I loved the Branson Makeover, done under the guidance of the dowager and Isobel. It was very "Pretty Woman," minus the prostitution and adding a dash of Irish suppression. They want him to wear a nice morning coat for the wedding and have one for him to try. "I see them as the uniform of oppression," he says.
I'm excited to see more from Sybil and Branson. Here's hoping they stay around for a bit to continue to shake things up. But I'm guessing the rebellion will be calling. Still, he looked good in that morning coat.
MEET MRS. LEVINSON:
Shirley MacLaine is all sorts of free-spirited and modern and sassy. She also talks like the modern-day, but I'll leave that alone. What's an issue with speech pattern when the dowager finally has a saucy counterpart?
She's basically there as a representation of modern life (for the 1920s). "Oh those English and their traditions! So passe!" That's basically what she says every minute.
"Come war and peace, Downton still stands and the Crawleys are still in it!" she says upon arrival, not at all bitter or mocking.
I also loved her dietary requirements: "goat's milk in the morning, only boiled water (while in England), no fats, no crab and nothing from the marrow family." Really.
Seeing her with the dowager is great. They need a spin-off now, maybe set in a New York apartment in 1925. "The Really Odd Rich Lady Couple," perhaps? Example: When the dowager says that the groom never sees the bride before the wedding, Martha says that "Nothing alters for you people, does it?
The dowager replies that, "You Americans never understand the power of tradition," but Martha says, "Yes we do. We just don't let it have power over us."
I imagine Levinson was practicing that line for the entire luxury-ship ride over the Atlantic.
The best line of the episode, from the dowager, of course: "She is like a homing pigeon," she says of Martha. "She finds our underbelly every time."
EDITH CRAWLEY DEPRESSING INDEX: 5 (OUT OF 10)
Edith is not ready to let go of Sir Anthony Strallan, even though he clearly is apprehensive about the whole thing. He's old, wounded, wussy and ... she's Edith.
Oh, Edith. If you feel the need to always say, "They say he's too old for me, but he's not!," he really is too old for you.
But she pursues him. All. The Time. She invites him to every party, forces him to come to the wedding, calls him a member of the family (how so, Edith. HOW SO?!). Desperate. Robert thinks it's time to put an end to this, so, on the dowager's urging, he tells Strallan to back off, politely.
He does it in a letter (haha, poor Edith), and Edith sees it as her father's doing. She basically begs her dad to change his mind, so he relents. Hey, you've got to give Edith some love once in awhile.
Late in the episode, Edith jumps at the chance to marry the dude — she can even have it planned in a month! Great!
So she's happy, but I'm giving her a five because of the things people said to her this episode.