& the slipper still fits

Downton Abbey, Season 2

Downton Abbey Season 2 starts on the 8th (this Sunday) for us slowpokes over here in the US on our local PBS stations. Season 1 is replaying now, but you can catch almost all of it on PBS online. I can't wait for more Downton drama! 

North and South episode 4

First please forgive me if there are some horrible typos...but I wanted this post posted before the New Year and find very little time to proof it.

Here we are, dear reader, at the wrap up of North and South. And while much has happened through the last episodes, this last hour is full of character arches and resolutions. Margaret has not only learned Milton ways, but begun to think more like an adult. And of course, we get to see a very happy ever after.

Brains to Work 
The strike is over, and what's worse, Nicholas is struggling to find work. As a leader of the strike, and as one of the union's strongest advocates, none of the mill owners will take him on. Compounded by the fact that Nicholas has taken on all of Boucher's children -- he's in a very tough place. Margaret urges him to take another chance on asking Thornton, reminding him that Thornton is a steady and reasonable man who would value Nicholas' work ethic and honesty over everything. When Nicholas goes to see Thornton, waiting all day for the chance to speak with him, Thornton throws him out. Nicholas finishes the meeting with this final line, "I was told to ask you by a woman who thought you had a kindness about you." Thornton knows exactly who that woman is.

After investigating Higgin's situation, Thornton does give him a job and the two men, though walking in very different "worlds" form a strong friendship based on honesty and even, dare I say it?, humor. The good of the worker is good for the mill and based on this principle, the two make a dynamic pair.

I LOVE the scenes with Thornton and Higgins. They are fantastic. Simply put. What you see, are two men who actually think a great deal alike, and they are just looking at situations from difference perspectives. Higgins begins to fulfill an older brother role for John and their mutual respect for each other is refreshing to see.

Goodbye, I love you
Mr. Hale never recovered from the death of his wife. And when he goes on holiday with Mr. Bell to his old college stomping grounds, we soon fear his fate. He never returns to Milton, and Margaret is left completely alone. Her aunt comes from London to take her back "home" and Margaret has no real other choice. Mr. Bell, her new guardian in name, doesn't live in Milton either. But before she goes, she wants to say goodbye to her friends.

As she says goodbye to the Thorntons you can feel her longing not to leave. And in seeing her eyes, John's cold heart melts towards her. Again she is the love of his life, and again he will loose her. But this time, it's not because she is rejecting him. As she leaves in the carriage, John utters the most memorable lines in the whole mini-series: "Look back, look back at me."

This might just be me, but I truly believe that if Margaret said, "I don't want to go." Thornton would have proposed again on the spot. Literally, the only thing keeping these two apart at the moment is their belief in the other's indifference. They both long to say they love one another, but pride and impressions make it impossible. I cry every time I see this scene. It's just so sadly lovely.

Despite hard Work, it all comes crashing down
The strike might not have helped the workers, but it sure didn't help the mill owners either. Thornton can't fill the orders he has on time, and he can't receive payment for them till they are filled. Long story short - he has a huge cash flow problem. It might, perhaps, be solved by a 100 to 1 speculation, but John refused to play with the money he's fought so hard to make, or the money to be paid the workers. And despite everything, John looses the mill he strove so hard to make prosperous.

Watching John slowly loose the mill, is heartbreaking. What's worse, is seeing the lives of the workers improve thanks to he and Higgins' ideas, only to know that soon none of it will matter.

Home Again
Mr. Bell comes to visit Margaret, give over all his fortune, and cheer her up with a walk down memory lane. They return to Hellstone for the day and Margaret realizes that her childhood home is not what she remembers now that her mother and father are gone. She returns with an adjusted sense of reality and a new maturity.

Returning to Hellstone makes the story come full circle for me. Margaret sees her home differently because it is no longer her home. I feel this is her last step to knowing she belongs with Thornton. It wouldn't matter if the North was the South or the South was London, so long as she could call living with John home. Margaret learns, what we have always heard, home is were the heart it.

You can Explain
Hearing that Thornton's mill has closed, Margaret rushes to see what she can do to help -- she is in love with him, after all. And Thornton, free for a moment of responsibility, ventures to the South to see the beauty which is bred into Margaret's soul. On their respective ways home, they cross each other's path at the train station. Somehow, after months apart, even thing that they couldn't say at their last meeting is implied and there is no pretense left. Margaret tells John of her business proposition, which will enable him to run the mill again. John knows she would not offer such a generous deal if she still thought of him as a cold businessman. Margaret, after offering fifteen thousand pounds and her love, returns home with John on the North-bound train.

This scene is not in the book. Well, it is, but it is done very differently. I adore the new version and its the HUGE payoff everyone dreams for in a costume drama. With the kiss between John and Margaret (and the reveal of Richard Armitage throat) costume drama is revived. Ask anyone -- there hadn't been a strong, beautifully adapted or filmed costume drama since 1995. And it was with this single, and final, scene we are given a new milestone in mini-series and hero to adore. It really is the best kiss in --I'm going to be 12 for a second -- forever, like completely forever.

North and South changed the BBC landscape. It proved you didn't have to have an Austen or Dickens attached to the title for it to be a runaway hit. North and South wasn't expected to do anything the season it aired and it has become a herald of the genre and a classic in its own right.

And now, with my winter rewatch complete, I can look to the spring and all the new films and seasons coming soon.

North and South Episode 3

Hello dear reader! After a whole week of insaneness at work, I've finally been able to get to my own computer for a few moments -- that is, until I get rushed out to Christmas shop in a few hours. But fighting the crazy crowds of Park City Center is not why you're here. You're here to read about our 3rd installment in my North and South rewatch.

Uneasy Relations
Thornton leaves the Hale household rejected and Margaret's words injure him more deeply than we thought possible. He walks Milton, not in anger, but in desperation. How is to forget the woman he loves? Even if she will never love him back. As episode three continues, We come to see that Margaret's impulsive actions to reject him may not have been her own true feelings. Many times throughout the episode we see Margaret and John orbit closely towards each other, a closeness binding them no one else can name. Even though Margaret refused John's hand, she defends him viciously to others and (since we know better) we see where she begins to love him and aknowledge that love. Personally, I love these tense and akward moments between John and Margaret. They begin to see each other differently, and that look is colored by quiet love. 

Margaret and Bessie
Bessie is Margaret's only confidant in Milton. Despite their social differences, they are both young women who are looking at the world, desperate to change it; and they are both the anchors of their family. Bessie suffers from fluff in her lung, an ailment that will take her life before she truly has a chance to live it. And in episode three we see Bessie pass quietly away. Bessie's friendship and the open-hearted welcome Margaret receives from her family, is a bright spot throughout the entire series. When Bessie dies it is like Margaret has lost another sibling. Seeing Bessie's passing Margaret's experience in Milton comes full circle and it maarks the death of her northern innocence.

Fredrick who?
Margaret has a brother...did we remember that? With her mother do I'll, Margaret sends of Fredick who is hiding in Spain. Fred's arrivals and stay. Use be Mel silent - he is wanted for mutiny and his presence in Milton, if known, would only cause more heartache for the Hale family. I love Fredrick. Not more than Thornton, but as much in a different way. He's passionate, loyal, and loving and you can tell that the only thing between him and his family in the world is the law. When he arrives, the family feels whole again and Margaret is able to breathe. Their closeness is refreshing and, even though it is a sad time, their time together is sweet. 

The Great Exhibition
Just before the turn of the century, Prince Albert commissioned a great exhibition from acrossed the empire to show England the vast reach of its people. Margaret is invited by her aunt to join her in London for it, and her mother encourages her to go. At the exhibition Margaret sees John, Fanny, and Miss Linton and defends the Milton men to London onloookers. John also meets Henry Lenox and knows exactly why he has joined Margaret' s party for the day. The great exhibition is the highlight of episode three. Margaret gives John hope and John stares done Henry fiercely. The new, lighter, setting of the scene is lovely and brings a brightness to the very heavy episode. We also get to see a sincerely emotionally tense moment between Margaret and John that is just too good to pass up. 

Mrs. Hale requests a favor 
While Margaret is in London, Mrs. Hale requests a favor from Mrs. Thornton - the irony of this does not escape the viewer. Mrs. Hale is dying and she wants Mrs. Thornton to help guide her daughter in her absence. Mrs. Thornton hesitantly agrees, her own feelings swallowed for the sake of the dying women. Here we see how differently life have treated these women. Mrs. Thornton really has no patience for Mrs. Hale and this emotion compounded with her anger towards Margaret, makes her agreement an even more honorable testament to her character. We start to realize there is more to these mothers than meeting the eye - there has to be, haven't you seen their children? 

All we have left is episode 4! Are you excited?