Downton Abbey – Recap: Modern Women

January 12, 2015 4:36 AM

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And yet, the episode was so languidly paced that it was hard to get a feeling for the momentum of each storyline. Progress is certainly happening here, but I’m not sure you’d ever know it from how these stories are written, since so much of tonight’s episode is recursive, simply reminding us of things that came before, without adding anything new to it. There’s the snooze-inducing business of Carson (Jim Carter) and Robert (Hugh Bonneville) working to reach some kind of agreement with the committee on how to proceed with the memorial gardens project. And then there’s the triangle of intrigue between Thomas (Rob James-Collier), Baxter (Raquel Cassidy), and Molesley (Kevin Doyle), with Thomas trying to get Baxter to help him spy, Molesley sticking to his faith in Baxter’s inherent goodness (despite the story she revealed last week about the jewel theft), and Baxter nervously wringing her hands about her employment status to Cora (Elizabeth McGovern). It’s not a bad story, by any means, but this week’s addition to the plot doesn’t feel demonstrably different from what we saw last week, leaving with the sense that little progress has been made. At the very least, we get a bit more on one of the village workers — unfortunately, that worker is Miss Bunting (Daisy Lewis). Her antagonistic attitude towards the Crawleys is embodied in her attempts to get Branson (Allen Leech) to reclaim his former political ideals, failing to realize that while he may not be one of the aristocracy, he can’t simply disavow his place in that world, considering his daughter was born of that line. However, at the very least, Miss Bunting gets a point in her favor by helping Daisy (Sophie McShera) in her studies. I still don’t particularly like the character, but Lewis does a fine job of portraying Sarah as someone with fierce convictions and an obstinate demeanor. And that makes her an interesting force in the series.

Also somewhat interesting is all the hubbub about the radio. In short, Rose (Lily James) finally gets Robert to agree to get a wireless radio, and I suppose its function is in showing how modernity is slowly encroaching upon the old world. There’s a certain resistance and mistrust of this new wirele...

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