Well, Mr. Carson might officially be the most despised character on Downton Abbey. After Sunday’s episode, the butler once again proved to be completely infuriating, in addition to being someone who really needs to learn to change with the times. Not to mention, respect is a word he should add to his vocabulary, because he clearly has lost its true meaning along the way.
Not only does Carson continue to talk down to Mrs. Hughes in a condescending manner when it comes to her cooking, but he also treats Thomas like he is some kind of disease that has no place in the Crawley household or on the planet. Yes, it’s as sickening as it sounds.
Obviously, this isn’t news to fans. Over the course of the series, Carson has firmly stuck by his convictions and refused to live in modern times. That said, I was hoping by Season 6, Carson would’ve grown some. Maybe he still will, since there are a few episodes left of the final season. But until I actually see it, I will remain disgusted by his actions.
With that, let’s talk about his treatment of his wife, Mrs. Hughes. Yes, the 1920s were a different time for women, who were slowly finding their footing as leading figures in both the household and the professional world. I mean, just look at Lady Mary helping with the estate, Cora being president of the hospital, and Lady Edith running her own magazine.
However, unless it’s Mary, it’s clear Carson thinks a woman belongs in the home and should follow her husband’s orders. Before tying the knot, Mrs. Hughes knew this would be something she’d have to get used to, but I’m sure she didn’t expect Carson (who has told her time and again how much he loves her) to repeatedly scrutinize her. How many times can he really say her cooking is horrible, all while asking Mrs. Patmore to please help her? I’m surprised Mrs. Hughes hasn’t spoken up for herself yet, but here’s hoping she does so sooner rather than later.
Moving onto Thomas. As fans have seen, Thomas is helping Andy learn to read, but leave it to Mr. Carson to turn it into something that it’s not. Upon seeing Andy exiting Thomas’ room late one night, he obviously assumed Thomas is taking advantage of Andy. It also didn’t help when Mrs. Patmore expressed her concerns to Mr. Carson about the two men, after misconstruing a conversation between them.
However, rather than giving Thomas the benefit of the doubt or some credit (let’s face it, he’s really grown since Season 1), Mr. Carson belittled him. As Thomas said to Mr. Carson, “How long do I have to work in this house before I am given any credit?” He even expressed that if he were to say nothing happened, would his word be any good? Of course, it’s not and Carson said, “If I could just be sure.”
Then, in what has to be one of the most heartbreaking moments of Season 6 so far, Thomas sat downstairs by the fire and cried. He might come off as tough and someone whose feelings don’t get hurt, but he is human, after all.
Thomas definitely hasn’t had an easy time, especially as a gay man in the early 20th century. Yes, he’s brought some of the heartache on himself with his unfavorable actions, but he’s also matured over the years. As scary as it might be for him, maybe Thomas needs to leave Downton once and for all. By going out on his own, he just might be able to live a happy life as his true self — and without Mr. Carson’s judgments.
If you ask me, Carson is almost the villain at times with his harsh words, criticisms and ridiculous sentiments. Regarding the latter, he won’t even drink, because Lord Grantham is avoiding alcohol after his ulcer burst. Maybe what he needs is a drink (or 10) to loosen up and start treating people with respect.
Downton Abbey airs Sundays at 9/8c on PBS.