Monday, February 18, 2013

Top Ten Lines from Downton Abbey Season 3, Episode 7 – It’s All About Family

**Spoiler alert** Do not read further if you haven't watched the Season 3 Finale. This post does contain spoilers.

Well now, how’s everyone doing? Recovered from last night’s drama yet?

I know, I know, it’s hard to remember, but you must remind yourself that this is fiction. It’s just fiction. Tell yourself over and over again, if you must, but what happened on the season finale is just fiction.

Reminds me of when B and I were dating. He’d take me to the movies, and whenever things got a little tense or emotional he’d lean over to me and say, “It’s just light on a screen, Shelly. Light on a screen.” I never really bought it—my emotions were real, so the drama must have been, in some way, real to me. But I nodded my head and tried to tell myself, “It’s just light on a screen.”

I just watched the episode for the second time, and I think it was more sad even the second time around. I caught so much more of the subtlety and the rhythm and the theme of family and love and friendship. You should really go to the PBS website and watch the episode again.

If you can bear it.

So Season 3 is over and now we have to wait another year for what will, I hope, be several new, happy beginnings for many of the characters. This season was such a season of loss; I truly hope next season is a season of happiness. But then, Julian Fellowes is known for surprising us. I’m sure that whatever he has in store will be a great surprise.

So let’s get on with it—my top ten lines from Episode 7, better known as the episode-in-which-everyone-including-Tom-and-Robert-and-Thomas-and-Mrs. Patmore-make-peace-with-Downton.

Number 10. I have to start toward the end, during the dance in Scotland. Mr. Molesley has had a bit too much of the Scotch whisky and he’s dancing his heart out. Robert and Violet are looking on.

Robert: They do say there’s a wild man inside all of us.
Violet: If only he would stay inside.

Those of us who know my last name will know why I chose that line. *wink*

Number 9. Of course, my lady Violet had some great lines this week, as she always does. This exchange took place toward the beginning, as the family has arrived in Scotland to spend ten days with Shrimpy’s family. His shrew wife, Susan, greets Violet at the door.

Susan: Oh, Violet, we feel so privileged to have lured you this far north.
Violet: Oh, dear, you flatter me, which is just as it should be.

Number 8: Later, Violet and Susan are walking together. Violet asks about Shrimpy’s upcoming colonial post.

Violet: Do you know where it will be?
Susan: No, but it will be filthy and dirty and the food will be awful and there will be no one to talk to for a hundred square miles.
Violet: That sounds like a week with my mother-in-law.

Number 7: Oh Edith. Edith, Edith, Edith. Will you never learn? Honestly, I think Edith has worse luck in the love department than anyone I’ve ever known.

(Wait. Did I just say that? Like she’s real or something? Light on a screen, Shelly. Light on a screen.)

(And also? Sorry about some of the grainy photos. Screen shots just don't work as well as actual photos.)

So her editor, Michael Gregson, turns up in Scotland. He just happens to be in the neighborhood and would like to hang out with the family. Mary is skeptical, as Mary usually is about anyone who would be interested in Edith, but this time, Mary is right.

Matthew isn’t convinced, and when Gregson turns up for dinner, he has a great remark for Mary: "What a disappointment. He looks perfectly normal."

Later, in bed, Mary and Matthew discuss Edith’s love life for about the millionth time.

Mary: He probably took reeling classes before he left London.
Matthew: Don’t dislike him before you even know him. That’s a hallmark of our parents’ generation, and I forbid it.

Stay tuned . . .

Number 6. I won’t get into the whole staff-who-stays-behind-and-goes-to-the-fair business. It’s kind of overly complicated, although I did enjoy seeing what goes on when the family is away. Anyway, the staff does all go to the fair in Thirsk (well, all but one), and as they’re heading out, Alfred bumps into Mr. Carson in the hallway. I absolutely loved Carson’s response.

Alfred: You don’t want to come to the fair?
Carson: I would sooner chew broken glass.

So there. Harumph.

But wasn’t Carson absolutely adorable with Sybie? I loved the scene when he was just waiting in the hallway outside of her bedroom for her to cry. He goes in, lifts her out of her crib, and says, “Oh now, what’s the matter? Let’s have a little chat about it.”


Number 5. So there’s something amiss in the Shrimpy household, that is made perfectly clear. Rose is miserable. Shrimpy is miserable. And Susan is just a miserable shrew.

It has become clear that Shrimpy will most likely be stationed somewhere in India, and he’s had a moment to discuss it with it Violet who, not surprisingly, has some strong opinions about Rose.

Violet:Will you take Rose?
Shrimpy: I don’t think we should, but Susan won’t discuss it.
Violet: Unless you’d like her to be married to a third rate Colonial official with no money and bad teeth, Susan had better think again.

Ah, Violet, why don’t you tell us how you really feel?

Number 4: I love Violet’s more tender moments, and this was one of my favorites of this episode. Vi and Cora are discussing the tensions in the Shrimpy household, specifically things between Rose and her mother. Cora is reminded of her own struggles with Sybil.

Violet: We knew things were awkward between them, but now that I’m here I don’t think Susan handles it very well.
Cora: But it’s so complicated with a young daughter with new ideas. She thinks you’re fighting her when all the time you’re just frightened and . . . I’m sorry.
Violet: We all miss her. Every single day.

Yes, Violet, we all do still miss her, too.

Number 3: 

One of my favorite plot lines this week was with Mrs. Hughes and Tom. Poor Tom has been through the wringer this week, just trying to figure out his place in the upper class world. Housemaid Edna wasn’t making things any easier on him, that’s for sure, what with all the following him around and meeting him at the pub and kissing him when he had his shirt off. Good grief, Edna, don’t you know your place?

Obviously not.

So Tom offers to drive everyone to the fair, donning his chauffeur hat just for old time’s sake. He asks Mrs. Hughes what time they’re leaving, and Mrs. Hughes tells him he doesn’t have to go.

Tom: Why? Because I’m so high and mighty now?
Mrs. Hughes: You’re part of the family now. There’s nothing false in that.
Tom: I know.
Mrs. Hughes: I hope you do, because if someone is trying to make you feel awkward, they are in the wrong, not you.

Later, after Edna has been sacked, Mrs. Hughes takes a moment to talk to Tom in the library.

Mrs. Hughes: Would you allow me to speak as I would have in the old days?
Tom: Go ahead then.
Mrs. Hughes: You let Edna make you ashamed of your new life. But you’ve done well. And Lady Sybil would be so proud.
Tom (crying): I can’t bear to be without her.
Mrs. Hughes sits and takes his hand: You must bear it. And one day I hope, and so would she, you’ll find someone to bear it with you. But until then, be your own master and call your own tune.

[Note: this is the only word that I just couldn’t get. Thanks to Megan at Fried Okra for helping me out with that!]

So sweet to see Tom and Mrs. Hughes have that moment together. Mrs. Hughes is kind of like a mother to many of the younger staff, and it was nice to see her take that role with Tom as well. I just loved it.

Number 2

Well, well, well. Robert does have a moment of epiphany, doesn’t he? Remember in the billiard room with Shrimpy? Shrimpy tells Robert his tale of financial devastation, and he is basically recounting Robert’s very own tale, had Matthew not stepped in to save them all.

Robert has much to think about.

Later that night, as he and Cora are going to bed, he tells her what he’s come to learn.

Robert: I can’t wait to get home.
Cora: Aren’t you enjoying your Victorian idyll any longer?
Robert: I’m glad I was jealous of Shrimpy. It’s made me realize what a fool I’ve been. Downton will survive because of Matthew’s vision.
Cora: I’m so pleased to hear you say it.
Robert: You always knew how lucky we are in Matthew, and now I give thanks for him as I give thanks for my home and my family. And most of all, I give thanks for my wife.

I think they’ve all learned some lessons over the past year, but this episode made it clear that they have all come to love and appreciate what they have: family.

Number 1: And speaking of family. Matthew and Mary’s little family grew last night, didn’t it? And then got promptly reduced in size (for which, I have heard, many will never watch Downton Abbey again, myself not included).

But before the size reduction took place, there was this very sweet exchange in the hospital between Matthew and Mary.

Matthew: You are going to be such a wonderful mother.
Mary: How do you know?
Matthew: Because you are such a wonderful woman.
Mary: I hope I’m allowed to be your Mary Crawley for all eternity, and not Edith’s version or any one else’s for that matter.
Matthew: You’ll be my Mary always.  Because mine is the true Mary.

It was like a send-off. Mary has always been conscious of other peoples’ perception of her, but Matthew assures her that she is just enough, just as she is. And that, my friends, is unconditional love.

Their love story may be over for now, Matthew may be gone, but his words of love will ring in Mary’s ears forever. They may be just what she needs to go home and raise this little boy on her own. Words to give her the confidence to be the mother that this boy will need. Words of love that Mary will need as she moves ahead, alone.

Season 3, I’ve loved you, hated you, dreaded you, and anticipated you every week. You have never ceased to surprise me. Thank you for the few hours of joy you have given to me and to my friends and my family. It’s been fun, tragic, comical, and sad. I will miss you and will look forward to your sister, Season 4.

So let's talk. Tell me what you thought of the season finale in the Comments.

To read the rest of my Downton Abbey Top Five (or Ten) lines:

Season 3, Episode 1
Season 3, Episode 2
Season 3, Episode 3
Season 3, Episode 4
Season 3, Episode 5
Season 3, Episode 6



  1. Amen! to everything! And one really sweet scene you didn't mention was between Thomas and whats-his-name, when Thomas asked him to just be his friend. I thought that was really sweet!

    Still sitting on the fence, do I want to go through another season of this just to have my heart ripped out again! Aaagggghhh! Doooowwwnton! You can be a real downer sometimes!

  2. Be your own master and call your own tune.


    Good ones again, my dear. I loved Mr. Carson with little Sybil (with Mrs. Hughes), and the scene between Mrs. Hughes and Mrs. Padmore after the fair. Such sweet exchanges.

    I have to say, Mrs. Hughes general wonderfulness and lovability really snuck up on me this season. Whereas in the past two seasons she was kind and strong, I never really connected with her. But this season, she surprised me by becoming one of my favorite characters. Her advice to Tom last night made me really happy.

  3. Light on a screen. Hum. Oh, my. What must it be like to never let go and immerse yourself in what you are seeing and the feelings it brings with it? I cannot imagine. Well, that's just not where I live, I guess. It is a voyueristic experience, watching these others' lives through the window of television, but we come to know them and they reveal themselves to us, bit by bit, both good and bad.

    So, we grieve when we lose those who have become family to us; Sybil first and now, Mary's Matthew. Those were not small losses. Two wonderfully written and beautifully played characters that we came to actually love. Would Downton be the success it is if we could not come to love and value them? Or, in O'Brien's case, hate them? Or rejoice with/for them when James sees clearly that Thomas was looking out for him and took the blows intended for him and is then able to extend kindness and friendship to him? If all of that is just light on a screen, then it's meaningless.

    But Downton is not meaningless. We learn by watching. It provokes our thoughts, makes us roar with laughter, causes love to bloom in our hearts and causes us to cry when one of these people leave the family; when they die.

    This season has been hard as we have lost two very dear characters. I empathise with those who say they will no longer watch Downton because it has broken their hearts, or made them angry. But, like you, I will be there next January, my heart will be racing because we're getting back on that rollercoaster, but as it leaves the station and starts up that hill, I know when we get done it will have been a great ride.

    Blessings to all of you Downton Fans.

  4. Karen, so right. I thought that scene with Thomas and James was a nice way to move that story forward without the love interest.

    Megan, thanks for correcting that line for me! Heading in to change that now. Isn't Mrs. Hughes the sweetest thing?

    lilybet, yes! That is exactly it! I could never put my finger on how I got so into a story, but you nailed it. Thank you for your insights.

  5. All I could think of when you mentioned B's light on a screen line was that he most certainly knew what he was going to deal with when he married you. Isn't it cool how God balances one of us and our emotions with the other one who can see life a little more logically? Love you and B.

  6. It's all still rather raw
    for me {I know, lights
    on a screen!} as we
    watched the last four
    hours of DA the last
    two evenings. I loved
    all the same things that
    you did and can't wait
    to see what JF cooks
    up for next year!!!

    Thanks for these lovely
    summaries each episode.
    I shall miss them....

    xo Suzanne

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