(Series 3, ep.8) The annual House v Village cricket match was a hot topic in the final episode of the series, and who was chosen – or agreed – to play was a key indicator of who was in and who was out.
For most of the episode it looked like Thomas would be very much out. Out of Downton altogether, that is, and possibly even out of the country (India and America were mentioned at various points). But not out of the closet, because as far as most of the members of the household were concerned he was never in. This didn’t stop O’Brien from being able to whip young Jimmy into a frenzy of homophobic fury, leading him to demand that Thomas was let go without any references, otherwise he, Young Jimmy, would go to the police and tell them exactly what kind of man he was.
It was interesting that most of the other members of the household were fairly cool about Thomas’s sexuality. Even Lord Grantham, hardly a beacon of liberal thinking, was pretty comfortable with it, having spent his years at Eton apparently besieged by boys wanting to kiss him. I admit I spent the rest of the episode trying to imagine that and failing, but never mind. It was a testament to Rob James-Collier’s acting that Thomas finally became a sympathetic character – partly because we hopefully now live in more enlightened times, but largely because when things aren’t going Thomas’s way is when he shows his humanity and a grace that he lacks when he’s feeling smug and superior. Continue reading
(Series 3, ep.6) Following last week’s shocker, the inhabitants of Downton Abbey were still obviously very much in mourning and Lord Grantham was still very much in the doghouse (“I thought I might sleep here tonight?” he suggested hopefully to Cora, whose response was an icily polite version of, “I’d rather sleep with a pile of fermenting toads than you, you child-murdering swine.”) The Dowager decided enough was enough, and commanded the doctor to tell Cora that Sybil would have died anyway, Caesarean or no, thus getting Robert off the hook for supporting the Posh Consultant. She’s a wise old Dowager, because now they can get on with grieving for Sybil rather than hating each other.
It was the best thing that happened to Robert all episode, because elsewhere his power is very much on the wane. Matthew Crawley has got all sorts of plans to drag the Downton estates into the 20th century, and not even the power of Lady Mary’s eyebrow is going to stop him. Lady Edith’s journalistic career received another boost when she was offered a regular column. And, worst of all, Sybil’s baby is going to be christened Sybil (“Don’t you think it’s a bit morbid?” said Robert) and she’s going to be a Catholic. “There haven’t been any Catholics at Downton since the Reformation!” spluttered Robert. “I’m a Catholic,” said Tom, who is also the baby’s father, so he has some kind of say in the matter even though it’s only five minutes since he was Lord Grantham’s chauffeur and Lord G is not taking easily to treating him as an equal. Continue reading
(Series 3, ep.5) Well I didn’t expect that. In Game of Thrones, yes – major characters fall by the wayside fairly regularly. But not in lovely, cosy, prettily-dressed Downton Abbey. But it’s true – the pretty dresses have been carefully folded away now and the mourning clothes are well and truly on.
In case you haven’t seen it yet, stop reading now, because I’m about to go spoilering.
(Series 3, Ep.4) This week’s history lesson was provided by Lady Edith, who informed us that women were still not properly entitled to vote – at least, not unless they were over 30 and/or a householder. That was the gist, anyway, and Lady Edith thought it was dashed unfair and she was going to write to The Times about it. Everyone went pale. A lady, writing to The Times? “They’ll never print it,” pronounced her father, confidently. As we saw from the preview of next week’s episode, he’s wrong about that, as he is about so many things, bless him.
It must be hard for him to discover he’s reared a set of militants, what with Lady Sybil spending most of the episode on the run from Irish officials who weren’t best pleased at Tom’s involvement with the burning of the homes of Irish aristocrats. It didn’t go down awfully well with the family at Downton, either: “They’re people like us!” But even worse was Tom leaving the pregnant Sybil behind to make her own way back home. She seemed to manage it fairly easily, but all the same that’s enough adventure for one pregnancy and now it’s been decided that she must stay at Downton till the baby is delivered. Continue reading