Downton 4.4 Review: Glimmers of Hope

Yes, I’m still watching the show. Yes, I thought about stopping. But I have to do *something* from 9-10 on Sunday night before Sherlock is on, and I figured it might as well be Downton. Was it a waste of my time?

Thankfully, not completely.

Don’t get me wrong. (SPOILERS) The Anna/Bates plot is still the dumbest thing this side of the Mississippi–although the “Mary Wants a Man” plot gives it a real run for its money–but there are thankfully  other plot lines that swoop in to save this episode for me so that it’s not a complete wash. Here’s my rundown of reactions:

  • Anna/Bates–Well, at least they’ve now brought the secret out into the open. Sigh. This plot is just going through the motions. It’s like a heavily orchestrated dance, with the outcome pretty much known as soon as it began. Bates is all set to go Hulk mode, and apparently no one in the house is smart enough to tell THE POLICE and stop this ahead of time. When plots rely on character stupidity, plots are bad. Fact.
  • Mary–So she’s ever so regretful that she didn’t say yes to Gillingham? Gag me with a spork. Interesting to see all the buzzard suitors showing up now, circling her money. I just wish she were the character she’s been before to tell them all where to stick it. Very nice to see her return to some waspishness against Edith, though. More of that, please.
  • Edith–Mystery, mystery, mystery. Did she go to a lawyer in London? Why? And what did she sign last week when she didn’t read what she signed? I’m good with this plot. Keeps things up in the air, until Edith no doubt has all hope of her ever being happy just collapse around her ears, leaving her in tears and Mary smiling smugly. (Maybe not this time? Perhaps?)
  • Thomas the puppet master with the new maid–Intriguing. Thomas being a weasel is always a great reason to have problems in Downton. (Why he’s still at the estate is something I’ll just overlook and ignore for now, even though it falls under the “characters doing stupid things because stupid” classification.)
  • Aldred going to London and taking his cooking test–Very nice stuff. Enjoyed it all. Iron Chef: Downton Abbey. The bits with him and Ivy are very solid, too. This is what Downton should be about. Not rapes and long lost lovers. Everyday life drama with great characters,
  • Mrs. Padmore and the Fridge–another great plot. Love seeing her response to everything as the kitchen slowly gets modernized.
  • Violet vs. Isobel charity cage match–Fun times here, too. Isobel vs. Violet is always a crown pleaser. Zingers aplenty!
  • Mr. Molesley being stupid–I’m beginning to think Downton’s going to do a spinoff series about all the stupid things Molesley does as a character. But at least in his case, he does stupid things because the man is actually consistently stupid. I love watching him shoot himself in the foot again. And again. And again.
  • Tom going to America(?)–I’ll believe it when he’s on the boat and the boat is sailing away. Let’s leave it at that.

In essence, the show managed to overcome Anna and Mary’s plots, just by virtue of there being so much else going on. Mary’s plot isn’t as awful now that Gillingham is gone, so we’re left with just one dreadful plot to really deal with. It’s not great, but I can handle it and enjoy the show. So overall, I’d say this was a much better direction than last week.

Maybe I won’t have to convince myself so hard to watch it next week. (And hey–loved that Sherlock episode!)

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