Downton Abbey: Season 4, Episode 3

Highclere Castle

Highclere Castle (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I see Julian Fellows as still finding the story. I suppose it’s harder because history in 1922 isn’t providing a definite event to build a plot on. I still enjoy Downton, the acting is just superb, but last night we just saw life carrying on.

Anna was the main figure for me as she soldiers on after being raped by a servant from a visiting Lord. Though I’m sure it would entail great hardship, I do wish she heeded Mrs. Hughes’ advice and contacted the police. It’s a false dichotomy to assume that if she speaks up Mr. Bates will kill the rapist and get imprisoned again. I know that in this era women didn’t speak up, but some might have and I’d like to see how that process was conducted – even if it was patently unjust. How would the Crawley‘s and the servants respond? By keeping silent, Anna also cuts herself off from the support of those around her. For now she’s keeping Mr. Bates away because she feels “dirty.” Understandable, but to move back to the main house without allowing time to heal seems hasty.

I’m glad Mary rejected Lord Whoever’s proposal. It’s just too soon. There’s no urgency in getting married for her. Though the pool of available men is smaller due to the war, I’m sure Mary can find love in time.

I’m concerned about Edith signing whatever paper the editor Mr. Gregson gave her. Yes, he showed his worth by beating the card sharp and getting all the aristocrats’ debts cleared, but he seems to be up to something. The convoluted marriage problems with his wife who we’re told is mentally ill are so dubious.

Looks like Alfred may take a big test at the Ritz to get into their prestigious training program. Good for him. It did take his seeing Ivy kissing Jimmy to spur him to action.

Poor Tom has been ruminating on Edna’s assertion that she expects him to marry her if she’s pregnant. What a nightmare that would be! Good thing Tom was smart enough to turn to Mrs. Hughes who put Edna in her place and convinced her to leave. Mrs. Hughes is wonderful! Downton would not survive without her.

Looks like Rose will eventually get herself into romantic trouble. She was bound to from the start. Still we only have some hints. In London she was deserted on the dance floor when the black singer sprang into action and took his place. Rose was very impressed, while her chaperone Aunt Rosamund warned her to be careful. It would be good to see more of Lady Rosamund.

So a lot did happen, but for some reason the plot doesn’t have the same momentum.

The Last Enemy

With Sherlock‘s Benedict Cumberbatch, Masterpiece Contemporary‘s mini series The Last Enemy was chilling and suspenseful. When Steven Ezard’s NGO activist brother dies, the aloof mathematician returns to London for the funeral. For years he’s been working in China where no one can bother him.* He doesn’t recognize this “new” London with its national id‘s and tight, high tech security. Within hours of his arrival he’s swept up into intrigue. Steven soon becomes intrigued and then smitten with his brother’s wife Yasim, a doctor who’s secretly caring for an wanted woman who’s dying of a mysterious disease.

When Yasim disappears, Steve agrees to act as a spokesperson for a security system the government wants to implement, Total Information Awareness (TIA). TIA makes Orwell’s Big Brother look like child’s play. This insidious system can tell the government everything you’ve done, everywhere you’ve gone, everything you’ve bought, considered buying, you name it. By talking up TIA, Steven gets handsomely paid and gains access to everyone’s intimate data so he can track down Yasim. Of course, more nefarious characters want to track her down and to keep Steven in their pocket. Once he proves to be less docile than they figured, he becomes a target.

The mini-series kept me on the edge of my seat and really made me want to live off the grid. If that’s possible . . . yes, national i.d. and more efficient data aggregation has it’s dark side, a very dark side.

I liked that this dystopia didn’t look grungy and decrepit. It looked real, which is how I think it will look if we come to that. Good performances by the whole cast.