Downton Abbey: Just Wondering, But…?

FYI: THIS IS NOT A FAKE SPOILER ALERT!  OR A REAL SPOILER ALERT!  THERE ARE NO SPOILERS HERE!

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!”

Indeed.

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?

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