Monday, January 14, 2013

Downton Abbey 3.02 : The Art of Persuasion

The pomp and circumstance of Lady Mary & Matthew's wedding is over but there's still a bit of a buzz going on at Downton Abbey. Martha Levinson, Cora's mother, is still in town and the Dowager Countess and Robert can't wait for her to leave. So not only do they have to put up with a bothersome American but Downton's money troubles still hang over their heads.
His Lordship has finally told the entire family of the financial state of Downton and there are mixed emotions about the idea of having to downsize. During a conversation with Robert, Matthew fesses up to the inheritance he may receive from Reggie Swire's estate but he's still instant upon not taking it. Robert doesn't get Matthew's logic and neither does Lady Mary.

Every one's favorite nosey lady Isobel has found herself a new hobby. It seems that she is on a mission to save the world by rehabilitating one prostitute at a time.
Of course our girl Martha wants to hear all about it and doesn't give a flying fig that they are all sitting around the dinner table. If looks could kill, the ones Lord Grantham and the Dowager gave her would have put her in a casket.
The quest to free Bates continues and Anna is hell bent on exonerating her man. Anna has been able to get a current address on Mrs. Bartlett, the woman that was best friend's with Vera Bates, and is intent on paying her a visit. Let's just hope she is willing to cooperate.

Poor Mrs. Hughes. She finds a lump in her breast and confides in Mrs. Patmore, who encourages her to see Dr. Clarkson. She vows to be by her side through the whole thing but, like many, doesn't know what to say and tends to be a bit patronizing. It turns out to be not so good news but Mrs. Hughes wants to remain stoic and not tell anyone.
Lady Edith is fighting tooth and nail to make this thing with Sir Anthony Strallen work. I don't know if she really loves the dude or if she's intent on not being the only Crawley sister without a ring.
Every one's doubts about the relationship aren't helping Sir Anthony's confidence at all. Robert, at the urging of the Dowager, has the nerve to ask Sir Anthony to break it off with Lady Edith because he knows she won't do it.
What's even more messed up is that Sir Anthony agrees to this mess and breaks up with her in a Dear John letter.
Of course, poor Edith is heartbroken. The only person who seems supportive of Lady Edith is Mrs. Levinson and I'm glad she was there to call Robert on his BS. This gives Edith the courage to speak up for herself. Robert realizes that if he doesn't give in, she will defy him. I honestly think he gave in not because he wants to see her happy, but to avoid another Lady Sybil-like elopement.
With the prospect of losing Downton and the only way of living she knows hanging over her head, the Dowager Countess is willing to do anything to save it...including kiss a little American tushy. Asking Martha Levinson to help save Downton is, of course, beneath her, so she enlists Lady Mary to do her dirty work. Lady Mary's role in this whole thing is to play the favorite grandchild card and invite Mrs. Levinson for tea, where she can be worked over.
You can't help but laugh watching the Dowager try not to be her usual smarty pants self and say something negative about Americans .
Mr. Carson's usual gruff seems to be on overdrive and he is snapping at everyone, including poor Mrs. Hughes. He later apologizes to her but doesn't extend the same courtesy to Alfred. Thomas is still out to get Alfred and gives him a product that burns holes in Matthew's tails instead of cleaning them. While Matthew doesn't think it's a big deal, Thomas takes this opportunity to tell Lord Grantham that maybe Alfred isn't ready for the big time after all and Mr. Moseley should be brought on.
O'Brien takes this personally, considering Alfred is family, and vows to pay Thomas back for trying to sabotage him.
Mary and the Dowager come up with an idea to do this grand dinner to show what Downton is all about with the hope that Mrs. Levinson will be persuaded to fork over some cash. In the words of my buddy Melody A., that thing was "a mess from the M to the S" in the beginning. Lord Grantham's evening shirts are nowhere to be found and Thomas swears up and down Alfred took them. Without them, Thomas looks completely inept in front of Robert because he can't dress him in his proper attire.

Since Matthew's tails never made it back from the repair shop, Robert won't be the only one in black tie.

Then the worst thing that could happen when you a hosting a dinner party actually happens: the oven goes out.
This means no food and everyone is freaking out...except Martha, of course. She's loving every minute of watching these stuck up Brits' faces melt in sheer panic. In fact, she is the only one who comes up with a solution instead of having a meltdown.
In a move that would make Yogi Bear proud, Martha suggests they break out all of the food that doesn't require a stove and have an indoor picnic. This is completely unheard of in the Grantham's world and, contrary to their misgivings, the guests love it.
Mrs. Levinson one ups the Dowager one final time when she lets her know, in spite of their efforts, she won't help Downton get out of the hole. Even if she wanted to, she couldn't. Before her husband died, he set the estate up in such a way that the Levinson funds are tied up and the only money she can touch is her yearly allowance.
Oh, remember those missing shirts Thomas was looking for? They turned up after the party. Well played, O'Brien. Well played.
It seems that the times are changing. Will Downton be able to survive without changing, as well?

Until next time...

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