Getting Your Fix of Downton

Why the soap, Miss O'Brien? Why?!

Enduring “Downton withdrawal”? Our friends at America Magazine have a cure: a new podcast about the recently-ended season of Downton Abbey. Resident TJP Downton lover Father Jim Martin joins Tim Reidy, also an America editor, in exploring Christian and Catholic themes from the latest installment of the hit BBC drama. They offer sharp insights on topics usually neglected in commentary on the show: good and evil, suffering, forgiveness, grace, and love.

I especially appreciated the duo’s discussion of Miss O’Brien. She and I may have common Irish ancestors (and unsettlingly common names), but I hiss instinctively whenever she appears on screen. The first season’s embodiment of evil, O’Brien’s treachery reached its apex when she places a bar of soap just so, causing the pregnant Lady Cora to fall and miscarry the baby (and heir) she carries. Boo! Hiss!

But as the podcast correctly notes, O’Brien seems to have undergone some conversion in the latest season. After all, by last Sunday’s finale, she has nursed Cora through an almost-deadly bout with Spanish Flu, even keeping an all-night sickbed vigil. O’Brien even begins to ask for forgiveness from her employer (despite being interrupted in the process). As Martin and Reidy point out, Saint Ignatius would remind us that love shows itself more in deeds than in words. And in this case (whether we like it or not), it seems that O’Brien is 2 for 2.

Much more awaits here.

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