Fade to White: Downton Abbey Video Recap

Fenzel and Wrather overthink the Downton Abbey Season 3 closer, “A Trip to the Highlands.”

Peter Fenzel and Matthew Wrather recap the Downton Abbey Season 3 closer, “A Trip to the Highlands,” focusing on the way the shocking revelation at the end is bungled, on the carnivalesque reversals at the fair, and on the Last Temptation of Tom Branson.

Let us know what you thought of the episode, of the season, and of this series of video recaps, which we will be bringing back later this year to talk about other TV shows of note as they unfold.

3 Comments on “Fade to White: Downton Abbey Video Recap”

  1. Gab #

    I know this is kind of stupid, but I couldn’t think of how meta it was when you said, “Matthew dies,” Matt.

    See? Costumes of imperialism, the tails. Matthew, then Tom, then Edith’s editor. The tails are a big effing deal.

    I’m sure it’s good living’ with them, wa-aw.

    Hold the phone, I thought Matthew was the one being sentimental, and Mary was the one talking about duty. Or are we thinking of different speeches? Hrm…

    OKAY, so back to Thomas vs. Ethel. The gendered nature of what they do to that gets them back in good favor. She cooks well and wants to be near her son, he gets in a fight and protects someone he cares about at the cost of hurting himself. Very traditionally feminine/masculine things to do. But in the end, Ethel is still somewhat banished- they let her move because it’ll get her out of their hair, not because they all agree she’s forgiven. Thomas getting beat up for Pretty Boy puts him in a better light with everybody. And again, don’t forget how even Robert makes a remark that basically comes down to, “He’s been outed? I didn’t realize he was in!” And he does this in a more blase kind of way, like it’s not that big of a deal with respect to Thomas’s character; Ethel, they are unsurprised, but they act ashamed and embarrassed about her once they find out she’s a prostitute. Worry about one’s own reputation (be it that cook or Lady Violet) comes up with Ethel being a prostitute, but not Thomas being gay. I think that’s sort of the teller for how their “redemptions” (I feel uncomfortable calling it that, but I can’t think of anything else to call it, alas) differ in their ultimate circumstance.

    So if Christmas specials show us who these characters really are, then how about Thomas? Up until now, he’d been selfish, narcissistic, and manipulative. He leaves the family dog in a shed in the woods! But then since here he takes some punches for Jimmy, he’s actually a good guy, deep, deep down? I’m not ready to say he’s entirely good; I’d rather say he’s uber complex and it took the magic of the Christmas special to show us anything but sinister string-pulling from him.

    Also, the trajectory of Mary+Matthew is completely flipped in each Christmas special. They get engaged in one, he dies in the other.

    Well, I think I basically said what I think about the format before. I like it, although I’m not watching the entire time- I have it on as I do random things around my apartment. Of course, I happened to look this time when y’all did your freeze-frames at the end… Wow. ;) Anyhoo, I’d continue to participate through comments and such if another show you did recaps for was one I’m watching, since I have better contributions to make that way. I know it kind of breaks the rule for Overthinking by saying I’d rather have watched first, but, well, there ya go. But maybe, if you aren’t sure what show to do, one of the site’s editors could start a forum topic for requests and someone could pitch it in the regular podcast to get responses. Or something similar, y’all as a group could come up with a short list and put that in the forums or in a post for viewers/listeners/readers to vote.


  2. robertsharp #

    I’ve been listening to the podcast for over a year, and this is the first time I’ve actually seen your faces. Is there a word for that weird discord you feel when disembodied voices become embodied?

    Its akin to imagingint he face of a characte in a noivel, and then an actor comes along and surplants that face in your imagination.


    • fenzel OTI Staff #

      Perhaps we could use the term “Rudysammed” — in reference to Sean Astin in the Lord of the Rings movies (none of the other characters I can think of make good portmanteaus).

      I’m curious — what did you think? How did you expect us to look?


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