Downton Abbey: Kidnapped!

Mary at the fair, photo by Nick BriggsPreviously on Downton Abbey: Anna was having fertility issues, Mary assigned herself the job of estate agent, Edith snatched her kid back from the farmer she handed her off to, then went on to kinda suck at this whole ‘career woman’ thing because apparently she left her spine behind at the Drewes’. Carson and Hughes are getting married, there’s some dreary nonsense with the hospital that absolutely nobody cares about, and Daisy stupidly mouthed off to her father-in-law’s new landlord and got him kicked off his farm. Nice going!

The music is super excited that it’s breakfast time and everyone belowstairs is really fakely rushing around and gathering breakfast trays and ironing newspapers and the like. Upstairs, there are letters from Tom and Rose that include absolutely nothing interesting, other than the fact that Rose may return for the series finale a visit in August, but it’s not settled yet. Mary assumes this means Rose is expecting, though she uses the far more anachronistic (for her class and time) term of ‘pregnant’. There’s some chatter about the hospital business, which Cora is being shut out of. Carson appears and tells Mary that there’s a Mr Finch there to see ‘the agent’. Apparently he has no idea that Mary is the agent now, even though she’s allegedly been doing the job for months. Mary tells Carson to have the man wait in the library while she takes her time finishing breakfast.

Robert asks Carson about wedding plans, because this family’s extremely into its employees’ business and hears they’re still trying to figure out where to hold the reception. Mary says it will be at Downton, of course, and Robert chimes in that they’ll decorate the servants’ hall really nicely. Edith and Mary, astonishingly, exchange ‘can you believe this shit?’ looks, marking this probably the first time they’ve ever agreed on anything. Once Carson’s gone, Mary scolds her father for failing to offer to host some lavish shindig for his servants.

Belowstairs, Molesley asks Daisy for a recap on the Mason situation, and she gives him one, bewailing how she’s now the cause of the man being thrown out into the street. Hughes and Carson set off for a walk. That was seriously the entire scene. I’m still puzzling over what the point of that was.

Mary meets with Finch and announces that she’s the new agent, news he takes with an ‘oh, ok, whatever’ reaction, though Mary clearly expected him to be enormously shocked. All he wants to do is talk about holding a stock show—shockingly!—in the spring instead of right before Christmas. Riveting stuff, folks. Finch hopes they’ll have an entry from the Abbey in the show and Mary offers up the pigs.

Hughes and Carson walk out towards the home farm, and she’s not exactly excited about having her reception in the servants’ hall. She wants to get away from the Abbey, because honestly, who the hell wants to have their wedding reception at their workplace? She teases him about being worried that she wouldn’t invite the Crawleys, therefore forcing him to be married without the blessed presence of Mary. He gruffs that Mary’s an important figure in his life (why?). Hughes explains that she just doesn’t want to be a servant on her wedding day. Fair enough.

Robert, Violet, Isobel, and Clarkson meet at the Dower House to discuss a letter the Royal York hospital has sent all their donors, telling them of the impending takeover of the Downton Hospital. Show of hands, does anyone care about this storyline? It’s boring as hell and just underlines the problem with anchoring a series to one specific geographic place: you end up getting mired in incredibly petty, small-stakes nonsense and who can get excited about that?

Over lunch, Andy mentions going for a walk during his time off that afternoon. Thomas offers to go alone but Andy declines. This does seem really odd—why is Andy cold-shouldering Thomas so much? I don’t really think it’s because there’s anything sinister here, I think it’s just Fellowes being super sloppy about his storytelling and suddenly making a big show of Thomas being shut out so he can wring his hands over his job some more. It’s unnatural and it doesn’t work.

As they all get up to leave, Thomas asks Carson if he should be looking for another job. Carson shrugs that it can’t hurt. Now I’m reminded of why I’ve never liked Carson: the man’s a horrible bully and seems to get quite the kick out of messing with people’s heads. Remember how he toyed around with poor Molesley? This is no different. He knows Thomas’s job isn’t in any immediate danger, but he’s happily screwing with him because…well, because he’s an asshole, I guess. There’s no reason at all for him to be doing this. And I can’t, for the life of me, understand why Mrs Hughes, who’s always been shown to be an incredibly compassionate, kind woman, would be attracted to someone who would behave like this. Ugh.

Baxter tries to calm Thomas down, but he will not be calmed.

Molesley takes a little trip to the village school and asks the head teacher for a word.

Edith is on the phone with her horrible editor, who’s now apparently screaming at her, while she meekly tells him to chill out and listen to her suggestions. Edith, grow a pair and kick this person to the curb! What the hell? Who thinks that screaming at their boss is appropriate?

She eventually hangs up on him and stomps into the library in a huff, telling the others that the guy’s being such a pain she has to go to London to sort this out. The kids come in and Mary mentions going to see the pigs. George asks if the kids can go and Mary doesn’t see why not. Edith immediately starts freaking out, because she doesn’t want Marigold going to the Drewes’ for any reason and Mary starts to (fairly) get exasperated. Cora offers to go along and she and Robert and Edith all exchange significant looks because DANGER!

Molesley delivers a little gift to Daisy: some exam papers from years past, so she can have a look at them and prep for her own exams. She thanks him and then non-sequitors back to the Mason situation, saying she has to ‘make them listen.’ Oh, for GOD’S SAKE, DAISY! In JUST THE LAST SCENE you were saying you needed to keep your mouth shut! Christ, Fellowes just isn’t paying any attention to what he’s writing at all, is he? I mean, he really and truly does not give a shit.

As she’s getting ready for bed, Mary asks Anna why she’s so down these days. Anna tells her about the miscarriages and Mary wonders if it’s just because of all the stress Anna’s been under for years now. Anna tries to make it seem like she’s cool with infertility, though she clearly isn’t. Mary thinks hard.

In the village, Isobel runs into Merton, who tells her the Royal Yorkshire wants him to head the new board of donors, which would mean he’d be working alongside Isobel.  He, too, thinks it’s best that they join the Royal Yorkshire, because their equipment is out of date and their doctor’s a useless dolt who apparently can’t even work the equipment they have. Awesome. He points out that the richer people in the area go to London for even minor medical procedures, but there are plenty of others who simply don’t have that option. Way to think about the little guy, Merton! He and Isobel are prepared to face off against Violet.

Molesley mentions Daisy’s distress to Baxter and asks if she could have a word with Cora. She offers to tell Cora that Daisy’s worried, but that’s about as far as it goes. Thomas warns her not to get involved and she cheekily comments that he doesn’t tend to like getting involved with helping others. He points out that he’s trying to help her, right now. He finds an assistant butler position in the paper. Andy comes in and mentions having to go wind the clocks. Thomas offers to help and is once again turned down.

Look, pigs! Drewe’s doing a good job taking care of them, apparently. Cora, with a massively pasted-on smile, asks if Mrs D’s around. Drewe takes her meaning and says his wife’s gone into town but will be back soon. Very soon. Cora and her Stepford Smile suggest they head home pronto, but Mary’s in no hurry, because why should she be? And here’s Mrs Drewe, happy to have a chance to see Marigold again. Mrs D cutely plays with the girl, then Drewe sweeps her away and hands her back to her ‘auntie.’ The Downtonians leave, Mary bitchily saying she hopes that’s the last time anyone calls her that. But that’s what you are, Mary. What’s the big deal? It’s not like he called you granny or something.

Thomas asks Carson if he can have some time off that afternoon for a job interview.  There must not have been many takers if he got a same-day interview. Carson bitchily comments that Thomas doesn’t le the grass grow. Well, no, not when you told him to go looking for a job, Carson. Jesus. He gives Thomas the time off, in kind of a shitty manner. Baxter wishes Thomas luck, which he accepts with his usual grace.

Upstairs, Mary offers up any room in the Abbey for Carson and Hughes’s wedding reception. Cora jumps in to say that he and Hughes can refuse this, if they want to. Mary can’t imagine why they’d want to refuse her so, so generous offer, because she really can’t wrap her head around the idea that anyone would have a desire contrary to her own.

Bates finds Anna crying in the boot room and tells her that being married means never having to cry alone again. Say what, now? Oh, whatever. I guess Fellowes watched Love Story before he wrote this or something. Bates brings up adoption, though I can’t help but wonder if the fact that both these people have been arrested for murder might work against them in the process. Anna doubts that an adopted kid would be enough for Bates. I’m starting to think it’s not enough for Anna and she’s just projecting. Because he doesn’t scramble to raise the banners for adoption, she figures she’s right about him not really wanting that. He tells her that they’re one person, and that person can’t have children. For some bizarre reason, she finds this creepy loss of autonomy charming.

Rosamond stands boredly outside the editors’ office, watching through the window while the guy harangues a completely useless Edith. How much do I want to see Rosamond bust in there and smack the guy in the head? Unfortunately, she does not. Edith comes out, complaining about how awful the guy is. FIRE HIM, EDITH. Welcome to the world of business! She also moans about Mary taking the kids to the Drewes’ farm, which Rosamond agrees was not the best move. Edith can’t see what excuse she could have given for keeping Marigold away. How about the truth? That it would upset Mrs Drewe to see the girl. How hard was that? See, this is the problem: the drama is completely manufactured. Real people don’t act like this. They generally operate with a little bit of sense. The show is trying too hard, and it’s failing miserably. Oh, now Edith, too, is giving us a recap of this hospital thing. My god, can we move on, please?

Thomas goes for his interview and finds out that the job is basically assistant butler/chauffeur/valet/footman. The butler is clearly suspicious of Thomas’s sexuality because Thomas isn’t married, not that that was unusual for someone in service at the time.

While dressing for dinner, Mary wonders if maybe it was insensitive of her to take Marigold to the farm. Wow, that’s surprisingly aware of her. She then moves on to Anna’s issue and announces she wants to help by taking Anna to the doctor in Harley Street who restored Mary’s fertility. Anna doesn’t actually get a say in this, she’s going whether she wants to or not. Oh, and she and Mary now apparently joke about dead Pamouk, which is really callous of both of them. Anna elects not to tell Bates about the appointment, because nobody on this show tells their husbands about their issues. That would make sense and suggest they have healthy, functional relationships.

Baxter brings up the Mason situation with Cora, who doesn’t think she can help. She’s apparently not even willing to try. Too much like work, I guess. Robert comes into the bedroom and Cora tells her husband that Mrs D clearly hasn’t gotten over Marigold. Well, no, of course she hasn’t. The kid isn’t a cold, she’s not something you just ‘get over’ for heaven’s sake. Though, having said that, I do find her later fixation on this one child to be a bit creepy and over the top, especially considering Mrs D has other children of her own. Robert and Cora can’t see how they could have avoided this meeting, because everyone here is stupid now, and Robert wishes Edith would just tell Mary that she had a love child. Yes, because that would be an excellent plan and Mary would surely take the news with an open and generous heart. Come on, Robert! Cora wishes the Drewes would just forget their family’s been living on this farm for more than 100 years and find a tenancy elsewhere. Right, because those were so easy to come across, right? Cora pouts that Mrs D is unlikely to stop dwelling on Marigold while the girl’s right there. Hey, it might be a good time for Edith to pack up and move to her giant flat in London, then, right? Right? Narratively, that would make sense!

Baxter asks Thomas how the interview went and hears it kind of sucked. He stomps out and Daisy comes in and asks how it went with Cora. Baxter says that Cora didn’t think she could do much. Daisy wants to hear this from Cora herself, because apparently the family’s fondness for certain servants has made Daisy go a little nuts and think she can just be some sprightly outspoken maid like in the movies. Baxter reminds Daisy that none of this is Cora’s fault. ‘It’s the system’s fault, and she’s part of it!’ Daisy shrills. What the hell is up with her? A labour government comes in (briefly) and suddenly she’s some kind of super-lefty?

In London, Edith continues to whine about her editor and then talks about going shopping. When Rosamond asks, Edith says she plans to keep the flat and move into it, maybe, eventually, but she’s too unaccustomed to being on her own and isn’t sure she’d manage it well. If you had your daughter with you, Edith, you wouldn’t be alone.

Carson and Hughes sit down for a little glass of wine and she tells him she still doesn’t want to get married at the Abbey. She wants neutral territory, because then it would be about them, whereas the great hall of the Abbey is not them at all. Carson pouts about having to break the news to Robert.

Bates and Anna walk to the Abbey the next morning and he tells her to try putting her feet up for a bit while she’s in London. ‘Yes, I’ll be putting my feet up,’ she says. Ha! Tragically, that’s the funniest line in this entire episode.

Over breakfast there’s small talk about what everyone’s doing with their day. Carson finds he’s unable to firmly turn down the offer of using Downton for the wedding reception. Ok, show of hands, who cares where Carson and Hughes get married? Hell, I don’t even care if they get married, but then, I was never a fan of the romantic turn in this relationship. Mary declares that the reception will be in the great hall if it’s the last thing they do.

Clarkson shows Cora around the hospital. Isobel and Violet start sniping again and everyone gets bundled into Clarkson’s office where the doctor, astonishingly, tells Cora he really wishes they could persuade her to help them ‘stem the tide of change.’ Jesus Christ, Clarkson, would you listen to yourself? You’re a doctor! The medical profession thrives on change, because change almost always means improvement! The tide of change meant people started washing their hands before surgery and properly anaesthetising patients! It meant that women died less frequently in childbirth and children survived infancy in greater numbers! What is WRONG with this person?

Cora, thankfully, tells them she’s pretty sure that going backwards is not the best way to go forward. That might be one of the most sensible things Cora has ever said. Violet sulks and says she’ll fight this to the last breath, and Clarkson rather outrageously claims he just wants what’s best for the village. No you don’t, Clarkson, you’ve said that pretty plainly, and if you can’t see that, you’re a terrible doctor and an outright danger to your patients.

Robert goes to see Drewe and kinda suggests the guy pack up his family and leave. Drewe rather pathetically begs to be allowed to stay on the farm his family has worked since the Napoleonic era, and dear God, do I just want to punch Robert and Edith and everyone else in the face for putting this poor man in this position at all. He thought he was doing a favour to a family he owed and now look at the mess he’s in. To be fair, Robert looks like he feels terrible about this. Drewe promises he can control his wife and this situation even though he really shouldn’t have to.

Hughes realises Carson wasn’t able to turn down the offer, because he’s a wuss and Lady Mary said it should be so. She’s super pissed off about this and goes full bridezilla, claiming that the wedding day is all hers and she should get to do just what she wants. Ok, Hughes, you had me, and then you lost me.

Cora’s too busy working on that interminable bit of embroidery to go and argue the case of Mason, so Daisy’s come upstairs to beg for help in the matter. Cora claims there’s nothing she can do. Daisy protests that Mason’s a super good farmer and Cora starts to get an ‘I have a little idea’ look on her face. She asks if Mason would be willing to start anew elsewhere. Daisy wonders if she has some idea and Cora says probably not, but if she does, she’ll let Daisy know.

Anna is sitting down with the doctor and Mary, which is both awkward and incredibly inappropriate. The doctor tells Anna that she suffers from cervical incompetence, which can be treated with cervical cerclage performed at her home. He tells Anna to get in touch when she gets pregnant again.

In bed, Robert tells Cora that Drewe won’t leave. Edith will be back tomorrow, along with Mary, who now only has two days to get the pigs ready for the show. Please, like Mary’s going to be the one getting those pigs ready.

The day of the show, Carson tells the servants they can go to the show if they want. Anna’s back and Bates notices she’s rather perky. She just says she enjoyed herself in London. Back in the servants’ hall, Thomas again gets smacked down by Carson for no reason whatsoever.

Off to the show. Livestock are looked at in pens. Super exciting. Marigold moos at the cows, which is cute. Drewe and his wife show up and she immediately blanches when she sees Marigold. Has she not seen the kid around before now? I mean, the family would be attending weekly services at the village church at the very least, so the Drewes would certainly see them there every week (unless they’re a different religion, obviously. Even if they are, this is still a small village and Marigold would have been around now and again.)

Thomas offers to show Andy how to bowl and Andy brushes him off. Patmore suggests Thomas just chill the hell out. Thomas bowls a strike and stomps off.

Mary’s in the pen with the pigs, and Daisy remarks that it’s funny to see her in there. Baxter agrees, saying that people might think Mary’s a pretend farmer, but she’s not. What? Is Mary taking care of these pigs on a day-to-day basis? All she’s doing is standing there and taking the credit for Drewe’s work. She’s totally a pretend farmer.

Mrs Drewe stands around looking sad.

Merton comes over and says he’s glad to see Mary there and looking so splendid. Mary tells him that Violet blames Isobel for drawing him over to ‘the dark side’. Apparently Mary hopped in her time machine and caught a showing of Star Wars while she was away. Merton says he actually formulated his own opinion. Mary says it’s too bad, because she hoped there might be a thaw between him and Isobel. He doubts it.

Robert goes over to Mrs D and says hi. She explains that she left the rest of her brood with a neighbour.

Hughes and Carson continue to squabble about the reception. Carson says that it’s super important to Mary and the family that they be married in the house. See, there’s the problem right there, Carson: you’re putting the desires of your employers over the desires of your wife (and even, probably, yourself) in the matter of your own wedding. That does not bode well for your lives together. Hughes is displeased.

Best in show goes to one of the Downton pigs. Mary’s a bit smug about it, but all I can think of is how Violet won the flower show every year just because she was the countess and who was going to vote against her? This feels a tiny bit like that. Everyone applauds, and then Hughes notices that Marigold’s gone. Edith commences freaking the hell out. Everyone fans out ot find her. Drewe gets an ‘oh, shit’ look on his face. The closed captioning tells us that tense music plays.

Drewe tells Edith that he’s pretty sure his wife took the kid, because their truck is gone. He tells Edith to collect her family and their car and they can go get the girl. Edith tells her father that Mrs Drewe sent a message that she took Marigold home to get her out of the crush. Robert goes to get the car. Anna fills Mary in on the situation and Mary wonders how she and George’ll get home now. They only brought one car for all of them? They took two to the auction last week, and they didn’t even have the kids with them that time. And why can’t they take Mary now? What a strange moment.

At the farm, Drewe asks to go talk to his wife alone first. He goes inside and finds Mrs Drewe sitting in the main room, cuddling and humming to the girl, who must be so, so confused now. Mrs D tells her husband the child was bored and the others weren’t paying her any attention. Totally a good reason to kidnap her and take her to the first place anyone would look for her. Mrs Drewe insists that this is the child’s home. Sigh. It’s not, lady. Sorry, but it isn’t. Also, you have other kids, why are you so incredibly obsessed with this one?

Drewe slowly approaches her and gently says that he’s not angry, but they really have to give the kid back. Clearly knowing the game is up, she hands the girl over. As ridiculous as this little story was, that was probably the most affecting scene this show has had for quite some time.

Drewe delivers the girl to Edith and tells Robert he’ll start looking for a new place to live in the morning. Robert’s pretty much like, ‘yeah, this sucks, but probably for the best, since my idiotic daughter clearly hasn’t thought anything through and can’t be bothered to take her daughter down to the giant flat she has just sitting waiting for her in London, thereby solving everyone’s problems. Nope, it’s you, a farmer, with your wife and young children who have to uproot. Life is good for the rich, right? Sucks to be you.’

 

I used to like Edith, but right now, screw you, Edith.

Drewe, apparently going for sainthood here, tells Robert it’s ok, and not to stress about it, because Drewe and Edith gave it a go and the whole thing just didn’t work out because it never occurred to either of them that his poor wife might actually bond with this kid she was raising.

And here, yet again, I feel my blood boiling because AGAIN, Fellowes has totally missed an opportunity to do something interesting with this story. See, there’s something to be said here about the privileges of wealth and how that privilege could lead to some serious abuse of the ‘little people.’ Edith did an incredibly awful thing here. She emotionally abused these people, and she basically used her position in life to do it. She put this man–who was beholden to her father and lived on his land at Robert’s pleasure (the Mason storyline suggests tenants lived fairly tenuously on their farms)–in an impossible position when she asked him to take her child in. He couldn’t very well say no, could he? They played it like he was doing it totally cheerfully, but it really shouldn’t have been presented that way. It should have been made clear that he was uncomfortable with this, because any reasonable person would be uncomfortable, given the circumstances and the fact that anyone could see that this wouldn’t work in the long term. So Edith used these people, and then when it became inconvenient and upsetting for her, she just snatched the kid back without a single thought or care for the effect that would have on the Drewes. That’s flat-out monstrous and really should have instilled some serious resentment in both the Drewes. Sailing in now, a rich woman who could definitely take care of this situation by taking her child away from Downton, and callously putting it on the Drewes to vacate while she continues to kick around in her giant house is horrible.

It’s also very historically accurate. For all the nonsense about change, change, CHAAAAAAANNNNGGGGGEEE! being shrieked right and left, plenty of things weren’t changing much at all. Yes, some of the rich were having to downsize a bit, but they were still at the top of the social heap and could treat people like the Drewes like absolute shit. Drewes were disposable. Honestly, most people on this show who aren’t in the main cast are disposable, just props for the Crawleys and their retainers to play off of, but that really shouldn’t be the case. In this situation, Drewe and his wife should be outraged. They and their family have been done a terrible injustice. They are the losers in this situation in every way. Instead of Mrs Drewe being portrayed as a nutcase and Mr Drewe appearing to be a saint who’s basically telling Robert not to worry about all this, it’s all for the best (which, what the HELL?) these people should start feeling the agitation of major class resentment, which was really coming to the boil in the first half of the 20th century. That would feel much more natural than Daisy’s crazy spouting off, which comes out of absolutely nowhere, it would allow the Drewes to feel like real people instead of forelock tugging idiots, and could provide some real, interesting tension and plotlines to help drive the rest of the season, instead of the boring stuff we’re having to suffer now. This is storytelling, Fellowes. This is character development. SEE HOW THAT WORKS?

Robert reports to the family that Drewe has agreed to move on. Edith snippily says she thinks it’s for the best and Cora adds that she knows it’s for the best. Because now she can just move Mr Mason into the newly vacated farm. Everyone wins! Except the Drewes, who will soon be homeless, or at the very least, uprooted!

Ok, if we’re going to push the ‘soap opera’ aspect of this show, wouldn’t it be awesome if we discovered that dumb Cora has actually been a somewhat Machiavellian genius all along and orchestrated this so she could get the Drewe farm for Mason? What other craziness could we also attribute to her then? What fun we could have!



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