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Sweatpants & TV | Downton Abbey, Season 6, Episode 2

Digging In Their Heels

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This week’s episode was a game of pawns—lots of people moving into position, lots of plans laid, but no real drama. We’re moving around and getting ready, which means next week will bring more tension and excitement to the table. But also: This week, the women dig in their heels. Mary is taking on the man’s world of stock shows and managing the property. Mrs. Hughes has a Bridezilla moment. And the Dowager Countess and Isobel are ready for mud-wrestling, figuratively speaking, of course. (No hankies get soiled and no strings of pearls broken – yet.)

Here are some key moments from last night:

Hughes & Carson

Mrs. Hughes and Mr. Carson bump heads on where the wedding will take place. Carson has 50 years of kowtowing to the Crawleys, and can’t say no to his favorite, Lady Mary, who insists that the wedding take place in the hall. Mrs. Hughes doesn’t want the Crawleys to arrange her wedding. “It’s my wedding,” she says, like almost every other bride before or since. “That’s not us.” She wants something simpler, suited to their own station in life, and she doesn’t want to feel like a servant at her own wedding. And I, for one, think she’s right.

isobel&violet

Isobel and Violet circle and feint, their eyes on the prize of the local hospital. It’s a battle that symbolizes much of modern health-care: Who controls access, who raises the funds, who gets to decide what is best for the village? And, if the village hospital doesn’t suit the wealthy (the Crawleys, for example), they can go to London to see another doctor. But the locals don’t have that privilege. Does any of this ring a bell? Hello, basic argument for universal health insurance…

bates &Anna

Anna cries over her barren womb at least twice this episode (Sympathetic Bates has the treacley line, “Being married means you never have to cry alone again”). But Lady Mary wants to help, and takes Anna to London for a check-up. The doctor says a quick stitch or two will fix the problem, and the Bateses will have babies in no time. Thank you, Mary; your compassion toward Anna is admirable. Alas, it doesn’t carry over to your sister.

AUNT Mary

Edith wants to protect Marigold from the eyes and arms of Mrs. Drewe; but pushy Mary takes the children down to the farm to show them the pigs, and Mrs. Drewe gets a moment with Marigold. Luckily, Cora has an eye on things, and no harm is done…until the livestock show, when Mrs. Drewe kidnaps Marigold and takes her home to the farm. The damage is done, and Mr. Drewe knows they’ll have to pack up and leave the place their family has lived for a century. His wife’s mental health won’t hold up, and the cost of being near their foster daughter is too dear. This was the most intense moment of the hour, wondering if actual harm could have come to the woman and child.

Barrow

Barrow feels foreshadowing of the impending financial crash and unemployment of the 1930s, when Carson all but encourages him to go find another job. The servant class is changing, as is the nobility, and as great houses begin to close their doors and servants seek jobs out in the world, jobs for an under-butler will be hard to find. I don’t blame Barrow for his self-pity, but it already feels tragic and tired.

The class war isn’t over yet. Daisy feels shame about her outburst, but is more determined than ever to help her father-in-law, Mr. Mason. Molesley helps Daisy by fetching home some exams for her to study, encouraging her further education. While Daisy whips cream into a froth, her emotions match; she rails about the unfairness of the class system, and wants Cora to help. Molesley is more pragmatic, if not fatalistic. “Daisy—we’re servants,” he says.

Edith doesn’t seem able to manage the editor who is running her magazine; he loathes working for a woman. I wish she’d fire him already and take the helm herself. She’s be badass, and the time is absolutely right for a woman to run a magazine.

Mary on a horse

What we loved:

  • When Mrs. Hughes doesn’t let Mr. Carson walk over her. “We’ll be doing it your way for the next thirty years, but the wedding day is mine!”

posh pig

  • Lady Mary in a jacket and tie and her short hair, butching it up with utter femininity in the show ring with her pig.
  • When Anna smiles.
  • Mary and Violet both shushing/talking over Robert. Lord Grantham doesn’t stand a chance in a house full of women.

What we’re looking forward to:

  • Daisy and Mr. Mason getting the Drewes’ farm?

Edith & Marigold

  • Edith telling Mary the truth about Marigold, and telling Mary to shut up?
  • Hughes telling Mr. Carson to belt up for once and have the party at the pub?
  • Barrow getting a boyfriend?
  • The Bateses catching a break and Anna having triplets?

We can dream, can’t we?

 

 

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