Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Downton Abbey 6x06 (Principle and Logic) [Contributor: Hope]

"Episode 6.6"
Original Airdate: February 7, 2016

Well, this episode was a welcome change, wasn’t it? Jokes and an absence of fake blood make for a pretty solid episode. Lord Grantham was recovering (!!!) from his surgery and trapped in his room for the entirety of the episode. There was a lot of humor when the doors of the Abbey were opened to the public, and tensions rose when the balance of power was upset.

Let’s begin.


Isobel and Dr. Clarkson had some news for Cora, and the former looked terrified, because two things were happening: the village hospital was to be combined with York’s after all, and Violet was no longer going to be the president... Cora was.

I love, love, love this turn of events, because Cora ran the hospital during the Great War and she deserves to have something to do now. Dr. Clarkson wanted her to be involved with the actual running of the place and be more than a figurehead, but Robert wasn’t so sure about it. Why would she want to work? “So?” she replied, “I had one career already, raising my daughters. I’m ready for the next.” This was amazing, and I am 100% on board with this storyline. Actually, I want there to be a season seven so this storyline can actually play out, please and thank you. From the beginning, Downton has focused its attention on change, especially for its female characters. Edith now owns a magazine. Mary runs an estate. Cora deserves to have something to do other than throw dinners and make calls, because that’s boring. I’m sorry, but it’s the truth. Victorian and Edwardian women didn’t have much to occupy themselves with other than some pretty dull stuff, and it’s about time Cora had something of her own. She needs to do something where her opinion is sought and matters.

However, this turn of events caused a rift between Cora and Violet, because obviously the Dowager wasn’t about to be deposed and not put up a fight. It was a done deal, and even Robert pointed out that their time — the aristocracy’s — was over. Social order and tradition (principle) were giving way to qualification (logic), and Violet simply wasn’t qualified to be president anymore. Cora and Violet have never had the best relationship, and we’ve certainly been lead to believe that before the show started, they had never had a good relationship. They were brought together in season one by their fight for Mary’s right to the estate, and while things haven’t been smooth between them, they haven’t been as bad as I fear they’re about to become. It’s hard to fix things when one party stops speaking to the other.


I need to start off by saying how hilarious everyone’s reactions were to this plan. Mary and Tom decided to raise funds for the hospital by having an open house and letting the villagers tour the Abbey. Their arguments against how much they money they could actually raise were summed up by Robert’s objection, “but what are they paying to see it? We have nothing to show them.” Even the staff were confused, with Bates saying “I don’t see why anyone would pay good money to come and look.” But Violet had the best reaction: “But why would anyone pay to see a perfectly ordinary house?!” and then continued on a wonderful rant to Isobel, who wasn’t so confused. Of course people would pay to see the house! It’s gorgeous. It’s huge. It’s historical.

Everyone eventually settled down to the idea, but then Bertie came to dinner and started bringing some much-needed order to the event. Everyone was shocked that they needed servants to guard each room, a rope to close off the upstairs, and tour guides who knew something about the house. Which apparently described no one. The best of the bunch would have been Molesley, who looked as if he wanted to pitch in some facts, but thought the better of it (he would have made an enthusiastic tour guide, don’t you think?) Cora, Mary, and Edith led their tour groups with surprisingly little knowledge. They didn’t know who the people in the paintings were, what else the architect built, why the crests were covered up on the fireplace, or even why Downton Abbey has the word “abbey” in its name. I can’t believe they wouldn’t have made that connection (that it was an abbey before the English Reformation and dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII), but I can see where they’re coming from. Everything is ordinary to them. They’ve been surrounded by these objects for most or all of their lives. The objects were just there. You would have thought Cora would have known a little more, however. She must have asked a few questions when she came over from America.

A little boy slipped upstairs and had a nice chat with Lord Grantham in a very sweet scene. His main question was, why not move somewhere cozier? Lord Grantham was like a little kid, tucked in bed, which made the whole conversation even more amusing. He answered the kid’s “Why’s it so big, your house?” with a thoughtful, “I’m not sure, really. But you know how it is — you like what you’re used to.” It’s not that the family doesn’t get out much, but they do live in a bubble. Their lives are perfectly normal to them, and suddenly have hordes of people flocking to see their natural environment has forced them to think more about their way of life than they ever have. It must be mind boggling, and the whole cast is doing a great job portraying it.

One of my favorite scenes of the episode was at the end. Everyone gathered around in Cora and Robert’s room (and by everyone, I mean everyone: Tom, Isobel, I think even Bertie) to discuss the success of the open house. Tom suggests that they make this a regular thing to raise money not for charity, but for the estate. Most of the room thinks it’s an insane idea, but in real life, that’s what happens. The real life owners of the Highclere Castle have turned their home into a business, and Tom gets to be the one to come up with the idea and start it all. Cora understands that their way of life is becoming an endangered species, but Mary argues, “Thankfully George and I are made of sterner stuff than the lot of you.” And like Tom, I don’t doubt it. She’d be the one to keep Downton running after the series is over, and God help anyone who tries to take it away from her. Since it was partially her idea to hold the open house, I don’t see her resisting the idea of making it a regular thing, if it came down to it.


This episode picked up where it left off with Thomas — he started teaching Andy how to read. I’ll say it again that it’s such a kind decision and shows a lot of character growth. Old Thomas would have used this information as blackmail, probably, but not this Thomas.

Unfortunately, Carson was still talking about cutting the staff back, and how Thomas will be the first to go, because being the Under Butler is extraneous. “But I am the first,” Barrow interrupts. Because he has a higher station in the house, a station he’s worked his way up to, a station that was respected… but no longer needed, he’s the first to go. It doesn’t seem fair (ignore his various schemes for a moment). Why doesn’t Carson retire? Wouldn’t that be more sensible? Mrs. Hughes could retire as well, and Anna could become Housekeeper after she has the baby. You know Mary would work something out in regards to caring for the baby during the day. Carson himself said that Mary doesn’t really need a lady’s maid anymore. Why not show, WHY NOT?

Mary wanted to keep him on, especially after she saw him playing with George. And maybe she sees a little of herself in him? Mary and Thomas are similar characters, let’s face it. They’re not always the nicest of persons, but they have grown a bit, and around certain people they show a kinder side. Everyone’s used to their harsher sides, however, and they would have to fight a negative bias to get anyone to believe they’re sincere about something.

Old Thomas would have also told Mr. Carson why he was spending so much time with Andy. Instead of telling him the truth and betray Andy’s trust, he asked Carson to take his word that nothing was going on between them. Mr. Carson wouldn’t buy it. “So my word is still not good enough, Mr. Carson, after so many years?” He looked like he was going to cry as Carson left the room… and in the last scene, HE DID. What a sad note to end a rather upbeat episode on.

Odds and Ends:
  • “You think they must be having a better time, and next thing you know there’s a guillotine in Trafalgar Square.”
  • Mary: “Is he worth it?” Edith: “As opposed to your car mechanic?” Tom: “I’m a car mechanic, thank you.” Oh, the irony that Mary might marry a mechanic.
  • “What on earth can we show them? Lady Grantham knitting? Lady Mary in the bath?” CARSON’S EXPRESSION. What even possessed Robert to say that?!
  • The exterior of the Carson Cottage is adorable.
  • “I can manage without you for as long as you want.” Tom watched these two argue with an amused expression, like they were silly children. (Well...)
  • Thomas playing with George was so sweet.
  • I love that Tom is tagging along to places with Mary, and that none of their aristocratic friends seem to care anything about his previous social status.
  • How come rain happens so suddenly on TV? DRIZZLE FIRST, people.
  • Henry: “Well, you’re the boss.” Well, it’s a good sign that he already knows and respects that fact, because dude, it’ll be the truth.
  • “He’s nice, he’s mad about you, and he loves cars. I rest my case.”
  • What was with Lord Merton and his daughter-in-law-to-be? And how crazy is she to marry one of his hateful sons?
  • “Well, you always knew he was old to be trained as a husband.”
  • Mr. Mason gave Mrs. Patmore a basket of vegetables, or as I called them in my notes, LOVE VEGGIES.
  • What is with Carson?!
  • Bertie was introduced to Marigold and does ANYONE have a doubt at this point that he’ll take the truth well? He’s a very good-natured person, and so far he’s neither too old, nor has a wife in an asylum, nor has any intention of going to Germany. And he goes well with Edith. I’m far more invested in them than I am in Mary and Henry, sorry.
  • “I feel like the Belgians waiting for the invasion.” “Or a monkey in the zoo.”
  • “Oh, well... they were all rather marvelous and... living that life.”
  • “Mama, you all of people don’t want to bore [our guests]” Like an argument between their Lady and Dowager Countess in the Great Hall wouldn’t entertain them.
  • Molesley was so enthusiastic in insisting that Baxter not go visit that guy in prison. I wish he’d just propose already.
  • Goof: Molesley had Daisy run up to the library to cover for him, but he had been stationed in the hall. OOPS.
  • “I am sick and tired of logic. If I could choose between logic and principle, I’d choose principle every time!”
  • “Why is she in such a tizzy?” — Little kid about the Dowager Countess.
  • “He was more of a philosopher than a thief.”
  • “That’s sad. It means that our way of life is strange.”


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