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"Downton Abbey" Episode #3.8 (2012)

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21 out of 25 people found the following review useful:

"Let's give it a go and see what the future brings."

Author: Leonard Bast from United States
6 November 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The question: is this, the season three finale of Downton Abbey, actually the season three finale, or will there be, come December 25, an episode that is the actual season finale? British television is admittedly first-rate, but British television programming has something of Lewis Carroll about it. Whatever it is, episode eight moves past the oddities of episode seven and has many of the grace notes that made season one and the Christmas episode of season two so pleasurable. If we are to have another Christmas treat, and if it includes Shirley MacLaine, and if it's as good as the last time around, then season three may end up being the best overall, so far.

Lady Rose is the only jarring note. It's rarely a good idea to introduce a new character near the end of something, but, nonetheless, here comes Rose Somebody's-Distant-Relation. Who she is, what she's doing, and where she's going is anybody's guess. Looking a bit like a demented Bo Peep, she does give us entry into the inferno (Matthew references Dante in describing it) of a Jazz Age London nightclub, complete with black trumpet player, gyrating flappers, and a man that looks vaguely like the old Prince of Wales. It's a nice bit of twenties local color, but that's all it is.

Violet's meddling in Isobel's household comes up good, albeit through a series of accidents. As it turns out, a very nice lady has answered Violet's employment ad regarding Ethel. This very nice lady happens to live near Ethel's son's grandparents, a situation fraught with possibility and anxiety. At Violet's instigation, Grandmother Blimp arrives just in time to announce that everything will work out fine (she'll deal with Grandfather Blimp, no worries). Violet is vindicated (through sheer luck), and Isobel is out a housekeeper-cook. Perhaps Mrs. Patmore can teach Mr. Molesley—since he can't play cricket or do much of anything else.

Poor Edith's editor and love interest turns out to be married to a woman locked away in a madhouse (what else). It's becoming a running joke—a good one, mind you—that any man Edith shows an interest in will be peculiar and disastrous. We still don't know why Anthony Strallan bolted from the marriage chapel—perhaps he'll make a surprise appearance in the Christmas episode, like he did last year, and reveal all. In other news of the Downton sisters, Mary and Matthew have had the plumbing fixed (quick, secret operation for Mary, no fuss) and Downton's future is that much closer to security.

Tom Branson was most articulate again, finally making Robert understand that interlopers such as himself and Matthew only want to use their particular skills to make the place a success. Of course, what finally turns the tide is Tom's reluctant agreement to play in the local cricket match, with which Robert is rather obsessed. Allen Leech is talented and handsome, and Tom's character is a pleasure—beautiful, eloquent, sensitive, oh my! Hugh Bonneville continues to bring depth to Robert, especially when he takes over the situation with Thomas. It's good to see Robert take charge of something and have it work out well. He is good with the servants, one must admit. (He's still not good with finance, mentioning as a possible investment for Downton the fraudulent scheme of the now infamous Charles Ponzi.)

Miss O'Brien's machinations come to a satisfyingly abrupt halt with the whispered mention by Mr. Bates of a certain bar of soap from season one. With that bit of intimidation he saves rival Thomas from the fate of Oscar Wilde. Several people, including Mrs. Hughes and Lord Grantham, deserve praise for the intelligent way they react to Thomas's predicament and the now-official acknowledgment of his homosexuality. There will be those who scoff at Robert's ease of understanding, but, in all fairness, it has always been the prudish middle classes that have had the most problems with sexuality, whatever its manifestation. The upper class has almost always been more flexible. Thomas's revelation to Bates, saying he envies the fact that Bates' and Anna's love is openly celebrated, will evoke feelings recognizable to anyone who has been unfairly and arbitrarily denied the right to love as nature intended them to love. It's one of the best moments in the series. Every gay man will know it acutely. The fear that writer Julian Fellowes was not handling the Thomas character with finesse disappeared completely. Nicely done, Mr. Fellowes.

We end with a quintessentially English event, the summer cricket match between village and house. The women are pale and lovely in cream-colored frocks. The men are pale and overweight (not Tom, Thomas, or Matthew, of course) in their cream-colored knit jumpers. Nothing much happens. Tea is served. Delightful.

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1 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

Downton Abbey Episode #8

Author: dalydj-918-255175 from Ireland
6 November 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Bates wants to get back to work while Thomas is let go because Carson does not respect his actions. Thomas is called foul while Mrs. O'Brien listen's to Thomas being fired. The Downton cricket team needs Thomas. Mrs. O'Brien is trying the cause something by getting Jimmy to complain. Mr Mosley is happy to be playing cricket with the house for the first time. Violet is getting a visitor who hates London. Mrs. O'Brien once again try's to get Jimmy to say something but he still does not really want to say something. Thomas is using the cricket to try get Robert to change his mind about some old traditions while Mary has somehow changed since her trip to London. Jimmy comes in to complain about Thomas even bringing up the police if Carson does nothing about it. Violet and Isobel meet with Rose. Thomas is upset that he will leave without a reference because he will not be able to get a job anywhere else. When Anna and Bates go to their house. While Edith is going to London Rose wants to tag along. Also Matthew wants to go as well to do business even look after Rose. Tom is going into business with the family. Mrs. Hughes finds Thomas crying outside where he tells her the whole story even though it may shock her. Mary calls Edith to get her to keep Matthew in London so she can do something that day. Hughes talks to Carson about how she does not like Jimmy but more Thomas. Thomas goes to visit Bates at his home. While organizing the cricket team Downton is down two players. In London Rose goes on some exploration calling an unknown number. Ethel is staying on to work for Isobel and she is OK with it. Edith goes to visit her publisher who seems to like his work. While painting the wall Bates talks to Anna about feeling responsible for Thomas's situation. Hughes tells Bates about Thomas. Rose is late for dinner and the man who drove her comes to the house to tell them where Rose has been in London. Rose has gone to a club and the family must come to get her. Matthew says he can help Rose out of trouble if she comes to his deal. Matthew try's to find out what is wrong with Mary but he cannot, he even sees Mary going to visit the doctor. It turns out that Mary was the one who could not have children, she even had to have an operation. When Rose and Edith get home Violet hears there is a secret she does not know. Violet tells Rose that her mother has found out about London. Prison has changed Bates as he wants to help Thomas. Robert is so angry that Matthew is undermining him by trying to change. Robert thinks he is being cast out and feels that he is not the ruler in his own house. The first visitor to the Bates household in surprise is Mrs. O'Brien. It turns out that Bates has something against O'Brien that makes her try to get Jimmy to stop with the complaint towards Thomas. Mr. Mosley is till trying to teach the younger guys how to play cricket. Tom tells Robert that he needs to listen to his family more for Downton's sake. Robert says he will think about hi offer if he plays cricket. Ethel accepts the job because she may see her son. Edith goes to her publisher to talk about him flirting with her even though he is married. He tells her his wife is in an Asylum who does not even know who he is. Everything seems good at the game with Bates even telling Anna about the bathroom soap. The new way everyone ranks in the house seems to upset everyone. The police come to the game to talk to Alfred about the complaint. Robert is able to stop Alfred from the complaint. Tom makes the decision to stay with the family when he sees everyone is getting along so well. He then asks Cora to keep the baby there while she is young.

EPISODE GRADE: B- (MVP: Hugh Bonneville)

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