Okay. This season is really coming into its own, and it’s doing it (for the most part) by avoiding the cheap plot tricks of last year. (WARNING: SPOILERS) Yes, you have the occasional “I’ve got cancer–just kidding!” sub plots, but that’s not what’s driving the season. What is driving it is some good meaty class warfare, illustrated wonderfully through the period events of the house and staff. A run down of the developments this week and my reactions:
- Sybil and Tom–I enjoyed this quite a bit. I have to say, as much as I really didn’t like Sybil running off with Tom last season, I’m very much liking what Tom’s bringing to the table this time around. He’s consistent as a character. He wants equality, and he’s not afraid to stand toe to toe with the Granthams. Tom has a point to a lot of his arguments, even if the way he applies those points can be misguided. Then again, it’s not like the people of this time period had a manual about “How to get more equality.” Well, not including the French Revolution. I’m really enjoying seeing Sybil and Tom be forced to live with the repercussions of their marriage. They thought they could work things through. That love would conquer all. Turns out, it ain’t that easy. Not that I’m hoping they end up splitting, but I like the struggle.
- The maid turned prostitute–Another good example of life forcing someone to acknowledge that pluck and a positive attitude really can’t solve all problems. Heartbreaking to see her have to leave her son, but still . . . it seems realistic, and I’ve got to give the show props for that. So often in plots, we have the best outcome arrive at last. Mary marries Matthew. It doesn’t always end like that, and it’s important in a show like Downton to have bad things happen from time to time. I’d even say it would be better if more bad things would happen and not get magically fixed.
- Matthew and Lord Grantham–As predicted last week, the miracle cure for the money woes of Downton has set up what I hope will be a great conflict. Both sides have their points. No one’s clearly wrong. It’s old vs. new, which is what the Matthew plot from Season One was all about. I’m ecstatic to have it back. And I love how the Granthams pay lip service to embracing change, but when change actually arrives, they want nothing to do with it.
- Edith–She’s becoming a newspaper columnist? Maybe this could be good, though I think I’d rather gouge out my eyes than read anything the woman wrote. One of my favorite parts of the episode was when she was getting reamed out by her grandmother. Stop whining, Edith!
- Bates and Anna–This plot continues to do nothing for me. The jail scenes look like some awful Count of Monte Cristo imitation. Or some old version of Prison Break. Blech. It’s just plain outlandish and strange, and it doesn’t fit in with the rest of the season at all. I’m hoping they somehow manage to fix this, but I don’t see it being possible. Prediction: after much intrigue and drama, by the end of the season, Anna and Bates are happily reunited, and Bates gets his job back as Valet, leaving Thomas a sobbing wreck.
- Daisy and the New Guy–I love that at the end of the episode, just as Daisy’s getting what she thought she always wanted, she discovers she doesn’t want it. It makes total sense to me that she takes New Guy’s compliment to the New Girl as a personal insult. Daisy’s self esteem is low enough that that’s the only way she could take it. Bravo. Poor thing.