Well, we’ve finally reached the end of this series, and in what seems to be fitting style for a rather slow paced and soporific series, the climax is the (yawn) Downton Village vs Downton Abbey cricket match.
There hasn’t as yet been any announcement that Mr Fellowes is going to get a fourth series, so there’s some hasty stitching up of plot lines, with just enough entrails left hanging to keep us going with something next time. If there is a next time. Although there’s going to be a Christmas special, apparently.
This week, Carson gave Thomas his marching orders, informing him that he is being lenient when he asks him to resign due to Bates’s reinstatement, rather than sacking him. ‘You have been twisted by nature into something foul’, he tells him, as if he’s a mouldy apple or the living embodiment of that Spanish fresco recently ‘conserved’ by an amateur artist.
Credit has to be given to Thomas for not trying to deny what he is, but perhaps not so much for not giving Jimmy a swift kick in the balls for leading him on, and convincing Carson not to give him a reference. However, he’s too proud to do either. He’s pretty miffed about the lack of reference though, as you can imagine. Robert lets slip that he would prefer Thomas didn’t leave before the aforementioned cricket match, as he’s apparently a bit of a whizz at it – perhaps this could be a future career option?
Strangely, a new character, Rose (Violet is her great-aunt) is introduced in this episode. She’s pretty much a personification of the Jazz Age which has so far mysteriously eluded Downton, and is visiting in the guise that she needs to get away from London.
I’m sure there’s nothing a young girl wants more than to be taken out of London nightlife and dumped in a mansion in Yorkshire with some stuffy and dysfunctional relatives, and it turns out that it is indeed a ruse cooked up by Rose’s mother to keep her out of trouble. No sooner has she arrived than she’s made an excuse to go back to London again, and Edith offers to accompany her as she needs to go to another meeting with her editor / potential love interest.
Turns out Matthew conveniently also needs to visit London, to get his bits looked at and see why he hasn’t yet procreated, so off they all go.
Once there, Rose escapes, only her driver lets slip to everyone else that she’s gone to a club on Greek Street, so Edith, Matthew and Rose’s mother go after her. ‘This is like the outer circle from Dante’s Inferno’, quips Matthew when they arrive, which makes him sound incredibly stuffy of course – and if he thinks this is bad I wonder what he’d make of my local mid-nineties haunt- ‘Reflections’ nightclub.
Anyway, Rose is furiously engaged in a lindy hop (not a euphemism) with a bloke who turns out to be married and is later hurriedly whisked off to a mansion in Scotland with ‘Aunt Agatha’ to avoid any rumours starting. Bet she wishes she’d just stayed at Downton now.
Matthew however is off to get examined, and while he’s there he asks if the Doctor has also treated a Mrs Crawley. Why they can’t just talk to each other about this stuff (when they’re quite happy for the usual carnal activity to take place) is not clear.
The Doctor says he hasn’t, but even if he had, would not be able to discuss it. Anyway, lo and behold, who should Matthew bump into on his way out, but his wife. They repair to a posh tea room, because obviously it’s even easier to talk about this stuff there. It turns out that it was Mary who was stopping them from conceiving, because there was ‘a problem’, and she had to have ‘a small operation’, she says in such a matter of fact way that she may as well be talking about an engineer having to come out and fix her broadband.
Anyway, Matthew seems perfectly happy with this explanation, and assumes they’ll be producing sprogs like nobody’s business in the future, so that’s alright then, apparently. There’s no clarification about what was wrong with her plumbing: maybe posh people have a red ribbon over their unmentionables that needs to be cut, like when they open a hospital.
Meanwhile, they’re really stringing this Thomas story out. The truth is, he hasn’t been a terribly likeable character anyway, so it’s difficult to give much of a toss about him going. Mrs Hughes finds him crying in the rain and tells Carson that Thomas has confided in her, and that he’s not the first man ‘of that sort’ that she’s come across, and that Jimmy might have led him on by flirting with everyone, including the blokes.
Bates, who has always hated Thomas, has a sudden change of heart and tells Thomas that O’Brien has manipulated everything from the start and that he should give Bates some dirt on her which will make her change her mind and see that he leaves Downton with a reference. The information having been procured, she sure enough talks to Jimmy and persuades him to let the incident go, leaving Thomas free of scandal.
It seems the whole saga has actually bought out a new-found respect for Thomas in a lot of ways. Maybe he should make passes at people more often.
Anti-climax of the week
The cricket match. Having attempted to build the episode around it, it’s all a bit of a damp squib in the end. It’s mostly people just standing around chatting. A massive game of RISK might have been more compelling to watch.
Stalker of the week
For some reason, Edith is sniffing around trying to find out background info on her editor and his private life. This might be understandable if they’d embarked on a relationship, but she’s not even entirely sure that he fancies her. Even if she was, why she suddenly jumps to the conclusion that he must be a wrong’un is anyone’s guess. She confronts him and announces she had the impression that he was flirting with her, but has discovered that he is in fact married and she therefore finds the idea repugnant and must resign. Most people would run for the hills at this behaviour, surely? But no, he’s still interested – he is married, but his wife is in an asylum. An alarm bell if you ask me. Edith sure knows how to pick ‘em.
And that’s all for now until Christmas – which isn’t that far away. I wonder if they’ll have cheered up a bit by then?