimental for my opinion of Fellowes talents if I were able to attribute this lazy sensationalism to mere seriesitis.

    • http://evangelineholland.com Evangeline Holland

      @Danielle You’re not alone in this opinion…and I have a strong inkling that many more will feel this way once the Christmas Special/season finale airs next Sunday.

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