1. Isobel desperately wanted to be just like her father, ever since she was a girl. He wouldn’t take her to work with him, though, so Isobel sought to prove herself. The next time she cut herself (which she did far more often than her mother liked), she attempted to stitch it up herself. Never mind the fact that it didn’t need stitches to begin with and she only had her embroidery thread and needles. Her father spent the evening fixing her hand, but he let her come to the hospital whenever she wanted after that. (Isobel gave up embroidery for the longest time following that event.)
2. After Reginald died, Isobel immediately threw herself back into her work. She did so relentlessly and only stopped once she became too dizzy to see the patients and after she had thrown up what little she was eating. When Matthew found her, looking very much like the corpse his father was, he had taken her hand and asked her (quietly, because Matthew was like his father in that way; they both scarcely yelled) if she was trying to kill herself. (And when she had taken too long to answer, she realized that maybe she was.) It was at that point she also realized she had to be there for Matthew - always. (Well, as soon as she felt better. Until then, Matthew insisted on taking care of her - which he couldn’t quite do because of his young age - and Isobel had squeezed his hand, “We might make a doctor out of you yet.”)
3. Isobel Crawley has never really had friends, much less the kind that talk about flower arrangements and hats all day; she’s not suited for the way upper class ladies are expected the play with each other - the ulterior motives, snide comments, and lies. She’s only ever been close to men. Not because she particularly wanted to be, but because that’s just how it all worked out. First she had her father, and then she had Reginald, and then she Matthew. Isobel’s entire life has been her family. (And, sometimes, when she compares how Violet looks at her son with how the Dowager looks at her, or after she’s had a particularly nasty argument with one of them, she worries she’s lost that too.)
apparently my anons love cora and isobel - and I love my anons
Rambles are great. Everyone knows I do them all the freaking time here. True! There was a lot of stress on Matthew, obviously. I mean, I think he still loves her clearly, but almost all of the season two Matthew/Isobel scenes I can remember involve Matthew being annoyed at Isobel or be like “Mother.” Which is actually very interesting, because I think it speaks to how Matthew has changed a bit. This isn’t bad development or anything, but when he first came to Downton he was bent on it not letting it change him (“Why would they want to?”). It did. Not for the worse at all, but Isobel hasn’t changed. She’s older than Matthew, her character is more fixed, and she isn’t given any plotlines that would encourage character development anyways so. Some new distance is natural and some strain is perfectly fine. I’m just concerned this could be a new thing for the rest of Downton. That, or Isobel will just be written off completely.
I think Isobel is a great foil to Cora in the area of motherhood. I mean, if we’re actually supposed to take everyone’s age into account (which I don’t think we are since everyone at Downton is clearly ageless), she had Matthew much later in life than Cora had her children. And Isobel is much more supportive and generally has a much healthier relationship with her son than Cora and her daughters. But I would love to know more about Matthew background and his father. Also, Matthew and Lavinia’s father. Since I believe both Lavinia’s dad and his were named Reginald. And I feel like Matthew was definitely closer to his mother and being a lawyer instead of going into medicine may have been an issue of brief strain in the household. But enter Reginald Swire. Who is also a lawyer! I could see a cool father relationship emerging from that. But that’s just my crazy headcanon.
See, rambling all around. They were both called Reginald, right? Or am I making this up?
Things I love about Isobel:
1. Her relationship with Matthew. It isn’t given nearly as much attention as it deserves and somewhere through season two it became less of we’re-awesome-and-i-love-you-for-what-you-are-and-whatever and more of god-mother-you-are-so-annoying. But her relationship with Matthew is still great.
2. Isobel Crawley is more competent than Doctor Clarkson.
3. Isobel Crawley wants to do things. I appreciate the characters who want to do stuff so much on Downton. You have someone who wants something more than sitting around and wearing pretty dresses; she wants to be useful. And if she can’t be, she finds somewhere else to be.
4. Ugh, but more than that you know that she really wants to fit in with the Crawleys at the same time. She wanted them to think they belonged when they first came. She wanted to be friends with Violet. Or, she assumed they’d be on familiar terms at the beginning at least. She wanted Cora to be bluffing when she was told to leave. She wants to be a part of this family, but she wants fundamentally different things from them so - conflict!
5. Her relationship with Sybil! It is also beautiful and overlooked. That deleted scene where Sybil asks her to go to the rally and later Isobel says that Sybil was “looking for a partner in crime”. Ugh, I wanted them to be partners in crime so badly you have no idea. And then Isobel is the one to comfort her in that “sometimes I feel all the men I’ve ever danced with are dead” scene and just. I want more Isobel and Sybil. I probably won’t get this.
Things I dislike about Isobel:
1. It’s less things I dislike about Isobel fundamentally and more things that bother me with how she’s written. The biggest one is that she’s written to lose to Violet. All the time. Sometimes she has small victories, but overall it’s set up so the Dowager gets the last laugh. This will never stop bothering me, no matter how much I love Maggie Smith. And I love her a lot.
2. The way she just evaporated to France and then they cut out all of the scenes that mentioned her in passing. She was basically erased for a large section of season two. So if Violet isn’t here to one up her, what does she matter?
3. I dislike how, at this point, it seems like no one in the entire household appreciates Isobel. Not even Dr. Clarkson. And since Sybil is Ireland and Matthew thinks she’s a bother now, she’s really on her own and oh Isobel.
4. That being said, sometimes Isobel is overly pushy and too much a martyr for my tastes. But I feel like a lot of this comes from the must-always-lose-to-Violet thing.
5. I dislike how Isobel doesn’t have a dog. Did you see her in that Christmas Special? Someone get this lady a dog.
Give me more, anon. Give me more.