Review: Downton Abbey ‘Episode Seven’

The light at the end of this Downton Abbey tunnel is clearly in view now. The tensions are riding so high that we can only anticipate how the drama will truly unfold come the annual Downton Abbey Christmas Special. That, of course, is just two weeks time (I know… I know… Christmas is not in March. Take it up with the networks.).

What we can hopefully look forward to are two weddings. Both apparently will require some social adapting for certain reasons with Rose being proposed to by Atticus (religion) and Isobel announcing her imminent marriage to Lord Merton (class). It would be cruel for Downton Abbey to jeopardize such joyous occasions surely, given the melancholy we have had to suffer thus far.

Lady Rosamund and Dowager Countess, Violet, feel compelled to inform Cora about the whole Edith secret. Distraught, Cora insists before they decide upon a course of action (telling the Earl, Robert for example) they must first hear from Edith what she wants. Finally. The plan seems to be to keep the secret between the four of them and going with the charade that Edith would adopt Marigold instead. What choice do they have? Apart from the actual truth of course.

Mabel is pushy with Gillingham, who insists on not giving up on Mary. Courtship has never been so flippant. Prior to having to leave for Poland for a few months, Blake asks Mary to meet in London so they can settle it once and for all. By that he means kiss her in public where Gillingham will see and get the message it is over. It works – that was easy. So both suitors out of the running, just like that.


Mrs. Hughes asks Mary if she still has the ticket to prove Mr. Bates’ innocence, but she admits she had burnt it. Miss Baxter overhears them and later tries to meekly offer her help to Mr. Bates and Anna but is met with a very cold shoulder indeed. And more dinner table drama too, when Lord Merton’s awfully ill spoken son Larry is rude to middle-class Isobel. Remember, he was also obnoxious to Tom in an early season, and it is the plucky Irish fellow that calls a halt to the backhanded insults, calling Larry a bastard. As the discourse of this drama goes, it was a moment to applaud.

There are two great things about Downton Abbey. One, although constantly reminding us through character dialogue of certain character temperaments (mentioning of the first Larry visit) and social events (a Labour government reminder), it swiftly bypasses the longer stories or plot threads being recounted. For instance, when Cora is told about Edith, we cut to the scene of her reacting to this troubling news, rather than having to verbally relive what we have endured for the previous six episodes.

The second thing, then, is when the show portrays moments of emotion its impact tends to hit the heart full on. The Earl’s dog, Isis, is not pregnant as we, and Cora, perhaps wishfully thought, but rather has cancer and does not have long left. Seeing Robert in such a vulnerable state is moving in itself, but the heartstrings are squeezed even further when little Sybbie comes over to stroke the dog. Poor Violet, too, who does not want to lose her cousin’s companionship, though I suspect she would endorse Isobel’s happiness otherwise. We are constantly reminded of just how good an actress Dame Maggie Smith is but perhaps not more so touchingly than her scene here with Mary, confessing her potential loneliness. Downton Abbey would do well to keep that strand alive and give us, and Violent, a happy ending.


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