Despite the fact that it revolved around a sport, a shooting weekend, even in the post-war era, was not an informal event. There was an intricate set of rules to be followed, meals were hugely elaborate, and clothes had to be chosen carefully and worn at just the right time. Breakfast and tea called for different outfits, tweeds were worn on the drive (which women only joined after lunch), and gowns, jewels, and tiaras were de rigueur for dinner. So we can expect lots and lots of loveliness.
Oh, good, I can start liking these people again. We’re coming to the end of the series for this year, so things are coming to a head, which means someone finally steps up for Edith, there’s yet another Disastrous Downton Dinner, Mary manages to jettison Gill, and there are now two marriages in the future (maybe). On the fashion front, we had some interesting connections, some wardrobe upgrades, a whole lot of love-pink, and a flowery motif.
Oh, poor Edith. We all knew it was coming (and she knew too, not that it makes the tragedy less painful), but I think the Crawley family’s collective callousness caught everyone off guard. Damn, these people are awful. Why do they hate Edith so much? Was Cora really convinced while she was pregnant that Edith was going to be a boy, so she started off as a huge disappointment or something? I just…don’t get it. But I do get her reaction. There’s only so much one can take, and after a lifetime of neglect or her own family members actively working to undermine her happiness, she grabbed her kid and got out of there. Good for her. I really hope it sticks.
But on to the clothes.
We’re more than halfway through the series at this point, so things are finally beginning to come to a head. Charles Blake is proving to be a douchebag (though I get the feeling that wasn’t Fellowes’s intention), the thing between Cora and Bricker got out of hand, Rose is in love again, and Edith is getting screwed. Again.
What happened this week? The Russians came, we got a glimpse into Violet’s past which may have included (brace yourselves now) a flirtation! Mary had bad sex with Gil and, because both of them are recklessly stupid, got found out by her grandmother’s butler. Robert got to have more opportunities to act like a sulky child, Edith got told off, and Cora actually started to have a storyline of her own, elevating her beyond the role of ‘smiling idiot’, which she’s been forced to inhabit since the end of the war.
I’ll confess, on the clothes front, not a whole lot happened. But let’s have a look at what was there:
After last week’s excitement, it felt like not a lot happened this episode. It was more focused on setting up possible things to come (Cora and Bricker), making us hate Robert even as he was proven right in the most eye-rollingly ridiculous way imaginable, and some narrative wheel-spinning with Mary and Edith while Rose was totally wasted running around bleating about a wireless like a teenager begging daddy for the iPhone 6.
But the clothes were lovely, and the dowager seriously stepped it up.
Although there was some movement on the Branson front (we all know we’re going to see that woman from the speech again, right?), this episode was really about the women. Mary and Isobel got a chance to show what they were made of, Rosamond showed numerous times how awesomely supportive she is, and Edith made an extremely difficult and painful decision. Two of them, actually.
For the upstairs folk, this episode was a fair bit about reconciliation and people coming together in general (except where Violet and Isobel were concerned, and we’ll get to that), a fact reflected rather beautifully in their clothes.
Downstairs, it was about class distinctions, both between servants and those in service industries and rich folk vs. poor (or working class, at least).
Characters developing ‘signature’ colours
Characters exhibiting their belonging through their clothes
Characters continuing to be tied together through their outfits
We have colour again! Now that most of the household has moved past the 6-month mourning period, they get to wear clothes that don’t make you want to fall asleep in your pudding. True, Cora, Mary, and Isabel are still working the blacks and lilacs, but everyone else gets to branch out a little. Thank god.