Downton Abbey: The Hagiography of Thomas the Martyr


The good people of Merriam-Webster define a hagiography as: 1) a biography of saints or venerated persons and 2) an idealizing or idolizing biography.  With the last few episodes of Downton Abbey and the direction the character Thomas has gone in, it seems his beatification is imminent.

Last week I predicted Thomas would become the unwilling sex slave of a deeply closeted Lord Grantham, though I did say that would in all likelihood take place in series 4 so I’ve still got the potential to be right.  This week he showed himself to be an ardent defender of…Jimmy, the guy who almost got him fired, which two years ago would have made for Thomas’s engagement in an unfathomable amount of connivery resulting in someone’s public humiliation and/or possible dismissal from service.

I have to admit, I miss the old Thomas.  I miss him skulking behind the kitchen door, smoking endless hand-rolled cigarettes (it was the 19teens-ish after all, in a simpler time, before pre-rolled Marlboros) and scheming with Lady Grantham’s manipulative puppetmaster lady’s maid, Miss O’Brien (who I’ve seen described as a “half-maid/half-velociraptor”, and it just makes me so angry that someone other than me came up with that because *awesome*, and I digress).

Plot plot plot, plot plot plot.  Ahhh,the good old days.  From

Remember when Thomas blackmailed the Duke of Crowborough?  Or when Thomas, disinterested and gay, asked the goofily swoony and naive Daisy out on a date just to piss off another servant?  Remember how Thomas and O’Brien would focus their collective hate on someone and then savage them?  Remember when they decided they didn’t like Bates and O’Brien knocked Bates’s cane out from under him in front of the aforementioned Duke as he arrived at Downton for a visit?  Sigh.  Those were the days.  Remember when he tried to angle for a promotion by stealing and hiding Lord Grantham’s dog in a shed in the woods?  One of the locals found the dog and returned her safely, and Thomas ran batshit crazy through the woods looking for her.  Ironically, he still got the promotion because Lord Grantham thought he deserved to be rewarded for looking so hard for the dog he stole in the first place.  Or when, in this most recent season and after his emotional rift developed with O’Brien, he gave bad “helpful” advice to O’Brien’s nephew Alfred (also a servant in DA) and caused the nephew to burn a hole in Matthew’s dinner coat?  That’s the Thomas I want to see.

Often he’s the schemer who can’t catch a break.  He thought he could become a man of distinction by joining the British medical corps and also avoid getting shipped  off to the front lines in World War I.  Instead that’s where he got sent, and the mud and shit and horrors and reality of war worked him over and  he got himself shot in the hand rather than stay there any longer.  Then he tried to buy his way into the business world by taking his entire life savings and buying a storage room full of black market goods. Only his entire stock turned out to be worthless sawdust.  Thomas couldn’t even retain his position as Lord Grantham’s valet upon the return of the twice jailed, former alcoholic, potential murderer Bates, since Bates and Lord G are BFFs.

Thomas’s sensitivity to things like social status and stratification emerged with Lady Sybil’s death as he cried over her passing and said that she was the only one of the aristocratic family he worked for who treated him fairly.  He has been known to side with the plight of the proletariat, in spirit if not in deed.  During all this, Thomas has harbored a lust in his heart for Jimmy the footman, ushering in the lurid (for its time, people) nighttime kissing scandal that the house would have faced had Lord G not managed to put a lid on it.  A year after almost getting fired because of Jimmy (and O’Brien’s nephew Alfred, who witnessed said unwanted smooch), young Jimmy–drunk, cocky, and all alone–flashes his money around at a local fair and then goes walking off into the woods.  Thomas follows him because he’s turning into a creepy stalker  his love has grown from the seed lust planted and now is pure in heart and spirit.  Or something.  When Jimmy is set upon by a pair of roadside bandits who want to take advantage of his impaired condition Thomas–literally–leaps into the fracas to save him, shouting about how Jimmy should run and he’ll stop them from taking his money and causing him harm and most unfortunately reminding me of the hyper-melodramatic “I cannot carry it for you…but I can carry YOU!” scene between Frodo and Sam in Lord of the Rings.


Eventually Jimmy shows up at Thomas’s room to say “thanks” and “sorry” and all the polite things you say to someone who took a tremendous beatdown for you

Damn, son.Photo from

Damn, son.
Photo from

and then Thomas tells Jimmy he was following because…you know.  Which, if Jimmy were a woman in the modern era would be cause to call the police but because he’s a guy, he just says “You know I can’t give you want you want.” Thomas nods in forlorn agreement and then they become buddies and embark upon a blossoming new bromance.  Thus we bear witness to the beginnings of Thomas the Martyr, beaten down both by bandits and by unrequited love (cue sappy music in 5…4…3…), a kinder, gentler Thomas whose trials have caused him to transcend his Earthly desires and serve as a beacon of unconditional love and benevolence to all of the residents of Downtonland.

I don’t buy it.

I don’t buy Thomas’s repentant, self-sacrificing turnaround one sneaky bit.  The old Thomas–the one who lurked ickily in the Bates’s barn in the previous episode, the one who just this season caused the burn in Matthew’s coat, the one who got a hole shot in his hand so he could return home a war hero–is still in there, ticking away like a stealth time bomb.  The old Thomas would not only have taken that beating for Jimmy, he would have paid the guys who did it in order to fool Jimmy into trusting him.  Maybe that’s just what we’ll find out.  It’s been a year in Downton-time since the incidents have supposedly passed, but a schemer knows that revenge is a dish best served cold.  Know the parable about the frog and the scorpion, where the scorpion agrees not to sting the frog and then does, explaining, “It’s in my nature”?  Yeah.  THAT is Thomas, Jimmy’s the frog, and O’Brien is the other scorpion waiting in the wings to see who survives.

And p.s., Matthew is really dead.  Not “mostly dead” like some have speculated.  Not hospitalized somewhere with amnesia.  He is dead.  That is all.

Downton Abbey: Just Wondering, But…?


This is just me processing last night’s show and wondering what the future will hold for season 4 of Downton Abbey, which is of course one of the soapiest shows ever created.

And for that, Julian Fellowes, I thank you.

OK, well maybe there are some spoilers, but FAIR WARNING if you didn’t see last night’s episode yet!  What are you waiting for?  Here!  Here’s the link so you can watch it online!  Get back to me once you’re caught up.

Now bear this in mind…I have no basis for this except my own speculation…no insider secrets, no connection to anyone associated with the show (oh, how I wish!) (BTW, did you know Maggie Smith is referred to on set at The Notorious M.A.G.?  She tried to change it to Snoop Maggie Mags but it didn’t stick.  I heart her too much.), not a scrap of insight into what the future brings, so if I’m right, then WOO HOO, ME! and if I’m wrong, then who cares anyway?

So, Thomas.  Thomas, the scheming footman/valet at Downton Abbey, has finally been dragged out of the closet by his own doing.

In England in 1920, this was serious.  It was scandalous, sure, but that would have been the least of Thomas’s problems.  It was criminal.  The Buggery Act was in place in one amended form or another from 1533 until its full repeal in 1967, though progress did see its halt as a capital (i.e., death penalty) offense in 1861.  So at least Thomas wouldn’t run the risk of being hanged when found out.  He could just be imprisoned.

Anyway.  Here’s the thing: with all of Lord Grantham’s many recent bloviated, patriarchal posturings–about the Catholics, say, or about the advent of business sensibilities and the management of his tenant farmers, or about Communists, or about his daughter working in journalism, or about his reliance on the advice of the posh trendy titled doctor who didn’t know his daughter over the advice of the country doctor who did which ultimately ushered in his own child’s death, or about the ex-hooker working as a cook in Cousin Isobel’s house–he was surprisingly compassionate when he heard about Thomas kissing Jimmy in the middle of the night, talking about how Nature has shaped him into what he is.  He not only didn’t fire Thomas, he promoted him, protected him from the police and told Carson, “If I shouted blue murder every time someone tried to kiss me at Eton I’d have been hoarse in a month!”


I believe in equality for the LGBT community and frankly can’t believe it’s still a topic for legislation.  And I know this is a TV show that isn’t necessarily lauded for its historical accuracy.  But.  Lord Grantham’s attitude seems incredibly progressive, particularly in light of his reaction to anything that pushes the boundaries of patriarchal propriety.  So what do we think?  Was this Lord Grantham’s one moment of enlightened clarity?  Was this the one way in which his humanity comes through and he rattles the chains of oppression?  Or!  Now that Thomas is beholden to him, back in his employ and deeply, deeply in his debt, will season 4 see Lord Grantham exert his power over Thomas?  Has Lord Grantham stuck one well-heeled toe out of his dressing room?  Reminder: this IS a TV show that’s pretty heavy on the melodrama, so if I were asking what would make for the soapiest plot twist this would be it.  What do you think; will Thomas and Lord Grantham make the love that dare not speak its name?

And OMG, what would O’Brien do about that?

Fake Spoiler Alert!

Hey, did you see this past week’s Downton Abbey?  Sad, innit, right?  I mean, can you even believe the writers killed…


You say on Facebook that you haven’t seen the thing that most of the planet is talking about, and yet you don’t want to hear any spoilers?

Go have fun and play at

Go have fun and play at

OK, so, here’s the thing.  I try not to spoil the dramatic plot twists from movies and television shows but sometimes I. Just. Want. To.  Particularly when I’m on the internet, which as we all know is a veritable cornucopia of fevered, hotheaded discussion and reactionism, and someone tries to squelch my lurid reactionary fervor.  Hey!  I’m processing an imaginary crisis over here!

I should, however, be thankful, because all the people begging me to not tell them about what happened on Downton Abbey (I’m not saying it’s sad, I’m just saying to watch with a box of tissues handy) inspired me to invent fake spoilers.  And not just for Downton Abbey; there’s a whole world of literature and movies and TV that begs to be fake-spoiled.

Here are but two.  More to come.

First up: The Downton Abbey fake spoiler that started it all.

Nobody saw this one coming.

Nobody saw this one coming.

I guarantee you, this one’s a total shocker.

And.  I’ve had Pride and Prejudice on the brain lately.  A friend has only recently read the book and seen the quintessential A&E/BBC/PBS version starring Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle and as every new devotee does, has been talking about it and watching it…well, not quite obsessively, since she does shower and get to work on time and keeps her kids healthy and fed.  But.  Suffice to say I’ve seen plenty of Jane Austen clips surface on her Facebook wall.  Understandably; if I’d had Facebook the first time I saw P&P I, quite frankly, would have been worse.  No kids to feed, see?  For the uninitiated, set aside six hours for viewing as it is worth every corseted second of your time.  And…oh, what the hell.  Here’s some Wet Darcy for your entertainment.

Also for the uninitiated…FAKE SPOILER ALERT!

Can't tell under all them thar skirts, can ya?

Can’t tell under all them thar skirts, can ya?

I swear it’s all true.

Have a great day, folks.  Let this ping around in your brain for a while.  And rest assured, there are more coming.

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