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'Downton Abbey' recap: This little piggy went to the fat stock show

'Downton Abbey' recap: This little piggy went to the fat stock show
Laura Carmichael as Lady Edith, Oliver/Zac Barker as Master George, Hugh Bonneville as Lord Grantham and Elizabeth McGovern as Cora (Nick Briggs / Carnival Film & Television Limited 2015 for "Masterpiece")

If there's one thing I know about "Downton Abbey," it's that trouble is bound to occur any time Lady Mary hangs out with the pigs.

Perhaps it's just the natural sense of disorder that arises from hearing Lady Mary utter the words "fat stock show" repeatedly, or from seeing her surrounded by grunting livestock in ankle-deep mud. As Daisy puts it, "It's funny to see Lady Mary in there with the pigs."

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Whatever the case may be, those pigs lead to nothing but trouble, whether it's a late night romp in the mud (not a metaphor) with Charles Blake or, as occurred this week, Mrs. Drew's attempted abduction of Marigold.

"Downton Abbey" tends to be pretty progressive when it comes to gender -- case in point: Lady Mary is now the estate agent -- but the show does have a troubling tendency to portray some female characters as a single personal setback away from becoming wild-eyed baby-snatchers. You'll recall how Lady Edith spent much of last season spying on Marigold from the bushes and/or bursting into tears. Now it's poor Mrs. Drewe who's turned into Rebecca De Mornay's character from "The Hand That Rocks the Cradle."

Luckily she is not very good at the whole kidnapping thing and Marigold is quickly recovered, but the situation proves awkward for everyone involved. For some reason known only to him (and Julian Fellowes), the impossibly saintly Mr. Drewe volunteers to move away. While this twist conveniently leaves an empty farm for Mr. Mason to take over, I can't help but feel like Mr. Drewe is really getting a raw deal here. After all, it was pretty kind of him to take in Marigold and keep Edith's secret, and now for his trouble he's stuck with a crazy wife and no place to live.

(Note to self: Never, ever agree to take in your wealthy landlord's secret grandchild.)

In other news, Mrs. Hughes finds herself increasingly peeved by what she sees as Carson's unquestioning loyalty to the Crawleys and Lady Mary in particular. Mrs. Hughes is adamant about holding their wedding outside of Downton Abbey, even if it's in the great hall and not the servants' hall as originally proposed. While that venue has been good enough for other high-profile weddings,  Mrs. Hughes objects. "I don't want to be a servant on my wedding day," she says.

The theme of the episode, it seems, is women fighting for independence. Daisy seems to be filling the void left by Branson as Downton Abbey's token fiery radical, sounding like an angsty college freshman as she complains about "the system." Meanwhile Lady Edith is traipsing around London wearing fabulous capes and butting heads with a sexist editor at the magazine.

Anna receives some (relatively) good news on a trip to Harley Street in London to see Mary's doctor, who tells her that her infertility is caused by cervical incompetence and may be easily fixed with a few stitches. Let's hope he's right. As Mary puts it, "No woman living has been put through more of an emotional wringer" than Anna. It's about time she got some good news.

The same might be said for Thomas, the recovering villain who's evolved into "Downton Abbey's" saddest sack. Having assumed he's about to get the ax, Thomas interviews for a job at another estate -- only to learn that in these leaner times, he'll be expected to be a one-man chauffeur, footman, valet and butler all in one. Meanwhile, watching Thomas desperately try to make friends with Andy is so pathetic, it almost makes you long for the days when he was kidnapping dogs, sabotaging Mr. Bates and getting shot in the hand so he could come home from the war. Where's the Thomas we loved to hate?

Follow @MeredithBlake on Twitter.

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