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B*tch Ranking "Downton Abbey": A Pudding Is A Terrible Thing To Waste Edition

By Joanna Robinson | TV Reviews | February 4, 2013 | Comments ()


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In lieu of a standard recap, we'll be doing a Monday morning b*tchcap for the rest "Downton Abbey"'s run on PBS. Although many of you have somehow seen the rest of Season 3 already, I'll ask that you refrain from spoiling any Americans in the comments section below. So please feel free to discuss everything up to and including Season 3, Episode 5 of the PBS version of "Downton Abbey." But, before you do, here are this week's b*tch rankings.

5. Mrs. Bartlett: First of all, if I were actress Claire Higgins, I would straight up murder everyone involved in taking this photo. More to the point, despite Mrs. Bartlett's best efforts to block the investigation, it looks like Bates will go free. Which means no more unendurably boring prison plot line. Huzzah.
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4. Reverend Travis: It was mighty Christian of the local vicar (at Lord Grantham's behest) to come bully a grieving widow about his religion.
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At least this scene gave us the opportunity to see the younger family (and Cousin Isobel and even Granny) close ranks. I always love it when the family members who are not related by blood stick up for each other (e.g. Branson and Matthew defending Edith).
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3. Carson: Listen, I get that Carson is a traditionalist and I understand his feathers being significantly ruffled over prostitute Ethel getting her smutty hands all over a Crawley Family Pudding, but he said the following to Mrs. Hughes: "I never thought of you as a woman with no standards." Badly done, Carson. Badly done indeed.
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2. Cupid/O'Brien: While everyone both upstairs and down was in mourning for Lady Sybil, there was also quite the romantic imbroglio brewing. It's not an easy thing to untangle and there are Spanish Armada-level ships blossoming left and right. As Mrs. Patmore pointed out, everyone's in love with the wrong person. Let's try to straighten it out:


  • Daisy fancies Alfred

  • Alfred fancies Ivy

  • Ivy fancies Jimmy

  • Jimmy is fancied by Thomas

  • And Jimmy? It's unclear. But we do know he's awfully fond of his hair product.


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I was highly disappointed in Alfred's "and here I was thinking you'd want to dance with me" manipulation of Daisy. But, predictably, it's O'Brien who's the master manipulator here. Poor Thomas, the glove is not helping him come off as uncreepy.
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1. Lord Grantham: Alright, Robert, you've ranked every week now. Remember when this series started and Lord Grantham was sort of the progressive one? He was all pro-Matthew in the face of other people's snobbery and he supported poor limping Bates. But jeezy creezy he's quite the piece of work these days. He was in fine form from rejecting Matthew's help in improving Downton (yes I'll take your money but none of your advice, thank you very much) to his part last week in the death of Lady Sybil, his poor showing in regards to Ethel's pudding, his continued lack of support for Edith and his treatment of Branson. Basically, if mustaches had been in style in 1920, Robert would have been twirling his. I don't know why they've had to rewrite his character as such an obstinate, backwards thinking man. Maybe Maggie Smith was way too charming to play the part of the heavy. It's certainly a much more accurate depiction of a Jazz Age Earl than the warm-hearted Lord Of The Manner schtick Julian Fellowes was spoon-feeding us in Series One. Either way, if Lord Grantham's not careful, he'll start out-O'Briening O'Brien.
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Best Line:
It's a tie between Mrs. Patmore's "Do I look like a frolicker?"
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And the all-time champ with "Seems a pity to miss such a good pudding." Basically, Robert? F*ck you.
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Most Heartbreaking Moment:
Branson with baby Sybil. The heartbreak was enhanced when Mary and Matthew joined in on the cooing. Poor fractured family.
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Best Dressed:
Of all the fine-looking ladies in mourning I actually thought Edith looked the slickest. That hat was gorgeous.
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Honorable mention for Daisy's fetching little beret. I hope she does inherit that farm.
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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not


  • maureenc

    I would've rated Carson higher in the bitch rankings with his anti-Catholic rant and his harshness to Mrs. Hughes. Does he want to alienate half his staff?

  • chantal

    I think you can scratch "Daisy fancies Alfred" off the list. First he admitted that he was asking her to teach him so he could dance like a pro with Ivy. Then he stood silent while Carson scolded her & James & then had the nerve to ask if she'd like to continue teaching him after Carson left. I think that might have put and end to her crush.

  • Patty O'Green

    Oddly, I would switch Carson and Robert. I am apparently in the minority for having, if not sympathy then empathy for Robert. And seeing him FINALLY break down and cry while he held his grieving wife clutched at my heart.

    With Carson, he is overstepping his bounds entirely AND completely ignoring his own past. For some odd reason it made me think of the different "Christianity" of Javert versus the priest in the beginning of Les Mis.

  • DominaNefret

    Jimmy TOTALLY fancies Daisy. Which is adorbz.

    I'm glad people are being nicer to Ethel. And that everyone is sticking up for Branson.

    I swear I didn't get the scene of the Rev bullying Branson. I was like "what the hell?" Hmm. I'll have to go through the episode again.

  • SeaKat Stabler

    I suspect Jimmy *may* begin to fancy Daisy, once she's known to be a potential heiress to a profitable farm.

    I suspect Jimmy only fancies Jimmy, at this point.

  • Bodhi

    I hope Daisy gets the farm, joins in with Tom & Matthew's new fangled land management plans, marries well & makes a fantastic life for herself. And that Mrs. Patmore badgers her about things forEVER.

  • Kala

    "And that Mrs. Patmore badgers her about things forEVER."

    YES!!!!

  • BWeaves

    1. I can't believe Thomas would really wear that ratty fingerless glove. I think it more likely he would wear two perfect white gloves. But anyway. I can't wait until he goes too far with Jimmy.

    2. I love that scheming O'Brien is back.

    3. I hope Daisy inherits a fortune and buys Downton Abbey and turns it into a hotel. Still, how did her Father-in-law go from tennant farmer doing everything himself to be Lord of the Farm all of a sudden? That seemed like a quick leap. Still I like him and Daisy, and I loved her beret.

    4. Carson being snooty about Ethel makes sense for the day, but I believe he was going to quit once because he had "been on the stage" (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) in his younger days.

    5. I still don't get how Bates is barely limping and not using a cane. Prison agrees with him. I find it hard to believe that they would welcome him back (in real life back then) while shunning Ethel.

    6. So anyone for Branson running a sheep farm on Downton property?

    7. I can't believe Robert would be insulted that Branson would name the baby Sybil. That makes no sense. Fellowes just stuck that in there to make Robert seem like even more of a jerk.

    8. Anna running and telling the upstairs people about Bates seems wrong. She would have told Carson and Mrs. Hodges and they would have informed upstairs. Also, Mary saying "WE" and Anna being so touched? That never would have happened back in the day. Also, I thought it was funny that Anna couldn't run properly because the dress was so tight around her ankles. Hobble skirts indeed.

    9. I really like Edith these days. Love her hair, her hats, her clothes, her ambition to do something, even if she hasn't settled on it yet. She'll end up being the feminist.

    10. The Dowager must never die.

  • sweetcob

    I think he is avoiding white gloves because that is part of the footman uniform and he is a valet. Remember when Molesley had that rash on his hands and Isobel told him to wear gloves he said, horrified, "I'd look like a footman!"?

  • BWeaves

    Ah, I'd forgotten that. Thanks.

  • Morgan

    Molesley is the Charlie Brown of Downton Abbey.
    O'Brien would be Lucy since there schemers with similar hair styles

  • I am living for the love pentagon happening with all the servants. I'm kind of hoping for a Daisy/Jimmy thing, but we'll see.

  • chanohack

    I don't think Jimmy deserves Daisy. But Ivy sort of intrigues me, flirting with everybody and wearing rouge! It's almost like they're setting her up to follow Ethel's story.

  • katy

    I thought the most heartbreaking scene award went to Cora, at the end, when she and Robert reconciled and she finally cried like a mother would who had lost a child. I spent the entire episode with misty eyes, but that one brought out a few, actual drops.

  • Jo 'Mama' Besser

    Way back when I watched I was still kind of cheesed that Cora couldn't go on hating Robert for always, even though Carlson's somewhat artful description of the sad circumstances surrounding Sybil's death eased her heart a bit. Everyone should hate Robert for always, Carlson fell on his sword for that useless toff.

  • mswas

    Elizabeth McGovern has been superb these last couple of episodes.

  • PDamian

    Lord Grantham's intransigence makes perfect sense, and is in keeping with his earlier liberalism -- which wasn't liberalism at all, but nobless oblige. He can be generous when it suits his purposes and when he gets to play the benefactor, but when someone makes a move without his say-so and without need of his assistance or approval, he gets pissy. Lady Edith forging a career of her own is a big no-no, as he has no place in that career. The Crawley ladies enjoying a pudding made by a former hooker is a no-no, not because the pudding was tainted by its maker, but because the ladies left without consulting him first. And Matthew acting independently of Grantham was a real insult to a man who's accustomed to being on the top of any heap, deferred to at every turn. With Bates, Grantham got to be the caring giver of second chances; given an opportunity, he might have given some cash to Ethel so she could start again somewhere else. But there would have had to have been a groveling appeal from someone first -- probably Violet and Cora.

  • Eva

    I agree, he feels like he's the head of the house therefore everyone should just do what he says without complaint and no one should ever question him. It's actually common for people to be liberal in one way but completely medieval conservative in another way.

    When Dr. Carlson explained to them that he misunderstood Sybil's chances of surviving, Grantham was immediately like "oh then my guy was right?" I just wanted Dr. Carlson to slap him. Your doctor was arrogant and ignored life threatening symptoms.

  • JoannaRobinson

    I like this very much.

  • Convenient character correctives continue at a cracking clip 'cuz carelessly crafted conversations continue to countenance comedic comeuppances, caterwauling and cattiness.

    The worst: manufacturing a fight between Matthew and Robert over management TIES Carson's inability to self-manage with Mrs. Hughes. [Have you no standards, Mr. Carson?!]

    Credits: the ongoing rehabilitation of Edith (such a caricature in Series One) as someone thoughtful and attractive in her way, Daisy's maturation achieved with the silence one would anticipate from someone young and not secure in her grasp of the world, and the softening of Branson, as a revolutionary who can at least sometimes overcome his Irish and listen.

  • MissAmynae

    Wow, you totally win Scattergories:Dowton Abbey Edition. Well-played.

  • Tinkerville

    I'm really rooting for Daisy. I'm hoping she takes charge of the farm and makes a fortune selling baked goods like an early 20th century Mrs. Fields.

  • chanohack

    But while I'm disgusted with Robert's bitchiness, O'Brien's delights me.

  • chanohack

    Daisy's sort-of dad is one of my new favorites. He's so sweet and brings out the best in her. Will they still be a regulars if she gets the farm? Because that's a win-win.

    I spent the evening yelling at Robert (though I had no words for the Scene he made in Isobel's dining room) and Mary-- when she and Matthew were cuddling and talking about their love ("Goddammit Mary, if you cheat on him, fuck you."), and when she relatively gently told off Papa and correctly pointed out that he's angry because he's not in control of the entire world ("Good for you, Mary!!!"). Apparently, people yell at football games as well, so do I now have something in common with sports fans?

  • Steph

    I'm still laughing over the "Bitch, please" look that Mrs. Hughes threw Carson on her way out the door.

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