Blogging the Abbey, Episode 3

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Russell Saunders

Russell Saunders is the ridiculously flimsy pseudonym of a pediatrician in New England. He has a husband, three sons, daughter, cat and dog, though not in that order. He enjoys reading, running and cooking. He can be contacted at blindeddoc using his Gmail account. Twitter types can follow him @russellsaunder1.

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16 Responses

  1. Avatar daveNYC
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    says:

    Weren’t they running three sociopaths for a short while? Thomas, ECLB, and the original Nanny? What’s really annoying is that for a short bit of time it looked like they might actually flesh out Thomas to be a real person, not just some guy who’s an ass because he’s got quality villain hair (or something).

    Daisy was bearable when she was clueless and relatively lighthearted. Clueless, frustrated, and bitter makes me want to tune her out.Report

    • Avatar Russell Saunders in reply to daveNYC
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      says:

      “Do something interesting with Daisy” is another plot idea that landed on the slag heap, though one I wish they’d actually stuck with. Remember when she had that kind of charming friendship with the father of the dead footman she married for an hour or so? Who encouraged her to think of her own prospects and respect herself? And it looked like she just might?

      Yeah, I kind of liked that plot. But no. She’s basically there to receive occasional supportive remarks from Mrs. Patmore. I wish she’d stop mooning over yet another footman and maybe apply to that cooking school herself.Report

    • Avatar Rose Woodhouse in reply to daveNYC
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      says:

      True, Dave. I should say a two-sociopath minimum.

      I agree that the Daisy-and-the-bereaved-father storyline was a sweet one, and infinitely preferable to her fondness for Alfred. Although Alfred sort of reminds me of Todd from Breaking Bad, so it’s fun to pretend she’s in love with a wannabe meth kingpin.

      Russell, I just re-read your post and it strikes me that you’re right about Mrs. Hughes’ threat. I mean, talk about mismatched tone. In the same episode as Anna recovers from rape, ECLM bats her eyes and tries a “but he seduced me!” line, thus reviving all negative stereotypes of women reporting rape. Then Mrs. Hughes, who is a very sympathetic character, and who is in this case acting with authorial and audience approval, threatens (with little evidence, it turns out) to give ECLM what she’s asking for. That is, have her held down and penetrated with a foreign object against her will. Um.Report

    • Avatar Patrick Allen Foster in reply to daveNYC
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      says:

      What’s really annoying is that for a short bit of time it looked like they might actually flesh out Thomas to be a real person

      I thought they did that in seasons 2 and 3. He went to war, he had coffee with Lt. Matthew, he got wounded, he tried to help the blinded officer in hospital, he tried to be an entrepreneur, etc.Report

  2. Avatar Pierre Corneille
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    says:

    I may well be mistaken about this, but didn’t he say while in the library that he would wait for Lady Mary for one year? Two years? Perhaps an eternity? Well, at least one or two years?

    And then, outside in the estate park, it’s all, if you say “no” now, then I must be a gentleman and marry the show’s second Lady Can’t-Hold-a-Candle-to-Mary.

    I wondered about that, too.

    As for your last point about Mr. Gregson and the papers he had Edith sign, my wife had a similar concern. I suppose it all comes down to what was in the papers.

    Also, something that disturbs me, and maybe it was addressed in an earlier episode and I forgot. Mr. Gregson wants to divorce his wife, who, apparently, is severely mentally ill. Does he plan on somehow supporting her if he finally can get a divorce?Report

    • Avatar Rose Woodhouse in reply to Pierre Corneille
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      says:

      Yes, no one feels very sorry for Mrs. Gregson. Rather like Mrs. ROchester.Report

    • Avatar Patrick in reply to Pierre Corneille
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      says:

      Might it not be wise, Lady Edith, to at least glance over the papers he puts in front of your nose to sign before you succumb to his wiles?

      My immediate thought was, “He just signed everything over to Edith’s control and now he’s traveling abroad? He’s toast.”

      Because the idea that Lady Edith becomes independently wealthy and becomes a player formerly of the house rather than intricately entwined in it would be delicious.

      Too much to ask for, I guess.Report

      • Avatar Pierre Corneille in reply to Patrick
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        says:

        @patrick

        I guess we don’t know for sure. It’s also possible that in the next episode or two, everything will resolve itself–Mr. Gregson will return with divorce papers, Edith will cede back control of the property, and Thomas will be up to no good.Report

  3. Avatar Maribou
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    says:

    Ah, I stayed up late to watch this tonight just so I could read this post. And I was not disappointed.

    The thing with Lord Wistful is that he is in enormous financial trouble, far far worse than Downton’s. What he *actually* said in the library was “I can wait 2, 3, eternity years if *you can tell me you will have me at the end of it*”. Mary can take as long as she needs to recover, if she promises to marry him once she is ready to marry again. Which struck me as a bit odd, but then again, “I don’t mind years of penury as long as I get my happy ending, but if you can’t promise me it will work out eventually, I should probably save my estate,” is a very Downton-y thing to say.

    Mrs. Hughes’ speech was rather horrifying for me right away; I felt a bit better when I realized she already knew when she was making it that she would never actually DO that. It was a bluff, pure and simple. And yet, it still seemed rather awful. As Rose mentions, the juxtaposition with Anna is quite horrid.

    Speaking of Anna, I thought that the trauma and jumpiness and etc were very well-acted, and I was grateful they didn’t just sweep all of that under the rug (say by having her ONLY be weird around Bates). But I do think it’s a bit dreadful that “gee, you’re beaten and miserable, let’s give you TWICE as much work to do” is the order of the day. I don’t disbelieve that it would be, but it was extremely uncomfortable watching Mary be too uncomfortable to press her.

    I am idly wondering whether Edith will turn up pregnant after all the hints and omens. Also wondering whether the papers he had her sign actually turned all his stuff over to her or something equally generous – a gift she wouldn’t accept if she were paying attention – I agree that he would put one over on her, but I really do want to believe he is a fundamentally decent man.Report

    • Avatar Patrick in reply to Maribou
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      says:

      I am idly wondering whether Edith will turn up pregnant after all the hints and omens.

      Nope, too many kids only making appearances on the horizon as it is on the show right now.

      I mean, I’m all for kids and all, but from a “writing the show” perspective, I think the writers will shy away.

      Also wondering whether the papers he had her sign actually turned all his stuff over to her or something equally generous – a gift she wouldn’t accept if she were paying attention – I agree that he would put one over on her, but I really do want to believe he is a fundamentally decent man.

      Yes, see you’re there with me on that first part.

      There’s no credible reason for him to be a scoundrel (not that credible reasons are necessary, granted). She’s not in line to get anything, her dowry was well established to be “bufkus” early in the first season, IIRC. There’s no scoundrel target there. I’m sticking with him being on the up and up.Report

    • Avatar Pierre Corneille in reply to Maribou
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      says:

      @maribou

      What he *actually* said in the library was “I can wait 2, 3, eternity years if *you can tell me you will have me at the end of it*”. Mary can take as long as she needs to recover, if she promises to marry him once she is ready to marry again.

      Your interpretation/memory of what was said is probably the most plausible one.

      As for Edith possibly being pregnant….that might happen. But in this age before reliable birth control,* many of the people on the show (*cough* Mary and the Turk *cough*) seem to avoid pregnancy or pregnancy scares unless the plot calls for it. So I guess we’ll have to wait and see if it’s convenient for the screenwriters to make her pregnant.

      I, too, thought Mrs. Hughes’s threat was troubling, although I got the OP’s point that coming from her, it sounded less awful than it probably would have coming from someone else. For me, some of this goes back to that post Rose wrote a long time ago (before I had even begun to netflix the series and catch up to where you all are at) about the ahistoricity of the show and about its portrayal of master/servant relations. Here, we have the good servant who’s in charge of other servants, threatening a subordinate with a physically invasive procedure, and we’re meant to side with the one in charge because the subordinate is a bad person. As a bad person, the badness of the subordinate is made worse by the fact (as far as I can recall) that she has either no redeeming qualities or moments or that the audience is given little to no insight how she might have come to the position where the decisions she makes might seem to make sense to her. Even Thomas is given (very slightly) more consideration in that respect.

      *Yes, I realize that c. 1920, most of the forms of birth control we’re familiar with today, except the pill, were available in some guise. I do question their effectiveness, however, and other than the brief reference to Edna’s book on “Married Love,” I don’t remember seeing much reference to actual practices. It seems they all mostly follow the “close your eyes and hope for the best” approach.Report

      • Avatar Maribou in reply to Pierre Corneille
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        says:

        Yes, please forgive me the actually and the quotes for an obvious paraphrase. I think it’s my way of rebelling against *still* being in school, where one is held to academic standards of discourse all the time. Bleah.

        I’m quite certain of my interpretation / memory, though: for one thing, I had just finished watching the show 30 seconds before I started writing my comment, and for another, I found the entire conversation very odd, and watched it twice over in a row. (Woot, streaming video.)Report

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