Monday, February 11, 2013

Top Ten Lines from Downton Abbey, Season 3, Episode 6 -- The Cricket Episode

So, was it just me, or did all of you have a scary dream about O’Brien last night, too? She of the beady eyes and crazy curly-Qs on the side of her head. She haunted me in my dreams last night, and I awoke this morning with the disturbing feeling that if I hadn’t woken up, I was just about to be killed in my sleep.

O’Brien gives me the creeps.


Anyway, back to business. Did anyone else notice the overuse of a certain word last night? It’s not a word I ever remember hearing on the show before, and last night it got used five times (I know because I counted. You can thank me later.).  It’s the word “stuff.” Mary used it twice, Edith used it twice, and Matthew used it once.

What’s up with that?

It was bothering me, so I looked up the etymology (that means the study of the origins and uses of words) of the word “stuff.” Of course, there’s the original meaning, “stuffing,” as in the stuffing of a quilt or mattress. There were several other meanings and origins noted, most from the 14th and 15th centuries. (Still with me?)

And then I noticed that in 1927, just about the time this drama is being set right now, the word “stuff” came to have a new meaning: to have a grasp on something, as in He really knows his stuff. And in 1929, the word “stuff” began to be used in reference to narcotic drugs. Isn’t that interesting?

Don’t ever say you don’t learn something here.

But surprisingly, it looks like you have to go back earlier, around the 1570s, to find its usual meaning: “matter of an unspecified kind.” I thought it would be later, like, I mean, totally around the 1990s and all that stuff, dude.

Anyway, tell me I’m not the only one who noticed that they used the word “stuff” five times last night. And tell me that I’m not the only one for whom that use felt kind of, I don’t know, awkward? I wonder, were the writers trying to tell us that the word "stuff" came into vogue right around the 1920s? Hmmm.

Alright, we really should get down to business. Last night was a two-hour episode, and I’ve had a couple of people ask if I would share my top TEN lines this week rather than my top five.

Oh, all right. If you insist.

10. Are we happy that Bates is out of jail now? And that he got his job back? And that he and Anna are decorating a lovely little cottage together? (Oh, the fun blog post we could have with that one!)

Apparently people Upstairs lack a bit of just-out-of-jail sensitivity because there were a couple of lines thrown Bates’s way last night that just made me laugh.

How about this one? As Robert was trying to figure out what to do about Thomas in order to get Bates his job back he told Mr. B: “I’ll sort it out, I promise. Until then, you just rest. Stay in bed. Read books.”


Anyway, Matthew, Mary, and Anna are discussing the upcoming cricket match and, by the way, who knew this family was so into cricket???

[Side note: we just kept cracking up with all the cricket talk. Cricket, cricket, cricket! They just couldn’t let it go!]

So as the "teenagers" talk about how much they don't want to play cricket but they'll do it for dear old Dad, Matthew says, "Bates must count himself lucky to be out of it." To which Anna sweetly replies: "I think he’d like to walk normally, sir, even if playing cricket was the price he had to pay."

Way to put him in his place, Anna.

9. Oh, Edith, how on earth do you get yourself into these situations? I mean, it’s fine if you want to write for a newspaper and all, but your attitude toward yourself is kind of . . . defeating.

“It’s a relief to be reminded that I’m not an object of pity to the entire world.”

And later, she just blurts out her big news in the middle of dinner to which Violet has a great response.

Edith: Listen everyone, you have a journalist in the family.
Violet: Since we have a country solicitor and a car mechanic, it was only a matter of time.

8. And another of Violet’s great remarks (there were so many last night): “If Branson is watering down his revolutionary fervor, let us give thanks.”

7. Of course, Isobel got in a rare zinger, pointing her guns directly at Violet: “Oh, have you changed your pills?”

6. And then there’s Ethel. Doesn’t she seem sweet these days? Must be Isobel’s magnanimity doing her some good. I’m sure Isobel thinks so.

I cracked up at this exchange:

Ethel: These days a working woman must have a skill.
Violet: But you seem to have so many.

5. Another great Violet line. As she, Robert, and Cora are discussing the estate agent’s leaving, Violet comes up with the great plan to give the job to Tom. Robert objects, of course, but Violet has logic on her side this time.

Well, logic and a great sense of timing.

Violet: Think of the child. You cannot want your only granddaughter to grow up in a garage with that drunken gorilla.
Cora, pleading as she does: Don’t we owe this to Sybil?
Robert: I will do it on one condition. No, two. First, Matthew agrees. And, second, you will both admit it when you realize you were wrong.
Violet: Oh well, that is an easy caveat to accept because I am never wrong.

4. Oh goodness, I haven’t even touched on the Thomas scandal. Was that a twist of fate or a play of justice or simply the writers trying their best to add some political correctness to an era that could never even begin to conceive of such a notion?

Whatever the case, Thomas comes out on top. Again.


He not only saves his sniveling, sorry behind, he gets a promotion! Go figure. I would never have figured that could happen in Edwardian England.

But who am I?

Anyway, Thomas does NOT get one of my favorite lines of the episode. He really wasn’t that clever or funny this time around. He was more like . . . pathetic.

But what I really enjoyed was the interplay between Carson and Mrs. Hughes. They really are the best of friends, aren’t they. And I love how Mrs. Hughes can say it like it is, in a nice way.

So just as everything is coming to light, Carson sits, shell-shocked, with Mrs. Hughes to talk things over.

Carson: Human nature is a funny business, isn’t it?
Mrs. Hughes: Now why didn’t the poets come to you, Mr. Carson? They would have saved themselves a lot of time and trouble.

3. I learned a put-down last night that I think I’m going to tuck away to use another day. I’m sure it will come in handy.

Anna and Bates invite O’Brien for “tea”—we’ll get to that later. But Anna says something to O’Brien that she doesn’t care for, so O'Brien comes back with,

“Get back in the knife box, Miss Sharp!”

Oh yeah, I’ll be sure to pull that one out (ha!) sometime.

2. There’s a very important scene between Robert and Bates, just after Bates gets his job back as Robert’s valet. Everyone’s flummoxed by what’s happened with Thomas. People are taking sides.

And some deep reflection is going on as well.

Robert: Why didn’t Carson tell me? He’s the one who’s being undermined.
Bates: It’s a very difficult subject for him to discuss.
Robert: I can imagine. It’s not as if we didn’t all know about Barrow.
Bates: That’s what I said to Mrs. Hughes.
Robert: I mean, if I had tried to call Blue Murder every time someone tried to kiss me at Eaton, I’d be hoarse in a month.

Can I just say, Eeeeew! to that one? Eeeeew! But still, so funny.

And, yes, I had to look up the origin of the term “blue murder” and here’s what I found: "’Getting away with blue murder’ 

implies a person has gotten away with something so bad that they were expected to get caught for. If a royal was murdered it would be assumed that the culprit would be apprehended as there would be an unusual large manhunt undertaken making getting away with this murder harder than the murder of a normal person. And since royals are known as blue bloods this is where the term originated.”

Consider yourselves wiki-informed.

1. Now, my number one choice for this week might seem a little strange to you, especially if you haven’t seen Seasons 1 or 2, but, to me, this little line was quintessential Downton—just a little hint, just a little jab, but a tiny little line that packs a lot of punch.

Remember that scene in Bates and Anna’s cottage? They’ve been having tea with O’Brien. Tea-with-a-purpose, that is, because Bates is asking O’Brien to tell Jimmy to drop his threats against Thomas. (Following this?) She, of course, refuses. Bates stands up, walks over to O’Brien, and whispers something in her ear that makes her turn as white as a ghost.

Later, Anna asks Bates what exactly he said to her. He kind of shrugs his shoulders and tells Anna that he has no idea what it means, but Thomas had said it:

“It was her ladyship’s soap.”

You got chills, didn’t you? Come on, you know you did!

And there you have it, my friends. Hope you’ve enjoyed this little foray into fictional Edwardian land, or as my little friend C calls it, “The beautiful show.”

And it really is beautiful, isn’t it?

Now, head to the comments and discuss. And have a great week!

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  1. Oh, it sounds so brown nosy to say it but I was with you every step of the way on all of those things. I certainly noticed the word "stuff" being thrown in an inordinate amount.

    Loved your picks for best lines. I'm getting so I take note of the ones I think you will write about and say something when they are being spoken on screen.

    Yeah, that whole PC thing was so obvious and I saw it coming. There is no way a film or show can be made about a time past without the writers imposing our current world's view on it. I hate that.

    I wish we could watch together. It was a great 2 hours. Is it true that there is only one episode left? Can it be?

    What can we do with ourselves during all of the months of waiting for another season?

  2. Bravo Shelly! These lines were fantastic and I love the one about Miss Sharp! Will definitely borrow that one some time.
    Thank you-it is so much fun to read your quotes the day after-it's like a whole other Downton party!

  3. Oh, dear. Am I the only one who caught the exchange between Isobel and Violet at the Cricket match? I can't find any mention of it online and I believe it was one of the best ever. Here it is for your enjoyment.

    Violet: I'm glad everything is settled with Ethel, but I trust you can find another cook without too much difficulty.

    Isobel: Preferably one with a blameless record so my house ceases to be a topic of gossip. Which is really what this is all about.

    Violet:(small moan) If Ethel wants to be part of her son's life, even a little part, who are we to stand in her way?

    Isobel:Of course if you had had to sell Charlie to the butcher to be chopped up as stew, to achieve the same ends, you would have done so.

    Violet: Well, happily it was not needed.

    I think this is one of the best verbal duels between the two, although there have been so many delightful ones. Did anyone else notice this particular one?

  4. Oh my goodness, Lilybet! I am going to have to go back to find that one. I can't believe I missed it. Wow! What a great exchange. Thanks for posting it here. :)