Okay, think back to the first season of Downton and how a lot of us felt about the characters. Edith was the jealous schemer plotting against her sister. Thomas and O'Brien were fast as thieves (as they say) and plotting against Bates. Bates hated them both back with a burning passion.
And now? Everything is upside-down. Now Edith is smarter, more compassionate, and actually way more interesting than she used to be. Thomas and O'Brien are scheming against each other. And Bates actually takes pity on Thomas and helps him out. Not to mention -- a major gay scandal breaks out and everyone's so sensitive and modern about it! Well, everyone except Alfred.
I feel like through the previous episodes, the juiciest drama was happening upstairs, but this episode it was definitely downstairs. O'Brian finally succeeded in getting Thomas to make a pass at Jimmy. Of course, Alfred just happened to be entering the room at the time and saw Jimmy freak out.
And what's most interesting is how, as people find out, they react more often with compassion and understanding than with homophobia. Were the English really that progressive in those days? Carson wants to avoid a scandal. Mrs. Hughes has met other gay people before. Bates feels sorry for Thomas because he knows he can't help being the way he is. And because he knows how hellish prison is. Even Robert, when he hears what's happened, is all, well, we all knew about Thomas ... Of course, every man at Eton had a crush on me. The only person truly outraged and homophobic is Alfred.
And how crazy is it that Thomas goes from being fired with no references to promoted to UNDERBUTLER??? Dude. He'd better make good on that and leave his scheming ways behind.
Too funny that the key to getting O'Brien to call off her revenge scheme was just to utter the phrase, "her ladyship's soap." I forget, did none of the other servants know what really happened?
But I'm annoyed that Jimmy has been promoted ahead of Alfred. Okay, so Alfred's a doofus and a homophobe. But Jimmy's probably a gay closeted homophobe (that or Jimmy's gay for Jimmy) and pretty damn arrogant to boot. I think it's just going to make things between the footmen worse. And for crying out loud, Ivy, Jimmy's just not that into you! And Alfred, Ivy's just not that into you! This is the most in-denial love triangle ever.
Hey, Ethel will get to move closer to her son and see him every so often. But damn, that's one more thing the Dowager Countess was right about.
All right, now let's go back upstairs. I love that Edith is writing boldly. Go Edith! (But I can't see her now without seeing Edith With Googly Eyes.) And of course she's fallen for another unsuitable man. Her editor is married -- to a madwoman in the asylum. Hmm, haven't we heard this story before? Something about a Mr. Rochester, a fire, a nanny? Oh never mind.
And we have young Rose, thrown in I guess to make up for the now "boring" marrieds and spinster Edith. Trying hard to care. Not succeeding. Oh well. Question: Why do we have a Tom and a Thomas, a Rose and a Rosamond?
Can I just say? Those weird little curls all the ladies are now sporting? Not loving them.
What's more interesting to me is how Tom and Matthew and Robert all come together, finally. Brilliant for them to make Tom the new agent of the family estate. Props to Dowager Countess for that one. I did feel sorry for poor Robert, feeling useless and outvoted on everything. So it just made my heart swell to see the way Tom, so scorned and snubbed by his father-in-law, drawing Robert back in. Didn't you love what he said about every family member each bringing different gifts to the table? If only Sybil could have seen that. She'd be so proud. God, Tom is so sexy when he's being sweet and reasonable, isn't he?
I feel like Downton has a way of seducing newcomers. Matthew resisted acting like one of the gentry, now he's running the place. Tom, too, finally gave in and will raise little Sybil there. But of course, Downton changes, too, with these new members.
Can you believe we have only one episode left? Going by the previews, it looks like Matthew finally knocks up Mary, just in time for that Christmas episode I keep hearing about (and wish I didn't know about). I'm half dreading it.
Some of the best lines:
"I'm very fond of diamonds." Mary, when Tom tells her his brother is a diamond in the rough.
Cora on Violet: "Is she really so Machiavellian?" Grantham: "Yes."
"What is The Scarlet Letter?" Violet
"Rose, you have obviously read too many novels about young women admired for their feistiness." Edith
"That is an easy caveat to accept because I am never wrong." Violet
"I'm not foul, Mr. Carson. I'm not like you, but I'm not foul." Thomas
How do you think the love triangle among Jimmy, Alfred, and Ivy -- and the rivalry between Jimmy and Alfred -- will play out?
Image via PBS