We open on a nice spring day, as evidenced by new leaves on the trees, birdsong, and wheelbarrows. And NinjaBates, swinging down to the village for purposes unknown. He receives a broadsheet of some kind and bumps into Gwen, Anna's roommate. She's mailing something she'd rather mail herself, thank you. Bates shows admirable discretion, but not plucky NinjAnna! Back at the big house, she demands to know what's in the "bleeding great packing case that weighs a ton" in their room, but we don't get to know, because we cut to Cora walking up to Mary, who's reading a letter out on the garden bench dressed in blue (a signature color, remember) with a nice hat. She's really pretty dressed up for sitting in her own backyard. I'm impressed. Sometimes I don't wear pants in my backyard. But it's probably too chilly in Yorkshire in the spring to do that. Anyway, the letter's from Evelyn Napier, who wants to drop in after a local hunt. We ought to know what happens next, because guess what Cora's wearing under that big baggy coat? The Entail Dress! So she'll get up to something. And she does: she gets Mary to invite Evelyn to stay with them for the hunt. They snark at each other for a few minutes, and then we cut to a Servant Scene.
Servant Scene. Gwen's big secret is a typewriter and an inflated sense of ambition (for an Edwardian maid, anyway). She admits she's a pretty good typist, and then in barges O'Brien, without even knocking. Somehow the girls manage to hide the typewriter from O'Brien; at least, they get rid of her without having to answer any uncomfortable questions. NinjAnna is sweetly supportive.
Cora and Violet are hanging out for tea and discussing Mary's idea for landing Evelyn Napier. Cora's still in her Entail Dress. Violet is in yet another purple outfit. And rightly so, for purple, remember, is an imperial color, a color of power, and authority, and wealth, and Violet, as Robert wryly points out, may be acting coyly ignorant of Evelyn's wealth and position, but she's already "looked him up in the stud books and made enquiries about the fortune". She's earned her purple today, no doubt about it. Plus, once Robert leaves, she lays into Cora about giving up the fight for Mary's inheritance. Again. In purple. Again.
As a side note, this scene is almost totally fuzzed out around the edges. I don't know what the cinematographer was going for, if this is a thing in British TV filming, but it makes it seem like a dream sequence to me.
Cut to Edith meeting up with Matthew as he comes home from work. She invites him on a tour of local churches, which he accepts, looking somewhat befuddled but perfectly polite. He's in city drag, all black, nothing to mention here. Edith is wearing a dark ensemble that features bits of pink, peacock green, and blue, if her hat is anything to go on, but over it, she's got a pale coat with black velvet trim. It doesn't match her outfit. It looks, in fact, like something Mary might wear. Edith is trying to be as proactive as her elder sister, so she throws on something that makes her look like her, over her own usual self. It doesn't match very well, literally or figuratively.
Servant Scene. Everyone treats Gwen's typewriter as if it were explosive. O'Brien says the girls were trying to hide it, so that's how she knew it was wrong. In that case, O'Brien, a sense of decency and compassion must also be wrong, because you're hiding yours pretty well. Mrs. Hughes is not wearing her Stripes of Authority, so although she's kind of stern when Gwen mouths off a little, she doesn't actually scold her for wanting to leave service and become a secretary.
Anna is lacing Mary into her stays. They are so gorgeous with the embroidery on the front, it almost makes me want to wear them. Notice how long and lean they are. No more Victorian hourglass figures, and in a few years they'll dispense with them altogether.
|Source. Mary doesn't wanna.|
NinjaBates goes to a weird basement House of Horrors to purchase a limp corrector from--I hesitate to call him an artist. Let's go with craftsman--a craftsman of artificial limbs and other scary things. He displays the sort of surliness I've heard is common among North Country tradesmen, at least if Harry Enfield and Monty Python are to be trusted. Bates buys one of his contraptions without even checking the guy's credentials. One full-color anatomy poster and an oddly slope-shouldered skeleton slouching in a corner do not a trained orthopedist make, Bates!
Crawley House. Matthew and his mother get a dinner invitation. They snark about Mary, and Isobel displays a little casual middle-class English racism by claiming she can't pronounce Mr. Pamuk's name. Seriously? Anyway, their clothes are nothing remarkable. I can't even see them very well, because the light is so low.
Servant Scene. Anna and Gwen lay out Mary's riding clothes. Gwen has a meltdown. Bates helps calm her down and assures her you can change your life if you want to, because he's done it himself. Foreshadowy! The Ninja Twins bond. Bates winces. Mrs. Hughes catches him. She's in her Stripes of Authority, but Bates fobs her off with a quip.
Hunt Day! Upbeat music, stirrup cups (yum) and some kind of cakey snack for the riders (and Thomas, naughty boy). Brownies? No, they hadn't been invented yet. More probably some sort of treacle cake or gingerbread, but if it were sticky, wouldn't it get on their gloves? Anyway, horses and hounds milling about, and Mary and Evelyn trading quips while waiting for the dandy Pamuk. And what a dandy he is! Yowza. Everyone's in standard riding costume of one kind or another, so let's just take a moment to mention that the red riding jackets are called "hunting pinks"for obscure reasons, and later you'll see everyone skidding about in their socks on rolls of canvas when they go inside, because hunting is a filthy sport and when you're done with it, so are you. It's worth noting that Pamuk and Mary are both in black habits while Napier is in pinks, making him the odd man out. I like Lady Mary's veil and her little cameo earrings. Tally ho!
|Source. Not a matched pair, as you can see.|
|Source. See? Don't they look better together?|
Meanwhile, Edith and Matthew are enjoying a calm afternoon in the local churches. Well, maybe "enjoying" is a stretch. Edith does her best to flirt. She fails. Matthew is either oblivious or uninterested, or both. Too bad it's going so poorly, because I ADORE Edith's outfit. It's hunter green with a lovely blouse with a Japanese-inspired iris pattern. The jacket has a little lace on the collar, and a few nice details in the buttons. It's probably her best day suit, and she does it credit. I found exactly one image of it online and the link was broken. No, I can't do screengrabs on Netflix. Search for it yourselves and you'll see what I mean.
Everyone's back from the hunt, encrusted with mud. Thomas notices Pamuk and asks Carson, "is that one mine?", possibly indicating that the upper staff, at least, know about his proclivities. Cora and Robert greet the hunters at a safe distance. Why didn't they go? Surely Robert rides, even if Cora hasn't learned to enjoy that most English of pastimes. He's in his country-yeoman tweeds. She was wearing her Entail Dress before the riders left, but she's changed into a foofy lavender dress with a big fat amethyst at the throat. Hmmm. Amethyst = wisdom and humility. Ok, it doesn't apply this time. Note that Napier's waistcoat is (snore) dun-colored, but Pamuk's is a rich plummy burgundy with a satin backing. Much more interesting!
|Source. Après hunt! Too bad Pamuk's not in this one.|
Bates dresses Robert. They discuss how excited Thomas was to have the "beautiful" Pamuk to serve. They know about it too! Then Bates has another spasm and brushes it off.
Thomas "forgets himself", although I think it counts as entrapment. Pamuk is sneaky!
Dinner. The Crawleys are discussing the servants at table (specifically, Gwen's ambitions), which is a big no-no, and they're doing it in front of guests, which is unthinkable. Fellowes is sacrificing propriety and historical accuracy for the sake of some exposition and a chance to prove that he's not a toffee-nosed jerk, by telling us (through the characters, of course) that it matters that servants are happy with their lot. Methinks the baron doth protest too much. Sybil's only line here is as sweet and fluffy as her dress, an unusual (for her) pink confection. Edith is also in pink and gets no lines. Isobel is in the same dress as always and as tiresome as always. Cora's in the Topside-Boob dress, Violet is in glittering black with a high collar and a large dose of imperiousness, of course, and Mary, well, Mary is in red. Her sisters in pink are but pale copies of her. She's got black gloves and a feather nearly a foot high on her head, like a flag, a...red...flag? Uh-oh.
|Source. For some reason she's missing the feather.|
And then it all goes pear-shaped. In an unusual twist on the "come and look at my engravings" ploy (Pamuk gets Mary to come and look at her own engravings!), things get all date-rapey. That room must have bigger than Pamuk thought; it took a good two or three seconds to back her up all the way against the wall. Yikes. Mary deals with it pretty well, although if she knew what would happen later she probably would have had him "cast out into the darkness". Oh, well. She probably thought rejecting him and stomping off was enough, but she doesn't know about the deal he cut with Thomas, and she didn't see that nasty grin creep across his face like we did. Ew.
|Source. Tee hee. Also, ew.|
We all know what happens next. For Lady Mary's sake (and the fact that the costumes aren't significant or interesting because everyone's in white nightgowns), I won't go into detail, but I do have a continuity question: When Pamuk apprehends Mary in her room, she's sitting up in bed reading, candle still burning. Since dinners like this one could run pretty late, it's probably safe to say that it's past midnight. When she, Anna, and Cora are dragging Pamuk back to his room (*headflop*), dawn is breaking (it's springtime) and Daisy sees them. Assuming it was around 1AM when Pamuk snuck in, and Daisy probably gets up at about 5 to light the first fires and wake up the rest of the (female) staff at 6, are we to assume that four hours have gone by from coercion to cover-up? How long were they at it, if I may be so indelicate? If I may be further indelicate (it's ok, because I'm married), there's a limit to what you can do to/with a woman until she's, um, not a virgin for her husband anymore. Did poor Mary lie there for an hour or two trying to shift him off of her and figure out what to do? Did it really take another hour or so to get him from the family wing to his room in the bachelor's corridor? Was Mary up reading until 2 or 3AM? Or was there a convenient collapsing of time so that the scullery maid could bear witness to the scandal? What do you all think? And why didn't Mary lie when her mother asked her if Pamuk had forced himself on her? It would have saved her her mother's scorn!
Next morning. Thomas discovers the corpse to the sound of menacing violins. I like the way his chin drops, just a little. Mary comes down the stairs, meets Napier, and freaks out. She's wearing a black skirt and a black-and-white striped blouse. Someone's feeling guilty! Those jailbird stripes tell you all you need to know about Mary's state of mind.
Evelyn Napier acts like an Upper-Class Twit straight out of Monty Python, or a Wodehouse novel, which is not surprising because according to Robert, his father "only ever talks about racing", to the point of not mentioning his wife's death to his friends, so it's obvious Evelyn learned it from the cradle. "Terrible thing," he stutters. "Awful. Ghastly for your parents." Then he asks to see the gardens with Mary, as if nothing's happened and their courtship can proceed apace. Of course, when she loses it, the penny drops pretty quickly, so I suppose he's not that much of a twit. Fun side note: he asks to see the gardens, and he's wearing a flowered tie!
Servant scene. Gwen spouts anachronistic garbage about treating every day as if it were your last. Oh, honestly. Thomas makes veiled comments about Mr. Pamuk's final activities and trots off before anyone can think about them. Sybil surprises Gwen with an ad for a secretary and helps her arrange an interview. She is super-cute in a blue-and-white striped blouse--the very picture of a turn-of-the century junior bluestocking!
|Sorry folks, I lost the link for this one.|
Carson and Robert discuss funeral arrangements and Feminine Sensibilities (irony), and then NinjaBates is discovered weeping in pain by Mrs. Hughes and her Stripes of Authority. It's significant that she demands to know what's wrong with him, not just because valets were generally above the command of the housekeeper and butler (Bates is mostly wrong when he says that "it's for Mr. Carson to give [him] orders"), but also because in a Great House, the housekeeper would be responsible for treating sick or injured servants. Downton Abbey is big, but it's probably not so big that it employs a dedicated stillroom maid to make jams, cordials and basic herbal medicines; those would be among Mrs. Hughes's jobs. Even if there is a maid to help with these tasks, it's Mrs. Hughes who supervises and keeps the book of recipes and remedies. So it would be her responsibility to be on the lookout for anyone who's limping, or sniffling, or whatever. But Bates fobs her off again, and we cut to the Dowager Countess sweeping in and making vinegary comments. Mary freaks out again. This scene is so short I don't really have much to say about anyone's dresses. We've seen them all before and they served their purpose then.
Servant Scene. Gwen gets curious about Thomas' comments, which he deflects. We get the first hints of Daisy's obsession with Pamuk's death and Mrs. Patmore's degenerating eyesight. When your plot arc dies, get another.
Short scene with Matthew and his mother, and Mrs. Bird's back. Nothing to report here. Moving on. O'Brien is getting Cora ready for bed. She probes for information about Mr. Napier and gets what she needs. I wonder if everyone downstairs relies on her for gossip, for all they dislike her surliness. I bet they do.
Carson and Mary have a lovely, if somewhat morbid, scene together. Mary's in black, even though she needn't go into mourning for an acquaintance (ahem), but she's feeling pretty down. Carson bucks her up. Awww.
Bates finally gets caught after dressing Robert and failing to laugh at his joke about Mrs. Patmore being a German spy. The Stripes of Authority win at last. Luckily she has a strong stomach.
Matthew and Mary chat on the lawn. Mary, having gone through her ordeal, is now in her trademark ice blue (in the jacket and hat), with a dark skirt and white blouse. She's all grown up now!
|Source. The caption for this link reads, in part, "yaypoorbates". Heh.|
Next up: The Secret Life of Housekeepers, and Violet puts one over on Isobel, but Molesley still suffers. The world is just as it should be.