Downton Abbey Season Three: Hammers of Glass
“An aristocrat without servants is as much use to the county as a glass hammer” – The Dowager
Downton Season Three has finally arrived in the states, and PBS chose to start us off in grand fashion. Since they won’t spend the money to broadcast the same day as ITV does, the least they can do for us Americans who didn’t pirate and watch it back last fall is turn that return into an event. As last year, they chose to start off tonight with episodes one and two back to back, woven nearly seamlessly into one two hour episode. This works to their advantage in two ways–most importantly, it leaves the final slot of the season open for the Christmas special. Second, and nearly as important, it ran over the fact that the first episode is one long build up for a wedding….that we don’t actually get to see.
Yes, Matthew and Mary got married. We had a full hour of build up in the first episode. We had the opening of the second episode getting everyone to the church. We saw the kitchen preparations for the Grand Feast. We saw Mary ride to the church through the town in footage that was deliberately modeled on Kate and William’s wedding in order to tie this to the sense that this is how the aristocracy has always done it, and to give us the sense that, though the world is obviously changing, 90 years later what’s left will still be doing it the same way. We made it to the altar…and then we skipped ahead to after the honeymoon. because this is not the Story of Matthew and Mary’s Wedding.
This, and always has been, a story larger than that. This is the story for the struggle for Downton in the face of a changing world.
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