Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Top Five Lines from Downton Abbey, S6:E8

Show of hands if you’re still wiping tears from your eyes after last Sunday’s episode.

Yep. Me too.

And another show of hands if you’re still chuckling over Mrs. Patmore’s House of Ill Repute.

Or Spratt’s double life as an advice columnist.


This week’s episode was probably one of my all-time favorites and will go down in Downton history as one of the most tragic, head-turning, I-sure-didn’t-see-that-coming episodes ever.

Well, except for the now infamous Robert ralphing blood scene, which I shall never forget for as long as I live. What fun!

So this week sure ran us through the gamut of emotions, didn’t it? I think, in honor of this swaying emotional episode, I’ll choose my Top Five lines from the emotions they elicited. I’m living on the edge, I know, but bear with me.

1. Glee

Robert could hardly contain himself when he found out that Edith’s beau, Bertie, was no mere estate agent. No, Bertie had a secret, which, because he is such a paragon of virtue, he had shared with Edith, but which Edith, somewhat a lesser paragon than her boyfriend, had kept to herself.

Bertie’s secret came out this week. He was the heir to his second-cousin-twice-removed’s estate—the one at which he worked as a lowly agent prior to his cousin’s untimely death. At which point Bertie became the Marquess of Somewhere.

[For those of you who, like me, might be confused as to what exactly a Marquess actually is, I looked it up for you. It’s one rank above earl (think Robert) and just below duke. So it’s a pretty big deal.]

Robert knew the implications of having a Marquess in the family. Clearly.

Golly Gumdrops!! What a turnup!!

Downton is saved!!! All the worrying and handwringing and firing of servants could now be put on hold because their Savior had arrived.

In the form of Bertie Pelham.

2. Marital bliss? Or irritability?

Robert, Cora, and Rosamund decide to help poor Mrs. Patmore clear her name—it’s as easy as having tea!—but Carson is, of course, concerned. How will this reflect on the fam?

Mrs. Hughes argues that they are all adults and can make up their own minds about whether to visit a House of Ill Repute or not.

*signal eye roll here*

Carson then deals a blow that, I’ll admit, blew me right off the sofa.

“I’ve always known women were ruthless, but I didn’t think I’d find the proof in my own wife.”

Oh boy. Mrs. Hughes looks none too pleased about that one. (And check out Daisy's "did-you-really-just-say-what-I-think-you-just-said?" look.)

And neither was I.

[Just a sec. I need to say something. Mr. Carson, you’ve been nothing but crabby and grouchy and generally ugly this season. I think you might need another season (or maybe a movie?) just to redeem yourself from your horrible behavior this year.]

I don’t know how they are going to redeem Carson with just one episode left, but I sure hope they do. Five seasons of Wonderful Carson completely eroded by one season of Demon Carson. It’s kind of surreal, but, as Mrs. Hughes would say, “There you have it.”

Later, though, Mrs. Hughes puts everything into perspective for us when she plainly tells Mr. Carson, “You’re such an old curmudgeon.” Carson wonders if she’s gone off him, but she puts him at ease.

“No, because you’re my curmudgeon and that makes all the difference.”

Illustrating that this is often the way it is in marriage.

3. Anger

Oh Edith, Edith, Edith.

And Mary, Mary, Mary.

What a terrible, terrible thing to do to your sister, Mary.

I just can’t get over the sadness of Edith’s breakup with Bertie. And I couldn’t help noticing that Edith’s contrition only made her more beautiful as she bade farewell to the second love of her life.

She didn’t scream or cry. She didn’t beg. She just told Bertie, “I understand and I’m so very sorry.”

She sure gets the last word with her sister, though, doesn’t she?

But first, Mary and Tom have it out. I absolutely loved that scene in the agent’s office when Tom confronts Mary. She deserved every single word of it.
Tom: How many lives are you going to wreck, just to smother your own misery?
Mary: I refuse to listen.
Tom: You’re a coward, Mary. Like all bullies, you’re a coward. 
And then, Edith lets her have it. You surely remember the scene in Edith’s bedroom as she’s packing to go to London. Mary comes in all “Gee, I didn’t mean to make you mad, sis. I’m sorry-not-sorry, so get over it.”

But Edith’s having none of it.

“Just shut up! I don’t know what’s happened. Tom has made you feel bad. Or Papa. Or maybe it’s just the same old Mary, who wants her cake and hate me too.”

Mary tries again. “I never meant . . .”

And we finally get to my favorite line of the night, if not the entire show, ever.

“Yes you did! . . . I know you. I know you to be a nasty, jealous, scheming b*tch! . . . You’re a b*tch! And not content with ruining your own life, you’re determined to ruin mine.”

Yeah. That.

Thanks for putting into words what we were all thinking, Edith.

4. Love.

Violet believes in it. Who knew?

Yes, Granny returns to try to set things right between her granddaughters. She knows full well their own mother is sitting on the sofa in the library reading a magazine, sipping champagne, and is entirely incapable of handling any emotional mess between her daughters.

Cora, you are an embarrassment to motherhood.

But I digress.

Didn’t you just love the sweet scene between Violet and Mary in Mary’s bedroom? Violet has huffed and puffed her way up the stairs (“Oh good! Climbing all those stairs wasn’t wasted!”) to confront and console her favorite granddaughter.

The confrontation: “You are the only woman I know who likes to think herself cold and selfish and grand. Most of us spend our lives trying to hide it.”

So Mary’s not so bad after all, Granny?

And then we get a glimpse into Violet’s heart when she consoles Mary.

“I believe in love. Brilliant careers and rich lives are seldom led without just an element of love.”

So true, Violet. But I’m not sure I would have gone so easy on Mary. She did, after all, ruin Edith’s life. Again.

But Violet gives Mary some sage advice in the end.

“I would only say this. First, make peace with your sister; then, make peace with yourself.”

Such undeserved kindness.

It must have been love that finally got to Mary because shortly after that she heads to Matthew’s grave to have a chat. I must be going soft on Mary too, because that scene made me cry buckets. And then Isobel shows up and shows such kindness to Mary that I cried some more.

A true love fest.

5. Forgiveness. Sort of.

So Matthew has forgiven Mary. And Isobel has forgiven Mary. But will Edith ever forgive Mary?

Is Mary actually sorry now?

She seems to be, but Edith totally gets her sister. She knows that Mary is only being nice because she’s happy again, and she tells Mary so.

Truthfully, I think Edith has grown so much more as a character than Mary has. Edith shows true insight into her sister’s character, and yet she also shows maturity in coming back for Mary’s wedding.

Could it be forgiveness?

Mary asks, “Why are you here?”

Because in the end, you are my sister. And one day, only we will remember Sybil. Or Mama. Or Papa. Or Matthew or Michael. Or Granny or Carson. Nor any of the others who have peopled our youth. Until at last, our shared memories will mean more than our mutual dislike.”

Edith seems to be saying, “Let’s be real here, sister. We’re never going to be best friends, but we do have a history. And one day, nobody will remember our childhood and the people that meant the most to us except, well, us. So let’s put our big girl panties on and get over it.”

And sometimes that’s the best we can do. We forgive in our own way and we move on.

Bravo, Edith. Bravo.

So what did you think of this episode? What did I miss? Let's chat in the comments!

Friday, February 19, 2016

Top Five Lines from Downton Abbey, S6:E7

We knew it couldn't last, right? Mary's happiness?

It's illusory.

Like a puff of smoke. A vapor.

Kind of like the wind that is blowing something fierce through the trees outside my house right now.

Mary was never meant to be happy. Right?

Or was she?

There are only two more episodes left, folks, and I don't know what's going to happen, but I'm sticking with my original prediction.

Because this.

(Sorry about the terrible picture quality. I clearly have tech issues.)

Anyway, Mary is delivering the worst possible news to poor Henry Tolbert (who, in case you're keeping score, lost his best friend and his girlfriend in one day), and who walks in to console her? TOM!!!

Just sayin'.

Anyway, I have to move on rather quickly (oh dear! I think I've been watching too much Downton!), so here we go with this week's Top Five Lines.

1. Dear Violet is just. so. angry. that she has to leave for a while. She thinks France will soothe her bruised ego and might allow her to actually look her daughter-in-law in the eye again.

So she divulges her plan to Isobel who discreetly proclaims, "Your self knowledge is an example to us all. .  . . How long will you be away?"

Violet replies, "Until nostalgia has smothered my fury." (Don't you just love that one?)

But there's more! Violet assures Isobel that she will pay a call on dear Larry's conniving fiance, Miss Crookshank before she leaves town. Gotta leave a little dust in her wake, I guess. 

Isobel suspects that Miss Crookshank is "quite a tough nut," but Violet is not worried. 

"And I am quite a tough nutcracker."

I'm sure you are, Violet. I'm sure you are.

2. Later, Violet meets with Miss C, just as she promised. And we have to wonder, has Violet met her match?

But not to worry. No little fiance of a two-bit loser like Larry is going to get under Violet's skin. She outs her for the little conniving brat that she is--the girl only wants Isobel to marry Lord Merton so that she won't have to take care of him!

"You’re a cool little miss, aren’t you?," says Violet. "I’d feel sorry for Larry if I didn’t dislike him so much."

Miss Crookshank isn't deterred. "I shall forget you said that. But you should go now. Much more and we may feel awkward when we meet, as we are bound to do."

Violet, however, gets the last word, as usual. 

"I think not, Miss Crookshank. 
Not if I see you first."

3. If you've read here for a while, you know I love to travel. You meet the most interesting people along the way. Some are friendly; some notsomuch.

As a fellow traveler, I could not resist laughing so hard at this (final) line of Violet's.

"My reason for traveling is to make myself eager to come home. A month among the French should manage it."

4. How about Carson and Hughes alone in the house together? It looks like this is quite possibly the first time ever in twenty-five years that the two have had the house alone. Completely alone.

And what do those wacky newlyweds decide to do? Sit on the sofa!

Carson blusters about for a minute, not sure if he should take the time to just enjoy himself, but his wife (I still don't see them as married--do you?) convinces him to just sit down.

They sit.

Mrs. Hughes observes, "They don’t live badly, you have to concede."

But Mr. Carson must always keep things in "proper" perspective. (*killjoy*)

"They live as they are supposed to live. It has its burdens and its benefits."

But I love how Mrs. Hughes has a further observation. "Better than a life of just burden."

That's for sure! 

5. Finally, I have to congratulate Mr. Molesley for being smarter than an Oxford (or Cambridge) graduate. He passed his test with flying colors and it looks like he's headed toward a new career as a teacher.

As a long time Molesley fan, I couldn't be happier that this dear man is finally getting some recognition.

Daisy is happy for him, too. After a brief discussion about the future for those "in service," during which Molesley is beaming that he got a head start out of there, Daisy congratulates him.

"Well, I'm glad," she tells him. "You deserve it."

Humble Mr. Molesley. In a moment of self-reflection he laughs and says, 

"I never think I deserve anything. . . . 
Perhaps I’ve been wrong all along."

Oh yes you have been, Mr. Molesley. Yes you have.

6. I'm sorry, but this one was just too good to pass up. Did you not love the little trick that Mrs. Hughes played on Mr. Carson? I only wish I had thought of doing something like that early on in my marriage.

Oh wait. I did. It's called leaving three kids with my husband while I go out of town for the weekend. Ha! 

Anyway, Mrs. Hughes has had it with Mr. Carson's complaints about her dinners. It's HARD to get dinner on the table, especially after working all day. So she feigns a sprained wrist or something and tells her hubby that she couldn't possibly cook dinner tonight.

And Carson delivers the best line possibly EVER on DA:

You mean . . . I’m going to cook?

Yes you are, Mr. Carson. And you're going to LIKE it.


Bonus: This isn't so much a line, but one of my favorite moments of this episode.

Robert's turned into a Zombie!!

Not really. He's just gotten a huge surprise from his mother.

Isn't she adorable?! There's nothing like a lab puppy, take it from me. 

(Ten points if you remember the name of the new puppy.)

And with that, I'm out.

I'm heading to the Illinois State Speech Tournament tomorrow where my daughter will be performing in TWO events. I'm almost as pleased as Robert. 

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Top Five Lines from Downton Abbey :: S6, E6

Oh boy, you guys. It's late and I need to get to bed, but I HAVE GOT to get this post written before tomorrow. It's going to be a quick one this week because, honestly, I don't think that much actually happened. You can just tell that the writers are trying so hard to wrap everything up that they don't want to begin any new story lines so they just keep dragging the old ones out. 

(Yes, I'm talking about the hospital situation. Good grief, finish it already! We all know Big Government comes to England much sooner than it does to America. But, hello, we're all caught up now.)


Two story lines really made me laugh this week--the Newlyweds and the House Tour. 

1. Let's get on with the Mr. Carson and Mrs. Hughes banter. Oh my!

Let me just say that I get a wife wanting to keep the peace in her home, but Mrs. Hughes . . . Honey . . . Darling . . . you have GOT to begin to speak up or else your brute of a husband (I'm sorry, but Mr. Carson was an absolute wretch this week!) will walk all over you. 

Carson picks on Mrs. Hughes about everything from knowing how to make coffee to how she makes the bed to how she cooks dinner, and, to make matters worse, he keeps asking her if she's talked to Mrs. Patmore about how to cook! 

I loved the dinner scene where there was no condiment for the smoked salmon. And no wine! (Because, of course, if the master of the house can't drink wine, neither should his butler.)

The two pretty much cast aside the unappetizing salmon and then Mr. Carson asks what's next. When he finds out they are having duck he asks, "Is the skin crispy like Mrs. Patmore does it? Did you ask her advice?" 

Mrs. Hughes replies, "We certainly talked about what it’s like to cook dinner for you."

Carson, not getting a clue, preens his feathers and says, "I bet she had a lot to say." 

To which Mrs. Hughes quietly replies,  

"We both did."

Personally, I think Mrs. Hughes is the picture of restraint. I'd be sending him to the MOON!!!

2. The House Tour.

All of Downton Abbey is in a tizzy over the house tour this week (when they're not in a tizzy about the hospital being taken over by Big Gov). 

Violet and Isobel, arch enemies AND tea partners, talk about the merits of having people pay money to come through your house. Isobel gets it--people want to see how the other half lives--but Violet doesn't see the attraction at all.

"Roll up! Roll up! Visit an actual dining room complete with a real life table and chairs!"

Isobel reminds her that "people have always tipped the butler to look ‘round the house. Even Miss Bennet wanted to see what Pemberly was like inside."

But once again, Vi gets the last word. "A decision which caused her a great deal of embarrassment if I recall the novel correctly."

3. Robert doesn't get it either. (And don't you just love that Robert never moves from the bed this entire episode?!) 

He's talking to Carson about the house tour, chuckling to himself while squirming from his surgical pain. 

"What on earth can we show them to give them their money’s worth? Lady Grantham knitting? Lady Mary in the bath?"

[Note: the last word must be drawn out like baaaahth.]

Carson just shoots him an incredulous look and walks out.

4. The big moment has finally arrived and the people show up for the Grand Downton House Tour.

(P.S. Anybody else think this gets a little meta? I mean, people DO this. Now. Today. In fact, this whole scenario brought back warm memories of my time in the Midlands when Caroline and I toured Chatsworth House--one of the great houses of England that is very much worth your time.)

Anyway, could you believe those ninnys? They knew nothing about their own house!

So, a collection of my favorite blunders from the house tour.

Girl asks, pointing to a huge painting on the wall: "Who painted that?"

Cora: I’m not sure. But this . . . (leading them to another painting) . . . is a Reynolds, so that is worth looking at. (Pointing to another painting behind her) That’s quite good too.

Poor Cora. I just want to pat her on the head.

Later it was Edith's turn.

Man: What about the architect?

Edith: Oh yes. Sir Charles Barry. Yes. He built the houses of parliament. . . . Or at least he finished them. . . . and, you know, he built lots of lovely buildings.

Mary doesn't fare much better. We walk into her room to find her saying, "No, that’s him. I think. Or his son. Or it might be his father."

She obviously doesn't have a clue. 

But Violet rescues her as she comes storming in.

Mary, after thanking God that Granny was here, asks what she knows about the library.

“The library was assembled by the fourth Earl. He loved books.
Mary then asks, "What else did he collect?"

Violet responds: 

"Horses and women."

5. Finally, I really loved the little scene between Robert (still in bed!) and the little boy who wanders into his room. 

The boy asks, “Why is your house so big?”

Robert can’t answer. He really has no idea.

So the boy asks a logical question: "Why not buy someplace comfy? You must have enough money."

Robert looks at him with just a touch of melancholy and replies, 

"Maybe, but you know how it is. You like what you’re used to."

And the Grantham clan really does like it. 

Better enjoy it while you've got it, Crawleys, because before you know it, my daughters and I are going to come clanging on your doorbell asking for a tour. 

We'll pay. We've got money.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Top Five Lines from Downton Abbey – S6;E5

OK, I just had to add this photo because that scenery! Ahhhh!


Did we see what we thought we saw?

Was anyone else this week transported back to an earlier time in Downton history when some crazy stuff went down?

(I’m looking at you, Mary.)

I’m guessing the writers wanted the series to go out with a bang as big as the one they started with.

(Pamuk, anyone?)

Alright, why don’t we just start out with the scene that everyone’s talking about. Let’s just get it all out on the table, shall we?

Oh wait, Robert just did.

(Sorry, couldn’t refuse that one.)

Let me set for you a different scene. Not the one on the screen with everyone sitting around the dinner table with Neville Chamberlain, sipping wine and eating delicate savories.

No, the scene I want you to imagine right now is the scene in my family room where my husband, daughter Kate, and I are sitting around in our sweats watching this genteel family bicker and rage against one another, behaving very badly in my estimation, in front of a Minister of State. We’re enjoying the banter, laughing about Violet and Isobel, and catching innuendoes that are flying across the table, when all of a sudden . . .


Cue screaming and “OH MY WORD!!!” and incredulous laughter.

“Wait! Did that just happen?”

“I need to see that again.”

We rewind the T.V. and watch Robert ralphing blood across the table five times before we actually believe that what we thought we saw was actually what we really had seen.

Crazy stuff, I’m telling you.

And another daughter, who was upstairs doing homework during Downton (I know, she’s the rebellious type), yelled, “What is going on down there?!”

It was raucous, and it took a few minutes to catch our breath before we could go on and watch the rest of the episode.

[How did it go down at your house? I’d love to know.]

But, you know, aside from Robert’s melodramatic confession of love toward Cora while he’s lying on his left side (thank you for that, Dr. Carson), there really weren’t any great lines that came out of that scene.

Probably because everyone was just standing around with shocked looks on their faces saying, “Oh my!” and “Whatever shall we do?!”

Worthless bunch of ninnies.

So, even though Robert’s explosion across the table was one of the top five scenes in Downton Abbey history, it doesn’t make my top five lines list because there really weren’t any great lines there.

So, now that I’ve managed to talk that scene to death, let’s move on to my five favorite lines from Episode 5.

I’ll be honest, I had a hard time narrowing it down. But I say that every week, don’t I? So if I overlook one of your favorites, won’t you leave me a comment and let me know what line you liked best?

Moving on, in no particular order.

1. As long as we’re talking about the Robert incident (The Great Robert Ralph as it shall forever be known), I loved how the servants all stayed up waiting for news of their lord.

It was kind of sweet, really. They’re all sitting around the table, yawning to let us know that it was very late at night, when Carson rushes into the room to declare, “He’s going to be alright. They’ve performed a gastrectomy.”

Thomas, horrified, says, “What’s that?!”

And Carson, always wanting to sound superior, even when he doesn’t know the answer, replies,
“No business of ours.”
Doesn’t that just kind of sum up things for the servants? They see and hear all kinds of things upstairs—unsavory things, rude things, unbelievable things—but it’s not for them to have an opinion or even pretend knowledge about. It’s just not their business.

(For the record, a gastrectomy is either a full or partial removal of the stomach. For Robert’s sake, let’s hope it was a partial.)

2. So much this week was not spoken, but an exchange of looks.

Daisy and Andy

Mr. Mason and Mrs. Patmore (what?!)

Baxter and Mr. Molesley

Denker and Spratt

It’s all downstairs people—they are the ones who get what’s going on but can’t express their emotion (see #1 above), so they do it with a glance or a smile or a raise of the eyebrow.

I guess they do get to express their opinion in more subtle ways.

There were so many lovely looks exchanged this week, but one of my favorites was when Andy came to Mr. Mason’s rescue in front of Tom and Mary, offering to help with the pigs. Daisy looked up, clearly caught off guard by Andy’s chivalrous nature, and smiled a smile so wide that you’d have thought she’d never seen him before.

I have a feeling Andy had noticed Daisy before, though.

And then the looks, veerryy subtle, between Mrs. Patmore and Mr. Mason. How cute was that? Another moment in which I just thought, what?!

I also loved when Mr. Molesley was teasing Miss Baxter in the courthouse, asking if she’d like to see if her criminal friend would like to go change his plea. She also smiled broadly for, oh, about the first time ever. Hopefully Baxter can unwind just a bit, now that her legal troubles seem to be over.

I think the king of the sideways glance and the raised eyebrow, though, is Spratt. This week was no exception as he sat behind his newspaper, thrilled to watch Denker squirm in front of him, eyes raised and humming not-so-silently to himself.


3. Speaking of Denker. I have never liked her character. At. All. I’ve even wondered why they’ve kept her around.

So you could imagine my glee (and then my horror!) when she got herself into trouble this week by speaking her mind to Dr. Clarkson.

(Obviously Denker hasn’t spent much time in the Carson School of Service to Our Betters.)

Violet receives a letter from Dr. Clarkson telling her about Denker’s bad behavior and almost has a heart attack. She immediately sacks Denker, but Denker won’t go down without a fight, talking back and trying to defend herself.

I guess Denker forgets who she works for, because Violet will have nothing of it, telling her, “It is not your place to have opinions about my acquaintance, let alone express them!”

Denker continues, “He can’t claim your friendship now, not when he’s turned against you.”

But Violet gets the last word, and it’s one of the truest words she’s ever spoken:
“If I withdrew my friendship from everyone who’d spoken ill of me, my address book would be empty!” 
4. Let’s go back to the infamous dinner. Neville Chamberlain is the Minister of Health at that point in history, and he’s brought in by Violet to be persuaded to step in and stop the takeover of the hospital.

Now, I knew the name Neville Chamberlain, and I suppose this scene would have meant a lot more to the Brits watching it than to me, a stupid American who can’t remember her pre-WWII history.

(This is a photo I found on the www. I thought it was kind of uncanny that they made the actor look so much like the real Neville Chamberlain. Weird.)

This is where my very smart husband came in handy. He remembered that Chamberlain was actually the Prime Minister at the beginning of WWII, and that he was the one who wanted to play nice with Hitler. He was a conciliatory type, just wanting everyone to be happy.

So here he sits with the bickering Crawleys or Granthams or whatever you call them, and his eyes dart back and forth between Violet and Isobel who, neither of them, won’t back down.

Finally, Chamberlain declares, “Goodness! I thought I was brought here to be lectured by a united group, not to witness a battle royale.”

Violet stops, mid-bicker, to ask, “Oh! Don’t you enjoy a good fight?”

And Chamberlain delivers the most ironic line of the night,

“I’m not sure I do, really.”

Forshadowing. For sure.

5. Finally, how could we forget dear Carson and Hughes? Marital bliss, am I right?

Not so fast.

First of all, it never really occurred to me until this week that Mrs. Hughes wouldn’t know how to cook, but of course she doesn’t. She’s been a working woman all her life, but not in the kitchen. She’s had her meals prepared for her as much as the folks upstairs have had, so when it comes to taking care of her husband, as Mr. Carson would surely expect, Mrs. Hughes doesn’t have a clue.

So Carson wants to have a cozy dinner together in their cottage. Newlywed stuff. So sweet.

Until Carson starts complaining.

“Is this meat done enough? . . .This plate’s cold, Tis a pity. . . . Bubble and squeak as a vegetable with lamb? . . .This knife could do with sharpening.”

The best line in this scene isn’t so much a line, per se, but a look again. As Mrs. Hughes sits down to her own dinner, she takes a spoonful of the delicious bubble and squeak (it is, after all, a vegetable, you know) and forcefully plops it onto her plate, giving her new husband a look that could kill.

But then, the line that just made me guffaw with laughter. Carson thanks Mrs. Patmore for their dinner, then asks her, 
“Another time, I wonder if you might go through the cooking of it with Mrs. Hughes. It’s been a while since she’s played with her patty-pans and she’s got some catching up to do.”

Aaand daggers.

Oh Mr. Carson, you’ve got a lot to learn.

Welcome to married life, Mr. Carson and Mrs. Hughes!!!


Now tell me, what did I miss? What was YOUR favorite line of this episode? Leave me a comment!