Screens: ITV

Simon Bricker's An Art Historian, All Right: The Art Of Seduction!

As Cora gets woo pitched at her some more, The Dowager C pulls strings for her old side piece, and Lord G and Sarah Bunting have their most vicious showdown yet!

  • Place Of Interest
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    Church And Estate

    What could possibly induce The Dowager C to put her old bones on a train to a (relatively) bustling city? Her old side piece, of course! The Dowager C has roped her best girl into this day trip to York so that they can stop in on the church basement where Prince Kuragin and the rest of Rose's Russian refugees have been camping out, getting charity meals, and looking dour. (What haven't they been doing, as far as we can tell or have heard? Trying to get jobs and look after their own damn selves like adults. I mean, I get that they're used to being looked after, but I feel like if England were to come under Communist rule, The Dowager C would fucking well learn how to do fine embroidery and tatting before she depended on some other country's Rose to dish out stew for her.)

    Anyway, The Dowager C no longer has any reason not to be openly curious about Prince Kuragin, and apparently he's never stopped thinking about her: "Then, you were the young and beautiful Countess of Grantham, turning eyes in the ballroom, or out in your carriage. Now you are the great lady -- imperious, magnificent. But these are two sides of the same coin." Meanwhile, Prince Kuragin knows full well that while she's still bad-ass, he ain't shit: "Where is the handsome and powerful Prince Kuragin, with his thousands of acres, his golden palaces? That man does not exist -- not anymore." Man, you'll never get into her fifty layers of wool undergarments with THAT lame rap.

    The conversation eventually moves on to HIS WIFE, who totally might still be alive: the two of them were arrested together, but when he got out of prison, he heard she'd been exiled a year earlier, and has no way of finding out what happened to her. Isobel suggests involving the Foreign Office, but the Prince glumly says he doubts they'd have any interest in helping the losers of a revolution, and even the awesomely powerful Dowager C says he probably has a point: "Hope is a tease designed to prevent us accepting reality." "You only say that to sound clever," sniffs Isobel. "I know," The Dowager C replies. "You should try it."

    Gif: Previously.TV

    Gif: Previously.TV

  • Alert!
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    "Shut Up, Molesley." - Everyone, Probably Even Including His Dad

    Alert Type: Psych Ops Alert.

    Issue: Molesley made a big deal out of forcing Carson to agree with him that Molesley is now First Footman.

    Complicating Factors: Everyone hates Molesley and his pathetic attempts at ascending a ladder that the rest of them can tell is in the process of disintegrating.

    Resolution: The rest of the staff load Molesley down with more and more work on the grounds that it falls within his purview as First Footman until he finally cracks and goes to tell Carson he was just kidding about that whole thing and could everyone please just go back to giving him the normal amount of work for a non-special footman? Carson:

    Gif: Previously.TV

    Gif: Previously.TV

  • Awkward
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    The Peeling Of Shrimpy

    Situation: Shrimpy, Rose's father, is on his way to Downton for a rare visit.

    What makes it awkward? Lord G and Mary, the gossipy bitches, are pretty sure he's coming in order to tell Rose in person that, after years of openly hating each other, he and her mother Susan are (finally) getting divorced. If their suspicions are correct, this will spell the end of Shrimpy in society: he'll be shunned as well as broke, since all the money in the marriage was Susan's.

    How is order restored? It kind of isn't, as we'll soon see.

  • Snapshot
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  • Dialogue

    #marriage

    When Isobel and The Dowager C post-mortem their trip to the soup kitchen, The Dowager C actually opens up about some real shit for a change. It's...weird? But nice that these two might be forming whatever passes for real friendship in their world.

    I presume you and Prince Kuragin were once...attracted to each other.
    "Attracted to each other"! Is that what you call it? As it happens, he asked me to run away with him.
    But you didn't go.
    Lord Grantham gave me a frame by Fabergé, with two pictures of the children in it, and I saw sense.
    Lord Grantham sounds rather more subtle than I realized.
    Like all Englishmen of his type, he hid his qualities beneath a thick blanket of convention, so I didn't see who he really was at first.
    It's lucky you found out in time. If it was in time.
    [Sigh] I forget.
  • And Now, A Word From Our Sponsor
    Gif: Previously.TV

    Gif: Previously.TV

    Spoons!

    Excuse YOU, but there is nothing at all suspicious about a valet who's just returned from a trip to see his basically-dying father who's totally fine now surreptitiously grabbing a huge spoon on his way out of a kitchen. Spoons have dozens of uses. Maybe when he was on his trip, he read about This Weird Old Trick for reducing eyelid swelling. Maybe he bought a case of pudding at a nearby Costing Concern. Maybe it's none of your business what a man does with spoons on his own time!

    Illustration: Previously.TV

    Illustration: Previously.TV

  • Love, Hate & Everything In Between
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    The Raisiniest Love Of All

    Well, even though Isobel was -- officially, at least -- trying to keep things on the platonic tip, now she has to decide whether she wants to come be the mistress of all Lord Merton's beautiful gardens because THIS BOY PROPOSING. She can see it coming, too, and tries to stop him for the sake of his dignity, but he really means it and won't be put off: "I want to be quite clear: I'm not speaking out of loneliness, or with a view to my comfort....When men of my age marry, that's usually the reason. But my proposal is a romantic one: I state freely and proudly, Isobel, that I've fallen in love with you, and I want to spend what remains of my life in your company. I believe I could make you happy. At any rate, I should very much like the chance to try." This is all so much more than Isobel would have expected under the circumstances that even though she'd been leaning in a no-y kind of direction, when he asks her not to answer right away but to think about it, she can't turn him down flat now: "After such eloquence, to refuse your request would seem...ungenerous." Lord Merton's like, I'LL TAKE IT, and runs out of there as fast as an old aristocrat can, which is to say, he strolls out at a slightly brisker pace than usual.

  • Here's An Idea

    Start Treating Cora Like An Adult Human

    In the course of a freewheeling afternoon chat -- Lord G annoyed about Simon Bricker coming back; advice to Edith on how to get back into the Drewes' good graces after annoying them so much they had to straight-up tell her to quit coming around -- the subject turns to a proposed development plan for Pip's Corner, an area of the estate where a builder wants to put up a shitload of houses. Cora says she wants to understand the arguments on either side, so the estate managers -- her husband, her daughter, and her son-in-law -- all ignore her. And she does not care for it!

    Gif: Previously.TV

    Gif: Previously.TV

    I know it's 1924 and they have a stereotypical view of her, but Cora's trying to be part of your discussions and presumably has had enough education to be able to understand the plan and comment on it. EVERYONE QUIT BEING A BUNCH OF DICKS AND INCLUDE HER BEFORE SHE HAS NO CHOICE BUT TO FUCK AROUND ON LORD G WITH SIMON BRICKER, FOR GOD'S SAKE.

  • And Now, A Word From Our Sponsor
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    Gear!

    What kind of gear? Private gear! Mind your own business!

    Gear. Because You've Got To Fill Up Your Twenty Minutes Of Daily Discretionary Time Somehow.

  • Brain­teaser
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    Q Why would a bunch of German street toughs in brown shirts want to rough up and/or kill Michael Gregson?
    A BROWN SHIRTS, WERE THEY? ...Hmm, weird. No idea.
  • Snapshot
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    Gif: Previously.TV

  • Snapshot
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    Gif: Previously.TV

  • Character Study
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    Sassy Like A Fox

    Name: Mabel Lane Fox.
    Age: Early 30s.
    Occupation: Eligible bachelorette.
    Goal: To marry some good-looking bro who deserves a piece of her...inheritance. (She's rich.) She thought it might be Tony, but then he got rid of her last season to go hard after Mary. Though exactly how hard is, of course, a secret known only to Tony, and Mary, and the hotel manager in Liverpool, and Spratt.
    Sample Dialogue: When Charles makes introductions and Mary says that she and Mabel don't already know each other: "We certainly know of each other, don't we. It's not often you meet the woman you were jilted for....Don't worry: I wouldn't want a man who preferred someone else. You're welcome to him."
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    Gif: Previously.TV

  • Here's An Idea

    Take A Hint!

    After spending the day fully stalking Marigold all over town, Edith cracks and, against Drewe's explicit direction, knocks on the Drewes' front door to see if she can just sneak in a tiny bit of QT. Mrs. Drewe:

    Gif: Previously.TV

    Gif: Previously.TV

    You have to be pretty sure you're right to tell one of the literal Ladies of the literal Manor to fuck off, but I feel like not even The Dowager C would call this an overreaction on Mrs. Drewe's part. Drewe has to come running out after her to remind her of what they had talked about.

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    Edith: you brought ALL THIS HEARTACHE on YOURSELF. Get a grip.

  • Meeting Time
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    "And He Were Only N-N-N-N-Nineteen!"

    Who called the meeting? Lord G.

    What's it about? He saw Mrs. Patmore loitering around the war memorial as they were setting it up in town earlier and asked Carson what her problem was; Carson told him, and now he's going to mansplain war memorials to her.

    How'd it go? Depends who you ask. Mrs. Patmore takes full advantage of what everyone clearly acknowledges is an non-professional situation to violate hella boundaries, awesomely: she calls out Carson -- more than once -- for not seeming particularly regretful about rejecting her request to include Archie on the local memorial, and when Lord G tries to appeal to her respect for pointless rules, she's basically like, thanks for nothing, Chief.

  • Dialogue

    #divorce

    Aunt Violet, if I can still call you Aunt Violet: I ought to warn you about something.
    I can guess what it is.
    You won't approve.
    No, I don't.
    You may even feel the need to take sides. Susan is your niece.
    Well, I think you're making a serious mistake, but you may rest easy on that score: I never take sides in a broken marriage.
    Why is that?
    Because however much the couple may strive to be honest, no one is ever in possession of the facts.
  • Fight! Fight! Fight!
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    Thomas vs. Baxter

    When Thomas staggers into the kitchen slurring that Molesley needs some more chafing dishes, Baxter finally can't take it anymore and confronts him about all his weird behaviour since he got back from "visiting" his "sick" "dad." Maybe HE was the one who was sick, and now he's treating himself? Thomas basically tells her to shove it.

    Winner: ...Oh, you thought this plotline would come to a conclusion today? After we spent a fucking decade waiting to find out that Baxter stole a couple of rings once? For now, let's call this a draw, and look forward to the whole story sometime toward the end of Season 8.

  • That Happened
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    "Remember Your Rotten Old Bitch Of A Mother? Well..."

    Shrimpy finds a quiet moment to take Rose aside and break the news about the divorce. Because Rose is a fucking idiot, the first thing she asks after he says he's not sure where he's going to live is whether she can live with him. Where, in a shoe? Shut up, Rose. Hilariously, Shrimpy's like, nah. He concludes by saying that what comes next will probably be unpleasant for them both, but Rose says she's learning from Shrimpy's terrible experience being married to her Gorgon of a mother (I'm paraphrasing) not to let herself be bullied into marrying anyone (getting bullied OUT of marrying someone is a different story), and holding out until she's "totally, absolutely in love." In what I assume is supposed to be foreshadowing, Rose asks Shrimpy, when that happens, to promise to have her back. Shrimpy doesn't exactly promise -- "On the subject of marriage, I've no right to give advice, let alone orders" -- which is smart since it lets him leave the door open for his pauper ass to marry her off to some evil Baronet so he can live in their pool house.

  • Dialogue

    "I'd Like To Do YOU In Oils!" "Oh, Simon."

    [Robert's art-collecting ancestor] bought crates [of paintings] over, and went back after the Reign Of Terror to find more.
    And you have preserved them safely in this beautiful place.
    I'm glad you think it's beautiful.
    I think everything about Downton is beautiful, including its mistress.
    [laughing throatily] You mustn't say such things.
    I have to, or I'll burst!
    [walking in] What's burst?
    [laughing guiltily] I was just saying that being allowed to touch a painting like this would make me burst.
    It's wonderful to show it to someone so appreciative.
    Yes. No one can say you're not appreciative, Mr. Bricker.
  • Fight! Fight! Fight!
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    Tony vs. Mary

    Mary thought she'd handled everything right: she came to London to dump Tony in person; she picked a place and time (the Peter Pan statue in Kensington Gardens; broad daylight) where she'd be in public surrounded by people so he couldn't get too maudlin or draw it out; she told Charles she was going to do it so he would respect her again. She couldn't have foreseen that this would be his reaction.

    Just kidding! Mary wishes Tony were that matter-of-fact in refusing to take her no for an answer: he gets vicious and mean and keeps saying he refuses to believe she'd "give [her]self to a man" if she wasn't 100% sure she was going to marry him afterward. (He even asks if he's bad in bed. She says no, but one must wonder!) While Mary looks on in horror, Tony declares, "We will get through this together," and looks back sharply to make sure she heard and is leaving with him. So Mary just broke one of society's biggest taboos with an angry psycho who now has a great reason to use that fact against her? Great job, dummy. What are you, Edith?

    Winner: Tony.

  • Hell No!
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    Snake Oil For The Snake

    Mrs. Hughes has just handed Baxter a magazine Thomas was reading, open to an ad targeted toward readers who want to "Choose [Their] Own Path" when Thomas himself shows up, sees it in Baxter's hand, and accuses her of having snooped in her room. Whatever Baxter's just seen in the magazine is shocking enough for her not even to fight back, but merely to tell him she's sorry he's putting himself through this. So when Thomas made that phone call about choosing his own path last week, it wasn't about a new job: it was about a new focus for his sexual impulses, maybe to point them in a less penisy direction, and I can only assume what he's shooting himself up with is a blend of the 1920s equivalents of Red Bull and Axe Body Spray. OH, THOMAS. Leaving aside the whole thing where conversion therapy doesn't work, if you weren't so pissy to Bates he could have told you that shady patent cures don't work!

  • Party!
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    1 Stubborn Jerk + 1 Other Stubborn Jerk = 1 (More) Ruined Dinner

    What's the occasion? I don't know: Tuesday?

    What are the refreshments? Duh.

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    Whose embarrassing public scene will everyone be talking about tomorrow? OMG YOU GUYS EVERYONE'S GOING TO BE TALKING ABOUT THIS SHIT FOR YEARS. Since Tom (with Cora's approval, but behind Lord G's back) has invited Sarah Bunting to dinner, Isobel politely asks how Daisy's lessons are going, and Lord G absently comments that he heard about that, and thinks it's fine "as long as you're not making...her...unsettled." Sarah Bunting sees an opening and leaps into it: "You don't know her name, do you?" Mary smoothly saves Lord G the shame of proving Sarah Bunting right by drawling, "Of course he does! Daisy!" "Well, he knows it now," smirks Sarah Bunting, seemingly willing to drop it -- but Lord G is just as stubborn as she is and snaps, "I knew it before." Mmmmmm, but did you, though? Anyway, he adds that from what he's heard (from Carson the narc), Sarah Bunting's tutoring has "been upsetting her and Mrs. Patmore." But don't worry, Sarah Bunting has a great idea: why not bring Daisy and Mrs. Patmore up from the kitchen so that they can be asked in front of all their social betters? Lord G obviously doesn't want this to happen for a million reasons -- paramount among them, not that he'd admit it, that it's going to make him look terrible -- so he appeals to Carson to back him up, and when Carson duly says that this is the busiest time for the cooks, Sarah Bunting can't govern her total lack of a poker face...

    Gif: Previously.TV

    Gif: Previously.TV

    ...and Lord G goes buck wild, yelping at Carson to call for Daisy -- and hell, why not Mrs. Patmore, too, while he's up? ("Your father may regret this," The Dowager C mutters, presciently, to Mary.) When the ladies appear, clearly terrified they're about to get dressed down for a bad meal, The Dowager C and Cora both hasten to assure them that everything was great: they're just going to be the pawns in this chess game between Lord G and Sarah Bunting! Asked about Sarah Bunting's lessons, Daisy effuses, "Miss Bunting here has opened my eyes to a world of knowledge I knew nothing of. Maybe I'll stay a cook all my life, but I have choices now. Interests. Facts at my fingertips, and I'd never've had any of that if she hadn't come here to teach me." "Bravo, well said," says Isobel warmly; even stupid Shrimpy calls it "quite a testimonial." And as Daisy and Mrs. Patmore hurry away, Lord G grudgingly adds, "Obviously, the lessons have proved successful. I'm pleased to hear it."

    But FUCKING SARAH BUNTING can't leave well enough alone: "Are you, Lord Grantham?" "Oh, for heaven's sake!" cries Mary, rolling her eyes. "Let it go, you've proved your point!" "Have I, though?" snaps Sarah Bunting. "All I've proved is that Lord Grantham would like us serfs to stay in our allotted place from cradle to grave."

    Lord G finally fucking LOSES HIS SHIT, pushing his chair back from the table and blubbering, "There is only one thing I would like, and that I would like passionately. It is to see you LEAVE THIS HOUSE and NEVER COME BACK." He's so mad that he stomps away from the table and up to his room to pout, voluntarily missing the dessert Mrs. Patmore was just talking about. The Dowager C immediately changes the subject to Edith's stupid column, apparently a thing that's still happening and that's always about "how things are changing" -- sounds fascinating! -- while everyone else decides whether they're Team Lord G or Team Sarah Bunting. Now, you know I am in the tank for Sarah Bunting, not just because she shares a name with my esteemed colleague/non-carnal wife but because she's a fiery socialist just like my wife's wife (a.k.a. me). But you save that kind of real talk for THE CAR RIDE HOME. It's called talking behind people's backs, and it's what decent people do. This display was so over-the-top terrible that now I think she's trying never to get invited back because she hates Mrs. Patmore's cooking or the place smells like a dead guy's paintings or something.

  • Wrap It Up
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    Carson's just finished telling Mrs. Hughes about the HORRIFIC DISPLAY he just witnessed when Anna stops by! Carson thinks Tom must be mortified, but Anna reminds any new viewers him that Tom used to work with them, and that they sometimes forget what he was like then! Does Tom belong with fancypantses like the Crawleys, or with a firebrand working-class type like Sarah Bunting? Where is his proper place? WHEN WILL THIS QUESTION BE ANSWERED?!

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    In bed, Lord G is still hilariously furious, and has expanded the scope of his rage to include Cora and the way she was "flirting and twinkling" with Simon all through dinner! Cora's like, WHATEVER, DUDE!

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    As Tom looks despondently over the railing at the view he was sharing with Sarah Bunting that time they were (nearly) alone in the house together, Mary comes upstairs and tells him to cheer up: "You gave Granny a wonderful evening." RATHER!

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    Then it's Daisy and Mrs. Patmore's turn to discuss the scandalous fight at dinner. Daisy doesn't feel guilty about sticking up for Miss Bunting: "She's brought me to life." She also encourages Mrs. Patmore to protest Archie's exclusion from the various memorials; when Mrs. Patmore brings up the laws Lord G lectured her about, Daisy suggests that if Mrs. Patmore registers her objection, and enough other people join her over the years to come, then those rules could be changed! Mrs. Patmore is impressed by all of Daisy's smart talk and self-confidence: "This is your learning, isn't it. This is what you're trying to show me: that you're not afraid." "No, I'm not," Daisy agrees. She's not my favourite, but...sniff! You go, Daisy! Try Women's Studies next!

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    The next day, uh oh, Willis is back! And that creep who kept staring at Anna in London on her tour of the very last places Green visited before he totally got murdered is a plainclothes policeman who's pretty curious about what this lady's deal is! Mrs. Hughes explains away Anna's proximity to the incriminating locations as errands at Mary's behest (somewhat true), but Willis still wants to know if Anna had a grudge against Green! Carson says no: "As I recall, she rather liked him!" Fine: but was Anna definitely at Downton at the time Green was killed? Carson's like, totally! I think! As long as you have no follow-ups!

    2015-01-25-downton-abbey38

    Shrimpy's come over to The Dowager C's to report to her (and Isobel, who's also there) on what he's found out about Prince Kuragin's other old lady! He thinks she might be in Hong Kong, where a lot of Russian lady refugees ended up, in which case she might be a taxi driver or a prostitute! Kind of puts Mary and Edith's shocking lapses of sexual immorality in perspective, right, Vi?! The Dowager C sniffs that the Princess was probably better suited to one of those than the other, and when Isobel says that she doesn't know why The Dowager C's trying so hard to help her if she also hates her guts, The Dowager C says she owes it to her. Isobel: "Why?" The Dowager C: "[awkward silence]" HMMMM. Shrimpy then says that Susan's written to some other relative, in a rage that all of her Downton relatives have admitted him into society. "Susan's been in a rage since she was playing with her dolls. I am proof against her tantrums." "I would rephrase that if you want to remain neutral," scolds Isobel. "I won't take sides, it's true," says The Dowager C carefully. "But I don't think I could ever be described as 'neutral.'" Classic C.

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    Tom, Mary, and Lord G are back at good old Pip's Corner to talk about the proposed housing development! But first, Mary makes Lord G apologize to Tom for flipping shit at Tom's girlfriend! Then we have to rehash why Tom hangs out with her, and he has to say AGAIN that he enjoys spending time with someone who likes to talk politics from a non-toff perspective! That's in case you didn't hear exactly this exchange the first fifteen times! Anyway, Lord G's made a decision about the development proposal: he's agin' it! He doesn't want to ruin Pip's Corner forever this developer's "ugly, cheap houses" -- but he's not against any kind of housing project! He just wants to expand in a way that won't spoil the landscape, and will fit in with the village: "We will build. We'll even make money for the estate. But we won't destroy what people love about this place"! Hey, what people? People who might care less about the Crawleys having a nice compound than they do about owning their own affordable houses? Moving on: "Do you think that's wrong?" asks Lord G, rhetorically? "No, it's not wrong," Mary confidently replies. Listen to Mary, Lord G: she's got GREAT JUDGMENT, just ask your mom!!!

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