Downton Abbey: The Reckoning (3.6-3.7 Review)

I was a quarter of the way through with this double header of an episode before I realized it was a double header. So I got less sleep than I planned to, but it was worth it. These two episodes were complete power houses, and Denisa and I thoroughly enjoyed them. The show was firing on all cylinders, and it was a prime example of everything I like about Downton, and what makes it such a riveting show to begin with. No cheap plot tricks (well–almost none), and straight up pure drama. Here are my responses–and of course, SPOILER WARNING:

  • Bates and Anna–My golly. Finally. the two of them can get down to being happy. Or at least to living their lives. I was worried for a bit that the writers would somehow contrive to have some of Bates’ prison contacts start popping up around Downton. Thank goodness they didn’t. I will say that after all that crummy murder mystery, trial, investigation, it was supremely anti-climactic. The episode starts with Bates getting free? It was like the writers were as fed up with all of it as I was. Thank goodness it’s over.
  • Matthew and Mary–It would be interesting to rewatch the first season. Mary can still be harsh at times, but she’s changed as a character, and it’s a change I completely buy into. Really like this couple and their interactions. Happy for them they can try to start having children. A little coincidental that they ran into each other at the doctor’s, but we’ll forgive this little O. Henry speed bump.
  • Lord Grantham–Wins the award for “Person Who Says ‘So You’re Against Me, Too’ the Most Times.” You’re a dinosaur, gramps. Get over it. And thankfully, he does just that, setting up what promises to be a continued source of good genuine conflict in season four. Love the Matthew, Tom, Grantham debates. Very nice.
  • Tom–Speaking of, I really like him as a character now, something I thought would never be possible after Season Two. He’s grown into himself, and the loss of Sybil really changed him. I loved the scene with him and Matthew playing Cricket.
  • Speaking of Cricket, apparently it’s what we need here in America to solve all our political problems. If the Republicans and Democrats could just get together for a good old game of cricket, I’m sure it would be all better. Even if none of us have any idea what the heck it is they’re doing out there, and why there are things called wickets. That’s all good. I was amused by how this cricket game magically became THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IN LORD GRANTHAM’S LIFE EVER all of a sudden. But whatever.
  • And speaking of politicians, Jimmy should be one. The kid is an absolute idiot, or at least that’s how he’s portrayed. Is anyone but a politician that weak willed? O’Brien might as well have started parading him around like a marionette. This was particularly disappointing, since up to that point, I’d thought Jimmy had been making a good name for himself as a character. Goodwill, goodbye.
  • Ethel the Aardvark gets reunited with her son–Happy for her. Also happy I don’t have to have any more Ethel the Aardvark Burns the Porridge conflicts. And that’s enough about that.
  • Edith–Maybe I’ve got something against girls with E names on the show. This might be a personal thing. Though I must say I’ve been liking Edith more and more, now that she’s not hellbent on screwing up Mary’s life whenever possible. HOWEVER . . . the guy who’s falling for her *just happens* to have a crazy wife in the loony bin? Should we just rename him Mr. Rochester and be done with it? Edith is Jane Eyre? Bizarre, people. Biz. Arre. But what do I know. Maybe marrying insane people is a very British thing to do. Princess Di took Prince Charles, after all.
  • Thomas–Very complex plot, very convoluted. Hard to sum up my thoughts. First–I felt bad for Thomas, which isn’t easy to do. I could see the soap schtick from a mile away, and knew that’s how they’d get out of it. (Though I personally think the Thomas I know and hate would have gone straight to O’Brien and threatened the spit out of her. What’s the point of having an evil villain if he gets all gooey eyed when things don’t go his way?) That said, what he did to Jimmy . . . was wrong on so many levels. If they’d already been boyfriend and boyfriend, fine. But switch it around for a moment, and make Jimmy a Jenny. Not right. Didn’t like. Watching the responses of everyone to it, however. That was intriguing. And again, I do wonder how historically accurate it was. Very forward thinking of all of them, but I’m not sure that’s how it would have played out. Whatever. I love the setup of Bates saving Thomas’s job, only to now have Thomas be ranked higher than him. Beautiful, even if the show had to do some acrobatics to get it there.
  • Rose the Flapper–Interesting side story, and I appreciated it for throwing in a bit of a glimpse of what the social scene is like away from Downton. Also very glad it was handled through Rose, and not, say, through Lord Grantham all of a sudden deciding to join a jazz band, which is what I tend to think would have been the approach in Season Two. She was here, she was gone. Fine.
  • The same goes through for Branson’s drunk brother. He popped up to let Branson shine and make some good choices, then thankfully disappeared just as quickly.
  • Lady Violet continues to kick butt and take names, granny style. Mrs. Crawford and she are having some great rows, and I love watching them go after each other. I also like how Violet sees the world, and how she can be so consistent–and yet so surprising–so much of the time. Fantastic character.
Which leaves us with just the Christmas episode to finish out the season. Overall, I thought this third season was superb. Maybe not quite as good as Season One, but much much better than Season Two. Now if only they’d start showing them in the US at the same time they do in the UK . . . 

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