Can’t Keep It in Her Petticoats: Downton Abbey Video Recap

The Downton Abbey video recaps with this two-hander from Fenzel and Wrather considering today’s episode, with a focus on Sybil’s Catholic baby, the soft skills of a businessman, and various conflicts between personal morals and group loyalty.

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4 Comments on “Can’t Keep It in Her Petticoats: Downton Abbey Video Recap”

  1. cp #

    Was anyone else surprised that saintly Bates finally gets his resolution by strong-arming his cellmate, basically sinking to the cellmate’s level?

     
    • Matthew Wrather #

      Sure, we don’t see it a lot, but I think it’s been established that Bates has a tough-guy side. He served under HL in the war, and saw enough action to get badly wounded — he’s not an innocent.

      Let me put it another way. compare his rectitude to, say, Carson. Carson is reacting against his upbringing as a vaudevillian or music hall performer or some such, and his uptightness is a slightly desperate pose in denial of his own past. Bates rectitude — or his very deliberate equanimity (not retaliating when he’s tripped in S1, for example) — seems hard won by comparison. He’s seen the dark side — in poverty or else in war — and has made the decision that there’s a better way to live.

       
  2. Gab #

    I like “Downerthinkingit.”

    Matt!! We need to overthink House of Cards! I started a thread on the forum about it already… :(

    Anyhoo, so that show Downtonsomething…

    Speaking of pies, meaning being in the kitchen, is this the one where Beanpole helps the new kitchen maid with the sauce? I feel like that’s kind of a crucial window into his character- he’s sort of an everyman, and everytaskman. Nobody has any real, legitimate reason to dislike him- jealousy, maybe, but that’s not very… uh… nice?

    I can’t help but think the remodeling/renovations in season one were foreshadowing for all of this pseudo-hostile takeover stuff this season. There are even broad similarities in the fact that Mary didn’t like the things in season one because it made Matthew the son Robert never had, nor this season because Matthew is turning his back on Papa…

    I disagree with the prediction that Mary will hold Downton together. She’s too much like Robert- too reactionary, too hot-headed, too emotional (despite attempts to put on a stoic persona). I’d say my money is on Edith.

    I can’t think of a good way of tying the two together, but I can’t help but think of the part in the pilot of Firefly where Anara basically blesses Shepard Book with all of your discussion of prostitution. Especially since the scene opens with Anara sort of washing away the insults Mal had flung her way, it relates to your idea of the contagion of prostitution. I think the hugest difference between Ethel and Anara is that Anara is pretty wise and well-skilled, whereas Ethel is more like an awkward teenager than anything else- although props to her for giving her kid up a while back, of course.

     
  3. DeanMoriarty #

    So this recap, and the last few episodes and their recaps, have given me a couple of thoughts, neither particularly well developed. bear with me.

    the first thought was that, in a sense, this season is about the changing definition of morality during the 20’s. Almost all the conflict arises out of the desire to do the right thing, and almost no character argues for something on the basis of pragmatism. Mrs. Crawley doesn’t help Ethel because it’s convenient, but because she believes it to be moral. Yet this puts her in direct conflict with Robert and Carson’s definition of moral. The pastor (or whatever) believes it amoral to be catholic because his standards of morality include worshipping “correctly,” Sybil wanted the baby to be baptized b/c she doesn’t really believe in god and her idea of morality includes making the man she loves happy. Matthew didn’t want to take the money b/c it would be based on a lie, but Mary wasn’t angry just because she’d lose Downton, but because it would have been a betrayal of family, tradition and responsibility. Because my mom is a historian, I’ve been reading/ seeing a lot about how conservatives of that time feared modernity largely because they feared it would destroy morality. Yet, if you consider the fact that RObert seems kind f like a villain this season, partly because we disagree with his moral stances, then the show is kind proving that those old fears were founded.

    Since I’m talking politics/ideology in downton rant, I want to posit the idea that Matthew is the embodiment of the upper-middle class, middle of the road politics that the show seems to be settling into. while in the first season it might have been seen as vaguely progressive, it was basically taking advatnage of being able to show that things taken for granted today, like women voting, were once quite radical. But it seems like those haven’t shown up as much lately. And things that could have been brought up to do with poltics or ideology, but may not be quite so resolved are barely mentioned anymore. Tom, for example, no longer talks about socialism. In fact, the only things we’ve seen him be idelogical about are irish independence (which from our P.O.V. is mostly settled by now) and that his child be catholic. Sybil’s admitted apathy towards god, which i’d think would be a consideration in the discussion of the baby’s upbringing, is basically ignored. But the show doesn’t seem to really side on the opposite side of Tom’s early, possible still leftist, political views. But Robert, who would seem to stand in for the right, sees himself defeated by his own insistence on traditionalism, nobility and patriarchy, thereby making sure the shows stays firmly in the middle of the political spectrum. Which brings us to Matthew,who politically speaking, is David Brooks’ wet dream. He believes in religious tolerance. He espouses and embodies the virtues of education, responsibility, professionalism, family and hard work. He respects the importance of tradition, without holding it sacrosanct. He understands the inevitability of change, but doesn’t relish it for its own sake r for it’s opportunity. When he talks about the land’s mismanagement, for example, he talks about ensuring the future, not about improving the lives of the common people. [btw, season 1 Tom would've totally been talking about agrarian reform, not about sheep and barley. I mean, I guess his wife did just die, but what a sell out]. Matthew is basically trying to lead the family through a transition away from Violet and Robert’s world and towards something modern. But the modern world he and men like him are building, will seem rigid, oppressive and archaic to his grandchildren in the 60’s.