Downton Abbey: Season 6, Episode 4
October 14, 2015 2:34 PM - Season 6, Episode 4 - Subscribe

As Tom and Sybbie settle back into life at Downton, the family and servants are surprised by the return of another old friend in unexpected circumstances.

While Carson and Mrs Hughes are on their honeymoon, Thomas enjoys his temporary promotion to the hilt. Daisy's big plan for Mr Mason to take over the Drewes' tenancy is thwarted by Mary's decision for the Crawley's to farm it themselves (not literally). More family and friends are hauled into the hospital controversy. Baxter is asked to testify against that jewel thief guy who got her into trouble years ago. Rosamund thinks Edith would be jolly good at being a trustee for college for women of modest backgrounds; the treasurer and his wife join the family for lunch and it turns out that he's married Gwen, the housemaid whom Sybil helped in Season 1. Thomas tries to wrong foot her but the family is quite modern thinking and it turns into a lovely memory of Sybil and everyone gets a bit teary. Mary and Anna dash down to London to prevent the latter's miscarriage and while there, Mary dines with Henry Talbot. Daisy decides to confront that stinkin' lyin' Cora who deceived her about the farm but with the lingering glow of Sybil's memory, the family decides to let Mr Mason live out his days there before Daisy can make a fool out of herself again. More mysterious pains for Robert.

We're at the halfway point of the regular season.
posted by TWinbrook8 (15 comments total)
I was totally unprepared to find that Gwen's story about Sybil made me cry, a bit. I liked Sybil a lot, but I'm not entirely sure why that scene affected me so strongly.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 4:13 PM on October 14, 2015 [8 favorites]

Are we just supposed to hate Daisy now or am I the only one hoping she has some sort of meteorite accident.
posted by the uncomplicated soups of my childhood at 8:20 PM on October 14, 2015 [5 favorites]

I kept yelling "shut up Daisy" this entire episode. Just - have an ounce of common sense.

And aww, Gwen and Sybil were so fun together. I had completely forgotten about that story line until she brought it up at the luncheon. Sybil really was the best sister of the three.

Also, I am so very annoyed at Thomas' pity party that no one likes or respects him. I mean, COME ON, you make everyone miserable for 20 years and are shocked to realize they may resent that? And just now Lord Grantham calls out Thomas on his underhanded nonsense? Not the fifty thousand other times he has been caught being deceitful and manipulative to the point of black mail?
posted by Suffocating Kitty at 1:20 AM on October 15, 2015

Could Thomas be on the way to learning valuable lessons? Redemption through a single act of kindness in episode 8 or the Xmas special?
posted by biffa at 9:43 AM on October 15, 2015

Why does no one in the Crawley family ever tell Mary not to be such a fucking cow to Edith? I was actually really hoping that Matthew Goode would dump Mary for Edith. That would be nice to see, wouldn't it?

A former servant lunching with the Crawleys. The world does move! Remember when Mary objected to dining with a lawyer, even though he was a) related to her and b) the legal heir of the estate? She was the one who reacted the most when it was revealed who Gwen was, so she hasn't changed much.
posted by orange swan at 3:35 PM on October 15, 2015 [7 favorites]

I try to like Mary, in part because people here have eloquently defended her, but I think she's terribly self-involved in the sense that she really only sees the people around here through the lens of her self-interest. Her characterization is a bit uneven about this -- which, granted, may more accurately reflect real life -- but a lot of the time her affection and interest in both Anna and Carson, which ought to be endearing (and sometimes is) seems to me to reveal that it's really a paternalistic thing where she only really knows and pays attention to the versions of them that she has in her mind -- people that are really all about her. So a lot of the time, her affection for both Anna and Carson creeps me the hell out.

And that's very related to the problem of her relationship with Edith. She similarly doesn't know or pay attention to the real Edith at all - she only sees the version of Edith in her head.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 10:16 AM on October 16, 2015 [3 favorites]

It's true that Mary's basically a high functioning narcissist. Early in the show's run she asked some question about the Turkish ambassador, Edith filled her in, and asked her, "Don't you read the papers?" and Mary sniffed, "I have a life." A life that consisted of being admired and enjoying herself and not have a realizing sense of anything outside her own immediate needs and sphere, that is, which is by definition not a full life. During the war, Sybil trained as a nurse and Edith learned to drive and took on the responsibility of non-medical patient care. What did Mary do for the war effort? Nothing but sing in a fundraising concert, as I recall. The first really useful work she ever took up (in her early thirties) was the management of the estate, which again is a matter of self-interest. She also seems to be a rather casual mother who leaves George in the care of his nanny most of the time and doesn't think twice about leaving him behind when she takes a trip.

You're right, her affection for Anna and Carson -- and Tom -- are very self-interested. She cares about them largely because she values what she gets from them.

She is a magnificent person in her own way -- I was awestruck by the sheer majesty with which she told her would-be blackmailer, "You're not the first person who has ever tried to blackmail me," but while I enjoy watching her, she isn't someone I would care to actually know. And I am so hoping she'll get a major comeuppance at some point by the end of this season. She's going to feel like such an idiot when she finds out Marigold is Edith's daughter, and it'll be good for her to find out just how self-absorbed she is.
posted by orange swan at 11:16 AM on October 16, 2015 [2 favorites]

This is interesting because I've never read any defense of Mary and I like her, and much prefer her character to Edith's martyrdom. Fellowes really stacked the deck against her. Everyone loved Sybil and Mary is a force of nature but Edith can't catch a break. She ruins Mary's marriage expectations with that letter to the Turkish Ambassador. Her war effort was driving a tractor and trying to seduce the farmer until his wife put a stop to it, then she fell for the amnesiac heir fraud, next she engaged herself to an middle-aged suitor, wrote a letter to the editor and was offered a magazine column on the strength of it although it's never referred to again, does take up with the married publisher and gets pregnant, decides not to have an abortion and leaves the baby with a Swiss couple, takes the baby from them and gives it to the tenant farmer, takes the baby from them to raise herself. The tenant farmer and family have to leave but chances are she'll end up living in London anyway. So I see her as a needy character who is unhappy and whose poor choices have impacted others. Ah well, it'll soon be over. Fellowes has a new series in production, Doctor Thorne (starring Alison Brie!), and since it's based on a Trollope novel, he can't mess up the characters too much.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 11:13 PM on October 16, 2015 [3 favorites]

This is the best news I've heard today, TWinbrook8!
posted by chaiminda at 1:54 PM on October 18, 2015

God, Daisy's stupid as all hell. Yeah, I am totally down with her being hit by a meteorite. So obnoxiously stupid and now arrogant and stubborn about it. It's not worth losing your job to tell the boss lady off, you crazy little twit!

Thomas, you are your own worst enemy, indeed. You genuinely don't get why people don't like you and avoid you, really? Hell, you're lucky Baxter even speaks to you and feels sorry for you.

Poor Gwen: what DOES one do in a social situation like that, especially when your former employers don't recognize you (or only kinda somewhat do)? Hell, I don't think I'd say anything either. But good for her, though. I am enjoying the "sistas are doing it for themselves" this season.

I did admire Mary's gold flapper dress. Damn, girl. Okay, regarding Mary: while we all know she's kind of a snot, she has her moments. Her Sybil/Gwen moment is with Anna, really, and good for her there. (Also, Bates isn't an idiot, DUH, he can figure this out, come on.) I don't really get this "courtship" with Henry Talbot, though. Dude is colder than she is, reading the menu while she talks. Also, her first husband died in a car accident and they want to get her together with a race car driver? What? This is...weird.

The LOL at "oh noes, we can't call them by the same last name," round two. Whatever shall we do if Moseley ever proposes to Baxter? Also, now Hughes knows "the secrets of the universe..." OOOOH.

Oh, Baxter. I hope she can do some good in there, and good for Moseley for supporting her. And duh, everyone sees it but her.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:07 PM on January 24, 2016 [3 favorites]

I'm really confused by Thomas. He really doesn't understand why people don't like him? Really?

Daisy has so many decent potential story lines: She could go to that college, she could help Mr. Mason with Yew Tree Farm. But no. She's got to be an obnoxious, Young Pioneer? And she's not even good at it!

I am excited to see Harriet Walter as Lady Shackelton (although the hospital storyline bores me to tears.) I loved her as Harriett Vane Wimsey and Fanny Dashwood. Also, she seems to be a sensible character for a change. (see what I did there?)

I too am puzzled by Mary getting hooked up with a race driver. That seems....imprudent.

I am looking forward to Baxter's teary redemption. That's about it though.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 4:41 AM on January 25, 2016

Daisy is one of those people that everyone tells you is so smart, but is really too stupid to live. Just picture her in a horror movie, 'nuff said.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:21 AM on January 25, 2016

In defense of Thomas:
"The issue with Thomas isn't that he's evil, or that he haphazardly alternates between being horrid and semi-caring. Thomas's problem is that he desperately wants to be nice but does not know how. He's so used to acting defensively and keeping up his guard — surely in part because society has conditioned him to hate himself for being gay — that he's not fully capable of showing warmth toward others. He's damaged, or as Baxter put it, his own worst enemy."
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:59 AM on January 25, 2016 [3 favorites]

Daisy has so many decent potential story lines: She could go to that college, she could help Mr. Mason with Yew Tree Farm. But no. She's got to be an obnoxious, Young Pioneer? And she's not even good at it!

I have a feeling that she's going to finally land herself a footman - specifically, the new one, Andy, who wants to live in the country.
posted by donajo at 5:26 PM on January 25, 2016 [2 favorites]

I'm pretty sure I identified with every character this episode, not that that's unusual for this show. If I hated Daisy for getting overheated and running off at the mouth I'd have to hate myself. And I can't, because I love myself as Mary loves herself. To be honest I was dreading this season based on the earlier UK comments but I don't get the boredom. The hospital plot line is there to do a job, which is give Maggie Smith zingers and fulfill her character's purpose which is to remind us that the aristocracy wasn't so bad. Yes it's a cheesy and predictable show but it also makes me laugh and see myself in each of the characters.

I was shouting at Anna though to TALK TO HER DAMN HUSBAND.
posted by bleep at 9:42 PM on January 25, 2016 [2 favorites]

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