Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Top Five Lines from Downton Abbey S5:E9 ( or "in vino veritas")

Ah, friends. I’d say those Downton writers really know how to wrap up a season. And how to keep up salivating for more.

This week’s episode, the finale, was really fun, wasn’t it? So many lovely moments that just can’t fit into my Top Five. I’m thinking of Robert and Edith, Robert and Cora, Robert and Sybbie. I guess Robert is finally coming around and becoming the man he was in Season 1.

And then there was the moment with the Russian Princess. Oh my! Would you say she has a chip on her shoulder . . . or was she happy to see Violet again? That entire story line was a little bit perplexing to me this season. I’m kind of happy to see the Russians trot off to Paris where they can be miserable together.

But the Russians do bring me to my first favorite line of the night, which, of course, belongs to Violet.

[Note: I don’t always put them in order, but this week I am. Because I want to. And because my favorite line is definitely worth waiting for.]

5. So the Russians have left the building and Violet remains, yet again, alone. I was glad that she finally confessed her somewhat sordid background to Isobel—she came across as a very real person. She confesses something else to her BFF as well—that she’s a little sad to put her latest near-tryst with Prince Kuragin in the past.

“Sad?” Isobel asks.

To which Violet replies, 

“I will never again receive an immoral proposition from a man. 
Was I so wrong to savor it?”

The passage of time can be so cruel.

4. So the family travels quite a distance (we aren’t quite sure where—Scotland?) to visit the Sinderby clan in their much-larger-than-Downton rental house because, you know, they are family now. Sort of. And they have to make a show of it for Rose’s sake, I guess.

Or Robert just wants to get in on some premiere grouse shooting.

Anyway, while most of the house is gone, Mrs. Patmore creates a nice dinner for some of the staff because, “When the cat’s away, we mice might as well play a little.”

She’s invited just a few people to share in the special meal: Carson, Mrs. Hughes, herself, Mr. Bates, Mr. Molesley, and Daisy, to which Carson crinkles his bulbous nose and says, “Daisy? To wait on us, I assume.”

Mrs. Patmore quickly puts him in his place when she ever-so-calmly replies, 

“To wait on us, yes, and to eat with us. And if that thought’s too democratically overpowering, you can share what I’ve made for the housemaids."

Cudos to you, Mrs. Patmore!

3. While they are visiting the Sinderby’s, the Millenials decide to take a little walk so they can chat some distance away from the ears and sneers in the really big rental. Atticus divulges that he’s been offered a job in New York, and he and Rose seem all smiles about this. Tom talks about moving to Boston, which Mary continues to dismiss. Denial much?

Edith understands her sister better than Mary might think. “Poor Mary,” Edith mocks. “She hates to be left behind when everyone else is getting on with their lives.”

Not so fast, Edith. Mary once again comes out on top with her quick, albeit cruel, wit.

“It isn’t that. It’s just the thought of 
being left behind with you.”

Once again, Edith is left agape and everyone else just shrugs their shoulders as if to say, “That’s our Mary.”

2. My final two favorite lines from this episode are in a near dead heat—they were both great for different reasons. But my number one favorite line just squeaked in ahead of my number two favorite for reasons which you will see when you get there.

This favorite line was probably one of yours, too, because it was just so hilarious.

Bates and Thomas are cleaning the guns [side note: Baxter reveals that Thomas knows his way around a rifle and that his father was a good shot. Hmmm. Will this information be important somewhere down the road?], and Molesley offers his sympathy, yet again, to Bates for Anna still being in prison.

Bates feels helpless and claims, “I’d cut my arm off if I knew it would do any good.”

Thomas smirks, 

“Oh, I don’t think that would be sensible, Mr. Bates. 
We can’t have you wobbly at both ends.”

Oh my word! Just too funny.

Cringeworthy, but funny.

1. OK, you’ve probably already guessed my favorite line of the episode, and it gets this spot both because of the delivery and because of the scenario.

Dear Carson and Mrs. Hughes. We’ve seen this coming for some time now (remember them walking hand in hand into the sea at the end of season 7?), and finally our deepest Downton desires have been met.

While everyone else is upstairs drinking spiked punch and singing Christmas carols, Carson and Mrs. Hughes sneak downstairs. Carson explains that he has purchased the house in both of their names, despite the fact that Mrs. Hughes has already revealed to him that she’s destitute.

No matter. Carson wants her in on the deal. In fact, he wants her in on the rest of his life, as he so sweetly declares to her with tears in his eyes.

Mrs. Hughes pushes back. “Suppose you want to move away and change your life entirely. You don’t want to be stuck with me.”

“Well, that’s the point,” says Carson.

“What is?” Mrs. Hughes is starting to understand.

“I do want to be stuck with you.”

“I’m not convinced I can be hearing this right.” The puzzle pieces are beginning to fall into place.

Carson comes in for the kill: “You are if you think I’m asking you to marry me. . . . Well?”

“Well, you can knock me down with a feather.”

Isn’t that just lovely? But we’re not there yet. My favorite line is still coming, but I had to set the scene because it was just so sweet.

Finally Carson tells Mrs. Hughes to take as long as she likes because, “One thing I do know, I’m not marrying anyone else.”

She smiles and hands him a drink. Carson says, “What exactly are we celebrating?”

“We’re celebrating the fact that I can still get a proposal at my age.”

“And that’s . . . it?”

Now Carson looks pained; the distress on his face is obvious until Mrs. Hughes puts him out of his misery.

“Of course I’ll marry you, you old booby! 
I thought you’d never ask.”

And everyone in the room said, “Ahhhhhhh.

We thought he’d never ask either!


With that, Season 5 is a wrap. I’m sorry to see the fun of Downton Abbey come to an end, but does it ever? So many unanswered questions are left for us to ponder for the next nine months until a new season is born.

Will Atticus and Rose move to America?

Will Tom and Sybbie ever come back as he promised three times in this episode?

Will Mary make Edith’s life even more miserable when she opens her eyes and realizes the truth about Marigold?

Will Isobel change her mind and realize that she just can’t live without Dickie Merton?

Will Thomas find a reason to use a gun?

And will Robert ever get a new dog, this time one with a more suitable name?

Until next year, good bye, Downton! And thanks.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Top Five Lines from Downton Abbey, S5:E8 (or We're On the Home Stretch)

Hello dear friends and faithful readers. We’re on the home stretch—next week is our last Downton Abbey episode of the season. I have to say that I look forward to Downton Abbey each January, partly because it makes the winter go a little faster. By the time eight episodes have aired we’re into March and I feel like spring will be just around the corner.

One can hope, can’t she?

For that and for so many other reasons (fun and hilarity being chief among them), I have to thank all those who have worked so hard to bring us Downton Abbey each week. In case you haven’t heard the news yet, next season will be the final season of DA. I guess there just aren’t enough country fairs or cricket matches left to keep the Grantham-Crawley clan busy. And Mary has dated pretty much every single male within a twenty-mile radius of the big house, so she’s done. Plus, Violet has drunk all the tea left in the county, so what else could be covered?

I guess we’ll find out during Season Six.

But for now, let’s talk about Season Five, Episode 7, which I loved this week because it tied up some loose strings (Hello, Susan and Shrimpy) and brought some other story lines together.

Except, wait. One measly little line about the prettiest dog on television who looks almost exactly like my dog? Seriously, I thought Isis deserved a fonder farewell than she was given.

But aside from the Isis snub, there really was a lot of good stuff going on this week. Wasn’t Rose such a beautiful, sweet bride?

On with my Top Five.

1. Have you noticed that every. single. week. someone says something about time marching on or the-times-they-are-a-changing or something like that? It’s like the writers want us to pick up some kind of theme or something.

This week was no exception with Mrs. Patmore’s glaringly obvious commentary on the shocking news that Grantham House in London wouldn’t be keeping full-time staff any longer. “Another clang in the march of time,” she muttered.

But I did like Mrs. Hughes’ reference, as she was trying to bring Carson, yet again, into the 20th Century, telling him to just get over the fact that they will have to hire temporary staff to cover the big event in London: 

“The big parade’s passed by, Mr. Carson. We’re just trying to keep up as best we can.”

2. Speaking of Carson and Mrs. Hughes (will he still call her Mrs. Hughes after they’re married next season?) . . .  This week seemed to be all about coming to terms with the Jewish-ness of the Sinderby clan. Or is it Aldridge? Atticus’s last name was Aldridge, but his father is called Lord Sinderby, just like the Grantham-Crawley thing. It’s all so confusing.

Anyway, Carson and Mrs. H. are talking about wedding preparations, and Mrs. Hughes mentions that it “feels quite foreign” (hint, hint) to have the bridegroom’s parents entertain just before a marriage. (Why this would seem strange, I’m just not sure.) To which Carson replies that maybe “that sort” do things differently.

Cue eye roll here.

Mrs. H. gives him a hard time for that comment to which Carson replies, “I’m not prejudiced, Mrs. Hughes. There are many things you could accuse me of, but not that.”

After a poignant pause, Mrs. Hughes dishes it right back:

“How about . . . lack of self-knowledge?”

3. Oh that nasty Susan Flincher! I kind of think she’s a good villain, but she is totally nasty. She tried everything to break up her daughter’s marriage this week, although since she hadn’t even seen her daughter for at least a year and hadn’t kept up with her daughter’s life, and since she obviously doesn’t care about anyone but herself, I don’t know why she cared enough to go to the lengths she did. But nevertheless . . .

At one point during dinner, Susan asked her future in-law, Lady Sinderby, “Tell me, do you find it difficult these days to get staff?” Implying, of course, that Lady Sinderby’s lineage might make it difficult to find people to clean up after her, thereby lowering her rank in Susan’s pecking order.

I think, however, that Lady Sinderby can handle the new in-laws just fine, thankyouverymuch, because her retort was classic:

“Not really. But then, we’re Jewish so we pay well.”

4. You know I couldn’t let this episode go by without a delicious quote from Daisy. They say a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, and Daisy has gained just a little new knowledge, but the idea that she can learn new things has been freeing for Daisy, opening up a whole new world. 

She explained her feelings to Molesley and Miss Baxter as they walked back from an art museum.

“I feel as if I’ve been down a coal hole and someone’s opened the lid and brought me into the sunlight.”

Isn’t that just a perfect description? I still love you, Daisy!

5. Wasn’t it nice to see Robert and Cora getting along and having an actual connection this week? I was pleased to see it and wonder if the writers were trying to contrast their relationship with Susan and Shrimpy’s. Whatever the case, it was nice to see them not just getting along, but acting like they loved each other again.

My favorite scene between them (and, yes, I liked the scene at the end when Robert figures out that he has another granddaughter, but I liked this one better) was when Robert announces that he’s selling the Piero della Francesca painting. You know, the one Simon Bricker was supposedly ga-ga over and had to keep coming out to Downton to ogle.

Cora gets a little misty-eyed and asks Robert if he’s selling the painting because it reminds him too much of that nasty little episode with Mr. Bricker.

“Yes,” Robert admits. 

“But not in the way you think. Every time I look at it I am reminded that I didn’t trust you, and I feel so angry with myself that I want to be rid of it.”

Is that a spine you’re growing there, Robert?

Bonus: Toward the very end of the episode we get a brief glimpse into the relationship between Carson and Lady Mary, which we haven’t seen much of this season. We know from past seasons that the two have a deep affection for each other, kind of like an uncle/niece relationship. Mary confides in Carson that her love life is once again going nowhere fast and that she’s not sure she will ever find a man. Carson, possibly the only person in the house who actually thinks highly of Mary, reassures her:

“I am confident that you will triumph in the end.”

A bit of foreshadowing of next season, perhaps?

So we have one more week to go and my recaps will end for another year. Tell me, what has been the most memorable scene or storyline for you this season?

Friday, February 20, 2015

Reflecting on the IF:Gathering

So you guys know that I like to have fun on the blog. You know that I love Downton Abbey—it seems like that’s all I’ve written about lately. You know that I leave plenty of room here for laughter.

But those of you who know me in real life (or even on Facebook) know that I have a serious side. A side that thinks about the state of our world and the state of my soul. It’s important to me that the two—the world and my soul—are linked in some way. If what God is teaching me doesn’t translate into how I relate to the world around me, something’s wrong.

To be honest, that connection had been missing for me for a while. Oh yes, God has been teaching me things. I’m growing to love His word more and more as time goes on. I love what He’s showing me through His word and in my daily life.

But I guess I’ve wanted more. More conviction. More challenge. More change in my heart.

So when my friend Rebecca stopped by last fall and mentioned the IF:Gathering, and when this was something that had been on my heart for a while but had nobody to go with (I didn’t think anybody who lived here would even know what the IF:Gathering was), and when the day Rebecca stopped by just happened to be the day the tickets went on sale, and when we actually got through to their massively crashed server and we both got tickets . . . well . . . we pretty much knew that God wanted us to be there.

But my big question in the months leading up to IF was why God wanted me there. So I prayed to that end, asking God before I left that He would just show me why He wanted me to be in Austin over the first weekend in February.

More conviction. More challenge. More change in my heart.

The very first session answered my question. Jennie Allen spoke on a passage from Numbers 13 and 14 (OK, first of all, what women’s gathering has us look at a passage in NUMBERS?!). It’s the story of Joshua and Caleb who had scouted out the Promised Land as Moses had asked them to do and came back with a report that the land is filled with giants. All the people were scared and wanted to turn back, but Joshua and Caleb were convinced—utterly convinced—that God wanted them to enter the Promised Land and that He would provide a way for that to happen.

Jennie Allen told us that so often we’re like the people of Israel who keep asking the wrong questions. 

We ask: 
  • Am I enough?
  • Are we going to be safe?
  • What is it going to cost?
 I’ve asked those questions too. I still do. It’s my default.

God says, “Write this.” And I ask, “Am I enough?”

God says, “Send your kids out.” And I ask, “Will they be safe?”

God says, “Do this for me.” And I ask, “What is it going to cost?”

Jennie explained that Joshua and Caleb were functioning from a different story line. They saw the big picture. They knew that the story is not about us—it’s about a God who can do ANYTHING.

With the very first message of the weekend, God showed me that I need to be asking better questions. Because the answer to all of my measly, small questions is undoubtedly no.

I am not enough.

Life is never safe.

It may cost you everything, even your life. (Just ask the 21 Egyptian Christians.)

But I answer to a God who can do anything. A God who promises never to leave me nor forsake me. A God who has complete authority over this crazy, mixed-up world. 

Toward the end of her talk, Jennie said this (I wrote it down): “We are at war and the prize is faith. And we let Satan have it all. the. time.”

I have to fight for my faith. Every day. Will I ask small questions? Or will I follow the leading of God who goes before me? Will I claim the prize of my faith or will I allow the Enemy of my soul to make my vision small?

You guys! This was just the first session! I had a lot more weekend to go, and you can trust me that God definitely answered my prayer and showed me why he wanted me there.

More conviction. More challenge. More change in my heart.

What will that look like in the future? Stay tuned. Let’s see what God does.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Top Five Lines from Downton Abbey, S5:E7

Well, Downton friends, I must confess that, as much as I love Downton Abbey, I think they are starting to jump the proverbial shark. This week was almost too much for me to bear what with not one, but TWO, awkward dinner parties, Mary acting like a spoiled tween, and Isis going to her grave. Too much, I tell you. Too much.

I did manage to pull out my Top Five lines, though, which I am going to rush through in order to put this episode behind us.

1. It seems to take an outsider to make the obvious come to light. At the First Awkward Dinner Party (heretofore referred to as the FADP)—the one in which the Sinderby’s meet the Grantham clan, the one that almost didn’t take place because, gee, a member of the family has just last night gone missing, but the one about which Rose bats her pretty lashes and begs, “Oh, please, pretty please, can we still have them come?”—that dinner party—Atticus and Rose are discussing Edith’s sudden disappearance.

Atticus (heretofore referred to as Captain Obvious) suggests that perhaps someone at the newspaper office—the newspaper that Edith had just inherited from the dead father of her child—might know something of Edith’s whereabouts.

(I’m pretty sure the servants downstairs had figured this one out ages ago, but, of course, they’re servants and nobody would bother to ask their opinion or to listen to it, even if they did have a clue where Edith went.)

Rose takes a moment for the lightbulb to click on and replies,

“Oh yes! How clever you are!”

But my favorite line in this scene is delivered next, by Atticus, who looks as if he’s not so sure he wants to tie his anchor to this family any more:

“Really? I thought it rather obvious.”

It was, Captain. It was.

2. Just so you know right up front, the rest of my favorite lines from this episode belong to Violet. Because I can’t bear to give any credit to Cora (“Cancer?! Oh, I hate that word!”) or to those horrible boys, Larry and Curly (“Dad, you’re marrying beneath you.), or even to Mary (“Edith’s gone? So what?”).

So Vi gets my pick this week because she’s just. so. good.

And speaking of Mary . . . Violet gives her a good dressing down after yet another flippant put-down of her gone-missing sister. This is a line I need to cross stitch onto a pillow:

“My dear, a lack of compassion can be as vulgar as an excess of tears.”

Yeah, that.

3. Now, a few of my readers (and only a few) might be offended by my next pick, but you know I had to include it because it was a line that almost made wine come flying out of my nose I laughed so hard. It happened so early in the episode you might have even missed it, but I doubt that.

Violet meets Rosamund at the train station (by the way, Vi was looking awfully spry in this episode, wasn’t she?) to discuss Edith’s whereabouts and what on earth they are going to do next. Finally they agree that they should bring Cora into their tangled web, and Rosamund naturally asks about Robert. Shouldn’t he have a right to know that he has an illegitimate granddaughter living just down the road from him but whom has now been stolen by his own daughter?

An idea which Violet quickly snubs.

“He’s a man. Man don’t have rights.”

Moving right along . . .

4. Violet certainly likes her tea, doesn’t she? Every week she’s in at least one tea scene, usually with Isobel or her Russian aristocrat (where was he this week anyway?) or with Cora. This week her tea date was with Mary who wants to know why her grandmamma is so glum. The two share a touching scene, actually, in which Violet confesses that she’s sad about losing her friend, Isobel.

So she really does have a heart!

Somewhere in the middle of this scene, however, Spratt comes in to declare that he’s had enough of the new maid, Dinker or Danker or Donker . . . whatever her name is. He can’t pronounce it either.

He’s had enough of her antics, her highbrow attitude, and her laziness, so he tells the Dowager that he can’t take it anymore. Naturally, Violet just brushes off Spratt’s concerns with a well-placed line:

“Typical Spratt. He’s as touchy as 
a beauty losing her looks.”

5. Finally, we’re at the Second Awkward Dinner Party (SADP), the one at which Crazy Larry and his equally offensive brother, Curly, are invited to the Big House to meet their future mother-in-law, Isobel. Why Lord Merton would think this is a good idea after the first time Crazy Larry was invited to the house is beyond me, but they give it a go.

Crazy Larry does his thing, which is telling everyone exactly what he thinks about his father marrying a middle-class woman, oh, and about Jews in the family, and about whatever else he feels like saying and damn anyone who tries to stop him. The family is aghast, the guests (Mable Lane Fox, Tony G., and Chucky Blake) are appalled yet snickering at the end of the table, and poor Isobel is left wondering whether she could even approach the altar with Lord Merton.

Our hero, Tom, comes to the rescue when he stands and yells, “Why don’t you just get out, you bastard?”

Cut to Vi and her sardonic wit:

“And suddenly we’ve slipped 
into a foreign tongue.”

With that, I will bid you adieu.

Have a happy week, dear friends! Pray for poor Isis! 

Monday, February 9, 2015

Top Five Lines from Downton Abbey, S5:E6 (Or "There's Something about Mary")

Before we begin today I have to remind you that the purpose of these posts is primarily for fun. I enjoy pulling out the funny, ironic, pithy, or profound lines from each episode of Downton Abbey because it’s fun for me and, I hope, for you, the reader.

I say this to explain, dear friends, why I will today avoid any lines having to do with one of the most heartbreaking storylines that has ever been told on this show. I will not be speaking of champagne or ice cream or new mummys or any such thing because it is just too much to take.

Just. too. much.

Oh Edith, what a mess you are in!

That said, let’s begin with Edith’s nemesis, her sister Mary.

1. There’s something about Mary this week and that is that she must, at all costs, be the center of attention. This week her sister is grieving and her cousin is enjoying a new relationship, both of which are taking the spotlight away from Mary, and Mary cannot take it. Not at all.

Early in the episode we find Mary and Anna talking together about Mary’s love life and the spiffy horse race she’s been invited to the following weekend. You can just see Mary’s wheels turning as she asks, ironically and without any sense of really meaning it: 
“Anna, do you think I’m looking 
rather . . . frumpy?”

Anna, of course, replies to the contrary because we know that Anna is getting paid to butter up her mistress no matter what. I wonder if underneath all of Anna’s sweetness she is really rolling her eyes at Mary’s very large ego.

Later, Mary does the dramatic and *gasp!* cuts her hair *gasp!* in an attempt to keep the attention squarely where it belongs—on her. She shows up to dinner in dramatic fashion to show off her new look. (Did anyone besides me harken back to when Sybil turned up to dinner with pants on in Season 1?)

Cora gushes, because her eldest daughter can do no wrong. Obvi. “Well, we really are living in the modern world!”

But Mary needs more approval than from merely her simpleminded mother, so she turns to Granny--“Granny, what do you think?”—who wastes no time telling Mary exactly what she thinks.

“Oh, it is you. I thought it was a man wearing your clothes.”

2. Edith, naturally, becomes upset that Mary has stolen her thunder yet again and in her grieving stupor she tells them all what she really thinks of them and leaves to take a tray in her room. (Atticus Aldridge doesn’t know what to think at this point, and Rose is simply too dumbfounded to be of much help to him.)

The family discusses whether they should even attend the riding event on Saturday, but Robert decides that maybe it will be good for Edith to have some time alone "to think." And here Violet brings us the relief we need:
“All this endless thinking. It’s very overrated. . . . I blame the war. Before 1914 nobody thought about anything at all.” 
 Amen, Sister.

3. Throughout this episode Robert tries to shun his wife for whatever did or didn’t happen between her and Simon Bricker. He punishes her endlessly by giving her the cold shoulder, even opting to *gasp!* sleep in his own room.

Can you imagine?!

Finally, Cora has had enough of Robert’s immature theatrics and delivers what may have been one of the best lines she’s given so far this season:
“Very well. If you can honestly say that you have never let a flirtation get out of hand since we were married, if you have never given a woman the wrong impression, by all means stay away. Otherwise, I expect you in my room tonight.”

It doesn't take much processing on Robert's part (Hello, Maid Jane!). He quickly casts aside the blankets and heads sheepishly into Cora’s room.

4. It’s the day of the big race and, once again, Mary throws the spotlight to herself by riding up on her big white horse. She’s dressed to the nines in order to lure both Charles Blake and Tony Gillingham (only to drop Tony into the arms of Mabel Lane Fox later, I’m sure).

Anyway, as she rides away on her horse, Isobel gushes, “I think she’s splendid.”

Always the practical one, Violet tells it like she sees it: 
“I think she’s cracked.”

Vi, I just think she’s manipulative (and some other choice words I can’t mention here).

5. OK, I’ve saved my favorite line of the night for last. You might have missed it, but it made me laugh out loud.

How sweet was Carson when he approached Mrs. Hughes about the possibility of their buying a property together? (Strictly business, of course.) And haven’t I been hinting at their getting together all season?

(You can pat me on the back and tell me I was right later.)

Anyway, Carson shuffles around a bit before saying, “Mrs. Hughes, may I make a suggestion that I think you’ll find a strange one but I ask that you consider nonetheless?”

To which, Mrs. Hughes replies, 
“Heavens! I’m all agog!” 

I think this phrase just might need to be introduced back into our vernacular because it so perfectly sums up so many situations.

You open the door to find unexpected overnight guests? “Heavens! I’m all agog!”

Your dog loses his lunch on your favorite rug? “Heavens! I’m all agog!”

Your daughter brings home a guy with tattoos covering every visible surface of his body? “Heavens! I’m all agog!”

It just seems to fit.

And with that, I’m going to call it another week of Top Five Lines.

So tell me, what were YOUR favorites this week? Leave me a comment and let's dish!