Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Downton Abbey.

We will be talking about the Downton Abbeythat aired on 1-12-14 today.
Beware of spoilers.

So I knew what was going to happen to Anna in this episode.  I waited until Monday to watch because I really didn't want to see it.

Simply put, I do not like that the writers wrote this into the story.  It is not what I want to watch.
However I noted a few things that I absolutely liked about the episode.  (the first 45 minutes)

1. I like Lord Gillingham.  I like his voice and his tone with Mary.  I didn't care for his looks when I saw his still pictures but he is quite nice on film.

2. I was glad to see the characters go out for a walk.  I adored the hedges.


3. I liked that they showed the choosing of the wine and the setting of the table.  Roots.  Back to the roots, I say.

4.  The vistas while Mary and Lord G were riding were beautiful and the music during these rides was lovely.

5.  I adored the Dowager's role in this episode.  Isn't it interesting that she has a better relationship with Mary than her own mother and father.  Her wise words make me love her more.  She was the star of the show to be sure.

6.  I thought it was funny when Lord Grantham talked with Mr. Carson about the opera singer and said to him, "What does one say to a singer?"  And he turned to Carson quickly and said, "I blame you."
Maybe you had to see it.  But it cracked me up.

Don't like so much;

1. Missing baby Georgie
2. Edna and Tom


Last night I read the following blog post by Melissa Wiley.  She is an author and writes about the episode much better than I ever could.  If you'd like to read it...follow link.

Melissa Wiley's blog post.

Our Swiss Miss (Susan) assures me that she still loves the show after Sunday night's awful ending.
She is quite discerning and I will hang in there because she recommends that I do.

I will watch next week...but my heart is broken for Anna and I may just fast forward thru that whole scene.  (Which is how I watched this week...fast forward.  And then I deleted it.  Sad that I do not want to watch it over and over like the first two years.)

What did you think about the episode?
Will you keep watching?

No wonder the Royals thought Diana was odd to want to be with her boys....to raise them...
No wonder Mary is closer with Carson than her father and mother.

Encourage one another,


  1. Hi Donna, today is laundry day for me. I just sat down - JUST did. And here you are. So it's only fitting that I jump right in :-)

    No spoilers from me, about further episodes. But, the same skilled writing that navigated the waters of World War One, Matthew's horrible accident, and even brought us through the absence of the Bangs of Malice (and gave us new people to boo) will carry us through a different Valley of the Shadow.

    Not all loss is death. Loss of innocence is so real. Loss of Hope.

    We care about these people so much because of the writing. I have watched the scene you deleted several times. Because it is a context for the episodes to come. It breaks my heart each time but causes me to cheer on these characters that I love all the more.

    (an aside: The juxtaposition of the glorious aria to the violence downstairs is astonishing.)

    D.A. is not for everyone, and I understand that there is a line in the sand for some folks that they just don't want to cross over, and that they might feel in their hearts to stop watching. I respect that.

    Your favorable points of the episode really are the ones that shine for me too. The kindness of the Duchess to Tom is so sweet. The ability of Mary to speak freely with Lord Gillingham is such a freeing thing for her to be able to do. It honestly makes me smile to think of those glorious scenes outdoors. The behind the scenes details of the running of the house. Mrs. Pattmore busting a gasket.

    Okay, I've gone on long enough. Thanks for this post, Donna. Your points at the end about Nannies is spot on. Good stuff. I love this place and look forward to reading other viewpoints.

    Hugs from your Swiss Miss

    1. P.S. I like Lord Gillingham too. There is something genuine about the way the actor portrays him. I also liked the bit about Edith's fella and the card game.

  2. Anonymous9:29 AM

    I have been waiting for you to comment :) Skip the Golden Globes, I wanted to hear about Downton Abbey! Which, by the way you got me hooking on and I watched it all this fall on my Ipad, and cursed you daily for getting me hooked, and then making me wait until January.
    That said, I have not stopped thinking of our dear sweet Anna. And I imagine, at that time, in that era, being a servant, these things DID happen, and there was no where to go, no one to tell. Women suffered alone. And if that is how they are going to continue to portray it, I hope people get the period theme of the piece. She couldn't tell her masters, it was a he said, she said moment. She would have probably been fired, and then who would hire her. Isobel could hardly keep her "fallen" maid without all the gossip and well meaning people butting in. Otherwise, I sure hope that Ivy falls into a black hold somewhere. She makes me uncomfortable every time she is on screen. Just like Thomas.
    Kris Schwarz

  3. As heartbroken and sickened as I was by the Anna plot twist, it also brought up a lot of context-related questions for me - you have to imagine that this kind of thing happened ALL THE TIME in these upstairs-downstairs scenarios, which is why, though Mrs. Hughes was obviously upset, she was willing to go along with Anna's desire to keep it quiet. That's the part that broke my heart the most - that at her most vulnerable, she's choosing not to receive the care and comfort of her very closest friend. I knew that something was happening to Anna sometime this season, but I didn't know what.

    And we ROARED at those hedges. They're ridiculous!! :)

    I will rewatch the whole episode, with some strategic fast-forwards, I'm sure. I thought the tone of this one until the end was right on par for the course and I, as ever, loved it....

    1. The very real fear that Mr. Bates would kill the evil monster, and get caught and hung, is SO real to Anna. We cannot under-estimate that point.

    2. Exactly. Which makes me wonder how convinced she actually was of his innocence before. :) I'll write more later - trying to get the bulletins done for Sunday! :)

    3. And now I want to watch the good parts again!

    4. Stephie, I thought the same thing...does Anna doubt his innocence??

    5. I doubt his innocence.

    6. I don't doubt that he wanted to. I don't think he did it. But he could have. Just my opinion.

    7. Steph, did you watch the video clip of Joanne F., the actress who plays Anna? They refer to what was true for that day and age. I found it very helpful. It even soothed me somehow. Because you know ... these people are like real people to us!

  4. I also knew what was going to happen to Anna. I thought they handled something so terrible without the vileness that it could have had. But I hate that it happened to Anna. I hate how secretive she is/has to be about it. I want her to yell it to the world that Lord Gillingham's valet is a horrible, horrible man. But I know that isn't the way of the early 20th century. And, I know of course, Bates would never do anything to hurt Anna or shun her in any way. But, at the same time, he kind of has already hurt her by being the kind of man who would seek revenge and thus not allow her to tell even him. I know someone who was raped as a teenager and didn't tell her parents because she had heard her father say that he would kill anyone who did that to his daughter. It is a similar story.

    I also think that my feelings for Lord Gillingham's valet have affected my opinion of Lord Gillingham. Not sure I like him as much as I want to because he employs a man who would be so vile to a woman.

    I don't like Edna. I hope she goes as quickly as she did last time. And I hope that the babies, George and Sybil, will gradually be more of a presence.

    I'll keep watching. I've heard that the storyline works out. We will see.

    1. you make a very good point about Anna's fear of Bates seeking revenge being a form of hurt. I had not thought of that. Even if Mr. Bates would never knowingly want to hurt her, it is a form of harm all the same.

      I'm glad these characters have flaws and we see them. It makes me care about them more.

    2. Thank you for your comments Gale!

  5. I broke covenant with my husband and watched it Monday morning by myself. He came home and said, "Are we watching DA tonight?" He could tell by my face that I had watched it, but we sat down to watch it together. I knew he would be furious. Which he was. FURY-ous. No more. No more. I got very quiet and he couldn't stop ranting: I hate rape. Why did they have to do that to Anna? Why did she shut out her husband? I'm done. That's it.

    Like Susan said: the juxtaposition of the aria and the attack. I made a mental note: look up the lyrics to O mio babbino cara. Here is the last stanza:

    My love for which I suffer,
    At last, I want to die.
    Father I pray, I pray.
    Father I pray, I pray.

    The suffering in the aria is from love for a man. But, oh.

    I can't believe that last week I thought Bates and Anna would be the happy couple of this season.

    Some very interesting references: Gutenberg BIble, Stygian gloom, Damascene conversion. [translation: G = first printed BIble, S = the souls of the dead cross the river in Greek myth, D = Damascus where Saul, the Christian killer, was converted to St. Paul]

    Great comedy with Tom and titular confusion.

    But my favorite quote is from Mary: "Matthew changed me. I loved him, but he changed me." Marriage is the same as a chemical change, which is irreversible. Once you fry an egg, you can't turn it back into a raw egg. In Mary's case, she became softer; she feels more vulnerable.

    1. Carol, you are so right - a wonderful quote and so revealing from Mary to Lord Gillingham.

    2. One of my favorite arias.. it's one of those in the setting of the opera it's in [Gianni Schicchi] that makes an overblown moment out of a very minor plot point.. It's a daughter asking her dad for permission for something relatively minor.. in start contrast to how it was used in the episode. And I loved the Damascene conversion moment. Some of those lines, word plays, and musical moments are the reasons I keep coming back. I like that it makes me think, but is still, at its core, a soap opera. ;)

  6. Donna, I agree with your commentary with a few additions. I loved how the Dowager encouraged Violet. I also like it when Tom noticed Mary laughing and asked Violet if something was wrong. She said "If there is, it shouldn't be." I liked that. Good old Moseley, bless his heart. "I am a beggar. Then I cannot choose." Mr. Carson looked at him with an expression that said "Yes, whatever." haha. It was also wonderful when Mr. Gregson put one over on the "Card Sharp", as he called him. He said it was a skill learned during his misspent youth..haha. Poor Miss Patmore, she does wind herself up! I am hoping this is not a precursor to something terrible. I do love the chemistry between her and Lord Gillingham! I thought he was going to be a conceited jerk like the Turk. Not so. Bates would certainly kill Lord Gillingham's butler if he found out about the rape of Anna. Bates had him pegged from the beginning. I wish Anna and Bates could just live in peace already! Tom and Braithwaite...yuck. I don't get the Ivy/Jimmy connection. Does he like her? Is he just torturing Alfred?

  7. I must be very smart indeed to have such intelligent friends. Love these comments. DANG!

  8. Anonymous10:34 AM

    I will keep watching with the hope that somehow Anna begins to heal but I don't know how the writers will do that because there wasn't help for women who were victims of violence at that time. It was the first time since I have been watching DA that I felt emotionally upset and it did ruin the episode for me. Thank you, Donna, for pointing out some good things. I did love the riding scene with Mary and Lord Gillingham and I am glad his character seems to kind so that we don't have to feel anxious for her. Edna on the other hand- may they boot her off soon. I fear that Tom is going to make a terrible mistake.

    Debbie Z.

  9. Anonymous10:36 AM

    Even though I too knew what would happen to Anna, it still shocked me. I couldn't believe that Mr. Bates believed - or at least accepted - her excuse for being bruised and bloody wearing a different dress. It will be interesting to watch him find out, if he finds out.

    Also, as much as I like Lord Gillingham, he does seem somewhat tarnished now because of his valet's behavior (I agree Mom & Camera). It will certainly be complicated if things do continue with Mary as he could return and bring the awful valet back into what once was the safety of Downton.

    On a side note, I simply adored the horseback riding scenes and the lovely open conversation that Mary was able to have with Lord Gillingham. She is different now and we do have Matthew to thank.

    I feel so sorry for Isobelle. It is hard after losing someone (thankfully I've never lost a child) and allowing yourself to be happy again. I believe the writers have captured that inward struggle well. I'd love for her and the Doctor to get together.


    1. I like Isobel a lot, too. She is honest and articulate about her grief, but her comment about "there shouldn't be (something wrong)" shows her generosity.

  10. I just looked these up:

    squab = domestic pigeon that tastes like dark meat

    Recipe for syllabub: TO a pint and a half of cream add a pint of sweet wine, a gill of brandy, sifted sugar, and a little lemon juice; whisk it well, take off the froth with a spoon, lay it upon a large sieve, fill the glasses three parts full with the liquor, add a little grated nutmeg, and put the froth over.

  11. Anonymous11:00 AM

    These comments are so wonderfully insightful and honest. Like the rest, I was sickened by what happened to Anna and am grateful to Swiss Miss Susan's encouragement to hang in there. Anna and Mr. Bates have already been through so much, they should be allowed to live in peace, but that's not how life always works out, is it?? It is such a credit to the writers that we love and care about these characters so very much. As we cheer for Mary to be healing and moving on with life, we mourn for poor Anna and the violence done to her. We feel so sorry for Isobel and her heavy grief, and are grateful to the Dowager for encouraging Isobel to stay involved in the land of the living. We want to warn Tom to beware of calculating Edna, but we also know he's so vulnerable and lonely, too. Grateful for the rich world of characters living in Downton, and for the wise, heartfelt commenting going on here!!! xoxo

    Mary Z

    1. Ah, Mary. You captured this episode in two glorious sentences. THANK YOU.

    2. Anonymous3:19 PM

      Such wonderful insight, adding even more velvet-y depth the our beloved Downton - it is a soap opera, but isn't life in general? We have to take the good with the bad and hope for the be, I have faith in the overall goodness, wiseness and love of the house.
      Sandy R

  12. easy peasy, right? ;-) What the heck is a gill? thanks Carol!!

    I had to look up High Coco-Lorum. Something from the Lost Princess of Oz, written in 1917.

  13. Anonymous11:07 AM

    I have not seen DA since season two, so I cannot comment on the show itself. Reading these comments I wonder about the actors who go through shows being the bad person/mean person. Does it affect them in their real lives…or do actors just do a job? I am so impressed with the ability to articulate the knowledge and intellect of all of you who have commented. I don't consider this a spoiler today, instead a background report for when I do see the show again. Thanks to all! love and prayers, jep
    PS Oh those gardens and to walk there…a dream come true someday if we ever get to Great Britain.

    1. I have *often* wondered the same thing, jep. All the practice and every take seems to be wearing the groove deeper in one's psyche.

  14. I'm glad I didn't come here to read until after I had seen the episode. My heart broke for Anna. It was such an awful thing to "witness". And I had nearly the same kind of reaction when Cora caught the nanny saying those terrible things to that poor baby Sybil. Just NO! But, I will keep watching because I care for the characters now. I just wish they would make Thomas and Edna go away, but then there would be no villains.

  15. For me, I think the very worst moment of the whole episode was when Anna had to stand there with Bates and say goodnight to that monster! It was like he was flaunting his power over her. I couldn't sleep after that. Just awful. And the thought that he will be back to Downton as Lord Gillingham pursues Mary is almost too much.

    I'm always very careful not to read spoilers, but if they keep blindsiding me with tragedy, I'm going to have to prepare myself.

    Penelope Wilton (actress that plays Isobel) is amazing. She is breaking my heart with her grief. I'm afraid Edith's beau has more secrets in his closet than we know. She can just never pick the right men! And Lord Grantham... Is there any way he HASN'T almost lost his fortune yet?? The man seems to be bent on single-handedly running the estate into the ground with his foolishness! I wouldn't want him controlling a piggy bank, let alone an estate!

    1. piggy bank - ha!!! good point, Jessica!

      I have loved Penelope Wilton since I first saw her on Calendar Girls, years ago.

  16. Anonymous11:17 AM

    I couldn't read this post until I finally had a chance to watch the episode this morning. I did know something happened to Anna, though, from another blogger's FB status. Knowing something awful was coming may have helped me pay closer attention than usual, but I really enjoyed this episode, until the scene with Anna. The whole fuss over whether the opera singer should eat dinner with the family, and of Lord Grantham not knowing what on earth to talk about with her cracked me up. The Dowager's line to Tom, who was befuddled about English titles when he was told not to call the Duchess "Your Grace" when addressing her in a social setting, "If I went looking for logic, I would not expect to find it among the British Upper Class" also cracked me up.

    I, too, wonder why NO one ever seems to remember Tom also lost Sybil.

    Imagine riding a horse side-saddle as Mary did in that beautiful scene.

    Anna not wanting to tell anyone because she feared for what Mr. Bates would do.

    Lord Grantham being so concerned about the amount of money he lost gambling and then liking Mr. Gregson for showing character in winning back the money. (Is Lord Grantham REALLY so hard up and so inept as they sometimes show him to be??)

    Thanks, Carol, for explaining Damascene. I knew I should have understood but couldn't quite put my finger on it! :)

    Glad to be home and have a laptop available so I can comment today, even if I'm several days late.

    Sandy C.

  17. Anonymous6:16 PM

    "I blame this on you!" Followed by quick head swivel away for the accused Carson. Brilliant. Lord Grantham's finest moment of the series.

    Carson is the one character who expresses all the history, all the class distinction, all the slow changing of the guard. All others can come and go, but Carson is the mainstay. Not a series without him.


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