Upstairs Downstairs: The Ladybird

Persie and Spargo decide to become Nazis and lovers; Agnes is pregnant; a new maid arrives with the obligatory mysterious past, and Pritchard ends up being one of the few characters I still like by the end of this episode.

Image: BBC

Previously on Upstairs Downstairs: The Hollands moved into 165 Eaton Place, hired a staff that included former housemaid Rose, and were joined by eccentric and annoying relatives.

Rose comes rushing down the stairs to the kitchen, bitching about the paper being late, which means there’ll be no time to iron it. She snippily asks why breakfast hasn’t gone up yet and hears it’s because Agnes’s maraschino cherry-topped graperfruit is holding up the show. Really? Come on, folks.

Upstairs, the grapefruit has been deposited in front of Agnes, and Maude offers up this gem of a line, regarding the monkey: “he’s doing it again. He’s caressing that cherry with his eyes.” I honestly don’t know whether to be grossed out by that, or to crack up entirely. Agnes is not amused, but she hands the cherry over to the monkey.

Out front, Hallam emerges from the house and is met by a young woman with an accent who introduces herself as Rachel. She’s there to meet with Rose about a position. Hallam directs her to the staff entrance, and if she’s ever been in service before, she’d know that’s where she’s supposed to go, not to the front door.

Persie arrives at the breakfast table, looking tired and sullen. She’s won over somewhat when Agnes hands over a lovely diamond brooch for her to wear at the ball that night. Agnes cheerfully says she had it sent from Paris. Persie closes the brooch box and goes back to being sullen.

Rachel is the new house/parlourmaid, and she’s going to be sharing a room with Ivy, who is not happy about the arrangement, of course. Rose reminds Ivy that she’s been complaining about her workload for weeks, and now Rachel’s there to share it, so stop moaning and be a damn grownup already (I may have added that last bit). Rachel smiles tentatively at Ivy, who hisses to Rose: “how do you know she don’t snore?” “How do you know you don’t snore?” Rose flings back. Heh.

A gaggle of young ladies is gathered in a large open room somewhere, being run through their paces by a woman with the most absurdly supercilious accent ever. The girls are debs practicing for their presentation at court. Agnes and Maude sit off to the side, and Maude’s trying to get them out of there, because apparently it takes two hours to pin the tiara into place. Seriously? What did they need to do, weld it into her head?

The instructress comes over and sings the praises of Persie’s curtsey, then asks Agnes to pretend to be the king. Agnes agrees and takes a seat on a chair set on a dais. To the strains of a piano version of Stormy Weather, the ladies process in and curtsey. Agnes starts to look a bit queasy, and when Persie steps forward, she gets up and runs right out of the room. Hmm, a woman suddenly vomiting? What could that possibly be TV shorthand for?

Back at the house, Rose asks the cook for some nausea remedies, and Ivy, of course, complains about having to clean up Agnes’s sick. Oh, God, why hasn’t this unpleasant girl been fired yet? I think we’re getting to the point of no return with her—she’s just so miserable and annoying I don’t think I’m going to be coming around on this character at all, and it sucks to really, really hate a main character on a show. Even Mary Crawley had some moments where she didn’t act like a total bitch.

Awesomely, Pritchard gives her a steely look and orders Ivy to “go out and get swabbing.” Him, I like. Rachel comes down, dressed in her afternoon uniform of black dress and lacy apron. The cook tells her she looks nice, but they wear pink in the mornings and black in the afternoons. She says it nicely, but Rachel looks pretty embarrassed nonetheless. And once again, that’s something she would have known if she had been in service before. This is a situation that cropped up in the earliest episodes of the first series, with a young woman taking a maid’s job but apparently never having done this sort of work before. Is UD actually ripping itself off?

Pritchard kindly invites Rachel to sit and rest a bit, since he heard she sailed from Hamburg overnight, and he knows what an ordeal that can be. Rachel reassures him she’s ready to start work, but he urges her to have a sandwich first. He dispatches the cook to whip it up, and Rachel takes a seat at the table where he’s polishing shoes. They exchange a cute, rather shy smile.

At the hairdressers’, Maude’s on the phone with Hallam, explaining that she’ll be taking Agnes’s place at the Londonderrys’ ball that evening. Great.

In the kitchen, the cook shows Rose the meat from the sandwich, which has been tossed into the dustbin. Spargo, who seems to spend almost all his time in the kitchen these days, informs the ladies that Rachel’s Jewish and probably keeps Kosher. Only he doesn’t put it quite that politely.

Agnes emerges from her bathroom, only to find her tiara box open and empty on her dressing table.

She quickly rings for a servant and, when Rose appears, she tearfully tells her the tiara’s gone missing.

Not missing so much as placed on Maude’s head. Maude returns with Persie and is met by a very annoyed Agnes, who coolly informs her she nearly sent for the police. Maude says she didn’t want to disturb Agnes while she was sick, and Agnes says she needs to go to the party that evening, to help Hallam charm important people. Maude tells her it’s too late, because she can’t go without a tiara, and they can’t take the tiara off Maude’s head at this point, since so much work went into putting it on in the first place. Agnes looks sad and defeated, and Persie ices the cake by complaining about having to go to the party that night. Oh, you poor thing! Agnes, send this ungrateful little brat back to Wales, would you? Better yet, send Ivy with her.

In the kitchen, Rose unpacks a fur stole that reeks of mothballs. Rachel makes a suggestion of how to get rid of the smell, which surprises everyone, presumably because they’d already written her off as incompetent.

Later, Maude emerges from the house, wearing the fur, all dressed up for the party. She squeezes into the car with Persie and Hallam, who sniffs the air and correctly identifies the odd smell as mothballs. So, either Rachel doesn’t know what she’s talking about, or they didn’t take her suggestion.

Seems Ivy’s starting to thaw a bit towards her roomie, who comes into the room in a silk nightie. Ivy starts to talk about the orphanage and how they only gave her a heavy nightgown, because she left in the winter. Rachel says she only had cotton at Ivy’s age; she bought the silk when she was married. Ivy gets nosy and asks if Rachel’s a widow. Rachel says she is.

In her own room, Agnes lies in her bed, alone, wide awake. Hallam comes in, post-party, and asks how she’s feeling. She says she’s a bit better and asks how the party was. Hallam tells her Persie behaved and Maude was in her element. I’ll bet she was. There’s a pause, and then Agnes tells him she’s felt like this before, back in Washington. Seems poor Agnes suffered a miscarriage in the past. Hallam tells her she should go see a doctor immediately. They hug, but she looks a little scared.

In the dead of night, Spargo’s awakened by someone turning on the lights in the garage. He pulls on a pair of pants and goes out to investigate. He finds Persie out there, smoking, and tells her it’s pretty damn late. She flings some attitude around and he tells her to go to bed already, treating her like the child she acts like. Spargo’s kind of starting to grow on me too, just for that. She sassily says there was nobody to undress her, and he tells her again to go to bed. She ignores him and picks up a nearby newspaper, which looks to be entirely devoted to the Blackshirts. Oh, great, Spargo’s a Nazi. Never mind, I don’t like him anymore. Persie recognizes the picture of Oswald Mosley on the cover and says he was at the ball that night. Spargo gets all fanboy and asks if she met him. She tells him no, because she’s a deb and only meets young men and dances. She asks Spargo if he’s ever heard Mosley speak and he says he has, twice. She tells him Mosley’s not too popular with the smart set now, and works in another complaint about how hard her life is now as she finally goes to bed.

Maude and Amanjit are working while Rachel dusts a nearby bookshelf. Amanjit notices that Rachel seems to be having trouble breathing but says nothing. Rachel pulls a book off the shelf and out falls a photograph that Maude was looking for. Rachel hands it over—it’s a picture of a young boy holding a baby—and Maude’s voice gets all sad as she says that’s not the right one after all. On the back is written: Hallam and Pamela. Man, this family has really bad luck with the babies, don’t they?

Maude finally realizes Rachel’s not doing so well, after the girl practically hacks up a lung, and Amanjit helps her sit down while Maude rings for help.

Soon Rachel’s downstairs, breathing in steam from a kettle and telling Rose exertion sometimes makes her asthma act up. Rose points out that she’s in the wrong profession, then, and Rachel opens up and says she used to be a university professor, until Jews were banned from such jobs. And then her maid resigned because Rachel was Jewish. And apparently the husband and the mink coat went too, somewhere along the way. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, we have our Princess in Rags. Rachel says she had a lot of things back home, but here she has freedom, and friends. She does? Who would those be?

In her room, Agnes is being examined by the doctor, who tells her they’ll be a family of three by December. Agnes’s face lights right up.

At dinner, she and Hallam announce the news to Maude, who responds with this sweet sentiment: “I’m so glad. I always thought there was something wrong with you.” I mean, seriously, who the hell says something like that? Hallam gets all paternalistic and says Agnes must rest, and he’ll be indulging her until the baby’s born. Maude suggests they send some champagne to the servants.

Belowstairs, the servants toast and drink up. Rachel asks if they should invite Amanjit and there’s a long, awkward pause. Pritchard finally tells her that Amanjit doesn’t eat with them, because he eats upstairs, on the orders of Maude. Ivy—you guessed it!—complains.

Persie gets her invitation to court—a garden party, to be held on July 3 at 2:30 p.m., if you want all the details. Agnes doesn’t like that official presentations have been replaced with a mere garden party. Persie grouses that she’ll still have to curtsey like a lady, and the whole thing’s still a celebration of hereditary privilege. She starts spewing some of Mosley’s crap, and Maude rather awesomely corrects her and tells her to get her facts straight. Hallam wants to know why she’s reading Mosley at all, and it turns out Maude introduced her to his works. Persie says she could really get into politics and Maude tells her she really needs to read and understand all the sides, then, and get out more and learn things, because otherwise she’s got two futures ahead of her: marry some moron she can keep pace with, or marry someone intelligent and worthwhile whom she’ll never be able to measure up to. I think that’s another slap at Agnes. Why the Agnes hate, Maude? Is this one of those awful situations where mummy gets a “nobody’s good enough for my son” attitude?

The phone rings and Pritchard goes to answer it before telling Hallam it’s Eden on the other end.

Hallam’s called into the office, where Eden burbles his dialogue so badly I can’t make out who he’s talking about. I’m really sorry, but I’ve listened to this bit at least 10 times and I still have no idea what he’s saying. Someone whose name sounds like “Bowes” is on his way from Southampton, adored by crowds along the way. I think, judging from the rest of the conversation, they’re talking about Haile Selassie, Emperor of Ethiopia, who was exiled after Moussolini took over Abyssinia. Show, a word of advice: if you’re going to start tossing in little-known historical figures, give us a little bit to go on, because without a flurry of internet research I doubt I would have been able to follow this scene at all.

The bottom line is, this is a sticky situation. Selassi feels betrayed, because the League of Nations wouldn’t back him in getting his country back, and Evans agrees, although the British government doesn’t. Hallam takes the middle ground, suggesting Silassi tends to be a bit “theatrical.” “He says it’ll be us today and it’ll be you tomorrow. I don’t see anything theatrical about that,” Evans snaps. Really, Evans? Do you know what the world ‘theatrical’ means? The guy’s right, but still, that’s some melodramatic talk right there. Evans wants Hallam to meet Silassi at Waterloo the following morning.

In the pre-dawn hours, Hallam wanders down to the kitchens, where Spargo’s inexplicably hanging out, again. The two men sit down for a cup of tea together, which I consider a bit unlikely, and Hallam schools him on their upcoming trip to Waterloo, warning him there’ll be crowds and he should be careful.

Later, Persie and her attitude head into the garage, where she finds Spargo and the car missing, so she starts going through his stuff and finds a newspaper advert for a Blackshirt meeting on June 10.

Inside the house, the servants do that stupid, cartoonish stacking up to peek through the doorway thing they can’t seem to get enough of, so they can watch Maude and Agnes test drive baby carriages in the foyer. Agnes likes one, and of course Maude likes the other. God, Maude, if you hate this woman so much MOVE OUT! This character’s really starting to lose me too. At this rate, I won’t like a single person by the end of this episode. Hallam comes in and Agnes asks what he thinks. He says they’re all fine, clearly too distracted to care. Only Maude notices his distress, though.

Hallam settles down pensively in the sitting room, where he’s soon joined by Maude who asks what’s up as she pours him a drink. Hallam tells her the meeting with Silassi didn’t go well, because Hallam couldn’t give the guy the help he wanted. Maude tells him there’s not much more he could have done, since he did as he was told, and that’s that.

That evening, Rachel brings Amanjit his dinner, surprising him, because usually Ivy brings it. Rachel explains that Ivy got scolded, so now she’s crying. Geez, this girl and the crying. Rachel asks Amanjit why he doesn’t come hang out with the servants and he says he never gets asked. Rachel says it’s because the other servants (read: Ivy) resent having to bring him meals on trays, but if they invited him to eat with them, they wouldn’t have to bring the trays, now, would they? This conflict is being poorly handled, I think. I understand that there was a certain racial divide between the English and Indians at the time, but it’s not really being presented that way. If that scene had just ended with him explaining he’s never asked to join the others, I feel like it would have been more powerful. Oh well.

Persie’s heading out for the evening; she gets into the car behind Spargo and immediately deduces by the color of his shirt that he’s going to sneak off somewhere while she’s at the opera. She makes it clear she knows he’s going to the Blackshirts meeting and tells him they’ll go together, but he firmly tells her she’s going to the opera, and he’s got a private life, thank you very much. Amen, Spargo.

The servants are relaxing in the kitchen, listening to The Way You Look Tonight on the radio. Amanjit comes downstairs with his tray and apologizes for disturbing them. Pritchard, being, apparently, the only servant with sense and feeling here, tells him it’s no problem, and then he kicks Ivy onto another seat so Amanjit can join them. Ivy does so sulkily. I’m surprised she doesn’t cry. Amanjit takes his seat and thanks Pritchard. He and Rachel share a smile.

Persie, meanwhile, sneaks away from the opera and heads to the Blackshirts meeting, where she sticks out like a sore thumb in her bright red silk dress and fur. Spargo spots her and things go all slo-mo, for some reason as she walks towards him. Are we supposed to think he’s got the hots for her or something? Because he looked sort of horrified. She greets him and they go back to listening to Mosley speak.

Back in the car, Persie’s seated in the front seat as Spargo appears with two cups of tea. She tells him how excited the whole thing made her, and decides that Mosley’s going to break down class barriers. Oh, Persie, you dingbat. No he’s not. There’s still going to be a ruling class in Mosley’s England, they’re just all going to be corporate fatcats instead of aristocrats. Persie sniffs that she hates the rich, and Spargo rightly laughs at that. She insists that she’s poor, because everything she has has been bought for her by someone. “That’s not poor, that’s lucky,” Spargo says, awesomely.  She still insists she’s all caged up, you know the drill, poor little rich girl crap. Gradually, their hands inch closer together. Uh, ok, so I guess we are supposed to believe they like each other. Some chemistry would help with that.

When Rachel heads to bed, she and Ivy have some more bonding time, during which Rachel starts to sing a lullabye her mother used to sing to her.

The next morning, Ivy and Rachel sing together as they do the washing and mending, while the cook and Rose gossip about how Agnes is starting to show, as is apparently evidenced by a picture of her in a glossy mag.

Months pass and Agnes gets bigger and bigger, stroking her belly as she goes.

In the laundry room, Amanjit watches Rachel hang Persie’s laundry to dry and tells her she shouldn’t be spending her day off doing that. He gives her a little background about his mother being a laundress and saving up to send him to school. Rachel seems surprised he’s in such a sharing mood, since he doesn’t talk about himself much, and he says with everyone living so close together, he feels that if they keep their secrets, they keep their dignity. That seems to hit home with Rachel. He invites her out for tea, something that’s become a weekly ritual for him. She admits, out of nowhere, that she has a secret.

Before long, they’re walking through a large outdoor laundry spot where kids are running around playing. Her face breaks into a wide smile as she spots one of the kids, a little girl in a red dress, who runs over and embraces her tightly. Amanjit watches their reunion from a respectful distance.

Later, Rachel and Amanjit drink tea and eat chocolate digestive biscuits (mmmmmm, McVitie’s chocolate biscuits!) and admire the little girl, who’s gone back to playing with her friends. Rachel asks if Amanjit has a family and he says his wife and son died. Wow, that’s sad, and he said it so calmly. Must have been a while ago. Rachel tells him her husband’s in prison for political crimes, and she had to hide the kid because she can’t have any ties if she wants to keep her job.

Uh, ok, I feel like skipping all those months has come home to roost now: Persie and Spargo are all cuddled up together in his room, cozy as can be, listening to a record of Mosley spewing the most insanely stupid crap you can imagine. Did you know that everyone’s free under fascism? Me neither! I think that would have been news to the millions of Jews, gypsies, mentally disabled, and otherwise “different” people who were imprisoned and murdered under fascism. So, we have this little relationship, which has obviously gotten quite intimate, but we saw none of it really develop, and as a result, I don’t feel invested in it at all. Plus, it’s based on a mutual love of Nazism. Let’s move on.

In the interim, Amanjit has also moved along to joining the servants for their meals. He’s down in the kitchen as everyone gathers for dinner. The cook complains about Spargo not coming when called, and Pritchard asks Amanjit to go see if he can rouse the chauffeur. Amanjit rises to do so, but then Spargo comes in, dressed in his Blackshirt finery. The other servants are shocked, but Rachel totally freaks out, jumps to her feet, and dashes out. Spargo, you’re a dick. And I say that because you know he knew this would upset her. He knew she was Jewish, and came over from Germany, so she’d have some pretty unpleasant associations with this getup and all it connotes even if she didn’t have an actual personal experience with it, and she does, so it’s that much worse.

Spargo ignores the obvious discomfort of everyone else and tells them he’s got a drill after the meal for a rally the following day. Pritchard knows all about it, having heard about the government’s attempts to squash said rally. Spargo, who seems to have developed quite the jerky attitude all of a sudden, smugly says they obviously failed, as he takes his seat and tucks his napkin into his collar.

Rachel, who apparently just withdrew to a corner, says she won’t eat with Spargo, and Spargo just says she doesn’t eat oxtail anyway. DICK! He and Persie deserve each other. Rose weakly tells him his outfit has upset Rachel and she thinks that’s rather mean of him. Way to be firm, Rose. Aren’t you supposed to be in charge here? Pritchard is much better at this than she is. He firmly tells Spargo to get his ass out of there, change into something acceptable, and then return for dinner. Spargo points out that he’s wearing it on his own time, since it’s his evening off, and the others have no response to that, so one by one, they take their seats. Rachel watches in horror, and then really runs off.

Rose finds her outside by the kitchen stairs, where she’s having a minor asthma attack. Rachel growls that the cook let Spargo eat at her table and Rose tries to excuse it, saying the cook puts food first and just didn’t feel like putting up a fight. And neither did Rose, I guess. Rachel, starting to sound stronger, says that she has to go oppose the march the following day.

Later, Persie rings up Spargo to tell him Agnes and the others think she’s going out for tea the next day, so she can sneak off to go to the rally.

The next day, Agnes turns a radio report on the rally to some soothing music to listen to, while Rachel and Amanjit determinedly make their way to Whitechapel, where the rally will take place. She pauses, looking scared, but then takes his arm and they reach the rally site, where a bunch of east enders have gathered to prevent the Blackshirts from marching through Whitechapel. Rachel’s grimly pleased to see the east enders outnumber the Blackshirts. Fascism is not popular in England. She and Amanjit join the east enders.

Spargo tries to navigate through the crowd, but they gather around the car and tell him to get lost. He and Persie get out where they are, just as the marching begins. Spargo joins his fellow male Blackshirts in giving the Hitler salute, as Mosley drives past in an open-topped car, giving the salute like he’s the Furhrer himself. Persie watches him pass, starstruck, but his appearance sets off the east enders, and the crowd gets rowdy enough for the police in attendance to start getting involved. Brawls break out all over, and Amanjit pulls Rachel aside to safety.

In the peace of 165, Hallam’s helping Agnes wind yarn, which reminds him of his sister, who used to love winding wool. Odd hobby for a kid, but ok. Agnes asks about said sister and Hallam just says she was frail, and then she died, end of story. All right, no repression there, I guess.

In Whitechapel, the haters of all types have mostly dispersed, leaving Persie to look dumbly down at a cut on her hand. She gets up and starts to make her way toward a store, where she takes refuge. Outside, Amanjit finds marbles kids were throwing underneath the horses’ hooves. Hey, let’s not blame the horses, kids!

Inside the shop, which is trashed, Persie wanders around, looking freaked out.

Outside that exact shop, Rachel finds some paint and decides to do a little graffiti-ing. She starts to paint They Shall Not Pass on the door of the shop, but stops when she sees Persie inside. They share a charged moment.

At some point later, Persie escapes the shop and makes it back to the car, just as Spargo turns the corner, reappearing from wherever he was. Some straggling east enders see his black shirt and shove him around a bit, so he strips the shirt off. Way to stick with your convictions. Coward. He calls after Persie, but she drives off without him.

That evening, Amanjit brings Rachel home. She doesn’t seem to be doing so well—she’s coughing and weak looking. The bell for the living room is ringing, and she goes to answer it, as he urges her to ignore it. The others, it seems, have gone out, which is totally unlikely. No way would an entire staff have the same night off.

Hallam comes racing down the stairs, pissed and wondering why nobody’s answer the bell. Amanjit tells Rachel to stay put and he’ll see what Hallam needs. Hallam tells them he’s dealing with an emergency, and Amanjit follows him upstairs. Oh, no. Please, show, I’ve already had to recap one dead baby this year.

Oh, ok, not baby related. It’s Persie the Pest related. Amanjit pulls up to the house with a seething Hallam and Persie in the backseat. Apparently Persie got herself arrested, and Hallam had to go work out a deal to get her out. She actually has the nerve to give him a look, like, “god, what’s your problem?” He’s a politician, you obnoxious little brat! This sort of thing is very, very bad! Send her back to Wales!

Inside, Hallam pours himself a drink and asks Spargo to explain himself, or risk being fired without a reference. Spargo says he told the police Persie stole the car so they’d track it down and stop her before she hurt anyone or herself. She’s never passed a driving test, you see. Hallam wants to know what she was doing in Whitechapel in the first place and Spargo claims he was ordered to take her there, and since he’s staff, he had to do as he was told. Wow. WOW. COWARD. Hallam coldly tells him to go downstairs. At the door, Spargo turns and says he couldn’t make things right, but he could stop them from getting worse, which is better than doing nothing. Oh, whatever, I’m over this character.

In the kitchen, Amanjit and Rose are putting a tray together for Persie when Ivy comes racing down the stairs, yelling for help. Amanjit dashes upstairs to Ivy’s and Rachel’s room, where he finds Rachel laid out on the floor. He feels for a pulse, and then slumps, beginning to weep. Wait, what? She’s dead? What a waste! She was one of the few characters I actually found interesting! And poor Amanjit! Ivy, lurking in the doorway, starts to cry, and for once I actually feel for her instead of just feeling annoyed.

Later, Rachel’s body is carried out, watched by the staff (including Spargo, which just seems wrong, somehow). Amanjit stands with Rachel’s little girl, who’s all dressed in black.

In the drawing room, Hallam burns Persie’s British Union of Fascists membership card and says he doesn’t want ‘that vile party’ mentioned in his home ever again. Amen, sir. Persie pulls out the attitude (seriously, send her back to Wales, people!) and sniffs that he can burn her card but he can’t burn her beliefs. Maude punctures that wonderfully by saying Persie doesn’t believe in Mosley, she’s obsessed with him. Hallam backs her by insisting Persie’s embracing an ideology she doesn’t understand, and that if she did understand it, she would have walked away. He reminds her that Rachel came to England to escape fascists, and Persie whines that this doesn’t mean she didn’t like Rachel. You’re missing the point, Persie! It’s like people who say they think homosexuals are going to hell and should never be allowed to marry, but they love their gay son or daughter, and said child’s husband/wife/life partner. I don’t hate you, just the idea of you! Maude’s tired of her stupidity and tells Agnes to send Persie to bed already. Wales, Maude! Send her ungrateful ass back to Wales! Agnes gets her hackles up, although this is one moment when she and Maude could actually come together in agreement, and snaps that she’ll send Persie to bed when she’s good and ready. Hallam scolds her for talking back to his mother, but Maude languidly says she’s just glad to see Agnes taking charge of something. I have to agree with her there. Agnes is kind of useless.

Pritchard comes in and politely asks for a word with Agnes and Hallam. He takes them down to the kitchen, where Amanjit still has Rachel’s daughter. Agnes stupidly asks why the rabbis who took Rachel’s body away didn’t take the kid with them. Are you in the habit of picking up random kids, Agnes? They’re not an orphanage. Agnes suggests writing to the kid’s relatives in Germany, which Hallam doesn’t seem too keen on, because he actually has some awareness of what’s going on in the world. The little girl holds out the marbles Amanjit picked up after the rally, and Hallam takes them, looks at the child for a moment, and then says the kid will stay at 165, so the house can start to make amends. It took almost two full episodes, but I’m finally starting to like Hallam. He was kind of boring before.

Agnes is evidently not pleased with this arrangement and she and Hallam start to fight about it while they dress for dinner. Hallam reminds her that things are not too rosy for Jewish people in Germany right now and she spits that she’s spent her whole life struggling to keep pace with what’s going on in the world, because it was required of her, as Hallam’s wife. Oh, poor you, Agnes. You knew who this guy was when you married him. If you hated keeping up with current events, you should have gone for someone else. Anyway, she’s pissed that the state of affairs in Europe means they have to take on a stranger’s kid, which is a problematic statement. First off, Rachel wasn’t a stranger. She was a member of your (very small) household staff, so if you didn’t bother to know her at all, that’s on you. Second: it’s not like you guys are broke, or poor, or in any way straining for money. You hate having the kid around so much? Send her to boarding school. Problem solved. Calm down.

Persie and Spargo, meanwhile, are curled up on his bed, anticipating new anti-Fascism laws to come. She wonders if they should go underground together, and instead of answering, he starts to make out with her. Does she know he totally threw her under the bus to save his job? I guess not.

Ivy’s now sharing a room with the little girl, and get this—Ivy’s wearing the child’s dead mother’s silk nightgown. The one she bought when she married the kid’s imprisoned father. I almost can’t process how inappropriate, creepy, and insensitive that is. Screw you, Ivy, I hate you again! She even reminds the kid that the nightgown was her mother’s before they get into bed together. They curl up together, just like a mother and child would, and Ivy starts to sing Rachel’s lullaby. I’m sure this was supposed to be sweet and touching, but I seriously found it horrifying.

Downstairs, Hallam thoughtfully plays with the marbles at the foot of the stairs.

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3 thoughts on “Upstairs Downstairs: The Ladybird

  1. Who’s recording of ‘The Way You Look Tonight’ is playing? I looked on but its uncredited, all i know is that it isn’t the original from Swingtime

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