Downton Abbey, I shall miss you until next season!
The PBS series Downton Abbey is worth watching almost solely for the snappy dialogue between Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham (played by Maggie Smith), and Isobel Crawley (played by Penelope Wilton), the mother of Violet’s deceased son-in-law, Matthew. Despite their differences in station — the aristocratic Violet and Isobel, the working-class nurse — and their constant bickering, it’s clear that the women have a deep respect and affection for one another. It has been obvious through the development of the series that their playful banter serves to spur both of the women on to personal growth and greater compassion.
And no one can throw a rhetorical elbow as politely as this pair of proper British gals in Downton Abbey!
In the final episode of Series Four, the family has gone to London for Lady Rose’s coming out festivities. The Dowager Countess Violet Crawley and Lady Isobel find themselves in a carriage together and they don’t waste any time taking up their battle positions on the plush shared seat as Violet explains her terror at the thought of being in London without a lady’s maid:
Violet: Cora insisted that I come without a maid. I can’t believe she understood the implications! How do I get a guard to take my luggage? And when we arrive in London…what happens then?
Isobel: Fear not. I’ve never traveled with a maid. You could share my knowledge of the jungle.
Violet: Can’t you even offer help without sounding like a trumpeter on the peak of the moral high ground?
Isobel: And must you always sound like the sister of Marie Antoinette?
Violet: The Queen of Naples was a stalwart figure. I take it as a compliment.
Isobel: You take everything as a compliment.
Violet: I advise you to do the same. It saves many an awkward moment.
The lines are fired like beautiful, proper daggers in a conversation as elegant as it is brutal.
After the disappointing conclusion of Series Three, I almost gave up on the Granthams and Downton Abbey. I may have even said something overly dramatic along the lines of, “I shall never watch Downton Abbey again!” I’m glad I stuck around for Series Four just so I could watch the relationship continuing to develop between these two lovely ladies. And I’m so glad they ended Series Four on a happier note that leaves me looking forward to the next season!