“She thinks when you put a toy down it will still be sitting there when you want to play with it again.” (Robert)

In its fifth week, Downton Abbey either starts working on wrapping things up or on opening them up even further. Whereas, on a character level, certain characters have reached a new stage in their development towards wholesomeness, others are evolving towards the dark side. And what’s been hinted for a while has now become abundantly clear: Mary and Edith are both grade-A bitches.

The conflict between Mary and Edith always evokes heated couch discussions in our living rooms. My coviewer seems to understand Mary a lot better than I do – I, however, have been an Edith boy so far. This is by no means due to awful writing; on the contrary, it’s entirely deliberate on the writers’s behalf. I think Mary and Edith share the most tragic conflict of the show: if their roles had been reversed – if Mary had been the youngest and Edith the oldest – they wouldn’t constantly bicker. In fact, I’d even go as far and say that the family would be better off, too.

Unfortunately for both of them (and for the entire family), things are unjust and the conflict between the sisters starts escalating. For the first time, Downton Abbey delivers a cliffhanger that might have serious consequences and even has me – the Edith boy – questioning my alliances.

Downstairs, we had a nice little twist on a storyline every period piece seems to have pulled off at some point. Whereas we were led to believe Ms. Patmore to be aliterate, she’s actually turning blind. A blind cook. I was honestly surprised. If she weren’t so mean to Daisy, I’d pity her. I wonder how that story will unfold. Will they keep her on until she can’t do anything anymore? Or will she just quit and fade to the background?

In other news, the obvious finally happened: Anna and Mr. Bates expressed their mutual emotions. But, halas, there is a problem (apart from their obvious age difference): he is not a free man. Bates got on the cart and watched her as it drove off. Can you go overboard on visual symbolism?

Thoughts and things

  • That Thomas. Now what purpose did the winestealing serve, plotwise, other than to show us he’s a twat (which we knew already)?
  • I know everyone thinks Daisy is cute, but I’m really getting annoyed by her blatant ignorance. Yeah, I know she’s simpleminded, but there is such great focus on her stupidities (both last episode and this) it’s hard to take her seriously.
  • And for the risk of sounding like a negative Nancy: Violet giving away the award made me teary-eyed. Sure, it was completely predictable, but who says that’s a bad thing?

In all…

Time goes by at the abbey. Shying away from the greater conflicts, this series reminds me of Mad Men, where the greater drama didn’t interest me either. Don Draper’s troublesome past has always been pretty “meh” to me, and in Downton Abbey, the whole outer plot with the diplomat doesn’t really stick either. But, like Mad Men, Downton Abbey achieves true greatness in the relational conflicts that drive the outer ones. There’s something about Downton Abbey that makes it extremely contemporary, and that’s saying something for a show that’s set a century ago.

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