Monday, August 20, 2012

Summer TV Rewind: Downton Abbey 1.06

“I always thought this family might be approaching dissolution, but I didn’t think dissolution was already upon us!”
- Violet

Getting to go back and re-watch the first season of Downton was a lot of fun, especially this episode. We get to see a little bit of where the Sybil/Branson storyline begins to emerge. Sybil actually gets quite a bit of the forefront of this episode which made me happy. We aren’t without some Mary/Edith drama. And of course Thomas and O’Brien continue to scheme against Bates. I really don’t know what has O’Brien’s knickers in such a tight wad to make her throw in with Thomas all the time. He’d stab her in the back the first chance he got if it suited him.

We start this week with Sybil and Branson at a bi-election rally where a liberal candidate is speaking about giving women the right the vote. Sybil is quite enthralled with the whole thing and is rather unhappy to be hustled away by Isobel and Branson. On the drive home, Branson says that he doesn’t want to go into politics just for women’s rights or for Ireland’s freedom from Britain, but to make inroads in shrinking the gap between the aristocracy and the lower classes. Lofty goals for a chauffeur. Things don’t go very well at dinner when Robert finds out about the trip and that Cora allowed it. Violet is none-too-pleased her granddaughter could be ruining her chances of finding a husband when they go to London for this year’s season.

We have a small callback to the Gwen storyline this week. Sybil isn’t giving up on finding Gwen a secretary position. It seems whatever Sybil puts her heart and mind to, she gets it. She wants Gwent o have the opportunity and so she’s going to fight like hell to make it happen.

I have to say, Sybil is the craftiest of the Crowley girls. She uses a meeting of one of her charities as a rouse to get her father to agree to let her go into town that week when really she’s going to the bi-election. Unfortunately, she lies to Branson about where they’re going, too, and he kind of freaks out when she gets out at the election. He’s trying to get her leave when Matthew (whose been working late) shows up. To make matters worse, a bunch of drunken Irishmen show up to bust some kneecaps because they aren’t happy about who won the election and Sybil gets injured. Not surprisingly, Robert is furious. Sybil, acting as any 18-year-old girl would (even in the 1910s), threatens to never speak to her father again and run away if he sacks Branson. She may have thrown a hissy fit but it appears Robert is willing to appease her.

Downstairs, Thomas and O’Brien are cooking up a plot to get Bates fired. They tell Mr. Carson that they suspect Bates of stealing from the wine cellar before Bates can give the truth that it was really Thomas who was the culprit. Part of me wonders if Thomas would be happier if he was getting laid more often. Honestly, he’s just so cranky all the time. Anyway, Mr. Carson tries to ask Bates if there’s a good reason he’d have been using the cellar key but Bates doesn’t give an answer. So O’Brien and Thomas rope Daisy into their little web of lies Luckily, William sets her straight, even if he doesn’t realize he’s done it. So she recants to Mr. Carson. Thomas and O’Brien aren’t happy about how long he’s taking to sort the Bastes situation out. He’s been distracted by the news about Mary.

Ultimately, Mr. Carson debunks Thomas and O’Brien’s story. However, Bates admits that he was an alcoholic and is an ex-convict. He did time for theft. Bates tries to give his resignation but Carson says he needs to consider it and bring it to Robert. Anna isn’t fazed by the reveal. She wants to be with him. They are probably my favorite downstairs couple. So sweet and honest.

Sir Anthony has returned and tries to entice Mary into a car ride but she’s not interested. Edith shows quite a lot of interest and the pair actually has quite a good time on their drive around the grounds. In fact it seems they had such a good time that Sir Anthony comes back and asks Edith to join him at a concert later that week. She’s all atwitter about it after he leaves. I have to say I really wanted the pair of them to work out. Sure, Edith can be a backstabbing wench sometimes but she’s the neglected middle daughter and she deserves to find happiness just as much as Mary or Edith.

Speaking of Mary, Mr. Carson and Violet get letters about Mary’s little indiscretion. Carson brings it to Cora’s attention and then Violet confronts her about it later. Violet is horrified to find out what happened and that Cora played a part. And Cora is adamant about not telling Robert the truth. And she refuses to disown Mary for what happened. By the end of the episode, Violet is back to her old pithy self and says she’s not so worried. She doesn’t think it will come out anyway since it could reflect badly on the Turkish ambassador (she wrote back to the person who informed her about the incident and said it was a wild story to discredit Mr. Pamuk). On the romantic front, she’s back on better terms with Matthew. He swings by looking for Robert to ask some questions about a farm and they get to talking. Things seem better between them, especially when Branson and Matthew go to fetch Mary after the incident with Sybil at the rally. She’s grateful to both Matthew and Isobel for looking after Sybil. They share a nice moment once all the yelling has finished and end up kissing. Off-screen, Matthew proposes to Mary and she’s actually considering it. Finally, progress!

We have a brief subplot about William and his mother. It turns out that William, despite his love of horses took the job as second footman to make his mother happy and to try and better himself. She’s very proud of his accomplishments but she’s dying. She’s got a weak heart and Isobel and Cora think they should respect her wishes in not telling William about her condition. Mary doesn’t agree. She ends up telling him to take a few days and go see his mother without actually saying she’s dying. I guess she got some of the crafty skills, too.

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