Downton Abbey Recap: Ladies' Night
Dear Gentle Reader: SPOILER ALERT. This is a recap of an episode of a television show. I'm going to be giving things away. A lot of things. All the things. You can even call me Ethel if you want to.
We begin on a somber day in Downton. Everyone is still in black. Sybil is dead. Have you come to terms with it yet? Are you still wearing black too?
There's a serious chill in the air between Lord and Lady Grantham. Lady Grantham appears to be on the verge of total insanity. I guess that'll happen when you lose two babies in three seasons. But don't worry Mama, I am sure your little Sybil is going to go on to do some really great movie work!
Down at Isobel's, it's clear Ethel knows a thing or two about losing children. Maybe not cooking, but definitely losing kids. And pleasuring a certain type of gentleman. We all have our skill sets.
In Mary's drawing room, she is approximately a thousand times nicer to Anna than she has ever been to Edith. Is this because Anna helped her move Pamuk's dead body and Edith told on her for moving Pamuk's dead body? What about forgiveness Mary? What about blood and family? Oh well. I'm done trying with this one.
In the Lord and Lady's quarters, it appears Robert is not going to get any action for months or maybe ever again. What they need is a good relationship counselor and maybe a Buddhist loss and grieving support group.
At breakfast, no one is eating in bed because everybody just FEELS single right now. Edith suddenly seems to be the most successful on of the bunch. I would rather be left by a man with no face and jilted at the alter by a grandpa than have my wife die or my family openly revolt around me.
And no one gets it worse right now than poor Lord Grantham. Not only is his favorite religion getting slightly ignored, his granddaughter is being named something he doesn't really like (though it is a name, we assume, he once approved of), Matthew is trying to help him not become penniless and WOMEN AROUND HIM ARE EXPRESSING THEIR OPINIONS. If there was a harder life ever lived, show it to me. I won't believe it until I see it.
Back in Downton Oz we are walking around in circles, vaguely menacing each other again. Is it just me or is this storyline getting a bit played out?
Lord Grantham continues to moan about his hard, sad, Anglican life and his future "left footer" (?!) of a granddaughter.
Mrs. Patmore, however, never moans. She is a woman of action, breaking the rules and fraternizing with the prostitute. I've always liked her style, though unfortunately, as everyone knows, prostitute is catching. Oh well. She was good while she lasted.
Wait! She isn't immediately forced to become a woman of the night after one conversation with Ethel! Instead, she seems to have become, if possible, WISER! She tells the downstairs love-rhombus: "You know the trouble with you lot, you're all in love with the wrong people!" True, they are. But isn't that what we want?
At dinner, we are treated to an old-time family dinner fight! This time, the Anglican church guy (priest? I guess) explains why God loves the rest of Europe and all of South America less than he loves England. Spoiler: BECAUSE THEY ARE ALL LEFT FOOTERS!
Cora is turning out to be a lot more fun when she is near psychotic with depression. Her insults are artwork and when she tells Robert, at DINNER no less, "You're always flabbergasted by the unoriginal" you can almost hear a crowd cheer.
In bed with Matthew and Mary nothing interesting happens which could be because Matthew won't stop talking about Mary's dad.
Back in Hardscrabble City Land (London?),Vera Bates's friend turns out to be a class warrior much like Branson but the evil kind who lures lawyers into her home just to dash their hopes of freeing the innocent. I would say "Free Bates" but honestly, I don't even care anymore. Let Anna find a new love. Maybe Robert? Cora seems pretty much over it at this point and we know he likes maids.
Business-Time Daisy puts on her beret and visits the farm where her fake father-in-law asks her to take it over. Farmer Daisy. It does have a ring to it. But when the old farmer says that working in service to big fancy houses won't be a thing in 40 years, the wishful thinking of the writing staff made me think of The Flinstones: Viva Rock Vegas for some reason.
Back at the Dowager House, Lady Violet asks the ethical country doctor to stretch the truth to save her son's marriage. Not lie of course, because "lie is so unmusical a word," but you know, lie.
On the set of Run-Downton, Matthew and Branson discuss sheep. What if the driver and the lawyer TAKE OVER THE WHOLE PLACE? They could be a dream team, if Matthew stops suggesting Branson just leave the baby places, even if one of those places is Downton.
In town, Sherlock Carson accidentally begins his investigation into "The Case of the Catching Prostitution."
Speaking of investigations into pointless things, I am still so so bored of Bates in jail. If I am going to rank plots in order of most boring (and I am) I say, Bates-the-Innocent-in-Jail is most the boring, closely followed by Robert-Losing-Control-of-Everything, and Will-the-Prostitute-be-Bad-at-Cooking; the best is anything involving Daisy.
Oh wait. Old Man Robert storms Isobel's house and nearly has a heart attack while trying NOT to say "prostitute." But Brave Isobel says it and two minutes later, when everyone starts breathing again, Cora begins a full on scorched earth-type assault! Good work team! The war between Robert and everyone has taken First Place Best Plot. In a classic Violet move, she decides not to go with Robert because: "Seems a pity to miss such a good pudding." Oh Rob! The knife! Your own mother!
Back at jail, Bates uses some mild violence in an attempt to make us care about his plot line. It doesn't work.
Downstairs, we realize these new days are still hard for Carson. First it was electric toasters and now it's reformed ladies of the night. What's next? People marrying ducks?!
In a strangely insightful moment in the library Robert says to his favorite, Mary: "A fool and his money are soon parted and I have been parted from my money so I guess I am a fool." Maybe, Robby, maybe.
Upstairs, we are reminded that there is still a baby. Mary holds her, but in true Mary style, she holds her while wearing long black gloves. Does Mary secretly suffer from OCD? Is this why she won't have a baby of her own? Because they are so dirty?
In the servants' quarters, Thomas is openly fondling Jimmy in front of the whole staff. Unless Jimmy falls in love with Thomas, I am officially saying this is the second most boring plot and first most offensive.
Later, in the same room, Daisy and Alfred make an adorable foxtrot team! Silver Linings Playbook: Downton!
Simultaneously, Anna gets THE FIRST LETTER OF THE EPISODE which says: Mr. Bates is coming home. She misses the post script which adds: that is unless he gets murdered in prison because his cellmate is so BORED with him.
Now Jimmy and Daisy are foxtrotting and I don't know, they might be an even CUTER couple than Daisy and Alfred. Or maybe I like anyone doing the foxtrot with Daisy. When Carson catches them and scolds Jimmy hard, Alfred says nothing. Uh oh, is it possible his O'Brien side is starting to show?
Back at the Dowager House the good country doctor lies his face off for the Dowager Countess. It's possible she paid him. Advice: next time get a midwife.
5. Dowager: Sneakiness gets you some points in my book. She isn't just cute quips, she is also devious action! I like this side of Violet.
4. Mrs. Hughes: All this talk about religion, and she's the only one who said anything even remotely related to actual Christianity this week when she reminded the haters that Mary Magdalene, Jesus' BFF, was totally an ex-prostitute. Boom!
3. Isobel: I just couldn't get enough of her open defiance of Lord Grantham and when she used the NOTORIOUS "P" WORD in the dining room and everyone nearly died, well LOLOLOL.
Tied for 2. Mrs. Patmore and Daisy: They're cute, good in the kitchen and they stand up for what they believe in.
1. Cora: A dark horse who came from behind with the bananas and bad-ass defiance of her -- let's face it -- so last-century husband. Fingers crossed their reconciliation, based on a total lie, won't force her to go back to the nothing, boring Yes-Woman she's always been.
More on Pop Culture
Theater Review | May 21, 2013
Playwright Prince Gomolvilas and singer-songwriter Brandon Patton dish up a hilarious evening of Jukebox Stories with a new playlist every night. By Sam Hurwitt
Event | May 20, 2013
Björk performs Biophilia and pieces from other albums at Craneway Pavilion in Richmond, a former Ford assembly plant and a fitting otherworldly setting for the artist's expansive stage productions. By Ben Marks
Book Review | May 20, 2013
The activist and playwright takes readers on a journey to near-death and back, following her work in the Congo and her own battle with cancer in her poetic memoir In the Body of the World. By Ingrid Rojas Contreras
Art Review | May 19, 2013
Don't miss the SFAI class of 2013 and their year-end MFA exhibition at the strange and wonderful Old Mint building. By Sarah Hotchkiss
Theater Review | May 18, 2013
One Helen of Troy was enough trouble for the ancient world. What happens when you get five of them in the same room? By Sam Hurwitt
J.J. Abrams isn't the first guy to bait Star Trek fans by messing with the brand.
Launched as an alternative to the stale stylings of the '80s stand-up circuit, Beth Lapides' event bills itself as a venue for "idiosyncratic, conversational comedy." It's helped establish careers for performers from Kathy Griffin to Randy and Jason Sklar.
When Christine Ha won MasterChef in 2012, she blew the reality TV show judges away with her Vietnamese influenced cooking. But what really impressed viewers was that she had total control in the kitchen, even though she's blind. Host Michel Martin speaks to Christine Ha about her new cookbook Recipes from my Home Kitchen.
Social media was ablaze during the season finale of ABC's hit political thriller Scandal. Host Michel Martin asks Gene Demby, blogger for NPR's Code Switch team, what it is about the show that makes it ripe for Twitter chatter — especially among African Americans.
Also on KQED.org this week ...
We Need You!
Volunteer during our current on-air radio fundraising drive. It's a great way to support KQED Radio with your time. You can really make a difference!
Enter the New "ImageMakers" Screening Room
Enjoy films from present and past seasons of KQED's short independent film series, divided into Animation, Comedy, Drama, and Suspense.