Most of the insufferability on last night's episode of Downton was trumped by the over-the-top villainy of Edna Braithwaite. There was absolutely nothing subtle about Braithwaite's scheme to entrap Tom Branson into marriage, which made everything else in the episode seem, well, understated.
Still! There's other insufferability to catalogue and debate. For one: is Lord Gillingham being charming or pushy? Did Tom handle the whole Braithwaite thing well? Can we all agree that Daisy deserves our collective groans? Read on.
Note: We're leaving Anna and Bates out of this. No matter whether or not you find their story unbearable—and, yes, they are—speaking about a rape victim along the lines of sufferability vs. insufferability is pretty gross.
Edith: Kudos to Edith! The saddest Crawley lady finally got some last night, spending the night at her lover Michael Gregson's house before he heads off to Germany so he can get a divorce and they can be together. This being Downton, we know all can't be totally well for Edith. (We've also watched the rest of the season, so yeah.) Still, good on her for throwing caution to the wind. In the words of Lady Mary, Edith may be as "mysterious as a bucket," but at least she's a bucket that seems to be doing well for herself.
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Aunt Rosamund: Oh, Aunt Rosamund, you've always been basically an inconsequential character, but last night you slut-shamed with the best of them. First, you go after Rose for dancing with the hunky bandleader (yet black! heavens!) Jack Ross, then you make Lady Edith feel crappy for spending a really long night with her beloved. You may live a big-city life in London, Aunt Rosamund, but you are not a cool aunt.
Insufferable? We Can't Decide
Lord Gillingham Is Sufferable: So, yes, proposing marriage before he and Mary have even so much as kissed is strange that way that things were back then, so I'll give him a bit of a pass. More than that, from a TV show perspective, I appreciated that he was at least attempting to get to the point already with a romance that we all know is in the cards. We've had enough woeful pining from Mary on this series to last a few lifetimes, and it looks like we're in for a bit more, but good on Lord Gillingham for at least trying to spare us. —JR
Lord Gillingham Is Insufferable: Now, don't get me wrong, I love Lord Gillingham, as evidenced by last week's recap, but don't we think he's being a little pushy here? It's pretty obvious that Mary just is getting over Matthew's death, and even if she was being a pill about it, giving her an ultimatum—promise to marry me or else I'll enter an unhappy union—isn't really fair. Look, I hope these two end up together, but give a girl her space! —EZ
Tom Branson Is Sufferable: Tom screwed up by sleeping with Braithwaite, and he knows it, and given the circumstances, he handled himself remarkably well. Plus! You've got to feel bad for the guy. He's basically the only person in this household that remembers the fact that Sybil died—everyone else is so preoccupied by Matthew's death. I see where he can be branded insufferable: he's as much at fault for the whole Braithwaite situation as she is—and he knows it—but the show just makes her so conniving that it's hard not to see him as, well, tolerable. —EZ
Tom Branson Is Insufferable: The Braithwaite thing ... whatever. I think Tom was being pretty weak about that whole situation, ultimately running to Mrs. Hughes when he couldn't handle his business himself. What really made him insufferable this week was his complicity in Aunt Rosamund's outrage over Rose dancing with the black bandleader. Sure, it's the Times They Live In, but wouldn't you think Tom would be extra-special attuned to the insidiousness of class discrimination among the society types? And yet there he was, willingly hopping onto the dance floor to "rescue" Rose from her shame. Grow a pair, Tom. —JR
Edna Braithwaite: For the most ham-handed attempt to ensnare a man in recent memory. Has this women never watched a daytime soap opera? ...I suppose not. But still. Common sense should tell her you don't start teasing the "I might be pregnant" card unless you actually have an ace to play. Amateur. When even Thomas is happy to see your brand of beginner-level scheming walk out the door, you know you've failed some very basic test.
This article was originally published at http://www.thewire.com/entertainment/2014/01/downton-abbey-insufferability-index-bitch-braithwaite/357184/