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Ladies Night at "Downton Abbey"; bonus Bates explainer

By Kathleen Edgecomb and Marisa Nadolny

Publication: theday.com

Published February 04. 2013 1:00PM   Updated February 04. 2013 1:58PM

Dahling,

Here's the take-home lesson from last night's "Downton" for me: Carson and Lord Grantham need to form an Old Man Grumpus support group, stocked with loads of Scotch. I'm not sure who conducted the bigger snobfest. Though a tad heavy-handed, it was very cool for our writers to point out that elitism knows no bounds: Lords dump on commoners, commoners dump on their kids, the help dump on the new guys, and everyone dumps on prostitutes. Perhaps it's the post-World War I circle of life.

Furthermore, isn't it sweet that Lord G thinks he actually has control over his houseful of gals? Silly rabbit...same goes for Carson vs. Mrs. Hughes. When she swept out the door after NOT being forbidden to acknowledge Ethel, the look on her face as she did so was hilarious.

Lovies,

M.

***

My Dear Marisa,

I think the lesson is life goes on.

There's dancing downstairs. Daisy may inherit a farm. Ethel is learning to cook. And Lady Mary and Matthew vow never to take each other for granted.

I agree times are a'chang'n and the menfolk, at least those with all the power—Lord Grantham upstairs and Mr. Carson downstairs, don't like it.

And Mr. Bates is getting out of jail, yada yada yada ...Although what did that lawyer say to Mrs. Bates' neighbor to get her to change her story? Again!

Sadly, I'm not finished grieving for Sybil. Branson is so sad. He knows Lord Grantham only tolerated him because of Sybil, and now that he's named the baby Sybil and he wants to raise her, gasp, Catholic, well I think there is little room at Downton for such a sort.

As Grand-mama said "Grieving makes me so terribly tired."

-K.

***

KE,

I'm glad you brought up the Catholic issue. Now, perhaps it's because I grew up in a super Catholic town that I found Lord G.'s dismissal of the Papists to be out of line, even for him. Condemning someone's religion is one of those universally rude things that transcend cultural constructs, in my humble opinion. (It's up there with sneering at the food others eat.) I realize that Catholicism wasn't super popular in England, but need we remind Lord. G why the Anglican church became official in the first place? Could one who ascribes to the rules of an institution that was founded so Henry VIII could get a divorce be any more noble than those who believe in the admittedly scary mysticism of the Catholic church?

I loved it when the entire dinner table reminded Lord G. just how many European countries are predominantly Catholic, and then good old Matthew mentions India et al. Fabulous.

As for Branson, his hangdog look finally moved me to sympathy last night BUT as much as I hate to agree with him, I'm with Lord G. on the choice of the baby's name. While it may serve as a reminder of Sybil I to Branson, to me, it casts a shadow of expectation over the baby—it's almost a type-casting, and you KNOW the family is going to immediately start comparing Baby Sybil's manner to her mother's, if only to soothe their grief. To which I say, it's not all about them; young Sybil is her own wee person and it's best to let her thrive as an individual, which is her mother's true legacy.

-MN.

***

Dear Marisa,

Catholic schmatholic. I don't wish being raised Catholic in the early part of the 20th century in Ireland on any girl.

But I like that he named the baby Sybil. By the way, how much time has elapsed? That baby looked a good three or four months old.

And what will happen to Thomas? Don't like where that story line is going. Will he be reported to the police? And did anyone really acknowledge being gay or did anyone actually admit they knew someone who was gay back then? Never liked O'Brien, and never liked Thomas for that matter, the pair of conniving twits. But I don't wish being outed by the likes of O'Brien on anyone, even Thomas.

-K.

***

Dear K,

Good call on the baby! What the heck? Clarkson said the baby was small: Baby Sybil was cherubically fabulous!

And don't get me wrong on the religion thing: I'm still recovering from my Catholic upbringing and certainly wouldn't wish the lifetime of guilt it encourages on anyone, either. I just think Lord Grantham could use a little sensitivity training. Nobility does not mean you get a free pass to be a douche, am I right?

Which is why I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED the new Cora last night. She was right on with her comments that Lord G. takes more stock in social position than is wise and necessary. I actually cheered when she defied his order to leave Mrs. Crawley's luncheon, which, PS is spectacularly rude once again! We don't just barge into people's homes and hand out the disses! I know Cora seems to be in a more forgiving mood after the Dowager's little show-and-tell with Dr. Clarkson, but Cora would do well to remember that she has rights, too, and that her hubby's word is hardly scripture.

Note: I was kind of annoyed at the Dowager's collaring of Clarkson. Let the man have a little limelight, dammit.

And yeah, O'Brien is essentially encouraging sexual harassment at the least. Not good. I love her zingers, but she seems to have boarded a train to Crazy Town on this one.

***

Ha! Crazy Town. I wonder how far that is from Downton?

What about all the Downton references this week? Like Sesame Street's "Upside Downton Abbey"—hilarious in only the way the Muppets can be: "Why is my tea pouring up?"

Andy Cohen gave Lord G the "Jackhole of the Week" honor for practically killing Sybil — but this week we know that's sorta not true.

Saturday Night Live did a spoof, too, and The Soup did a parody with RuPaul and drag queens Raven and Shangela.

And then there was FOXnews commentators who dissed the fans because they are watching a show about rich people—I think...

-KE

***

Dear K,

Fox News is just mad it's losing ratings to the "liberal" PBS.

And let's not forget the fun Downton-related shopping items we looked at last week: I WANT that "Keep Calm and Ring Carson for Tea" shirt—because I'm a dork. If you get one, we can be matchies for next season's blog photo!

Googling the RuPaul spoof now. He's fricking gorgeous.

One more question: are you as annoyed as I am that Bates is getting out based on the most bizarre "testimony" ever? I confess I stopped paying close attention to that storyline, but last night's episode sort of vindicated me. Of course, I remain entirely confused as to what the guard's beef is with Bates. I tweeted out a request for someone to explain it to me, and it only got retweeted and favorited, but no explainer. Carol's curious about it too. Any insight? Or, dear readers, do you recall what the heck happened there?

-MN.

***

Dear Miss M, 

Here's what I remember about Bates, although I think he killed his wife, so my view may be a little skewered: 

Bates' cellmate didn't like him because Bates maintained he was innocent and, as prisoners will tell you, everyone on the inside is innocent—and the roommate didn't like his high and mighty attitude.

Then, I think the cellmate is friends with the guard, so they are always trying to help each other out, although what's in it for the guard I'm not quite sure. 

The cellmate planted the shiv or drugs or whatever in Bates' bunk, but Bates outsmarted them, so that just made them even more mad. 

With not much to do, and that exercise yard being so small and all, I guess all that walking in circles affects the prisoners' brains. Plus there's a lot of time to mess with other people -- a sort of inside entertainment, if you will. I could be way off .... 

I want a T-shirt too, but I think it might clash with the fabulous Dowager hat I'm going to get.

'Til next week ... 

Sincerely,

Lady Wannabe K

To be continued...

Watch "Downton Abbey" with Kathleen, @edgecombday; and Marisa, @TheMDesk on Twitter.

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