B*tch Ranking "Downton Abbey": Remember How Last Season Ended?

B*tch Ranking "Downton Abbey": Remember How Last Season Ended?

By Joanna Robinson | Posted Under TV Reviews | Comments ()


In lieu of a standard recap, we’ll be doing a weekly 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 7 (aka “The Christmas Special) of the PBS version of “Downton Abbey.” But, before you do, I’d just like to say that if I were in charge of the internet, there would be a tumblr called “Bagpipe Faces.”


The B*tch Ranking:

5. New Maid Blondie: Too soon, Edna Braithwaite, too soon. The new maid may have thought a year enough time for Tom and the entire household to get over Lady Sybil, but she was very mistaken. This is St. Sybil we’re talking about, they’ll be grieving a good while longer so keep your blonde, forward little mitts off of Branson.

Uh, but thanks for this, dear. Thanks very much.

4. Lady Shrimpie (Susan): There are few things on this show more delightful than Susan MacClare, Marchioness of Flintshirea and her b*tch face. Actress Phoebe Nicholls (who played my favorite Jane Austen villain of all time) had the onerous task of making her relationship with her daughter so completely fraught, the Downton set would have no choice but to adopt her.

All hail Sybil 2.0.

3. Lady Shrimpie’s Maid: It’s been a year in the plot since O’Brien tried to put poor, gay Thomas out on the street. So I think we’re supposed to have forgotten her past transgressions and see her, once again, as a somewhat sympathetic figure. To help us get there, the Downton writers gave us an even b*tchier, more sour-faced lady’s maid to hate. Thankfully no real harm came of her schemes and we got to enjoy this gorgeous site. Poor Molesley.

2. Mr. Tufton aka Mrs. Patmore’s Fancy Man: Pincher of bottoms of tickler of fancies and all around bounder, Mr. Tufton nearly stole Mrs. Patmore and her fine cooking from Downton.

Thankfully Mrs. Hughes was keeping a sharp eye. Her disapproving face is my favorite.

1. Anti-Lock Brakes Or The Lack Thereof In 1921 Automobiles: Alright alright before we blame Julian Fellowes for killing off two beloved characters in one season, you should know that Dan Stevens, who played Cousin Matthew so perkily and chinlessly, opted out of Season Four of “Downton.” That’s right, the ol’ David Caruso move.

What we can blame Fellowes for, however, is the ham-fisted way St. Matthew was shown to be the very best thing to have happened to every single resident of Downton Abbey. Ally to Edith, friend to Tom, employer of Molesley savior to the estate and the only one who could bring out the best in Mary.

Like many others, I was spoiled as to the outcome of the episode, but it didn’t make the sight any less gruesome.

Best Line:
“I know he’s housebroken, more or less, but I don’t want freedom to go to his head.” —Dowager Countess in regards to Branson who does, essentially, pee on the rug in her absence.

Most Heartbreaking Moment:
Honestly, since I was spoiled regarding Matthew’s demise (and since I really can’t tolerate Lady Mary and welcome the bursting of her bubble), I was torn between two plot lines. This, The Rehabilitation And Beating Of Poor Gay Thomas, just won my heart. He offered to buy everyone on the staff pop! He looked so dapper in his fedora. Yes he was a terrible monster in the past but since Lady Sybil’s death, he’s won my heart. He may be in the friend zone for now, but I have hope.

And this lovely moment between Mrs. Hughes and Tom. Just heart-cracking.

Best Dressed: Mrs. Patmore’s bonny pink blouse.

Best Hat: Lady Mary’s “My Sister Died In Childbirth So I’ll Be Sure To Dance Around And Jostle About On The Train Because That’s Smart” Traveling Hat

And, to leave you with something resembling a smile on your face…

I will go down with this ship.

Rumor has it they’re casting an entirely new love interest for Lady Mary and that next season will start six months after Matthew’s car accident. However that doesn’t absolutely rule out the return of this one.

These two are back to being really cute. Really really freaking cute.

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  • Patty O'Green

    Fellowes, your Whedon impression displeases me.

  • John W

    You know what tune they were playing at he the dance right?

    I came to get down, I came to get down
    So get out your seats and jump around
    Jump around! Jump Around! Jump Around!
    Jump up Jump up and get down.
    Jump Jump Jump Jump Jump Jump Jump Jump Jump Jump Jump.....

  • fracas

    Really, I just hope this makes Lady Mary go back to being evil and snarky. Because evil Lady Mary was so much more entertaining than happy Lady Mary. She could be the Darth Vader to the Dowager Countess' Emperor. Now that's a fun show.

  • Ozioma

    All I could think of was "Man, half the staff at Downton must have died horribly by the time Cora was done having babies."

  • mograph

    When I saw more than one Matthew-happy-driving shot, I thought "uh-oh: Lawrence of Arabia."

  • The Christmas Special is the last episode of season 3, so there's nothing left to spoil.

  • F'mal DeHyde

    Completely off topic but slutty blonde maid is also a regular on Ripper Street which had both Lord Jorah AND Bronn on the latest episode. It was kind of exciting.

  • BWeaves

    And she was the lead in Lesbian Vampire Killers

  • F'mal DeHyde

    How can it be that I've never seen this?

  • BWeaves

    I only rented it because Paul McGann played the Vicar (Van Helsing sort of character).

  • fracas

    She was also in one of the best new Doctor Who episodes, in which she was very pretty for a few minutes and then floated around in the vacuum of space.

  • JoannaRobinson

    Jorah was masticating ALL the scenery in that episode.

  • Steph

    Can we have a spinoff where Carson and Mrs. Hughes play with Baby Sybbie all day? Can we make that happen?

  • chanohack

    Yes, please. Patmore and Daisy can guest star?

  • Steph

    Yes and they can bring Anna too.

  • BWeaves

    No they can't. But Branson can come visit if he takes his shirt off for me.

  • Steph

    Mmmmm....shirtless Branson.

  • chanohack

    After the Sybil episode none my friends could bear the suspense anymore, so they all bought the rest of the season and every single one of them commented on it something to the effect of "get ready to have your heart broken." So I knew something shitty was going to go down, but I didn't know what. I've spent the last several episodes trying to guess how my heart would be ripped out. Would Mrs. Hughes' cancer flare up? Would Bates turn out to actually be a crazy murderer and strangle Anna? Would Granny collapse? Would Carson have a heart attack?

    I was so nervous during last night's episode I imagined all kinds of shit.
    "Tom is staying behind alone, he's going to lose it and accidentally hurt Sybbie."
    "We are in the middle of nowhere on a Scottish hill, Granny's going to have an emergency and die."
    "Thomas is getting the shit kicked out of him, he's going to get brain damaged."
    "Someone is going to get accidentally shot, probably Bates or Anna on their picnic."
    "Carson is alone with the kid, something is going to go wrong and he won't have any help and the baby's going to die."
    "Something is wrong with Mary, she's going to die."
    "Something is wrong with Mary, her baby's going to die."
    "Mary and the baby seem okay, but so did Sybil and Sybil-- someone's definitely going to die!"

    The fact that the other shoe didn't drop until the last possible minute was pretty cruel.

  • jeannebean

    I saw we were getting close to the 1:32 mark and nothing irreparable had happened yet... then suddenly Matthew's way too happy and driving way too fast to avoid all those ANVILS in the road. Ah, this is not going to end well...

  • chanohack

    Oh I know. As soon as I saw him in the car, I KNEW. (Not like I "knew" Mary's baby was a goner as soon as I saw the look on her face when she got off the train at Downton Station, that was different.) But honestly, I spent so much time killing people off in my head that when I saw Matthew's distracted driving I was like, "Really? THIS is happening? You bastards."

  • Kala

    YES. It reminded me way too much of City of Angels. Not as crappy, but the reaction was exactly the same:

    "You die because you were so happy you couldn't watch THE FUCKING ROAD?! You ASSHOLE!"

    The other guy was probably the dude driving all those buses in the last Harry Hanrahan video compilation. Poor bastard. He keeps trying to do right, but motherfuckers just keep gettin' in the road.

  • JoannaRobinson

    Just saw your comment on the After Dark post and wanted to let you know that this comment right here made me chortle. But good.

  • fracas

    I refuse to go along with the sympathising of Thomas. He's a jerk.

  • chanohack

    Thomas was super evil, but come on... this is the first time we've seen him do something for someone else, ever, though you could argue that it's not completely without an ulterior motive. But he tried to ruin the last dude that turned him down, so he's getting better. Even Evil Thomas can change.

  • JoannaRobinson

    He WAS a jerk. But he hasn't been for, like, 200 minutes of airtime now.

  • BWeaves

    Oh, he's playing it safe, because the next time he screws up, he's fired without a reference for sure. But he's softening up Jimmy. SLOWLY, but surely.

  • fracas

    Just because he hasn't tried to destroy anybody in the last couple episodes doesn't mean he's stopped trying to destroy people.

  • JoannaRobinson

    Come on, Francis, they're giving him the old William The Bloody treatment. And everyone loves Spike except for that time he tried to rape Buffy. Right?

  • fracas

    Jimmy is pretty effulguent...

    But I still don't trust Thomas. I think he's going back to evil. He's done it so often before.

  • Luke Anthony Matthews

    Thomas looks hot with a fringe! My shallow comment is now done.

  • Three_nineteen

    The Jane Austen comment made me realize who Lady Shrimpie reminded me of: Lady Catherine deBourgh.


  • BWeaves

    Yes, that's who I thought Lady Shrimpie was too, but the 1995 Lady Catherine deBourgh was played by Barbara Leigh-Hunt.

    So that leaves both of us still wondering where we've seen Phoebe Nicholls before.

  • ZombieMrsSmith

    She was Lady Cordelia in the BBC Brideshead Revisited with Jeremy Irons. Loved her in that.

  • PaddyDog

    I will not miss Matthew and his wooden acting.
    Please kill Pod-Branson next (preferably an IRB revenge killing carried out by Chibs' grandfather)
    Free Mrs. Hughes. She has far too much common sense to be stuck with these people.

  • Cree83

    Between Mary's 8 months pregnant "belly" and the rerun of 30 Rock I watched the other day where Avery is supposed to be in her third trimester and looks like a normal skinny lady who'd just ate a burrito, my 38 weeks pregnant self feels like something the Oompa Loompas have to roll down to the juicing room to be squeezed out.

  • mswas

    I'm so glad you put quotes around "belly." Look away from those fake mommas, @Cree83:disqus!! I'd send you a pic of my belly from when I was expecting, but I don't think your mailbox is big enough. Wishing you all the best!

  • Three_nineteen

    The ladies' maid fight was a mini Wire in the Blood reunion. O'Brien guest starred on my favorite episode of that show, with the other maid who was Alex, the second lady cop Robson Green worked/flirted with.

  • vic

    The whole Edna thing is why I really dislike Julian Fellowes. While I definitely agree she was being extremely insensitive about Sybil's death and WAY too impulsive, I liked the idea of her reminding Tom how he used to be a servant and thus he shouldn't get too good for them. As much as I'm happy with where he is now, I hate the idea of him becoming indifferent to the servants or abandoning his contempt for the social inequality of the period. I'm glad they consider him a member of the family, though.

    Back to Edna, even with her imbalanced character, I kinda hope she returns. She was really cute...

  • BWeaves

    1. LOVE BOAT! exciting and new
    Come aboard, we're expecting you
    Love, life's sweetest reward
    Let it flow, it floats back to you.

    Really, did this have to be the LOVE BOAT episode? EW.

    2. Did Isaac, I mean bitchy lady's maid have to get Gopher, I mean Mosely, so friggin drunk? Did the servants really dance at the same reels with the upstairs? The upstairs were wearing TIARAS, which means, white tie and tails and kilts and stuff.

    3. I love how Fellowes does ONE YEAR LATER, just so Baby Sibbie can be older and Mary preggers, but everyone else is still picking up where they left off last week (Jimmy and Thomas, for example).

    4. Mary's pillow pregnancy was ridiculous. Nobody has that small boobs and belly and no pop out naval at 8 months. And again with the silk nighty with no sweat, milk or blood stains, and perfect hair and makeup after a birth. If my sister had died in childbirth, I'd tie myself to my own bed rather than be jostled around in trains and cars and dance in reels. Also, don't tell me that they couldn't find big enough maternity clothes for Mary. Vicountess Shrimpy was wearing tents.

    5. Speaking of Susan, where the hell have I seen her before? She looks so familiar, but I've been through her IMDB and nothing rings a bell.

    6. Edith looked lovely. I think the 1920's styles agree with her. I don't understand why Mary is so bitchy towards her. Edith hasn't done anything in years to deserve it.

    7. I hope they DON'T make season 4 all about Mary and her quest for a new hubby. Edith needs her turn. And Branson.

    8. Speaking of, Branson was HOT. Whoa!

    9. Aren't Bates and Bates done with their honeymoon yet. I am.

    10. So, Branson and Rose? He can't date downstairs, as this episode proved, and we know Rose is up for fooling around.

    11. Mrs. Crawley and Dr. What'shisface. It thought they hated each other from the time when she first came on the scene. I didn't see them getting together at all.

    12. Also, Peter Egan, swoon. I loved him as Oscar Wilde in "Lillie."

    13. Oh, and I forgot to mention last week that throw away line that Lord Grantham made about investing in Ponzi's newest scheme. Yup, I bet he'd buy some swampland I have in Florida.

  • Janet L Davis

    All these years later and I still had to post this...on Edith, I disagree. She was a Bitch. Plain & simple, pure cunt.

    "She hasn't done anything in years to deserve it..."

    I guess you're just more forgiving
    than me, but I think Mary got a bad turn here. Yes, they bickered like sisters do, albeit w/ swords almost...but what Edith did! First she noisily goes poking around Mary's correspondence trying to find whatever she can to use against her, remember the "E.N." reveal? Going down the staircase w/ Edith & disparaging Matthew, Mary says she's has other fish to fry? And Edith pops up & says "is this the mysterious E.N.?" To which lady Mary replies, "how do you know? Have you been going through my things?" Of course, Edith, being the lying, liar she is, lies & tried to play it off. (Even though that attempt only makes her look more ridiculous in my book...how would she know unless she's going through Mary's stuff? Unless she suddenly has become Miss Cleo?) I think Mary knew better & decided to be charitable & not attack Edith...Sybles presence made Mary a nicer person I believe.

    Before that, the worst transgression, the Turkish dude, Kamal Pamuk. I blame O'Brien, Thomas & that pathetic, soppy little kitchen maid, Daisy as well. They're WHY Edith found out...This situation is why I feel that Edith is the worst of the 2 sisters, she finds out about Mary's "indiscretion" w/ Pamuk & first thing, BLAM! she writes a letter, not an anonymous one either, because she wants who she is to Mary, her sister, to give the letter added "weight". So she writes the Turkish ambassador, tells them about how Pamuk died, ALL the circumstances & pops it into the post knowing full well that Susan MacClare, Shrimpie's wife, will find out & being a horrid gossip will tell EVERYONE. Which she does.

    Now back then, stuff like this was a life ender. A woman who had sex before marriage was labeled dirty, untouchable & closed off from all polite society. She would never find a husband because no man would have her. She would be dependent on her family until she died because she would never marry or if she did, it would be to a man who knew her past & treated her lowly because of it. Edith was well aware of the fact that should she OUT Mary like this, her life would effectively be over. No husband, no family of her own, no kids. And Edith couldn't wait to absolutely DESTROY her sister, made haste to write that letter as soon as she had the information.

    That is why I always HATED lady Edith. Over the years the sisters passed barbs & snarky words to each other, both of them, back & forth. Edith was the first of the 2 to deliver a death blow. Because that's what it was. She wrote that letter knowing that the information it contained would destroy Mary's future. NOT might cause her bother, but WOULD very quickly whisk away any hope of marrying & children. She would be a social pariaha & since she was a woman, unable to work & support herself, her only job options being a maid or maybe a secretary. She would be ruined, yet Edith wrote it with glee.

    If you want to trade insults, go for it, but life changing words intending to destroy & ruin your sister? Nope, Edith isn't sympathetic, she's pure Bitch in her heart. It's made worse by the fact that later, Edith, also being a slut we find, gets knocked up by a married man who promptly dies, has the baby, then destroys 2 families while trying to find a place to stick the child. The child is adopted by a family in Switzerland, the child stays there a year or so, until Edith pops up, taking the baby away & breaking their hearts. Then she schemes with the father in a family of tenent farmers, asking him to take the baby on, he does. Move ahead a bit & Edith's meddling with the child causes the farmers wife to ask she stay away. This prompts Edith to once again rip the child away & positively break the farmers heart & cause them to lose their place farming on Downton Abbey. Thus destroying a 2nd family with her bastard child.

    Oh & she insists Mary not know Marigolds parentage...because we can't have Mary knowing Edith is not only just as slutty as she is, but a liar and cruel as hell person to boot.

    Sorry, I hated Edith, Mary may have been cruel to her, but she never tried to ruin her life, even the reveal to Bertie Pelham I could for marigolds (what a stupid name btw) parentage I can forgive...because Edith should've told Bertie, but didn't. Edith was perfectly happy to marry Bertie w/ that huge lie hanging over the marriage. A situation that destroyed poor Ethel, but Edith gets mad because she's outed & angry at Bertie for throwing her over because hey, he discovered that not only did she sleep with a guy before marriage, but she was dumb enough to get pregnant & then try to cover it up.

    Edith, is a king sized asshole & a hypocrite. I feel better, even after all these years, I needed to get that off my chest, especially after binge re-watching seasons of DA.

  • Captain_Tuttle

    It took me a minute, but I realized Susan was Cordelia Flyte in Brideshead Revisited (in 1981). Persuasion was 1995, and here she is now. Kind of throws the aging process, when done naturally and without surgery or botox, into quite sharp relief.

  • BWeaves

    See it's been decades since I've seen Brideshead Revisited and Persuasion, so I just cannot picture her. But, she's so distinctive.

  • Alex Kuhn

    Sure, Jorah was kind of a manipulative dick sometimes, what with the blackmail and all, but at least if Mary had bitten the bullet and married him, I would have never had to sit through any of that "I want to make a baby waby wif you"


  • BWeaves

    Oh, yeah. Jorah / Mary sex would be hot and dirty and involve whips, and none of that wimpy baby talk, Matthew did. I think Mary likes it rough. She's already killed one man with her vagina.

  • Jo 'Mama' Besser

    Her first fiance knew what was what and 'died' on the Titanic.

  • Kala

    I won't spend too much time on the Matthew death, except to say that his sheer perfection in this episode (the lovey-dovey bits with Mary was slathered on with a trowel) made him a complete mark. I'm pretty pissed at Dan Stevens. Yeah, you want to do other things, blah blah, SHUT UP AND BE MATTHEW AND LET ME STARE INTO THOSE EYES.

    Downton Abbey apparently has a baby curse. USE PROTECTION, ANNA.

    I'm so glad that Mrs. Hughes is the voice of reason. Though I do think we need a gif of Carson holding wee Sibby.

  • That got my vote for Moment of the Episode.

    Sybbie: *cries*
    Carson: Let's have a chat about it ....

  • Mrs. Julien

    I gave up on the show after season two: all the yelling was damaging my vocal cords. We made a pit stop on PBS last night and Cora was seeing people to a car and wearing one of the MOST GORGEOUS garments I have ever seen. It was a three quarter length velvet coat (in cognac?) with an embroidered bottom. It wasn't just me, right? That coat really exists and is in the world somewhere? It would make my life of quiet desperation just that little bit less despairy to know such a thing truly exists.

  • MissAmynae

    If you love antique dress and jewels (and those who don't can bugger off) check out this tumblr: http://omgthatdress.tumblr.com... She does a beautiful job finding garments from museum collections, and often does "theme weeks" from different makers or periods- truly is garment porn.

  • Mrs. Julien

    Kisses to you, milady. I can always use another clothing site to drool over!

  • MissAmynae

    my pleasure! it's one of my favorite things on the internet. Search for "Worth" and "Doucet" -- you'll be there for days

  • Mrs. Julien

    I've searched Worth, but never Doucet. I'll save that for work tomorrow. Have you seen these:

  • MissAmynae

    ooh, I had not! Will explore tomorrow :-) thanks!

  • chanohack

    Cora had several pretty fantastic embroidered things this episode. I said to Boyfriend, "Look at that coat! Look at that hat!" And when Susan comes in to talk to Cora at breakfast, she was wearing that silky, flowery dressing gown... I want that.

  • duckandcover
  • MissAmynae


  • JoannaRobinson
  • Mrs. Julien

    It's so beautiful, it's almost as though Elizabeth McGovern can act.

  • JoannaRobinson

    That's why I didn't notice it when I was watching the episode. My brain fills with a dull buzzing noise whenever she's on-screen.

  • duckandcover


  • BWeaves

    I'm not the only one? I wanted that coat, too.

    OK, I really only watch the show for the tiaras and clothing porn.

    For people who are supposedly BROKE, they have a lot of diamonds laying around peoples heads. This must be some new definition of the word BROKE that I've never encountered before.

  • Mrs. Julien

    Is it possible that the jewels are entailed as well?

  • $27019454

    Totally with you. I prefer to remember it as Seasons 1,2 portrayed everyone. Except Patrick. That was just radicchio.

  • Kala

    I gasped when I looked at that coat. Yes, the show is nothing more than a cordial soap opera, but dear Lord, the clothing is beautiful.

  • Jemiah Jefferson

    I am so, so into their mourning wear... I wish they'd kept it up. Those beautiful jet-beaded lace gowns... *groan*

  • duckandcover


  • duckandcover

    And now that I'm done being dramatic, I'll say that I love this post because I agree with everything in it. I hope that Fellowes learns for season 4 that a title card explaining the year doesn't mean that our feelings will catch up appropriately in that amount of time. It's been said that Edna (can we just not with the E names anymore) will be returning for the first few episodes of season 4. Why. The only Christmas special that's introduced an original character I loved immediately was Doctor Who's "The Runaway Bride."

    Also, I will go down with that Thomas×Eragon McPlasticFace all day, every day. I love Thomas as the wounded hero who just wants to buy drinks and look dapper. He pulls it off far better than Bates, because we've seen Thomas in action as a villain. Bates' past is just allusions, not even flashbacks. It's like Bruce Banner warning everyone to not make him angry, then never getting the scene where he actually has to Hulk out.

    Was it weird how Mrs. Patmore was relieved about Mr. Tufton being an asshole? It just seemed really quick and "Oh yeah, Mrs. Patmore's storyline!" Mrs. Hughes really shone in this episode, though.

    Could someone tell me what episode was edited out/down? I haven't seen the US release yet, but the Christmas special should be episode 8 (not counting the special promo), not 7.

  • I think Mrs. Patmore's brief fling showed just how much she could bring to a comedic and romantic story arc. While I hope Mr. Tufton dies of consumption, it would be brilliant to give her another go with somebody more worthy. Don't let last night be the last time we bring out the pink blouse!

  • jeannebean

    I think it was Mr. Tufton's "... taking orders from your husband" remark that did for him - Mrs. Patmore don't play dat!

  • KatSings

    The first two episodes were combined for the premiere.

  • duckandcover

    Gotcha! That explains it so much. I was watching Charlie Rose because I'm old and it was mentioned that PBS trims the episodes here and there.

  • vic

    Joanna also combined episodes 7 and 8. Did PBS run those two together also?

  • $27019454

    "She is a vicountess! A VICOUNTESS!!"

  • The entire time I was looking at Lady Shrimpie I was trying to remember where I'd seen her. I'd just rewatched Persuasion, too!

  • JoannaRobinson

    Kisses for this.

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