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Time to Fix-Up the Abbey?

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As I have noted before, I am Stateside, so I won't see DA until January. But seeing some of the comments about S5E1 indicate to me that Fellowes has hardened his conventions on various characters (Robert as a shouting buffoon, Thomas as a cardboard cutout villain, Cora as the Vacuous Countess, Mary Queen of Snarks, Bates the Hated, etc.)

 

So, if you were to architect it, how would you make things better? What can make the Abbey glisten as it did the first time it hit the screen?

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Well I wouldn't give anything on the comments about Episode 5.1. I've been in den fandom since series 2 and I have yet to see mostly positive comments on ANY episode that aired since then. A lot of people are always trashing it, no matter how well the episode is.

 

I liked Episode 5.1. It was funny and fast paced and exciting. There are numerous storylines and most of them promise to be interesting. I think everyone has his own favourite and watches it solely for this character. So the unsatisfied are maybe those who's favourite didn't have a great storyline in the episode (or series) which will always happen with 20+ characters in a cast. There're always storylines that don't interest a viewer (in my case Bates or Anna and I have zero interest in Mary's love life either) But IMO no reason to change anything. It's still great, entertaining Sunday evening TV.

Edited by Andorra
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I think the big problem is the plotting.  The first series had some genuinely OMG! moments - Pamuk, Cheeky Charlie, Thomas and the Duke.  I'm not sure that anything has surprised me since series 1.  Nothing really changes - Robert and Carson hate change, Mary is the perfect prize that all men must seek, Edith is a punching bag, Tom feels sorry for himself, Cora does whatever it is that Cora does, Thomas is evil, Mrs Hughes and the Dowager are awesome...  blah blah blah.

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I think plotting is a problem and also repetition of storylines and plot points, along with little acknowledgement that in the story's universe, a LOT of time has passed.

 

Mary surrounded by suitors and needing to get herself a man was season one, and season two. I really don't need a third go-around of Mary picking and choosing - at least in season two there was a smidge of desperation in her need to marry. And this is a storyline where the show needs to acknowledge how old Mary is supposed to be at this point. It's what? 1924? And we met Mary in 1912 when she was theoretically 24? There's no way Tony or Blake or Evelyn would be so desperate to find a woman that the best *they* could do is a 36 year old widow with a child who openly notes at times that she's not over her dead husband.

 

We've seen the magic letter from the dead that somehow sets the whole situation right *twice*. We've also had the "person unexpectedly inherits" three times, twice with Matthew, once in the form of Blake.

 

Bates murdering someone and or accused of murdering someone - does this ever go anywhere? And we're on round two of this. And we have the magical age issue here - Bates and Anna have been married for years... are they ever going to have a child?

 

The downstairs plots pretty consistently end the same way all the time. The young people fail to date each other, Daisy continues to cook and again, Patmore, Hughes, and Carson were all somewhat elderly in 1912 and its now 12 years later. Oh, and Thomas does and says shitty things to people and continually gets away with it because no one is ever willing to sit down and make Cora and Robert see reason.

 

Edith? Oh look repetition of plots again, where she's either the dumbass or the whipping child.

 

And I hate to say it, because I like Penelope Wilton, but most of Isobel's plots are completely disconnected at this point because her only connection to the family was Matthew, and the season horror that Isobel is working with prostitutes or prisoners or methheads is again, a constantly repeated plot.

 

Meanwhile Tom wanders thru scenes, the Dowager says something biting.... They just aren't doing anything new.

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Well said about the repetition.  There is little to no growth for any of the characters.  The stuff they say in Season 5 could have come out of their mouths in Season 3. For example, the crack Mary made about Edith trying to set fire to her bedroom?  Good for a cheap laugh but beyond that?  Daisy wanting to learn math could have occurred in Season 3.  Thomas acting like a jerk actually reverts the character *after* a rare development in Season 3.  Meanwhile, they have visiting characters like Cora's mother and brother in the Christmas special which had pretty much no impact on any of the regular characters in the long-run.

 

For me, pacing and depth are two other major problems.

 

No subplot should be dragged out for more than one season.  But we had the Jimmy/Alfred/Daisy/Ivy quadrangle stretch for more than a season, while the tiresome Baxter/Thomas secret, the Greene murder, Mary suitor triangle, and Tom/Bunting, which could have been all resolved last season but were all extend into Season 5.  The only plot they are stretching out which might have been able to sustain it is the Edith baby secret, but that too needs to be dealt with in Season 5.

 

These last few seasons have had very surface plots which do not seem to reveal anything deep about any of the characters and do not become meaty, and as mentioned above, they generally leave no lasting consequences on the characters' personalities.  What happened to Anna was horrible, but we never got to see her recovery from her perspective.  We've had an entire season of Gillingham and Blake, but I don't feel like we know them.  Fair enough, they're supporting characters, but I don't feel like we know how Mary feels about them either.  In Season 4, I got no sense that she was sexually attracted to Gillingham at all, but apparently, she is from what we got from the Season 5 premiere.  At least with Matthew in Season 1, he was a complete character, and we got to see him as a person when he is not with Mary.  

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If there's one thing I wish the show would do more, it's have the main characters interact with each other; their stories connect so they have more scenes.

I agree. There are definitely duos and trios in particular that I'd like to see more of. I've always wished that the show would use Rosamund more. I'd like to see her in a scene with Robert because she seems like she'd be willing to put him in his place, even more so than Violet who's sometimes inclined to baby him. I'd also like to see Violet and Rosamund discuss how they think Edith is getting on. Furthermore I'd like to see Edith talk about the Marigold situation with somebody other than Mr Drewe.

 

I'd like to see Rose interact more with Edith, Mary, and Tom. If Sarah Bunting had to be shoved down our throats I think I would have preferred seeing Isobel give a luncheon with Tom, Sarah, Rose, and maybe Clarkson in attendance. Would Sarah be just as obnoxious with this sort of guest lineup? I would have liked having something like that to compare to Sarah's first dinner at Downton. Isobel could have suggested it the night she offered to give Sarah a ride home. I think this might have been better rather than getting another evening with Sarah offending people at Downton because it felt so recycled.

 

With Downstairs though I actually think it would be helpful to start up the revolving door of servants. Mrs Hughes mentioned that a lot of great houses are using dailies from their local villages to help out so I think I'd like to see Downton do the same. Having new people come in downstairs, bringing in whatever issue, and getting the reactions from the downstairs regulars I feel like it could breathe some new life into the downstairs characters so that they aren't always talking about the same things. 

 

Another thing I'd like to see is having a few members of the family go to another grand house to stay. I thought the CS episode at Inverary Castle was great and I'd love to see another house featured on the show. Maybe we can see Gillingham's family seat or that of Charles Blake since he's supposedly going to inherit a pile. Mary has mentioned staying at Cliveden before. Something like that. It would be nice too to see how the traveling servants would enjoy their time at another house. How are things run? Is Carson more strict than the average? Is the food better or worse? Do they have more free time? The show Upstairs Downstairs did a nice job of placing the servants in different environments from time to time and I don't think this show does the best job of that. Did we see any Downstairs scenes when the family was in London? I don't think we saw any when they were in Scotland but it's been awhile since I've seen the episode so I'm not sure.

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I agree with everything you said, avaleigh. I think the trouble, is, though, that there are two kinds of shows: the kind that use their stories to explore the characters and character dynamics, and the kind that use their characters to move plots. Unfortunately, Downton Abbey is the latter - it uses its characters to move pre-assigned plots forward and has never seemed interested in exploring them outside the bounds of those plots. It's a real shame, as there are such potentially interesting stories left to waste.

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Well, I agree with most of what has been said.  Characters move plots rather than the reverse, they spin their wheels for years, story lines drag out long past their expiration dates, no one ever really changes and neither do the dynamics, there isn't enough character interaction Upstairs, the B plots are handled haphazardly and even the A plot is not Grade A material, Fellowes never met a ridiculous deus ex machina he didn't like,  the old characters don't age at all, etc.

 

And for me the biggest problem at the moment is:  Repetition, Repetition, Repetition.  And did I mention Repetition?

Edited by ZulaMay
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My biggest problem is the lack of a romantic interest for Tom Branson. I only watch the show for him and he's getting a crap storyline for the second year in a row now. If he will end the series still lonely and thinking about America, I swear I'll quit. I can't watch that for yet another series!

 

Everything else is still enjoyable for me. They could kill Anna and Bates it was for me and I'm bored to tears about Mary's love triangle, but I don't mind snoozing out of a few storylines every episode, if I can still enjoy the others. I love the little side stories like Mrs Patmore's nephew Archie and I enjoy Cora's storyline a lot this year. I love stupid thick-head Robert and I'm looking forward to see what happens with Thomas and with Edith. I always enjoy the Dowager and I like to see what is going to happen with Isobel and Lord Merton. I also enjoy Rose. She is such a warm and likeable girl. I would love to see more of her, even if it is just to admire how pretty Lily James is. That pale pink dress in Episode 5.3?? She looked SO lovely!

 

Give Tom a nice love interest for heaven's sake and I would be a happy and content viewer again. As it is, it is frustrating beyond believe that battleaxeSarah Bunting is dragged through episode after episode and we're almost halfway through series 5 and Tom STILL doesn't have a love interest in sight!!

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It's the problem with the show: what kind of romantic interest? How, given that the show is about Downton, do they possibly do that? As a celibate widower, he fits in the show and works as the new Sybil - basically a mouthpiece for progressivism and modernization. A counterpoint to Robert vis-a-vis the estate in particular and Society Is Changing in general (the role that used to be filled, to varying degrees, by Matthew, Sybil, and Rose). So he's stuck in some kind of netherworld. His career is now supporting an institution that will have no place for his daughter when she grows up, and he can't do the entirely natural thing and move on from his wife. It wouldn't work? Would they all live at Downton? But since the show can't have Robert kick him out while not looking like a complete and utter asshole, the show doesn't press the issue. They alluded to that in the last episode. Robet doesn't want to know that Tom might start seeing other women, even though it's the most natural thing in the world. 

 

I assume the Sarah Bunting storyline is to ensure Tom doesn't go back to his old revolutionary ways, since she's such an unsympathetic shrew. So what, then? He can't go at America unless Allen Leach wants to leave and it doesn't look like that's the case, so there's no way to do anything with his character that drives the story. Just a sounding board, plot device or mouthpiece. 

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It's the problem with the show: what kind of romantic interest? How, given that the show is about Downton, do they possibly do that? As a celibate widower, he fits in the show and works as the new Sybil - basically a mouthpiece for progressivism and modernization. A counterpoint to Robert vis-a-vis the estate in particular and Society Is Changing in general (the role that used to be filled, to varying degrees, by Matthew, Sybil, and Rose). So he's stuck in some kind of netherworld. His career is now supporting an institution that will have no place for his daughter when she grows up, and he can't do the entirely natural thing and move on from his wife. It wouldn't work? Would they all live at Downton? But since the show can't have Robert kick him out while not looking like a complete and utter asshole, the show doesn't press the issue. They alluded to that in the last episode. Robet doesn't want to know that Tom might start seeing other women, even though it's the most natural thing in the world. 

 

I assume the Sarah Bunting storyline is to ensure Tom doesn't go back to his old revolutionary ways, since she's such an unsympathetic shrew. So what, then? He can't go at America unless Allen Leach wants to leave and it doesn't look like that's the case, so there's no way to do anything with his character that drives the story. Just a sounding board, plot device or mouthpiece. 

And yet it doesn't have to be that way. If Sarah Bunting were a perfectly charming woman that Tom might reasonably fall in love with, there'd be plenty of story in showing some of the issues above being worked out on-screen - Tom coming to terms with falling in love again, the family coming to terms with his falling in love again, wrestling with the issue of what to do and where to live, maybe taking a cottage on the estate and moving in there to build a new family unit with Sybbie while still remaining part of the family at the Abbey. After all, Isobel and Violet don't live up at the big house, and neither do the Bates's. Tom would still be the estate manager, would still be working closely with Robert and Mary to manage the estate, the family would still want to see Sybbie - there's plenty of story mileage in working out those new boundaries, the new wife coming to terms with being associated with this family and yet not part of it, establishing childcare arrangements (would Sybbie still come up to the house to share a nurse with George? Would the new stepmother stay at home to look after her, thus separating her further from her cousin and the family? Where would any new children stand?) I can see loads of possible storylines there. And yet.

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So it would have to be a middle-class woman who wants to live on a big estate. An estate her children will be on the periphery of, get to see their cousins and half-sister enjoy and take advantage of in a way they never can. Be treated as a a sort of poor relation with no real place, where the family is friendly to them, but not a part of them. And make the upkeep and survival of this estate Tom's life work, when there's nothing really in it for him. If the show really wanted to do something interesting they could have Tom marry a rich progressive. Someone committed to modern ideals with more than enough money to make it happen and who would outrank the Crawley's socially. 

 

The only kind of woman who would be happy with this kind of situation is a gold-digger, and the show can't go there without ruining Tom as a character. Yes, there is potential for drama there, but not in a way the show would ever do. 

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So it would have to be a middle-class woman who wants to live on a big estate. [...] The only kind of woman who would be happy with this kind of situation is a gold-digger. 

Or someone who genuinely loves Tom, wants what's best for him and Sybbie, and is willing to reach some form of compromise. Would there be tension there? Yes. But that doesn't have to be a bad thing, tension and conflict are what fuel storylines. It wouldn't even need to get as far as marriage and moving out, the issues raised by a new romance could prove too much and separate the poor lovelorn couple, that would still be a better story than Tom being awkward friends with Sarah Bunting while everyone else hates her because she's got no tact or discretion.

 

I'm not saying it's a perfect solution. I'm saying it would be possible to give Tom a proper love life without writing him out of the show, that there are other options.

 

ETA: as for Tom working toward the maintenance and upkeep of the estate without having a stake in it...it's his job. I don't have a stake in the future of the organisation I work for, beyond requiring it to remain functional so that I can continue to draw my salary. If Tom had a new family living in a small house on the estate, they'd be in roughly the same boat as Isobel - connected to the family yet not really of it. Would there be inequality between his children in the eyes of the Crawleys? Yes. But Sybbie herself has no stake in the estate - she has no title, the most she can hope for is a bequest from her grandparents - and by removing his daughter to his own household Tom would be better placed to shape the boundaries of his family life. Instead of remaining suspended in limbo, he'd become just another middle-class man holding down a decent job to support his family, moving forward with his life, while maintaining a relationship with the family of his dead wife - sounds healthier to me than feeling trapped and stifled as he does now.

Edited by Llywela
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Well, again, part of the problem is that they aren't acknowledging that time has passed quite swiftly. Tom is well past any reasonable mourning period and frankly he's never going to be Matthew in Robert's eyes and he's eventually going to have to make a decision about how his daughter is raised. Its the 1920s in an England denuded of men - there's no reason he wouldn't be an eligible bachelor with having reasonable good looks and a good job.

 

I know there's some huge Tom fans here - and I like him too, so it does hurt to suggest this but... perhaps the character has run his course at Downton? He's exactly the sort of character that would do well to leave the show for America and perhaps return later... because right now all he's doing is being scenery for the most part.

 

And that might indicate a bigger problem for Downton... the inability to let characters go. I know, everyone will point to season three but look, its a family living on an estate with servants over *years*. At some point it starts to get a little creepy that no one can conceive of a different life.

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If he's going to go to America fine, but after stealing the love of his life from him and making us watch that heart-wrenching scene, why in the Hell could they not let him fall in love again and go to America with his new wife?  They could.  It would be easy.  There are a ton of women out there who would be suitable for him...even if they didn't want to live at Downton.

 

Matthew was barely cold in his grave when Mary got new love interests.  The show could pour energy into that but couldn't be bothered to give this poor man someone to love after all this time?  So he doesn't have to leave alone?  Sure, Alfred and Ivy left but they didn't lose the love of their lives while WE WATCHED....and Sybil wasn't just Tom's love but a beloved character by viewers, too.

 

It would take almost NO effort to find him someone nice instead of making us and him endure eight episodes of this awful, abrasive, annoying character in Buntiing.

 

JF put a lot of effort into the "Kill Sybil And Break Our Hearts" episodes.  He showed Tom grieving and being lonely and sobbing with Mrs. Hughes in the S3 CS about how he couldn't bear to be without her.  He invented and cast and threw two awful women at him.  And he can't be bothered to at least make up for all that pain by creating a NICE character whom he could love before just dispatching him to America?  JFC.

 

Bring back Madeline Allsopp.  Everyone liked her.  She's minor gentry with no money and seems modern.  Or invent someone new for him, I don't care.  Or give him Rose.  But for fuck's sake, do SOMETHING.

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Also, let's face it, at the pace this show tells stories, we could get at least two seasons of mileage out of meet cute, forming a friendship, fighting attraction, admitting attraction, Tom has a but Sybil crisis, family has a but Sybil crisis, will they won't they, etc, before you even have to begin to think about the logistical issues thrown up by the prospect of remarriage.

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So it would have to be a middle-class woman who wants to live on a big estate. An estate her children will be on the periphery of, get to see their cousins and half-sister enjoy and take advantage of in a way they never can. Be treated as a a sort of poor relation with no real place, where the family is friendly to them, but not a part of them. And make the upkeep and survival of this estate Tom's life work, when there's nothing really in it for him. <snip> The only kind of woman who would be happy with this kind of situation is a gold-digger, and the show can't go there without ruining Tom as a character. Yes, there is potential for drama there, but not in a way the show would ever do.

From my limited knowledge of English estates (mainly garnered from Georgette Heyer and Jane Austen), I would think being estate manager would be a perfectly logical position for Tom, and even future Mrs. Tom. They'd have a home of their own, Tom would have a solid income, Sybbie would be near her family, and she and any future children would likely receive good educations. It may not be Tom's dream, but it's practical and respectible, and sometimes that's enough, especially when you're a single parent.

The only objection I could see would be Tom's political leanings, but I think the show has done a good job of giving him legitimate reasons for soften toward the estate model of ownership. He's getting an opportunity to modernize, the Crawleys have been shown to be fairly liberal with their staff and tenants, and he's seen how the estate supports the community. He still has his ideals, but he no longer sees it as black and white.

As for Mrs. Tom, I can see a certain awkwardness if they continued to live at Downton, or even if they lived on the estate. But I think a man like Tom - smart, driven, self-educated, kind, a good father and friend - would be in high enough demand for a pretty second daughter from a good family to overlook some awkwardness.

All that to say - I want to see Tom find someone. Whether it be Rose, or Madeline Allsop, or someone new. I even have occasions where I think a match with Edith could work, something that starts as a marriage of convenience when he finds out about Marigold, but gradually turns into more. Far-fetched, I know, but that's one of my favorite romantic tropes.

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I agree with all that said, that it really is not that much effort or difficulty to give Tom a new love interest. It would offer far more story-opportunities than having him doubt his self and asking himself if he should move to America. Be honest, that's all he's doing since the CS in series 3!

 

I liked the storyline initially and thought it made sense, but drag this out for more than two series now?? Why? Just in this thread people came up with ideas immediately and without much thinking, that sounded more interesting and less repetive than what we got for Tom during the whole series 4 and now series 5.

 

I thought Julian Fellows must have a reason for dragging it out. A love interest he could not introduce earlier, or who was busy with other storylines, but it looks as if he put Tom in limbo just because he has no idea what to do with him.

 

If that's the case I ask myself why he killed Sybil in the first place, instead of just writing Tom and Sybil off the show together at the end of series 3? It would have been very easy to do so since they were living in Ireland anyway.

 

Don't get me wrong: I was one of the people who were happy that he kept Tom and I loved the second part of series 3, when Tom mourned so badly about Sybil. But since then?? He's doing nothing but feeling uncomfortable and I really don't think his storylines in series 4 or 5 deserve to kill half of my OTP and have me crying for hours and losing sleep for over a week.

Edited by Andorra

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Me neither.  And all those who defended the story (and Robert) and said he'd find love again have so far been proven wrong.  He hasn't found love, there is no one on the horizon, and he's been spinning his wheels and feeling out of place for two full seasons.  At this point I feel doubly betrayed and like Fellowes literally does not care AT ALL about what he did to Sybil/Tom (and my heart) or about Tom's storyline.  It's like he's just using him to prove that the Toffs are such nice people when you get to know them and you shouldn't pre-judge them or be strong in your opinions against them.

 

So far that's it.  And no, it was totally NOT worth losing Sybil for this crap.  They could have stayed all the way through the S3 CS (because Jess was contracted and available), reconciled with the family and then sailed off to a happy ending.  That would have been so much better than what we've gotten.  The only one who has benefitted is the actor.  And I guess those who just like watching people suffer on screen and like to look at his cute face.

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I think Tom's a fixture, and therefore has to marry posh AND related somehow to the Crawleys, so he stays in the house. I don't think Mary and Matthew ever did move out. Given that, it's Rose or Mary for him. They're not going to marry him to an aristo who's not a Crawley because it would strain already strained plots to keep him around. I don't think he's run his course; I just think they have him spinning his wheels with this America/I don't belong crap, just as they have everybody else spinning their wheels while 33 year old Mary (just looked it up - born in 1891?) tries to figure out who she wants to marry. Too right, we don't know these guys. I felt I knew Matthew from day one - we saw him with his mother talking out how he felt about the whole Downton situation. They haven't lifted a finger about Mary's suitors in their own right and I'm not sure I actually care, anyway. Look at Rose - spinning HER wheels. They bring her in and don't write for her. Even her relationship with Jack was basically for Tom to see them and report back, and Mary to show off how progressive she is. We never saw that relationship develop. They just tell us who Rose is, but her stories are all about other people, if they're even stories. Her scenarios. Rose does something (Russian party), it sets up for other people (Violet, and the Bunting deal).

 

I actually don't mind characters driving plot, as long as it's not the same plot and the same notes, and here, it is. I swear, Fellowes takes something that should be a story BEAT and stretches it out for two seasons and then does another version of it the third season. A freaking BEAT.

 

Must say I get pretty mad when I think about it, that they had Edith carve a new path for herself, and look sensational while she did it, and get sexually progressive before Mary did, and it turns out to just be a strategem to reset her as the family whipping post who is considered loveless and sad sack by all. I would like to know why they had the scene of Gregson giving her power of attorney if they were never going to do anything with it, either.

Edited by DianeDobbler
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I actually don't mind characters driving plot, as long as it's not the same plot and the same notes

Characters driving plots is fine, the characters should drive the plot, which then becomes a vehicle for getting to know them better and for moving their lives forward. If the characters are driving the plot we get natural storytelling that builds on what has gone before, exploring dynamics and issues and possibilities as they arise, etc. The problems come when the plot is what drives the characters, particularly if it is someone else's plot, because what happens then is that instead of building on where the characters are now, the writers instead contrive new (or repeat old) scenarios to place them in, even if it means twisting this character out of shape or putting that character on ice, etc.

 

I totally agree about simple story beats being stretched out beyond the point of ridiculousness, so that a development that in real life would be over in a matter of weeks, on the show gets dragged out for years. And then gets repeated for a few more years after that, round and round in circles.

Edited by Llywela
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God, even Daisy's "improving herself" is Gwen's secretarial course from S1 all over again.

 

Too much this show feels like JF's personal dollhouse, filled with Barbies and Kens that he can't bear to part with, so the plots are ever more contrived to keep them in the dollhouse.

 

I miss the S1 ingenuity of plots like "Mary fucks a man to death!"

Edited by vesperholly
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Must say I get pretty mad when I think about it, that they had Edith carve a new path for herself, and look sensational while she did it, and get sexually progressive before Mary did, and it turns out to just be a strategem to reset her as the family whipping post who is considered loveless and sad sack by all. I would like to know why they had the scene of Gregson giving her power of attorney if they were never going to do anything with it, either.

YES. Edith had a great storyline that actually fit her character perfectly. She never did quite fit in with the family: she liked to read and Mary mocked her for it ("I have a life!"), she's a bit more cerebral, not a party girl. So she impresses this self-made married newspaper man with her writing, gets a column, enters into an affair with him and hangs out in London and meets his literary friends in his fabulous flat.

Perfect. She didn't have to marry him. She could have lived an unconventional but interesting life as a writer and a mistress. Her family wouldn't have approved but who cares? Certainly not them. But no, Fellowes had to just throw it away for THIS. Drag her back to the Abbey and make her the forlorn, loveless, alienated one all over again. Give her no power or agency.

She still has the POA from Michael and according to LC she is still involved with the paper.....we're just not seeing it. Which sucks because it would be a lot more interesting than this. JF said she was supposed to represent the women who never married after the war. OK, fine, so she doesn't have to get married or have kids. She can still have a life. And any attempt by the show to "tell" me Mary is more progressive? Bwah. That's a joke. She's just like her grandmother except with a diaphragm.

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It would be much easier for Edith to keep Marigold secret if Marigold were in London and she went to London regularly. She would be much better able to fabricate a cover for the baby's "arrival" at Downton as the child of a (dead) colleague. At present, since she has no friends or colleagues, there's no one who could possibly need her to take their child in the event of their tragic death. Never in a million years could the family be written to appear to believe her.  Making her Marigold's godmother at the Drewes (when she already had one) is both disrespectful of Mrs. Drewe and creepy -- like the kid's has a chance of being orphaned 3 times. Born under a bad sign indeed. Are the original godparents to be informed, by whom? Oh, nice.

I really wish that Anna had burst into tears and refused to do Mary's errand. It would have been nice to see Mary refused and in need of using some genuine resourcefulness just this once. With a chauffeur, she can't even get a flat tire. Humor at her inability to use said diaphragm seems unlikely. Mary/Dougherty only really came alive in the last episode S1E2 when Blake was about to "abandon" her to simply go to bed because he was tired and at dinner with Napier.

It's striking how "hungry" the actors all are for new characters, visitors, plots. They're animatronic and bored.

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I don't know exactly where to post this, but is anyone else tired of the hit-you-over-the-head message that the times, they are a-changin'?  It seems to me that in earlier seasons this was shown, rather than odd, stilted expositions from the characters that are as subtle as neon beer signs. 

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I definitely agree with you, mightycrone. At least three characters have actually said some variation of "times are changing" in the past two episodes alone. It's like, we know, we know, we can see it for ourselves.

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