Does it say something about this season’s general slowness that the best line in last night’s episode was uttered by Little Sybbie? (No, I have no idea how she spells it, but “Sybby” looked funny.) Anyway, the lovely tot who plays her said “Uh-oh” — her first line! — with a charming British accent and a sense of purposefulness that’s been lacking from much of Season 4. My other favorite line this week: the Dowager Countess remarking that she lost her former gardener to some “frightfully grand rectory.” Now that, my friends, is a plotline; you wonder how many staff members the Dowager has sent rushing to join the clergy.
The whole Anna/Bates thing is just making me sad, particularly since we all know, deep down, that Bates is perfectly capable of doing exactly what Anna’s afraid he’ll do. (Also, can Mrs. Hughes please take a break from being the Keeper of All Downton Secrets? Can’t she just sit alone with her toaster in her sitting room, just once?) A number of plots still seem to be treading water: Molesley is still being Molesley, the Eeyore of Downton Abbey (I love how Kevin Doyle, who plays him, is really selling it this season); Edith is still awaiting word from Mr. Rochester, who may or may not have turned Nazi (and, hmm, what on earth could that doctor appointment have meant?); Alfred only-just-misses getting a posh cooking gig at the Ritz, meaning that the tiresome love rectangle, or whatever it is, among the servants will continue; and somebody may have stolen the Dowager Countess’s knife. Horrors! But it was nice to see the return of Evelyn Napier, even if he did describe Matthew’s death as “the whole ghastly business.” (He doesn’t know what really happened with Kemal Pamuk, does he? That was even ghastlier.) Here’s hoping things pick up in the second half of the season, and that Julian Fellowes finds something for poor Tom to do. Meanwhile, I’m ringing for tea.