Upstairs Downstairs: Family Ties

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Previously on Upstairs Downstairs: Hallam knew that appeasement was a really, really bad policy, but his bosses were a bit slower to realize that. Agnes recovered slowly from the difficult birth of her second child, managed her difficult aunt-in-law, and got the household servants to stop hazing Pritchard for having been a conscientious objector during the first world war. Look how she’s stepping up!

Agnes is being examined by the doctor, who tells her she’s in good shape, all things considered, but it’s time to “close up shop.” There will be no more babies in the Holland household. I’m sure Hallam won’t be too happy to hear that. Agnes looks fairly devastated by the news. The doctor tells her she should tell her husband, whom he’s sure will take care of everything. What’s that supposed to mean?

On the way home, Agnes spots Beryl out with the kids and she hops out of the car to accompany them on their walk. This totally throws Beryl for a loop and she exchanges alarmed glances with the other nursemaids. Even the music freaks out, like Agnes is somehow going to get her daughter killed by pushing the pram herself.

At his office, Hallam rings Persie to try and urge her to come back to England, obviously not for the first time. Persie slyly brings up the kiss and asks if he told Agnes about it. Since he’s a person who seems to rather enjoy sleeping in his own house in his own bed, I’m going to guess no, Persie.

Agnes and company return home and Blanche comes out to tell her there’s someone who sounds American on the phone for her. Agnes goes to pick up the call—it’s from Mrs. Kennedy, wife of the ambassador.

Downstairs, Thackary’s asking Pritchard and the kitchen maid Eunice for fashion advice. She’s all in a tizzy over meeting her nephew’s wife for the first time. Johnny, coming down the stairs, asks about the nephew, who’s apparently recently come to London to sell insurance.

Upstairs, Agnes is telling Pritchard that they’ll be having the Kents and the Kennedys, including Jack Kennedy and a business acquaintance named Caspar Landry. Pritchard makes notes, asks a few questions, and gets to work.

Thackary’s having tea with the nephew, his redheaded Irish wife, and their son, who looks bored. The kid comments on the rabbit’s foot pin, which I think creeps the kid out. Nephew says the kid seems out of sorts,  but he’s amongst family now, so it should be fine, right?

Back home, Hallam’s getting ready for bed and worrying a bit about the dinner, since he hasn’t seen Kent since that awkwardness last episode. The two climb into bed and Hallam apologizes for not being so gung ho, saying he’s a bit shaken by her news, as they euphemistically put it. They talk a bit about the kids, and though Agnes is clearly disappointed not to have more, she’s happy she was able to have a couple in the first place.

Johnny presents the formal dinner plates for inspection, and Beryl comments on how lovely they are. Should be, it’s Limoges. Pritchard appears with the bill of fare, which pisses off Thackary, because she usually discusses the menu with Agnes. She’s further put out by Pritchard’s suggestion of a German wine with dinner. Pritchard reminds her that war has been averted, so she needs to chill out.

In Maude’s office, Amanjit’s stressing out about how Blanche’s going through all these personal papers. Blanche criticizes the lack of filing system and says her sister was a romantic and a crappy writer. Hallam comes in and tells her not to talk about Maude that way, particularly in front of Amanjit. He hands over a letter that she doesn’t look happy to receive.

Kitchen. Pritchard’s making out the placecards while Thackary measures out eggs. There’s a knock on the door with a delivery from Harrod’s—a scooter for the nephew’s kid, which the boy happily tries out in the park later while Thackary strolls with his father. Nephew reassures her he’s going to make his way in the world and give his son the very best. The two reminisce about Christmases past and there’s an indication that nephew’s dad died of the Spanish Flu. It’s all over this season’s shows, isn’t it?

Back at 165, Blanche finally opens her letter, reads it, sighs, and throws it into the fire. All we see is the salutation: Dearest Love.

Kitchen. Thackary sets Eunice to shucking oysters, despite the girl’s protestations, when in comes Pritchard with a box of violet macaroons, which confuse him, because Agnes wanted florentines with the coffee. Thackary says the macaroons are for her family, made in her own time, but not, it seems, with her own ingredients. Pritchard, considering all the hazing last episode, perhaps now is not the time to pick a fight with the woman who makes your food. She suggests he write her out a bill.

Spargo wanders in and finds Beryl shucking the oysters for Eunice, and the two get a bit flirty. She even offers him one. Careful, Beryl, they’re a well-known aphrodisiacs. Spargo warns her about just that and she shuts down fast, telling him not to make lewd remarks.

Pritchard does, indeed, deliver a bill to Thackary, who pays him off. This is all seeming rather petty, to be honest. It’s just a few macaroons, Pritchard.

Fancy dinner! Kennedy tells Hallam he admired him for standing up against appeasement, even though he thinks Hallam was wrong. Kent thinks Hallam was in good company, since Churchill et al were on the same side. Kennedy points out that they’re now all marooned on the back benches and Hallam smiles really thinly at that while everyone else laughs.

Landry, who’s sitting next to Agnes, talks a little bit about his family—his parents fled a pogram targeting Jews. Agnes mentions the asbestos mines that Hallam’s family made their money in, which he’s since sold so he could re-invest the money. Landry thinks he should have held onto them, because with a war on the horizon, anything flame-retardant will be useful. Agnes naively says there isn’t a war on the horizon anymore, and he gives her a great: “are you really serious?” kind of look before turning the conversation to Joseph Kennedy, commenting that the guy make his money by giving people what they want, and now has his heart’s desire. “And what’s your heart’s desire, Mr. Landry?” Agnes asks him flirtily. He responds that he’d like to dance with her. I’m sure that can be arranged.

Kennedy’s blowharding a bit about how everything for the near future in politics is going to focus on Europe, and, in fact, his rather sullen-looking son, Jack, is writing about just that for his senior thesis. Kennedy then offers Hallam a job, serving as his advisor in overseas policy.

Johnny and Pritchard report the job offer to the downstairs staff, who start to stress about their own jobs, but there’s not much they can do about it right now. Thackary settles down for a bit of sherry, her work for the night done, but down comes Jack Kennedy, looking for bicarbonate of soda to settle his tummy. Thackary goes to fetch it, but she doesn’t have enough time to get it before he’s off vomiting in the bathroom.

Once he’s a bit better, he and Thackary talk rather easily about family while he sips his bicarb.

Johnny and Pritchard come down for the florentines, but they’ve melted, so a desperate Pritchard loads up the macaroons instead. Thackary comes out just in time to see them about to go out with them and she protests, but then Jack distracts her long enough for Johnny to make his escape. Once he and Jack are gone, Pritchard yells at Thackary for referring to Jack too familiarly, but she won’t hear of it. She low-blows by referring to his war record, tells him he owes her for the macaroons he took, and she resigns. Pritchard looks shocked, but considering how dickish he’s been to her this episode, I’m not surprised in the least.

Upstairs, the guests are getting ready to leave, and fortunately they retire to some antechamber just as Thackary comes down the family staircase to depart, which is a huge no-no. One final “F-you” to Pritchard.

The younger set pile into cars and go out dancing while the ambassador and his wife retire for the evening.

At a club in SoHo, Kent and Agnes playfully flirt, like old friends, and Agnes asks him to help persuade Hallam to take Kennedy’s job. Landry appears with martinis and takes over Kent’s seat and tells her how he made his fortune by peddling a pill as a hangover cure during Prohibition. The band strikes up a rhumba and Kent seriously gays it up in the corner, totally putting Landry off any dancing.

Thackary arrives at her nephew’s place in Pimlico, rings, and is allowed in for tea and sympathy. Nephew and his wife are polite, but they clearly aren’t keen on the idea of having Thackary live with them.

At the club, Kent gives an already fairly lit Hallam another martini and urges him to say yes to the job. Hallam promises he’s considering it.

Thackary climbs into the only available bed in the house—the one the kid’s already asleep in. I’m sure this won’t freak him out at all when he wakes up.

Hallam and Agnes are making their way home (walking, for some reason) and singing. Hallam stops to make out with her in the park for a bit, and they chill on a children’s merry-go-round and talk about going back to America. Then, hand-in-hand, they go home, make out a bit more, and try to ignore the ringing telephone. Then Hallam realizes it’s 2 a.m., so he picks it up and it’s Persie, calling from a phonebox, completely freaking out. Sounds like it’s the Night of the Long Knives, or something very like it. Agnes tells Hallam she wants Persie home.

Thackary wakes up to the unpleasant surprise of a wet spot in the bed next to her. She reports this to young Cyril’s mum, in a kindly way, and mum smacks him on the bum and makes it clear this has happened before. Wife asks her to rinse off the sheets, because she needs to be off to work. Thackary agrees.

At 165, Agnes and Hallam stress about the attacks on the Jews in Germany and Hallam says the job with Kennedy is now totally off the table, because England’s being pushed to the brink of war. As he goes to leave, Amanjit tells him there’s been a phone call from Lotte’s headmistress, who wants to speak with either Hallam or Amanjit. Oh, that doesn’t sound good. Hallam asks Amanjit to do it, which he, of course, agrees to.

At work, Hallam calls Persie, who tells him that her lover’s of the opinion they should get married, which I guess she’s not keen on. Hallam tells her to get to the coast and hop a boat, which is all well and good, but she’s broke, so, not so much.

Amanjit arrives at Lotte’s school, where she entertains him with a song—a pretty depressing one about children crying. The headmistress dismisses Lotte to go play and talks to Amanjit about how Lotte wants to be English, like all the other kids. A little harshly, Amanjit says she’ll never be like all the others, because she’s a Jewess. Ok, then. Headmistress delicately brings up the recent attacks on Jews in Germany and says she wants to help more kids. She asks Amanjit to speak to a Mr. Silverman in London who might be able to help.

Amanjit speaks to Silverman, then goes to Blanche to ask her for help.

Thackary’s winning the family over by cooking, which does not seem to please the wife at all and clearly makes the nephew nervous when she talks about bills and such.

Blanche, wearing a really awesome coat, accompanies Amanjit to Silverman’s, asking all sorts of official questions. Silverman shows them a room filled with letters from Jews begging to be rescued from Europe. Silverman explains that people can leave, but nobody wants them. Blanche is horrified at the situation and the disorder, and Amanjit tells her they hoped she might be able to bring order to all the chaos.

At 165, Agnes is telling Pritchard that she misses Thackary, and can’t she be persuaded back? Because the poor dears are a bit tired of tinned soups and pheasant pie from Fortnum and Mason’s. Agnes tells him to place an advertisement for a new cook, and if Thackary wants her job back, she can reapply.

Downstairs, Pritchard struggles with the dessert while Spargo comes in with fish and chips, because he’s starving. He offers some to Beryl, who primly turns him down.

Blanche is having a set-to with Hallam, asking him to try and make changes to the visa policy so these refugees can come in. Oh, what I could tell you about British visa policies. They are most definitely not designed to make it easy to get into their country. Hallam says it’ll be an issue, since unemployment is high and nobody wants more workers when that’s the case. He’s not interested in helping, but Blanche tells him that these people will be slaughtered if they don’t step in.

So, Hallam goes to his boss and makes a case to let these people in en masse, using group visas to save time. They can do that? How can I get on one of those? He at least wants to get the kids out, because that won’t exacerbate the unemployment issue. It will, however, exacerbate the future angry orphans issue, but one step at a time, I guess.

Nephew’s wife and Cyril return home to Thackary and her venison pie, which sounds amazing. Mom’s in a snit and sends Cyril out before telling Thackary she can’t be trashing the kitchen anymore and running up these huge bills. She meanly tells Thackary she’s been ruined by the rich and doesn’t know how regular people live.

Later, nephew arrives home and finds Thackary in her room. She promises to pay the butcher’s bill out of her savings as soon as it comes in. Nephew sits down and levels with her: he hasn’t been doing so well with the insurance since he arrived in London, and now his bike needs a new chain. To get it, he traded the kid’s scooter. Wow, that’s kind of awful, actually. I mean, I know that desperate times and all, but to take your kid’s toy like that? Kinda sucks. Especially when it was given as a gift from another relative.

Hallam’s on the phone with Germany, trying to get Persie out of there. He tosses her title in there, just for good measure.

Amanjit interrupt’s Pritchard’s dinner preparations to show him a bill that mistakenly came to 165 instead of Thackary’s new address.

Blanche, Amanjit, and a few helpers are helping to organize all the letters and getting ready to find foster parents for all these kids. It’s a daunting task, but they’re off and running.

At 165, Agnes brings Blanche some tea and compliments her on the work she’s doing. Blanche thanks her and they chat about the biggest problem at the moment: funding the kids, who all need to have at least £50 to their name so they’re not a charge upon the state. That amount’s gone waaay up since then. Agnes offers to donate, but Blanche thinks she’d do better as a fundraiser.

Agnes takes her up on it and goes to visit Landry at his hotel.

Spargo, meanwhile, tracks down Thackary and delivers the butcher’s bill. She sighs when she sees it and then goes back to making some macaroons to sell. She asks for some gossip from the house, which he provides, along with the ad for the cook at 165, which Pritchard sent along.

Agnes is explaining the situation to Landry and charming him a bit, and it works, because he fetches his checkbook and writes out a check with a compliment.

At nephew’s, nephew starts talking about packing in insurance and buying a taxi instead. Thing is, he needs an investor. Suuuure he does. Thackary smiles tolerantly, then tells him he’s just dreaming. She looks back down at the cook advertisement.

At Silverman’s, Amanjit calls Hallam to tell him the first group of children are scheduled to arrive soon. Hallam also gets a message from the Germany embassy and reports to Agnes that he’s getting Persie out on a diplomatic flight.

Thackary, on her way to deliver the boxes of macaroons, mails off her application for her old job.

Amanjit and Blanche are preparing to go collect the kids from the station. Hallam hands Amanjit his card and tells him to use it if there’s any trouble. Hallam, meanwhile, is preparing to go collect Persie from the airport.

The plan arrives, the passengers disembark, and for a little while it seems like there’s no Persie, but then she gets off, looking scared and very young. Hallam leads her back to the car and climbs in after her. There’s a slightly awkward moment when Spargo says hi to her, and then they’re off.

The train pulls into the station and out of the smoke and haze, a bunch of children appear, looking confused. Silverman, Amanjit, Blanche, and other volunteers step forward and start organizing them, taking names, leading them gently away to foster parents, wrapping them in blankets. Blanche smiles proudly as Amanjit leads three of the kids away to stay at Lotte’s school.

Persie arrives back at 165 and is happily embraced by Agnes, though Persie still looks a bit shell-shocked.

Lotte brings the refugee kids some breakfast and cutely welcomes them to England.

Thackary arrives back at 165 and meets Pritchard, who tells her the oven’s warming up, so she offers to make some rock cakes. Pritchard waves her inside, then smiles, pleased that all is once again right with his world.

3 thoughts on “Upstairs Downstairs: Family Ties

  1. This was a bit better than Ep1, but I still don’t feel all of the scenes gel together as well as they should. As for the characters, Agnes and Persie remain the weakest links of the program, as their characterization pings all over the place in every episode. And lol, now I finally know that red-headed maid’s name–Eunice!

  2. I ran across your blog because I am trying to find out the name of a song that my wife and I heard last night while watching “The Love the Pays the Price” episode. It is a hymn that we have heard many times, but can’t remember the name. It is played near the very end of the episode, as the Jewish orphans are being met at the train. Can you offer any help?

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