Things go badly amiss at Downton Abbey. Robert and Cora are not speaking. The servants are shunning Matthew's mother, Isobel. And Matthew and Robert have fallen out. Bates takes a gamble.

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Cora is still cold to Robert following Sybil's funeral and he is not best pleased when Tom announces that he wants his daughter, also to be named Sybil, to be raised as a Catholic, especially as Cora and her daughters back the young Irishman. He also clashes with Matthew over the running of the estate and there is further humiliation for him when Isobel invites the ladies of Downton to a dinner cooked by Ethel and, tipped off by the sanctimonious Carson, he tries to get them to leave because of Ethel's past, all of them defying him. Daisy visits her late husband's father, Mr Mason, who suggests she come to help him on his farm whilst Anna receives a letter saying that John is to be freed after Mrs Bartlett's evidence, though John has had to use threats for the outcome to be reached. Written by don @ minifie-1

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Drama | Romance

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3 February 2013 (USA)  »

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16 : 9
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Did You Know?

Goofs

At one point Ivy is humming "Fly Me to the Moon," a song not written until 1954. See more »

Quotes

Charles Carson: You can talk as tough as you like. I know you won't abandon me.
Mrs. Hughes: Well, then, why doesn't that thought make you kinder?
Charles Carson: Because I am who I am, Mrs. Hughes.
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Downton Abbey - The Suite
(uncredited)
Written by John Lunn
Performed by The Chamber Orchestra of London
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"Grief makes one so terribly tired."
23 October 2012 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Reconciliation and release. Episode six provides some catharsis after the trauma of last week, and there is much to commend the episode, including outstanding and witty dialogue in several key scenes (mostly around dining tables) and the resolution (though somewhat abruptly) of two conflicts—Cora vs. Robert and Bates vs. the judicial system. The nuanced illumination of Cora and Robert, in particular, make it slightly better than a typical "middle episode."

Cora continues to direct her grief at Robert by blaming him for Sybil's death, blame that lands right where it should. Robert is not a bad man, but he is exasperating in his inability to grasp the new world that will engulf him, as he has been warned by his formidable mother-in-law (Shirley MacLaine), if he does not change along with it. It is already engulfing him. Change comes hard to a man who has never had to change before, and that we feel sympathy for Robert, who is enduring his own kind of hell, is testament to Julian Fellowes's skillful writing and Hugh Bonneville's splendid acting.

Others will not allow themselves to be taken down by Lord Grantham's antiquated world-view. Matthew is ever determined to make the estate an economic success and is making a convert of Mary and maybe of Tom, who, we discover, knows a bit about the rural life (will Tom and baby Sybil being staying, we hope). No one—save for the odd bleached vicar—will stand for Robert's religious prejudices, even the oft-prejudiced dowager herself. Most of all, and rather hilariously, comes a showdown between Robert and the Downton women (ALL of them), when they refuse Robert's order to leave Isobel's luncheon because it was prepared by former-prostitute Ethel! Even Violet will not bow to convention ("It seems a pity to miss such a good pudding."). The battle of the sexes is fought downstairs too, with both Mrs. Hughes and Mrs. Patmore standing up to the haughty Mr. Carson regarding the same matter ("Do I look like a frolicker?" Mrs. Patmore counters when he intimates of her frolicking with prostitutes).

The lower servants' romantic infatuations intensify, with Thomas becoming dangerously free in massaging the ostensibly heterosexual Jimmy's neck. Miss O'Brien seems poised to strike at her one-time ally (watch out, Thomas, we don't need anybody else in prison)! Daisy is offered a place on her father-in-law's prosperous farm, which would bring her independence and freedom from a life of servitude, presumably baking cakes and putting up preserves for profit instead of for the titled gentry.

Two major plot lines are wrapped up, though their ends seem a bit sudden. Mr. Bates is exonerated by way of quick thinking and violent threats. It appears we will be shed of the repetitive, monochromatic prison scenes (in all fairness, one supposes prisons—especially 1920s prisons—to be repetitive and monochromatic places). Most suddenly, Cora and Robert reconcile after Violet pressures Dr. Clarkson into saying Sybil probably would have died no matter what. It's obvious he's being coerced, but Cora buys it, and a tearful, forgiving embrace with Robert ensues. Cora can't possibly believe the lie, but anger is exhausting and Cora is exhausted (a weariness adeptly played by Elizabeth McGovern). Maybe Violet has given her the escape route she needed.

One of the pleasures of Downton is watching people pull together in the face of trouble. If nothing else, we now know that neither tradition, nor propriety, nor sham morality will force sensible people to abandon a good charlotte russe, a fact that speaks well of the future. The beloved Lady Sybil may be gone, but there are a whole lot of survivors at Downton Abbey.


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