Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Downton Abbey 6x02 (No Good Deed) [Contributor: Hope]

“Episode 6.2”
Original Airdate: January 10, 2016

This week was a week of clashes on Downton Abbey. The clashes weren’t as tense as last week’s were, but last week didn’t include a kidnapping, so maybe my judgement is off. Also, the cinematography was back to normal, and (with no offense to last week’s director, because that style fit the episode’s content) I was relieved. Actually, I think I liked this episode better than I liked the season premiere. It feels like the season is settling into its tracks, and at this point we can have a pretty good idea of what the arcs are going to be.


The episode began with a message from some dude in charge of the livestock show, who wanted to contact the agent to discuss the pigs. Carson couldn’t convince him that Lady Mary was the new agent, and he insisted on speaking with that imaginary male agent he thought would appear. Robert said she didn’t have to be left to manage the man. “I want to be left to manage him,” she answered, excited. She met the man in the library, where he still had trouble accepting her role as agent. She wouldn’t want to have anything to do with pigs, being a woman and naturally opposed to pigs, work, and discussing pigs and work, I guess. But Mary isn’t someone who allows herself to be talked down to or discriminated against. What he didn’t know what that she was going to have FUN putting him in his place.

Meanwhile, Edith was dealing with her cranky editor who vetoed everything she suggested, and wouldn’t even have a logical, adult, indoor-voice conversation with her when she went to London to meet with him. Rosamund stood there watching by the front desk, and I was just waiting for her to give the man a piece of her mind. What I don’t understand is that this is Edith’s magazine now. If Editor McCranky doesn’t treat her the way one should treat a boss, why doesn’t she just fire him? It’s the simplest solution. Then she either A) hires a new, preferably friendly editor, or B) becomes the editor herself, moves into the flat, and starts over in London. But then we wouldn’t have this storyline. And the Drewes could have kept their farm. Sigh.

Mary and Edith’s storylines (minus the kidnapping incident) were very similar in this respect, and it contrasted their approaches and personalities. It might be influenced by the fact that Edith’s editor is a more difficult person than the man Mary had to deal with, but while Mary took her opponent down without problem, Edith left London with nothing fixed.


Okay, “woes” is a bit much, but I like alliteration, so bear with me. Robert cheerfully announced to Carson that the wedding reception could be held in the servant’s hall, which they could decorate and “make it look really special.” Mary cringed. Edith cringed. Carson obediently suppressed his cringe.

Mrs. Hughes was more vocal. She explained that they could find some place in the village to have it, a place they could decorate, a place that would reflect “them.” Mary, however, insisted to Carson, with Robert present, that they have the reception in the grand hall, “if it was the last thing [she] did.” She had no problem with their reception being in the middle of the house, and I’d venture to say she thought it was terrible and snobbish to make them have it in the basement, as did Edith. Of course, Mary was completely blinded to the fact that maybe the two didn’t want the party in the big, fancy house. She was unkind at the same time as she was trying not to be unkind. Cora guessed that Mrs. Hughes wouldn’t like the idea, and she was right.

Carson started to come around to this idea — after all, the house means a lot to him. And as wonderful as the bond between Carson and Mary is — and it’s an enduring, subtle facet of the series — Mrs. Hughes was NOT having that, either. I know she told Carson “We’ll be doing it your way for the next 30 years, but the wedding day is mine,” but I have a feeling we all know who’s going to be in charge in this marriage.


Andy, the new footman, was making Barrow uneasy, and I think the tipping point was the winding of the clock — which had always been a job he’d taken pride in. Convinced that his own clock was ticking, he decided to take initiative and go on a job hunt.

It didn’t go so well. The position of “Assistant Butler” was just a fancy term for “chauffeur, valet, footman, etc.” or “whatever the butler feels is beneath him, because the staff is all but gone and the family is basically slumming it now, and Assistant Butler sounds fancy.” Apparently the Assistant Butler is also expected to be married, and Snobby Butler was shooting Barrow the side-eye. He went running back to Downton, and I’m guessing he didn’t tell Carson about Snobby Butler’s cushy butler’s pantry. That was his pantry, right? It looked more like a room that should be upstairs.


Mary found out about Anna’s miscarriages, and she was so concerned by it. She insisted, no-arguments-allowed, that she take Anna to her own doctor and pay for whatever the doctor suggested. Anna tried to say Mary didn’t owe her anything, but Mary pointed out the obvious: that wasn’t true. Anna replied, “Nobody in my whole life has been as kind to me as you have… Except Mr. Bates.” It was a sweet moment.


I am so confused, and I know I shouldn’t admit that, but I just am. Something about how this storyline is unfolding has made it a little convoluted. I can’t figure out who’s on whose side, or what specifically each side stands for, because this episode seemed to contradict last week’s. Or maybe I missed some crucial piece of info when the TV signal decided to play games with me.

Anyway, Isobel insisted that Cora be brought into the decision, and it was about time someone brought her into some sort of decision-making and valued her opinion. It doesn’t happen often enough.


... Are words no one has ever said before? Also Mr. Mason might have a farm to move into. Why try to reason with the new owner of the Darnley’s estate when you can root out a family who’s been living on your land “since before Waterloo”? Mary had the brilliant, ill-informed idea to take George and Marigold to see the pigs at the Drewe’s farm. Edith was away dealing with Editor MacCranky, so Cora went along to keep the peace. It didn’t go well.

So later, when everyone was at the livestock show, Mrs. Drewe grabbed Marigold and drove off, taking the child back to the farm. I’m not really sure what she was expecting to happen when they inevitably found her there, but the thing is, she wasn’t thinking (“[Marigold] was bored” is perhaps not the best excuse for kidnapping). As Mr. Drewe pointed out, Edith and his plan didn’t take into account the emotional factor. Poor Mrs. Drewe. Poor Mr. Drewe. He was just trying to do something nice, and now he’s lost his home. The scene with them in their kitchen was heartbreaking and really just wonderfully done. It wasn’t melodramatic, just sad, subtle, and deep.

Odds and Ends
  • The messenger cycling in, the newspaper being ironed... a nice callback to the pilot. 
  • “Let me discuss it with our pig man.” Only on Downton could this sentence exist. 
  • “You won’t let me be fond of you, will you?”
  • “There’s no point even pretending we can argue with Lady Mary.” 
  • Barrow has been with the family for 15 years, which is just about the span of the show. Do I need to watch season 1 again, or did it seem that he’d been around longer at that point?
  • “[Because] you’re a tribal man, Mr. Bates...” I don’t understand this reasoning at all.
  • “How did the visit go?” “Well, George wants to be a pig farmer when he grows up...”
  • “But I didn’t want to find myself in a bull ring with Attila the Hun.”
  • Except for the hospital storyline, Violet didn’t play a huge part in this episode, did she?
  • They quickly hinted at Rosamund being lonely. Foreshadowing? 
  • Also possibly foreshadowing: does Molesley want to take that exam, too? 
  • Why does Lord Merton keep popping up? 
  • Lord Grantham drove Cora, Edith, and Mr. Drew to find Marigold. Had he even been shown driving before? 
  • I hope Mr. Mason likes pigs.


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