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|Oh, puh-LEEEZE! (spoilers, obviously, and very long)
Written by Sarah Hannah
(12/27/2012 3:50 p.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Downton Abbey -- Christmas episode (spoilery), penned by Julie P.
I, too, had read a few weeks ago about speculation that Dan Stevens wanted to leave the show, but that doesn't mean his character had to die, for heavens' sake!! Only after Sybil died did I learn that she had decided to leave the show, and that Julian Fellowes had been forced to write her demise as a result. Now, maybe it was just that her death took me totally by surprise, and Allen Leach does such a masterful job of showing Branson's despair, that it was a really heavy blow. But as so many of you have said, the minute I saw Matthew driving pell-mell down the road, grinning from ear to ear, not really paying attention, I knew he was going to die, and all I felt was annoyance and scorn for Fellowes's lack of creativity. Seriously?? What a cop-out! "Gosh, people keep leaving the show, how on earth will I work that into the script?? I know! I'll do the same thing I did to Sybil!" Just as for Golda, the whole hour and a half of rather enjoyable storytelling just shuddered to a contrived, pathetic halt. I mean I guess, yeah, it stinks that now both Mary and Tom have to raise their children without their spouses by their side, but I'm so overwhelmed by disgust for the way in which Matthew's involvement in the story ended, that other emotions don't have room.
Off the top of my head, why couldn't Matthew, as the future Earl, have gone to India with Shrimpy and Susan to mingle with the aristocracy and gain a bit of imperial experience?? I mean, they wouldn't be the most fun people to travel with, but he could have learned a lot about his future life, and maybe even helped them with some of the ideas he put into motion at Downton to save Duneagle. He can't pull another inheritance out of his pockets, but I'm guessing there were some similar mismanagement issues. Really, anything would have been less overtly lazy on Fellowes's part.
So, other than that, there were some things I liked quite a bit about this episode. The fair in Thursk (sp?) was a fun diversion, and I loved the tug-of-war. Did anyone catch what the ring-toss guy said between clenched teeth as Daisy walked away after winning the sovereign? Something about every other ring being too small to go over the box?? I didn't have closed captioning.
Dr. Clarkson and Isobel were awfully sweet, and yes, I do think she knew he was about to propose and tried to let him down gently. That's a good point about whether they will get closer as she's mourning Matthew.
Was anyone else confused by Mary's pregnant belly? She said as they were leaving for Duneagle that she still had a month, but that was not an 8-month belly!! I thought maybe she meant she had a month before confinement (i.e., they were taking a precaution because of Sybil and putting her on bed-rest at 7 or 8 months or something), but then the dancing apparently initiated labor and she gave birth to a full-term baby. Whaaa??
About halfway through the episode I figured out that Susan was being played by Phoebe Nicholls. That scowl is pretty distinctive!
Jimmy and Thomas's reconciliation was very, very sweet. You could see Jimmy knew that Thomas had saved his life, and wanted to repay him somehow, but was hesitant to even open up because he didn't know what Thomas would expect in return. I'm glad to see Thomas thinking of others for a change.
How about that tension between O'Brien and Wilkins? Boy, you could cut that with a knife, couldn't you? I found it amusing that they followed the "visiting servants are called by their master's/mistress's name downstairs" rules. I guess that was to emphasize how old-fashioned things still were at Duneagle.
I did appreciate the brief glimpse of Allen Leach with no shirt on. Yum. But that Edna! Trying to claim that there were no differences between them, and making him all the more confused about where he stood in the family vis-a-vis having formerly been the chauffeur...poor chap didn't need that. He's still grieving, for crying out loud! I'm glad she got the boot.
Oh man, I really hope Gregson's wife gets out of the way and he and Edith can have a happy ending!! That's one character I wouldn't mind Fellowes quietly bumping off. And I loved Carson looking after baby Sybil. That was a very sweet little moment.
I'll be watching Series 4, and I honestly think the wait time will help quite a bit in removing the bad taste that this special has left in my mouth.
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