I’ve read the last 15 pages as per the rules, but as I’m only just posting on the last episode, not much in those pages was on the episode comments I had, so hopefully some of my thoughts will resonate with other posters and won’t duplicate much older posts.
I picked up watching the Xmas ep where I left off last, with Violet and a weeping Daisy talking; and seeing two of my favorite characters together, Violet talking compassionate sense into dear Daisy, was a great way to get back into DA.
There’ve been a few dramatic conversations that, like the Greek dramas the Dowager Countess complained about, concluded off-screen and that I’d have liked to see, including both revelations about Pamuk: Cora's to Robert that began onscreen dramatically and was then aborted, and Mary's to Matthew.
I had two objections to the very end. One was that the “Let them be happy, with my love” (or whatever) Ouija board message was cheesy. And two, I didn’t want it all to end on Matthew & Mary’s reuniting alone. As I saw it, this show wasn’t (just) a love story, it was a story of a household and a family. I needed to see their rejoicing at the resolution of the love story to make it complete.
[Perhaps] Carlisle and Bates talked on the way to the station, and Carlisle got a first-hand account on the very nasty and unreliable piece of work Vera is -- she broke her word to Bates after being paid, and was dragging him through the courts -- and Carlisle realized she could never be counted on to honor her deal with him, so he took a pre-emptive strike. Now that sounds plausible, and still makes my main suspect my main suspect: Carlisle. Otherwise, why did the show go out of its way to inform us that Carlisle and Bates were both going to London, and going together?
I suspected Carlisle of the murder of Vera already (above) but now that we know he not only silenced her with a contract, but silenced all of the English press on the trial, we know what great lengths he was willing to go and capable of going in order to (presumably) protect his name (and his fiancee Mary’s or her family’s name) from being tarnished. All the more reason to think him capable of murder for the same reason. And that gives him another good reason to divert media attention away from the trial of a murder he was involved in.
Other random thoughts:
I wished Thomas would quit with the schemes. ... Anna’s weeping on Mrs. Hughes’ shoulder was so real.
Trust the Dowager Countess to make the bad feelings of that awful fight scene with M+M+Carlisle+Robert dissipate (for me) with her reply when Matthew says he’s sorry for breaking a vase: “Oh don’t be, don’t be, it was a wedding present from a frightful aunt; I have hated it for half a century!”
The Servants’ Ball seemed strange, after all the observations of protocol and hierarchy all year round. I guess one servant was having a ball all year round (Rosumund’s maid), which I had suspected. (Meanwhile, Matthew going “Crikey!” at the thought of dancing with poor O’Brien – well, at least IRL she’s the very attractive Siobhan Finneran.)
As odious as Richard is I admire his survival instincts. He really does remind me of Scarlet O'Hara, with her vulgar mansion and her insistence on working her convict laborers as hard as she could.
I found it a (darkly, I guess) amusing example of Carlisle’s ruthlessness when he said contractors/workers were being docked pay for delays on construction work, and Violet asked, "Does that make for a happy environment?" and Carlisle replied: "I want it done. They can be happy on their own time."
I don't recall examples of Branson and "quick to anger".
In his conversations with Robert –- at the house, at the inn -- he jumped very quickly, sometimes straight into, bitter anger mode. I would've thought he’d try a gentle approach for a bit. Maybe we are to understand that he knew he’d never be accepted and therefore didn’t try much, but considering how accommodating Cora and Violet quickly became, he might have tried winning Robert over or at least leaving a little less hostility for Sybil’s sake. As it happens (as written), Robert did come around somewhat despite Branson’s demeanor.
As to Robert’s still-lingering reservations about the matter -- and his wife slowly trying to bring him round further: it seems very credible (and also somewhat understandable) to me, and very typical of old-fashioned gender and class roles (even some present-day gender and class roles, actually). Like others here, if I had no hesitations about Branson and the alliance apart from economic/class issues, I'd feel somewhat differently.
Edited by commenter, Mar 3, 2012 @ 9:40 PM.